Facebook Live Shrub Demo This Thursday

Hello canners! Join me on Thursday, March 23 at 9 pm eastern/ 6 pm pacific for an hour-long Facebook livestream over on the Food in Jars Facebook page.

This time, I’m going to show you how to make a small batch of Raspberry Meyer Lemon shrub and will show you at least three different ways to use it. I’ll also be available to answer all your questions about this month’s Mastery Challenge and will talk a little bit about what’s coming for next month, as well.

Look for the recipe for the shrub recipe here tomorrow, so that you can make it along with me, if you so desire.

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Mango Habañero Mint Shrub

Today’s guest post comes to us from Erin Urquhart. She’s stopped by to share her recipe for Mango Habañero Mint Shrub. Welcome to Food in Jars, Erin! 

Over the past couple of years I have began to notice that unintentionally many of my preserved goods either include alcohol or pair perfectly with alcohol- a strange coincidence, indeed. I’m beginning to think that I “subconsciously” come up with pickle ingredients with martinis on the mind. By no surprise, I admit that I am a sucker for any type of brined, vinegar-based, or bitter cocktail.

Having only ever read about shrubs on ingredient lists, I was surprised to learn the very intentional alcohol related origin of liquid shrubs. As story goes, shrubs originally gained popularity in the 1680s among English smugglers who were trying to avoid paying import taxes on booze being shipped from Europe. To avoid detection and thus taxation, smugglers would sink barrels full of alcohol off the Atlantic coast to be retrieved at a later time. Upon retrieval, the addition of the shrub fruit flavors were used to mask the taste of alcohol fouled by sea water. Who knew!?

Unless your pirate heritage runs deep, nowadays, shrubs, aka “drinking vinegars” are making a come back in the international cocktail scene. Due to their high concentration of vinegar and sugar, shrubs can be prepared in advance made as a pre-made drink mixture. When Marisa announced the 2017 Food in Jars Mastery Challenge late last year, I found myself beyond excited with anticipation for all the creative and weird cocktail shrubs I planned to make.

Apparently, because my craft shrub confidence isn’t quite up to par to make more wild types of shrubs like a fennel fruit shrub, or a sweet tomato shrub, I decide to play it safe for this month’s challenge. This recipe presents a refreshing yet spicy shrub combination, a Mango Habañero Mint Shrub. To keep the flavors strong and fresh, I opted for the cold-pressed shrub method. Additionally, because I didn’t want to mask any pepper or mint, I chose the more delicate color and flavor profiles of champagne vinegar.

The resulting sweet heat of this mango shrub is pretty phenomenal. I admittedly coughed following first gulp (oops), “wow that’s really strong!!”. Alas, after bottling and letting it settle in the fridge for a couple days the taste is now just right, and it’ll only get better. For a stronger mint flavor, I recommend upping your fresh mint amount.

For a refreshing drink serve this Mango Habañero Mint Shrub with ice cold water/seltzer, or get spicy and serve it with the Tequila Shrub Cocktail listed below. Also, make sure you reserve that mango fruit pulp for an awesome topping for your Saturday morning french toast, or perhaps use it in a homemade spicy mango cornbread. Yum!

Scientist by day, pickler by night, Erin Urquhart (from Putting Up with Erin) has always had a deep affinity for pickles. She’s the type of person who is super disappointed if pickles aren’t included in every holiday spread. A regular contributor of pickle reviews to her local Durham, NC newspaper, she even drives a car with “Pickle” vanity license plates.

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Apple Ginger Jelly

This small batch of apple ginger jelly is delicious in a PB&J and would be even better served with fresh ricotta and crostini.

I bought these cute little lady apples back in January, thinking I would make a clever pickle or a preserve them in a cinnamon-spiked syrup. I tucked them into my produce drawer and the days went by.

As I started thinking about this month’s challenge, those apples leapt to mind and I knew that their destiny lay elsewhere. Along with a couple other apples, they were meant to become jelly. Apple ginger jelly, to be precise.

I love using apples to make jelly because while they make a respectable preserve all on their own, they have a neutral enough flavor that they can take on a wide array of other flavors as well. I combined my apples with fresh ginger, but you could go with a fresh herb or a trio of warm winter spices.

The process of making jelly from apples is easy enough. Cut them into halves or quarters. Cover them with water (start with about a cup more water than you need for your finished recipe). Add your flavor enhancers if you’re using something that appreciates a longer infusion. And simmer until the fruit is very soft.

Once the fruit is soft, it’s time to strain. I line old china cap and stand that I inherited from my great-aunt Flora with a nut milk bag (sturdier than a jelly bag), but you can also use a traditional jelly bag stand, or even a colander lined with cheesecloth that you perch on top of a tall bowl.

Best practice is to give your fruit at least 6-8 hours to drain so that you don’t introduce any pulp into the juice that could make your jelly cloudy. However, if you don’t really care about having a batch of a slightly opaque jelly, go ahead and squeeze. I got an additional half cup of juice from my fruit thanks to some vigorous squeezing.

Once you’ve got all the juice extracted from your apples, it’s time to make the jelly. Bring the juice to a boil. As it heats, whisk the sugar and pectin together. Once the juice boils, whisk in the the pectin-spiked sugar and stir. Add some fresh lemon juice for balance. And start checking for set.

Once you get some nice, thick sheeting on the back of your spoon or the jelly passes the plate test, it is done. Pour it into jars, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace (the thinner the product, the less headspace you need).

The finished flavor of this jelly is bright from the apples and just a little bit spicy from the ginger. I ate the last couple teaspoons that wouldn’t fit into the jars on peanut butter toast and felt very much like all was right with the world. I could also see it tasting very good spread thinly inside a grilled cheese sandwich.

For those of you who made jelly for this month’s challenge, how has it gone for you? Any favorites to share?

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Chicken, Leek, & Preserved Lemon Pasta + Lagostina Nera Hard Anodized 5 Quart Casserole Giveaway

It’s become popular in recent years to keep a gratitude journal. Often no more than a simple notebook, this practice allows one to list and enumerate the many things for which they feel grateful. I’ve often considered adopting this habit, but have never quite managed to commit to that kind of journaling (sometimes it’s all I can do to keep up this website).

However, I have much that for which I am grateful. And if I were to start making lists, near the top would be my gratitude for my dinner making abilities. It might sound silly, but I am grateful that it’s something I have both the means and the skills to do without a whole lot of heartache or struggle.

Throughout my adult life, I’ve picked up an assortment of know-how related to making dinner. How to make soup. How to roast vegetables. How to toast grains in a little bit of butter before adding water to increase their deliciousness. And how to make a one-pot pasta dish.

I’ve made a number of these pasta dishes over the years (here’s a memorably delicious one) and their original inspiration is always the single skillet pasta recipe from Martha Stewart that took the internet by storm a several years back. This one takes a bit longer than the Martha version, but most of the time is hands off, so it still manages to feel blessedly simple.

This particular one-pan pasta dish features a whole bunch of leeks, braised boneless, skinless chicken thighs, baby spinach, creme fraiche (for creaminess), and several tablespoons of diced preserved lemon peel (about three-quarters of a small preserved lemon).

The resulting meal is hearty, bright, and really comforting. It reminds me of the casseroles of my childhood, only without a can of cream of mushroom soup.

I made this dish this weekend particularly to feature the Lagostina Nera Hard Anodized 5 Quart Casserole. A few months back, a rep from Lagostina emailed and invited me to participate a promotion/giveaway to show off the goodness that is this pan.

And it is good. The wide cooking area and non-stick surface makes for quick cooking and even speedier clean-up. The tight-fitting lid makes a nice braising environment. It’s oven safe (in case you want to crisp the top of your pasta). And it’s pretty enough to go straight from stovetop to the table.

The Lagostina Nera Hard Anodized 5 Quart Casserole is valued at $49.99 (a steal for such a sturdy pan) and can be found exclusively at Macy’s. For more information about Lagostina, check out their social accounts and visit their website.

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Thanks to the kind folks at Lagostina, I have one of these lovely casseroles to give away. Please use the widget below to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: Lagostina sent me this casserole to use and write about. No additional compensation was provided. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.

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Links: Asparagus Tarts, Potluck Nation, and Winners

Spring tiptoed in this morning at 6:28 am. While I know intellectually that it’s a mostly arbitrary dividing line, I can’t help but imagine that the air smells sweeter and that the quality of the light is warmer and more substantial. While I dream about local strawberries and asparagus (still weeks away), some links.

My friend Kristin has launched a lovely movement called Potluck Nation. She’s the author of the book Modern Potluck and is hoping to use the power of the potluck to bring people together heal some of what’s been fractured in this country over the recent months and years. As an avowed lover of potlucks myself, I am fully on board and hope to host a few potlucks of my own (I plan on making the asparagus tart pictured above. It’s one I developed for a column I wrote many moons ago. I’ve reprinted the recipe below). Perhaps some of you will be inspired to do the same!

Here’s the winner of the Ball Canning giveaway I hosted last week!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Submit your March Mastery Challenge Projects Here!

Hello #fijchallenge folks! From the looks of things on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, you’ve all been keeping quite busy making jellies and shrubs this month. I love seeing all the creative flavor combinations that so many of you have come up with!

We’re past the mid-point of the month, so it’s high time for me to give all your jelly and shrub makers a way to submit your March projects.

Instead of embedding the form, I’m going ask that you click here to access it. For some reason, the Google form made the blog behave oddly last time, so by leaving it off the front page, I’m hoping to avoid any functionality issues!

Submit your March Projects here! 

This month, there are just three required fields on the form. I’m asking you tell me is your name, where you live, and to mark a check-box telling me what you made.

Those are the only details I need to count you among the participants, but like last month, more fields do exist on the form. Because the challenge was two-pronged this month, there are questions relating to both jellies and shrubs. If you made one and not the other, skip the questions that do not apply.

There’s also a space in the form to share a link to your project. That link can go to a blog post, a specific picture on Instagram, a Tweet, a post on Tumblr, or to a picture on Flickr or Google Photos. Just remember that you need to set your privacy settings so that wherever your post is, it is publicly available. And remember, sharing a link is not a requirement.

With nearly than 1,800 people signed up for this challenge, I cannot do a comprehensive round-up. However, just like last month, I will do my very best to link out to as many people as I can, though.

Please remember that the deadline to submit your March project in order to be counted in the monthly total is Wednesday, March 29.

And if you haven’t made either a jelly or a shrub yet this month, there’s still time! All the details about this month’s challenge are here.

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