Cookbooks: The Hands On Home & Ferment Your Vegetables

Hands on Home and Ferment Your Vegetables - Food in Jars

These are two books that have been sitting on the top of my desk-side stack for a while now and I’m so happy to be sharing them with you. Both would make excellent holiday gifts and are going to be in my library for years to come. Let’s dig in.

Hands on Home cover - Food in Jars

First up is The Hands-On Home by Erica Strauss (she blogs over at Northwest Edible Life). Organized by season, this hefty, beautiful book touches on all aspects of maintaining a thoughtful home. You’ll find a wide spectrum of recipes in this book, starting with basic fermenting projects and running straight through to homemade cleaning products (my favorite “recipe” page is one entitled An Old-Fashioned Mattress Airing For a Sunny Day).

This is an all-purpose book in an age where most books have a more narrow focus, and I love that about it. It would be a great gift for a friend or sibling who is just starting a homesteading journey, or someone who’s simply looking to bringing a greener, more seasonal awareness to their days.

Ferment Your Vegetables - Food in Jars

Amanda Feifer is a fellow Philadelphian and has long been my go-to resource for all my fermentation questions. Truth be told, I learned more about fermenting sitting through one of her demos a few years ago than I’d had in all the reading and research I’d done up to that point.

Happily, now she can be your fermentation resource as well, because her book Ferment Your Vegetables has arrived and it is spectacular. As the title suggests, it focuses on vegetable ferments and includes a wide assortment of recipes for kraut, kimchi, kvass, sauces, and pickles. She also digs into fermenting in crocks (a departure from the small batch approaches earlier in the book), ferments made without additional salt, and other ways to culture your veg.

Amanda is currently giving away five copies of her book. Get in on the action here.


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December Sponsors: Cuppow, Fillmore Container, EcoJarz, New West KnifeWorks, Fermentools, Mrs. Wages, Hobby Hill Farm, & Mason Jar Lifestyle

ecojarz dose

It’s the start of a new month and that means that it’s time to thank the companies that help make this site possible. As we head into the holiday season, please do think of them for your making and gifting purposes!

In the top spot, we’ve got Cuppow! They are the creator of the original mason jar travel mug topper and the BNTO, a small plastic cup that transforms a canning jar into a snack or lunch box. Right now, they’re offering 25% off everything in their online shop AND free shipping using the code SAVE25.

Fillmore Container is a family-owned business based in Lancaster, PA and sells all manner of canning jars, lids, and other preservation gear. They also publish a blog that is a very useful resource for canners. Did you see all their useful gift guides?

EcoJarz is new to the sponsorship roster, but is a long-time friend of Food in Jars. They make an array of products designed to fit on top of mason jars, including a stainless steel shaker ball, a pour-over coffee kit called Dose, a set of grater and slicer lids, and stainless steel storage lids.

Mrs. Wages makes pectin, vinegar, and more canning mixes than I can count. Their website is an incredible preserving resource and I can’t say enough good things about their salsa mixSign up for their newsletter for monthly installments of canning goodness.

Fermentools offers a brilliant fermentation starter kit that involves a heavy-duty glass pickling weight, an airlock, a lid with a reusable rubber seal, and mineral-rich salt. Get one (or several!) to help turn your CSA goodies into naturally fermented pickles.

Hobby Hill Farm is back for another month. Based in Powhatan, Virginia, they sell locally made jams and preserves, homemade pretzels, candies, and cheese making kits. What’s more, if you’re in the area, owner Sharon regularly teaches cheese making classes around central Virginia.

Mason Jar Lifestyle is a one-stop shopping site for all the jar lovers out there! They’ve gotsilicone drink lids, fruit infusers, silicone jar seals (great for those times when you want to ensure that your jars aren’t going to leak), copper regular mouth lids (fun for gifts!), and even pin cushion toppers.

If your company or small business is interested in becoming a sponsor, you can find more details here. I offer discounts for multiple month purchases and am always happy to work with your budget.

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Giveaway: The Classic Fermenting Set from FARMcurious

FarmCurious Kit - Food in Jars

Over the last couple years, I’ve fallen hard for fermentation. This time of year, I regularly have jars of cabbage, carrot slices, or cauliflower quietly bubbling away on my counter. And though my first food preservation love will forever be jam making, making pickles with nothing but veg, salt, and a week or so never fails to feel like delightful magic.

FarmCurious Kit Contents - Food in Jars

In the beginning of my fermentation experiments, I didn’t have any dedicated airlocks or specialized weights. And generally, my ferments turned out just fine. Thing is, particularly in the case of sauerkraut, I found that I always had to toss the upper half-inch of cabbage, because it was brown, dried out, or even worse, a little slimy and moldy. However, when I started adding airlocks and weights to my process, I noticed that whole product stayed good.

FarmCurious airlocks - Food in Jars

One such airlock set-up I like a lot is the set from FARMcurious. It combines the pour spout lids from reCAP with a specially sized stopper that fits the spout in the lid and the stem of the airlock. You fill up a wide mouth jar with your prepared produce and salt (or brine), settle a weight on top (if you’re using one), and twist on the FARMcurious airlock system. A little water in the airlock and you’re good to go!

Inside FarmCurious Kit - Food in Jars

I know you’re getting gift giving messages from all sides right now, but if someone you love wants to get started fermenting in the new year, either the classic FARMcurious Fermenting Set (that’s the one pictured here) or their Ultimate Fermenting Kit (in addition to the lids, airlocks and stoppers included in the classic set, this kit also includes weights and a copy of the fabulous book Fermented Vegetables, prettily packaged in a gift box).

FarmCurious on Jar - Food in Jars

The good folks at FARMcurious want to share the fermenting love and so are offering up one of their classic Fermenting Sets. They also want you to know that they’re not just an online shop. They offer a world of resources for the home fermenter, including an extensive archive of fermentation support and FAQ and lots of recipes to help you incorporate your ferments into your daily meal prep. Make sure to follow them on social media for more tips, tricks, and promotions. They even run a Facebook community for users of the FARMcurious fermenting set.

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Oh, and just one more thing. If you like what you see on the FARMcurious shop page, make sure to use the code “foodinjars” for 10% off your purchase. Now, on to the giveaway!

  1. Leave a comment on this post and tell me something about your fermenting habit. Have you tried it? Or are you still curiously reading up on the subject? Did you have a project go spectacularly right or wrong?
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm eastern time on Sunday, December 6, 2015. Winners will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog on Monday, December 7, 2015.
  3. Giveaway open to United States residents only. Void where prohibited.
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left via the comment form on the blog at the bottom of this post.

Disclosure: The folks at FARMcurious sent me the set you see here for review and photography purposes at no cost to me. No additional compensation was provided. All opinions remain my own.  

Links: Cranberries, Mason Jar Cozies, and a Winner

Fair Food Farmstand Turkey Pick-Up

I hope everyone had a lovely holiday and that you’ve had a surfeit of turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce. I must confess, this was not my most joyous Thanksgiving weekend on record. My mother-in-law has been in the hospital for the last week and so we spent much of the holiday and its weekend with her. Scott and I did slip away for a dinner with my relatives on Saturday, but our hearts remained with Joan and her health struggles.

Now, some links.

yogotherm canister - Food in Jars

The winner of the Hobby Hill Farm Fresh Yogotherm giveaway is #161/Doris. Enjoy, Doris!

The winners of the recent Fillmore Container gift card giveaway are #79/Jules and #303/Anne.

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Small Business Saturday Deals for Jar Lovers

orange cuppow

Hey friends! I hope everyone had a really terrific Thanksgiving and that you’ve got that turkey carcass simmering into stock as I type (instructions for canning stock here!). Some of my favorite online retailers and site sponsors are offering deals and discounts through the end of the weekend and so I thought I’d round them up here, for your shopping enjoyment.

Cuppow: They’re offering 25% off everything with the code 25OFF through November 30. Plus, they’ve got three new colors and have just introduced the blue and pink lids to fit wide mouth jars, so there’s plenty of fun new stuff to tuck into your favorite jar lover’s stocking.

Mason Jar Lifestyle: Get 30% off everything on the site with the code holidayshopping30  through November 30. Lots of good gift possibilities!

EcoJarz: Everything on their site is 30% off with the code BFS2015. If you spend more than $65, they’ll take an additional 10% off your order. Good through November 30.

Krautsource: They’ve got a 2 for 1 special through Tuesday, Dec. 1 at 5 pm PST. No coupon code required.

Hobby Hill Farm Fresh: Get 10% off your order with the code FIJ.

GIR: Makers of fabulous silicone products for the kitchen, they’re offering 25% off purchases of $50 and 30% off orders of $100. No code required. And, if they’re out of the color you want, know that the discount also applies to their gift cards.

Craftsy: All online classes are $19.99. I highly recommend Alana Chernila’s The From Scratch Kitchen class, as well as Rachel Saunders’ Jam and Marmalade class.

Thermoworks: All of their durable, useful thermapens are marked down through November 30. If you need a quick reading thermometer, make sure to get over there during this sale.

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Giveaway: Yogotherm from Hobby Hill Farm Fresh

yogotherm box - Food in Jars

I’ve been making yogurt at home off and on for years. I started doing it because I was trying to reduce the amount of plastic that was coming into my kitchen and all those quart tubs seemed like a good place to start. I kept doing it because I found that it was easy, immensely satisfying, budget friendly, and produced delicious yogurt. I often suggest homemade yogurt to friends and blog readers who are looking for an easy and satisfying homemade dairy project.

yogotherm canister - Food in Jars

For years now, my favorite method for keeping the yogurt warm during the culturing stage was to use a cooler. However, it was also the cooler that often deterred me from making yogurt. In my apartment, the only space large enough for a cooler is up at the top of my hall closet. To pull it out or put it away again involves a step stool and the momentary relocation of the things living in front of it. Sad to say, but dread of playing tetris with my storage area was often

heating milk - Food in Jars

Thankfully, Sharon from Hobby Hill Farm Fresh came to my rescue, with the suggestion of the Yogotherm. It’s a product she uses in many of her classes, and has been the solution to my previous yogurt making resistance. The design is simple. It’s a food-safe plastic tub, nestled into an insulated canister.

You can either pour your heated and inoculated milk into a jar and set it into the Yogotherm, or you can pour it directly into the tub. The canister keeps the milk at the ideal temperature for the culture to take hold and transform the milk into yogurt.

cooling milk - Food in Jars

I’ve been making one quart at a time in my Yogotherm. I slowly warm four cups of organic whole milk to 180 degrees F. Once the milk reaches that temperature, I either set the pot into a sink full of cold water or (if I’ve used a pot that doesn’t handle radical temperature changes well), I pour the warm milk into a stainless steel bowl and let it cool for a moment or two. I’ve found that brisk whisking while the milk is cooling brings the temperature down quickly. Just make sure to watch the temperature so that it doesn’t cool too much.

inoculated milk - Food in Jars

Once the milk is around 120 degrees F, pull it out of the cold water and whisk in the culture. For my first batch, I used the yogurt culture that Sharon sent along with the Yogotherm. For subsequent batches, I’ve saved a few tablespoons of the yogurt from the previous batch to act as the starter for the next.

culturing yogurt - Food in Jars

Then I give the Yogotherm a quick rinse with boiling water to warm and clean it, nestle my jar into the canister (the container is made of food-safe plastic, I just like the ease of being able to pull the jar right out and pop it in the fridge when the yogurt is done), and pop the lid on. Because I like a tangy yogurt, I let it culture for five to eight hours, but for a less tart version, you can stop the culturing as soon as the milk thickens.

This week, Hobby Hill Farm Fresh is offering a special deal on the Yogotherm. It’s on sale for $46.95 (down from $57.95) and will ship with packets of two different yogurt cultures and a jar of their house brand preserves. Additionally, I have one Yogotherm pack (same as what you’d get if you bought it) to give away this week.

  1. Leave a comment on this post and tell me about your gateway DIY project. Yogurt making? Bread baking? Canning? Or something else?
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm eastern time on Saturday, November 28, 2015. Winners will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog on Sunday, November 29, 2015.
  3. Giveaway open to United States residents only. Void where prohibited.
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left via the comment form on the blog at the bottom of this post.

Disclosure: Sent me the Yogotherm you see here, as well as a few yogurt cultures, for review and photography purposes at no cost to me. No additional compensation was provided. All opinions remain my own.