February Sponsors: Cuppow, Fillmore Container, MightyNest, Hobby Hill Farm, and Mason Jar Lifestyle

Fillmore Container Yes You Can - Food in Jars

In the top spot is our friends at Cuppow are back in the top spot once again. 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. I have a giant giveaway of their lids coming up in a couple weeks, so stay tuned for that!

Next up are the lovely people at Fillmore Container. They are a family-owned business based in Lancaster, PA that sells all manner of canning jars, lids, and other preservation gear. This week on their blog, they’re giving away two $50 gift cards that are good for anything on their site. Make sure to sign up!

MightyNest is an amazing resource for non-toxic, natural, and organic products for homes and families. I’m a big fan of the MightyFix, their monthly product subscription program. For $10 a month, you’ll get a item for your home that will help you keep it greener and more sustainable! Their end-of-year sale is also on right now.

Hobby Hill Farm is with us this month. Based in Powhatan, Virginia, they sell locally made jams and preserves, homemade pretzels, candies, and cheese making kits (including the mozzarella kit I demoed here). I’ll have a fabulous giveaway from them next week!

Mason Jar Lifestyle is a one-stop shopping site for all the jar lovers out there! They’ve got silicone 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. Leave a comment on this post or drop me a note to learn more!

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Homemade Vegetable Soup Base

Veg for Concentrate - Food in Jars

My mom’s cousin Amy has a story she likes to tell, of learning to make chicken soup from her mother-in-law many years ago. They had met for the cooking lesson and Amy did as she was instructed, putting the chicken in the pot with carrots, onion and celery. Ingredients assembled, one mystery remained. “But how does it become soup? Where does the soupy part come from?”

Wordlessly, her mother-in-law pointed at the faucet. Amy’s mind was blown. (She went on to become an skilled and prolific soup maker. We all have to start somewhere!)

Veg Concentrate in Processor - Food in Jars

Making soup is really the act of giving flavor and substance to water. It’s an act of magical transmutation that you can eat for dinner. Do you see now why it’s one of my favorite things to do in the kitchen? (Besides making jam, of course!)

I’m heading off into fanciful waters here, when really what I want to tell you about is the homemade vegetable soup base that I make in batches and keep in the fridge. It is one of my favorite tools for starting the transformation of water into soup (I also keep both the chicken and beef varieties of Better than Bouillon in my fridge, for when I want a meatier boost for my concoctions).

Top of Veg Concentrate - Food in Jars

It’s relatively cheap to make, keeps forever (and honestly, just gets more interesting the longer it’s been in the fridge), and brings round, robust flavor to all manner of soups and stews. It’s also my secret weapon for days when I’ve been out and need a healthy lunch immediately.

I boil a little water in a small pot and stir in a couple teaspoons of soup base until it dissolves. I add a handful of chopped greens (spinach, arugula, chard, or kale) and once they wilt, break an egg into the pot. Then I it off the heat and let it sit for three or four minutes, to give the egg a little time to cook. I eat it out of the pot with a spoon and feel grateful for good food.

Veg Concentrate in Jars - Food in Jars

Now before you start praising me and calling me a genius, I must tell you, the idea behind this soup base is not the work of my personal brilliance. I’ve seen it in many places over the years.

Like Heidi, I first spotted it in the River Cottage Preserves Book when it was initially published in the US. Then this piece on dear, departed Culinate riffed on Heidi’s version. Jennie has a version on her blog and in her lovely book, Homemade With Love.

My version is a bit different than those from whom I’ve taken inspiration. Yours can be too. The only ingredient that is non-negotiable is the salt. You need it for both flavor and preservative power.

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Pre-Order Naturally Sweet Food in Jars

Naturally Sweet Food in Jars cover

Nine weeks from today, Naturally Sweet Food in Jars hits bookstore shelves. I have had a single physical copy in my hands for a little over a week now and I could not be more pleased with how beautifully this book has turned out. I think you’ll find it’s pretty useful as well.

Sized to match my first two books, this new volume contains 100 recipes that are sweetened with honey, maple, agave, coconut sugar, dried fruits, and fruit juice concentrates. The recipes are a combination of old favorites (like a honey sweetened version of my beloved pear vanilla jam) and brand new things (like a strawberry cocoa jam sweetened with coconut sugar).

stack of three books

I feel extraordinarily proud of this book. It was some of the hardest work I’ve ever done. There’s not a lot of existing information out there in the area of preserving with natural sweeteners and so at times, I felt like I was breaking a very small area of new ground. That’s both exciting and just a little bit scary.

If you think that this book is going to be something you want to add to your library and your budget can handle it, I would so appreciate that you pre-order a copy. Pre-orders help my publisher get an idea of demand and whether they need to order another printing.

Amazon | Powell’s | Barnes and Noble | Indigo | Books-a-MillionIndiebound

Thanks friends!

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Homemade Disinfecting Spray

Disinfectant Spray Ingredients - Food in Jars

I have never been someone who gets overly concerned about living a meticulously clean life. For all my adult years, I’ve relied on regular applications of soap, hot water, vinegar, fresh air, and a powerful vacuum for most home cleaning endeavors. But then I came down with a cold that would not end and found myself looking for new ways to kill the cold germs in the middle of winter (if it had been just a bit warmer, I would have opened up all the windows for half a day).

Half Vodka - Food in Jars

It was this search that led me to make up a bottle of vodka-based disinfecting spray. The idea of using vodka as a powerful germ killer was not new to me. When my sister was in labor with her second baby, my mom scrubbed the tub where Raina would deliver with half a bottle of high-priced vodka (it had been a gift to my brother-in-law and in those frenzied pre-birth moments, there was a strong “use what we have” vibe).

Half Water - Food in Jars

My goal was to concoct a product that could be sprayed across bedding and the couch where I spent much of the worst of the cold, to refresh and help disinfect a bit until we could drag quilts, comforters, and zip-off covers to an industrial washing machine. I did a bit of research, dug out a couple bottles of essential oils, and sent Scott out for the cheapest vodka the local state store had on offer.

Essential Oils - Food in Jars

I combined equal parts vodka and water in a spray bottle (I happened to have an empty glass one from ePantry, but anything you have on hand will do) and added about twenty drops of both rosemary and grapefruit essential oils (tea tree, lavender, or lemon would also be good options).

Shake and Spray - Food in Jars

To use, just give the bottle a good shake and spray wherever necessary. The boozy smell is faint and fades quickly, and all you’re left with is a fresh home and a bit of grapefruit and rosemary. Very few surfaces in our apartment have gone unsprayed at this point, and while I don’t know if it actually helped, I feel like it did something. And sometimes, isn’t that enough?

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Canning Class with the Swarthmore Co-op

class image revised

It has been a very quiet January around these parts, but I’m slowly starting to come out of my hibernation to teach a few classes. I have one next week that I thought you Philly-area folks might like to know about!

On Thursday, February 4, from 7-8:30 pm, I’ll be teaching a demonstration-style class at the Swarthmore Presbyterian Church. The class is being put on by the nice folks at the Swarthmore Co-op and costs $25. I’ll show everyone who attends how make a batch of honey-sweetened pear vanilla jam using Pomona’s Pectin. We’ll go through the canning process and I’ll answer every question that I can.

At the end of the class we’ll dig into the warm jam, and I’ll have some copies of my first two books for sale and signature. Registration information at the bottom of this page.

Speaking of classes and events! I’m starting to put my book tour schedule together for the spring and summer. I’m trying to keep things a bit saner than last time (I did more than 110 events with Preserving by the Pint, which was too much). That said, I am still taking suggestions for cities and venues to potentially add to my tour. Please let me know if you have good ideas for me for book stores, kitchenwares stores, libraries or other venues that you think would be good for me to consider as I plan out my travel.

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Links: Marmalade, Labneh, and Sheet Pan Hash Browns

preserves at the farm show

I feel like I’ve been in a fog for the last month. I came down with a cold just before Christmas and have spent the all the weeks since then trying to get back to my normal levels of energy and productivity (if the blog has seemed a bit unloved lately, this is why).

I spent more days that I can count laying on the couch doing nothing beyond drinking tea, coughing, and tumbling down a Netflix-shaped hole. Thankfully, I woke up on Friday morning (exactly four weeks since I first got sick!) feeling like I’d finally turned a corner and spent the snowy weekend tackling long-abandoned projects with forgotten energy and focus. Hooray for health! Here are some links!

 

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