Other People’s Preserves: Jolene’s Jars

Jolene's Jars Pickled Za'atar Cauliflower

Other People’s Preserve is my opportunity to shine a spotlight on some of the very delicious jams, pickles, and preserves being made by dedicated professional canners. If you spot one of these products in the wild, make sure to scoop up a jar.

I met Jolene and her jars a couple years back, when she emailed me to offer me some of her pickles and ask for a bit of canning advice. We met up and, as two people with a shared love of pickling so often do, fell into easy conversation and friendship (it didn’t hurt that her pickles were awesome).

Jolene's Jars Za'atar

Since those early days, she’s expanded her line of pickles, added some spice blends, and moved her whole operation from the Philadelphia suburbs to Delray Beach, Florida.

Jolene's Jars Pickled Za'atar Cauliflower top

Now, everything Jolene makes is really delicious, but when forced to pick just one thing to spotlight, my thoughts immediately went to the Pickled Za’atar Cauliflower. These florets are tangy, crisp, and fully infused with the ground herbs and toasted sesame seeds in the za’atar spice blend.

They are still available at some locations around Philadelphia and you can meet Jolene herself at the Delray Beach Green Market on Saturdays from 9 am to 2 pm.

Comments { 6 }

My Other Favorite Cookbooks from 2014

Favorite 2014 Cookbooks | Food in Jars

Last month, I wrote about all the terrific canning, preserving, fermenting, and food books that had come out in the last year. In that post, I mentioned that I also had plans to write another post dedicated to all the other 2014 cookbooks that I had known and loved. Today is that day and here is that list.

Please know that this is an imperfect collection, gathered from the piles of books around my desk. Some I bought, some were sent to me by publishers. I am absolutely certain that were a number of excellent books that came out in 2014 that I somehow missed. But these were books I particularly enjoyed and think you might too.

Favorite 2014 Cookbooks Part 1 | Food in Jars

On the very top of the stack is Fully Belly. Written by my dear friend Tara Matazara Desmond (while she was pregnant with her twins), this book takes all the nutritional advice often given to pregnant women and translates it into usable, delicious recipes. Next time you hear that a friend is expecting, buy a copy of this book for them. (Amazon | Powell’s)

For those in search of healthy, flavorful food, look no further than Molly Watson’s Greens + Grains. You’ll find soups, salads, a few breads (green whole wheat flatbread!), and main dishes appropriate for every season. The recipes are wholesome, hearty, and were written by someone who has no time for nonsense and just loves food (Molly’s a friend, too). (Amazon | Powell’s)

A Boat, A Whale & A Walrus by Renee Erickson (and Jess Thomson) has gotten a lot of love lately and it is all well-deserved. It’s a beautiful book, full of stories, beautiful pictures, and the most stunning recipes. There are even a few perfect preserves, including a Pickled Fresh Plum Jam that I will be making when summer comes. (Amazon | Powell’s)

One-Hour Cheese by Claudia Lucero is a kick. It shows you how to make 16 different kinds of cheese (with plenty of step-by-step pictures), all in no more than an hour. She also includes recipes that include your fresh cheeses. No book has demystified home dairy more. (Amazon | Powell’s)

Vegetarian for a New Generation is the third book in Liana Krissoff’s “New Generation” series (previous installments dealt with canning and whole grains). For those (like me!) who adore Liana’s writing and clever flavor combinations, this book will not disappoint. (Amazon | Powell’s)

I met Kimberley Hasselbrink in early 2012 at a book party in New York. In the course of our conversation, she told me about the book she wanted to write. It went from glimmer to reality and Vibrant Food even better than the vision she described. The food is clean but not precious, and the photos make me want to live in her world. (Amazon | Powell’s)

Favorite 2014 Cookbooks Part 2 | Food in Jars

The only cookbook I sat down and read cover to cover in a single sitting last year was The B.T.C. Old Fashioned Grocery Cookbook. Written by grocery store founder Alexe van Beuren, it is a gorgeous book and a compelling story. Oh, and the recipes are pretty darn good, too. (Amazon | Powell’s)

Part cookbook and part travelogue, In Her Kitchen features grandmothers from around the world, in their kitchens, making their signature dishes. Written and photographed by Gabriele Galimberti, it’s a lovely way to get see food and home kitchens from every corner of the globe. (Amazon | Powell’s)

Flourless by Nicole Spiridakis is focused on gorgeous baked goods and desserts that all just happen to be gluten-free. What makes it particularly special is that she has managed to make every recipe feel like a treat instead of a sacrifice.  (Amazon | Powell’s)

I love everything that Jennifer McLagan writes, and Bitter is no exception. It celebrates foods like coffee, dandelion greens, orange zest, and even burnt toast to appealing effect. (Amazon | Powell’s)

I like a big, beautiful cookbook as much as the next girl, but when it comes daily cooking, there is no better handbook than Jenny Rosenstrach’s Dinner: The Playbook. It bills itself as a guide to the family meal, but it’s got plenty to offer for even the smallest household. (Amazon | Powell’s)

Much like the original Flavor Bible, The Vegetarian Flavor Bible by Karen Page is an incredible resource for home cooks. Every conceivable veg friendly food has an entry that offers a tremendous amount of detail. You’ll get its season, basic flavor profile, best techniques for prepping/cooking, relatives, and suggested flavors that would pair well. If you subscribe to a CSA or farm share and occasionally find yourself with new and unknown edibles, this book is invaluable. (Amazon | Powell’s)

Favorite 2014 Cookbooks Part 3 | Food in Jars

Nigel Slater is a master at writing about food and cooking in a way that is both inspirational and entirely approachable. His new book Eat offers up hundreds of simple recipes and ideas for quick, solid meals, with all his trademark appeal. Plus, the book just feels good in the hands. (Amazon | Powell’s)

As someone who has long played around with oat, teff, and millet flour, I’ve been totally delighted by the recent cluster of books dedicated with making the most from flours made from grains other than wheat. Alice Medrich’s Flavor Flours is a new entry in this category and it’s just wonderful.  (Amazon | Powell’s)

Okay, so Wintersweet by Tammy Donroe Inman didn’t actually come out in 2014. It was among the group of books that came out in the very last days of 2013 and I included it in this stack because I don’t think it got enough love last year. This is a glorious baking book for fall and winter, which is actually the time of year when you want to be running your oven. (Amazon | Powell’s)

If you live in the New York region, you’ve probably heard of Red Jacket Orchards. Owner Brian Nicholson teamed up with author Sarah Huck and created this gorgeous, seasonal cookbook called Fruitful. I like it because it includes some interesting preserves, but you’ll also find fruit-focused savory dishes, sides, and desserts. (Amazon | Powell’s)

We eat a lot of broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and cauliflower in my household, and I am always on the lookout for novel ways to prepare all this cruciferous veg. Enter Laura B. Russell’s Brassicas. It’s got gorgeous, moody photography and more than 75 recipes for making the most of stalks, florets, leaves, and stems. (Amazon | Powell’s)

I dedicated a blog post to Megan Gordon’s Whole Grain Mornings last February, so I will be brief. It’s a beautiful, approachable book that will have you downright excited to get up in the morning an make a meal. I’ve continued to use it and love pulling it off the shelf with each change of season. (Amazon | Powell’s)

Last book on the stack is Ashley English’s Handmade Gatherings. This is a book-length love note to the art of entertaining casually and inclusively. If you’re looking to up your dinner party and potluck game, you will so enjoy it. (Amazon | Powell’s)

Comments { 6 }

Makrut Lime Marmalade

vertical image of lime marmalade

The citrus situation in my kitchen is out of control. There’s a big bowl of clementines on the table, three red grapefruits in the basket with the onions, and a open bag of cara cara oranges on the counter (not to mention the remaining Meyer lemons, which are lined up on a rimmed baking sheet and hanging out in the living room). I realize I should probably restrain myself, but citrus feels like the only good way to combat the short days, chilly weather, and non-stop parade of head colds.

limes

Up until a couple days ago, there was also something a lime situation. Because I’m a long-time customer, Karen from the Lemon Ladies will occasionally slip an extra treat into my order. This year, she tucked in a bonus pound of makrut* limes in with the Meyers. Both makrut limes and their leaves are used a great deal in Thai cooking and have a heady, slightly woodsy fragrance.

slicing limes

Because I am who I am, you should not be surprised to hear that I took those makrut limes and made marmalade with them. I used the Hungry Tigress’ Lime on Lime Shred Marmalade as a starting place and got to work (just a glance at her site makes me nostalgic for the days of the Can Jam).

I stretched the making of this marmalade out over three days. I find that this is my favorite way to make any labor-intensive preserve, because it never ends up feeling like too much of a pain. If I force myself to do it all at once, I often end up hating the process. If I work in small spurts, I end up delighted with the experience instead.

naked limes

So, on Monday evening, after the dinner dishes were cleaned and I had clear counters and an empty sink, I turned on a podcast and set to work. I had a scant pound of makrut limes and three quarters of a pound of conventional limes. After giving the makrut limes a good scrub, I cut them in half across their equators, plucked out the seeds, and using a freshly sharpened knife, cut them into the thinnest half moons I could manage.

jars for lime marm

Because the other limes weren’t organic, I didn’t want to use their skins. Instead, I cut away the peels to expose the interior flesh and, using my very sharp knife a little too close to my fingertips, I sectioned out the pulpy innards. Then I pulled down a wide mouth half gallon jar and scraped all my prepared fruit bits into it. Four cups of filtered water went in on top, and it all spent the night in the fridge (next to some fermented dilly beans and leftover soup).

lime marm in jars

The next night, I poured the contents of that jar out into a big, wide jam pan (this one, to be specific) and added four cups of granulated sugar. I stirred the sugar into the fruit and brought it to a brief boil. Then I killed the heat, fitted a round of parchment paper to serve as a makeshift lid, and went to bed.

jars of lime marm

The next morning, before I’d even taken a shower, I fired up the canning pot, brought the lime slurry to a boil, cooked it until it reached 222°F (a little higher than I sometimes recommend, but I wanted to ensure a firm set). The end result was just a little less than four half pints (I canned it in hexagonal jars that hold four ounces, and there was a bit left over that went into a jar for the fridge).

The finished marmalade is bright, pleasantly bitter, and may well travel with me to the Philly Food Swap next week. Who knows!

*Makrut limes also go by another name. It is deeply problematic and so I’ve chosen not to use it here.

Continue Reading →

Comments { 13 }

Tips for Selecting, Prepping, and Preserving Lemons

January 15

Every January, I order a ten pound box of unsprayed Meyer lemons from the Lemon Ladies in California. I spend the next week or two transforming those lemons into marmalade, lemon curd, preserved lemons, dehydrated slices, syrups, and even infused vinegars. These preserves satisfy many of my lemon needs and help bring a much-needed bright spot into an otherwise dreary time of year.

Now, I realize that spending $65 on citrus isn’t in the cards for everyone. However, that doesn’t meant that you have to write off all lemon preservation projects. There’s a lot you can do with regular grocery lemons that will be delicious and won’t break the budget.

First off, if you’re making marmalade or using the zest in some way, organic lemons are best (but no judgment here if you can’t swing it). When you’re selecting the fruit, make sure to search out the lemons with the very smoothest skin. That almost always leads you to lemons that have thinner pith layers, which will make for a better marmalade or preserved lemon.

You also want to look for lemons that have a touch of green on the tips. Many years ago, I went on a press trip hosted by Sunkist and they taught us that lemons are always picked with some green remaining on the skin. They yellow up during storage and shipping. A hint of green means that they haven’t been off the tree as long as some of their compatriots.

When you’re ready to use your grocery store lemons, put them in the sink. Bring a kettle of water to a boil, let it cool for a moment, and then rinse the lemons with it. When they’re cool enough to handle, give them a good scrub with a vegetable brush and rinse with warm tap water. This process will remove any traces of the wax that lemons are typically coated with to extend their lifespan.

Now you’re ready to preserve. You can make just about all the recipes listed in this post with your grocery store lemons. You can make Kaela’s citrus salts. You can juice them, heap the peels in a jar, and cover them with distilled white vinegar to make an effective cleaning fluid.

How are you all preserving your citrus this year?

Comments { 13 }

Giveaway: Purple Heritage Collection Jars

purple pints and quarts

Two years ago, Ball Canning released a limited run of Heritage Collection blue pint jars. Last season, the Heritage Collection featured green jars, in both regular mouth pints and wide mouth quarts. This year brings the final installment in the Heritage series and the jars are purple. PURPLE!

holding purple jar

They are available in regular mouth pints and wide mouth quarts and they are glorious. I’ve had a case (six jars per case) of each in my possession for the last week and occasionally walk over to the boxes just to pick one up and gaze at it in delight.

Like the previous Heritage jars, these are safe for canning and all manner of food storage. They even have a dark enough tint that you could stash herbs and other foods that lose their color in them for a little extra light protection.

three purple jars

Just so you know, these jars are only available from the Fresh Preserving storefront right now. Amazon has them listed as currently unavailable and I’ve not seen them in any bricks and mortar stores yet. I hear that as we head into the spring canning season, they will become more readily available.

Thanks to the nice folks at Ball Canning, I have two sets of these jars to give away. The two winners will each get a case of pints and a case of quarts. Here’s how to enter.

  1. Leave a comment on this post and tell me about an experience you’ve had with a jar from the Heritage Collection. Did you serve drinks in the blue ones at your wedding? Give holiday gifts in the green ones? Or just looked longingly at them at the store?
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm east coast time on Saturday, January 24, 2015. The winner will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog by Sunday, January 25, 2015.
  3. Giveaway is open to US residents only (sorry!).
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left on the blog, I cannot accept submissions via email.

Disclosure: The folks at Ball Canning sent me the jars you see pictured above and they are providing the jars for the giveaway. However, rest assured that I will be buying more with my own money, because I love them. 

Links: Marmalade, Soups, and a Winner

A quart of warm Meyer lemon water in one of the new purple jars from Ball Canning. Such a good way to stay warm and hydrated.

This last week was a nice, quiet one. I’ve been plugging away at the next book (natural sweeteners!), preserving 10 pounds of meyer lemons from the Lemon Ladies, and drinking a ton of water (cold weather makes me thirsty). No complaints here! Now, for links about marmalade, soups, and the occasional pickle.

Fresh & Fermented cover | Food in Jars

A couple weeks ago, offered up a copy of Fresh and Fermented for giveaway and then never posted the winner. Oops. The winner is #253/Matt.

Comments { 5 }