Canning Demos at the Central Farm Markets this Saturday and Sunday!

my demo set-up

Hi everyone! Just a reminder that I’m doing a pair of free canning demos at the Central Farm Markets in Maryland’s DC suburbs this weekend. On Saturday, I’ll be at the Pike Central Market from 10 am to 12 noon, making plum jam and demonstrating my small batch canning technique (I’ll also have books to sell and sign). On Sunday, I’ll be at the Bethesda Central Market from 10 am to 12 noon, doing the very same thing. Hope some of you can come.

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Honey-Sweetened Peach Vanilla Jam

one half pint of peach jam

A couple weeks back, I was on something of a peach tear (thanks to the folks at Sweet Preservation). I wrote about my Lazy Peach Preserves and my Honey-Sweetened Peach Chutney. I promised that I’d have one final peach jam for you and then I went and fell off the recipe map. However, I’m here to make good. Without further delay, my recipe for Honey-Sweetened Peach Vanilla Jam.

three half pints of peach jam

This is one of those preserves that has just a few ingredients and so depends on you getting the best-tasting players as you possibly can. Search out those super sweet end-of-season peaches. Find a light honey that won’t demand center stage. And please, please, use a real vanilla bean. I know they’re pricy at grocery stores and gourmet markets, but if you buy them online, they are quite affordable. Go in with a friend or two. The flavor just can’t compare.

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Giveaway: Roma by Weston Electric Tomato Strainer and Sauce Maker

assembled tomato strainer

For years now, the bulk of my tomato canning has been in the form of the whole peeled tomato. It’s quick to prep, is hugely versatile, and always felt like the best use of my time. I’d make a few jars of basic puree each season, but I never found as easy a groove with sauce. However, a new appliance has come into my life that has made me rethink my preserved tomato allegiances.

sauce shute

This year, I’ve been a puree making machine thanks to the Roma by Weston Electric Tomato Strainer. It operates much like the hand crank tomato presses (one of which I’ve had for years, but never managed to fit it comfortably into my work flow), only instead of using your own brute force, the 200 watt motor gets things moving.

tomato strainer warning

It’s always important to be careful when using electric appliances that press and grind.

You cut your tomatoes into manageable bits and then pile them into the hopper. Using a tamper, you press them into the machine’s shaft, where they meet the auger, which pushes them through a screen (it comes with three different sizes, so you can also use it for fruit sauces).

The tomato pulp then comes pouring down the chute and the skin and seeds are ejected out the end of the screen. It’s incredibly effective and makes it possible to do things like break 20 pounds of tomatoes down into pulp in just 15 minutes. Once the tomatoes have been milled, you can cook them down into sauce or take them further into paste or conserva.

tomato strainer in the kitchen

One thing I particularly like about making sauce with a strainer is that the tomatoes go in raw and then you cook down the resulting puree. So often, sauce recipes have you simmer your tomatoes to soften, then press them through a food mill and then return them to the pot.

It’s a good technique (and one that I advocate in my cookbook), except that if you take too long in milling your tomatoes and they cool down considerably, you risk ending up with sauce that separates (more on separation, fruit float, and liquid loss here). It’s not the end of the world if it separates (just give it a good shake to reintegrate), but it sure does look prettier when your finished product is uniformly integrated.

working tomato strainer

The only issue I have with this tomato strainer is that motor portion is a little too light. It means that as you’re pressing the tomatoes into the shaft, you need to rest your elbow on the top of the motor to keep it stable. Otherwise, you’re liable to flip the machine.

It’s not hard to hold it in place once you realize that it’s necessary, but a metal body would have given it a little more weight and heft. But metal is heavier and more costly, so I understand why it’s been made as it is.

finished jars of sauce

I got this tomato strainer from the nice folks at Weston Products. They’re a company devoted to tools for those of us who like to make our food from scratch and carry an extensive collection of food mills, pasta makers, dehydrators, and sausage makers. Want to press your own wine or cider? They’ve got you covered. Because they’re awesome, they’ve given me a second Roma by Weston Electric Tomato Strainer to give away to one lucky Food in Jars reader. Here’s how to enter.

  1. Leave a comment on this post and tell me your favorite canning helper (animal, vegetable, or mineral).
  2. Comments will close at 5 pm east coast time on Sunday, September 8, 2013. Winners will be chosen at random (using and will be posted to the blog later that day.
  3. Giveaway is open to US residents.
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left on the blog, I cannot accept submissions via email.
Disclosure: Weston Products gave me a tomato strainer for review and photography purposes and are also providing the unit for giveaway. No money changed hands and all opinions expresses are exclusively mine. 

September Sponsors: Cuppow, Fillmore Container, and Preserving Now

new Cuppow colors

It’s a new month and that means it’s time to mention and thank the current Food in Jars sponsors. These are the companies make it possible for me to spent time testing recipes, writing tutorials, and answering canning questions.

First up is Cuppow. They are the maker of the original mason jar travel mug topper and, more recently, of the BNTO (they sponsored last week’s awesome giveaway). Best of all, Cuppow is having a 10% of sale on all their products today (and if you buy four or more items, your shipping is free). If you want to get in on the action, use the code SUMMER2013 at check-out.

The second sponsor is Fillmore Container. They sell all manner of canning jars and lids, as well as a handful of books and jar accessories. They’re a family-owned business based in Lancaster, PA and they happily work with home canners and commercial producers alike. Look for another Fillmore Container-sponsored canning tutorial in this space soon!

My newest sponsor is Preserving Now. Operated by Lyn Deardorff, Preserving Now is both a website and school dedicated to helping people expand their canning and preserving skills. If you’re in the Atlanta area, make sure to check out her schedule of upcoming classes and events!

I am always delighted to welcome new sponsors to the site. Ads start at $75 a month. More information can be found here.

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Links: Crabapples, Salsa, and Winners

pickle plate

Scott and I are back home after a lovely week away. We started our trip in Brooklyn (where I was teaching a trio of classes), and then spent the rest of our time road tripping around Pennsylvania (Lancaster! Jim Thorpe! Milford!). It was a really good break from regular life and I’m feeling entirely refreshed and ready to dive back into work. But first, links!

stack of BNTO
bnto winners
Time for winners! I just loved reading all your stories of your lunch boxes, packed lunches, and the many of you who had notes from your parents tucked in next to your sandwiches. We had ten winners and so here they are:

Stay tuned, because I’ll have another great giveaway up tomorrow afternoon!

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Savory Jams, Fruit-based Ketchups, and a Podcast

savory jams

I’ve been on vacation for the last few days and it has been ridiculously nice. We’ve slept late, wandered around small towns, and even discovered a store devoted to homemade jams and pickles. Still, I didn’t want to leave this space unloved for too long and so am dropping in to tell you about a few of my recipes that have recently appeared elsewhere and a podcast on which I recently appeared.

The first is a story I did for Table Matters about savory jams. It contains a spicy yellow tomato jam, a sweet onion and roasted red pepper butter (this one isn’t safe for canning), and an apricot chutney with shallots and sage (this could also be made with peaches if apricots are done where you are). They are all the kinds of things that are great for serving with cheeses, slathering on homemade pizza dough, and spreading into sandwiches.

The second is a piece on fruit ketchups for Saveur’s website that’s been many months in the making. I wrote a short piece on the history of ketchup (did you know that the earliest ketchups were made with mushrooms and fermented oysters?) and then developed an array of homemade ketchup recipes. The four that made the final cut were blueberry chipotle, tomatillo and roasted green chile, sweet cherry, and beet. I love them all, but am particularly obsessed with the tomatillo version. I need to make a second batch before their season is over.

The last thing is that I was recently a guest on a podcast called The New Disruptors. I had such a good time chatting with host Glenn Fleishman and I’m delighted by how well the whole thing turned out.

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