May Sponsors: Cuppow, Fillmore Container, EcoJarz, MightyNest, Mason Jar Lifestyle, and Mrs. Wages

Happy May, friends and readers! It’s the start of the month and so is time to thank the businesses that help make this site possible. Please do show them your appreciation for their support with your time and attention!  And if your company, shop, or family business is interested reaching the food-loving and engaged Food in Jars audience, you can find more details here. Leave a comment on this post or drop me a note to learn more!

In the top spot are our friends at Cuppow. They are the creators 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. Parents and kids love their EIO set, with its grippy silicone sleeve and a lid that makes for easy sipping.

Lancaster, PA-based and family-owned Fillmore Container are next! They sell all manner of canning jars, lids, and other preservation gear. As always, their blog is an amazing resource for all things jar-related. I’m teaching a Low Temperature Pasteurization class in their space this summer. Hold your spot today!

Our friends over at EcoJarz on board again this month. They make an array of products designed to fit on top of mason jars, including cheese graters, coffee brewers, and stainless steel storage lids. Make sure to follow them on social, because they host a weekly EcoJarz Fan Pic of the Week giveaway!

Mason Jar Lifestyle is a one-stop shopping site for all the jar lovers out there. They sell all manner of mason jar accessories and adaptors. If you’re in the market for lids, straws, sprouting lids, and cozies to transform your mason jars into travel mugs, make sure to check them out!

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. Right now, you can get a year’s subscription to the MightyFix for just $99 (it regularly costs $10 a month, so that’s a great deal).

Our friends at Mrs. Wages are on the roster again this month. They make 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 mix. If you need a little help getting your produce into jars, remember to seek out their products!

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Speedy Pizza Dough + OXO Pizza Tools

I believe that the process of learning a new kitchen skill is much like learning a new dialect of a language you already speak. In the beginning, you feel awkward and mistake-prone. However, over time you begin to find markers in the landscape and soon enough, your brain builds the pathways necessary for increasing mastery. Eventually, you find that the new knowledge informs your previous understanding and brings greater depth to that which you thought you’d already known intimately.

This is why, despite having at last seven pizza joints within a three block radius of my apartment, I make my own pizza. Because it informs my baking and cooking, deepens my grasp of caramelization, and tastes mighty good, to boot. (I learned a great deal about making pizza from this free Craftsy class taught by baking great Peter Reinhart. If you have the time, I highly recommend it.)

Over the years, I’ve tried a number of different pizza dough recipes. When I have an active sourdough starter and I plan ahead, there’s nothing more delicious than a naturally leaven crust. Other times, I’ll use a recipe with very little yeast and do a long, slow rise.

However, most often, I have neither a sourdough starter at the perfect stage of readiness or the time for an overnight rise. When that happens, I use this recipe. It has a generous amount of instant yeast and gets mixed by hand, for a fast rise and a minimum of fuss.

Now, if you have the time, you can let this dough do a second rise, which increases its tangy flavor and makes it even more delicious. But that’s entirely optional. Once the dough is ready, you divide into two portions and then work them flat. For most of my pizza making life, I stretched my dough out on a sheet of parchment paper, topped it and then carefully transferred it to a hot baking steel.

However, recently the folks at OXO sent me some of their pizza tools to try and I’ve fallen hard for their non-stick pizza pan. Instead of using and trashing a sheet of parchment for every pie (and sometimes setting it to smolder in my very hot oven), I work the dough out into a round on the pan (the trick is to work the dough with damp hands and then let it rest for a minute or two. If you keep working it without a rest, it bounces back into a ball), top it, and bake all on the pan.

When it comes to topping my pizzas, I go simple. A jar of homemade sauce (my favorite small batch recipe is in Preserving by the Pint), a combination of grated mozzarella and cheddar, and some slivered onion and pepper (I’m loving the OXO Grate & Slice Set they sent for this prep). If we have it, Scott likes pepperoni, but it rarely feels necessary to me.

Baked at 475F on a pre-heated baking steel (I love this thing! I’ve owned and cracked several ceramic pizza stones over the years, but the steel is indestructible), the finished pizza is ready after 10 minutes or so (if you’re using a non-stick pan like I am these days, make sure to check out OXO’s non-stick safe pizza wheel).

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How to Make Homemade Grassfed Ghee

Regular Food in Jars contributor Alex Jones checks in today to show us all how to make gorgeous, homemade grassfed ghee. Looking at these pictures, I can almost smell the nuttiness of the melting butter! -Marisa

Butter melting into homemade grassfed ghee

During my years as a local foods buyer for the CSA at Greensgrow Farm and Fair Food Farmstand here in Philly, I brought home my share of produce that was still delicious but no longer sellable. Those leftover, cosmetically damaged, or too ripe to sell fruits and vegetables kept my fridge full. My proximity to occasional stashes of “seconds” even spurred me to learn how to preserve those goodies for later use.

I’m no longer bringing home flats of half-moldy strawberries to pick over or sacks of so-ripe-they-burst figs on a regular basis. But my work with local farms and food makers still yields the occasional bounty of perishable product that can be turned into something delicious and shelf-stable.

The most recent foodstuff in need of a little TLC came from my friend Stefanie, cheesemaker and owner of Valley Milkhouse and one of the two area cheesemakers (along with Sue Miller of Birchrun Hills Farm) with whom I run the CSA-style cheese subscription Collective Creamery.

I’dd gone up to Stef’s farmhouse in the Oley Valley, about 90 minutes northwest of Philly, for an evening meeting and spent the following day helping out in the cheese room. When I was ready to head back to the city, she sent me on my way with a very special treat: a half-full five-gallon bucket of cultured butter that was a little past its prime — but the only ingredient I’d need to make a big batch of homemade grassfed ghee.

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Quick Pickled Balsamic Strawberries

Today’s guest post comes to us from Erin Urquhart, blogger at Putting Up With Erin. She’s stopped by to share her recipe for Quick Pickled Balsamic Strawberries. Welcome to Food in Jars, Erin! 

baskets of strawberries for quick pickled balsamic strawberries

Strawberries are like gold at my farmers market. I’ve been known to spend as much as twenty minutes in line, waiting to get my hands on some locally-grown strawberries (and I have my suspicions that many of you have done the same).

Like locally grown heirloom tomatoes, strawberries are at their peak for a limited amount of time. It takes time and dedication to wait out the other shoppers in order to get the best pick, particularly if you want to have enough to can. I like to put up at least a dozen jars of various strawberry preserves and pickles to get me through the year. They take time and energy, but they’re always worth it.

fresh thyme for quick pickled balsamic strawberries

In years past I’ve played with canned strawberries, pickled green strawberries, strawberry jam , and strawberry whole grain mustard. With only a week left to get my quick-pickled entry in for the Mastery Challenge, I decided to spice it up a bit and try quick pickled balsamic strawberries.

What I love the most about quick-fridge pickling is that it affords you a bit more adventure in your recipes due to modern refrigeration. Even better, because these berries never take a trip through a boiling water bath canner, they hold their texture and shape nicely.

slivered strawberries for quick pickled balsamic strawberries

A familiar combination for strawberry jam, the acid in the balsamic vinegar is a perfect compliment to the sweet berries. There’s no need to buy an uber fancy balsamic vinegar for this recipe. Get something that you’d buy for making quick vinaigrettes.

mustard, thyme and balsamic brine for quick pickled balsamic strawberries

I used a $7 commercially produced organic balsamic vinegar that I picked up from the local food co-op. And because I wanted the pickles to have even more flavor and interest, I decided to get funky by substituting soy sauce for salt, and adding fresh thyme leaves and whole mustard seed to the mix.

quick pickled balsamic strawberries in their jars

The result: a sweet and tangy pickled strawberry backed by the depth of the balsamic vinegar. Enjoy this balsamic strawberry pickle as a mid-day snack with ricotta cheese, cracked black pepper, and some citrus zest, OR simply add a spoonful of pickles to a light field greens salad.

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Giveaway: “Make Your Own” Cleaning Kits from The Optimist Co.

Homemade cleaning products, compiled in my kitchen using the kit from The Optimist Co. have been in regular use in my kitchen for nearly two years now. They are effective and, thanks to the clear instructions on the bottles, incredibly easy to make. Plus, I love the fact that instead of carting home new spray bottles from Target or CVS, I’m reusing the ones I’ve already got.

Recently, The Optimist Co. founder Devin Donaldson (who started the company after conventional cleaning products left her with a nasty asthma attack) got in touch and asked if I might like to try a second kit. At first, I was confused because I’ve been entirely pleased with the first kit and the two products they make.

But Devin reminded me that it’s possible to do more than just make Time to Shine and Bright Side with the goodies in the box. And so I started thinking about other cleaning products that might be useful in the kitchen.

The first thing that popped to mind was a bottle of pre-made produce rinse. With farmers market and CSA season rapidly approaching, I know that very soon I will have a lot of pretty dirty produce on my hands. Instead of regularly filling the sink with a little white vinegar and water, having something that I can spritz over lettuces, zucchini, and strawberries sounds pretty darned appealing.

For this one, I used 12 ounces of water, three tablespoons of white vinegar and ten drops of the lemon essential oil from the kit (for both the sunny scent and the extra boost of antiseptic that it provides). A quick shake before using and my produce has never been cleaner.

The second thing that occurred to me was something that would help out with cleaning the kitchen floor. As many of you know, my kitchen is pretty tiny. Because there’s so little floor real estate, I rarely pull out a mop to get the job done (to be honest, I don’t think I even have a mop anymore). Instead, I do a lot of after-dinner spot cleaning (supplemented by the occasional, all-out, hands and knees scrub with a sponge and bucket of soapy water).

For that cleaner, I used 14 ounces of water, 2 teaspoons of castile soap, and 7 drops of the eucalyptus essential oil. It’s powerful enough to help cut through splatters of cooking grease, but not so soapy that I have to follow up with several rounds of rinsing. And I love the earthiness of the eucalyptus (we had eucalyptus trees in our back yard when I was very young and as a result, their scent forever feels comforting and home-like to me).

In order to encourage the Food in Jars community to think DIY and explore what The Optimist Co. kit can do in your homes, Devin is offering up three of her Make Your Own Cleaning Products Kit for this week’s giveaway. Please use the widget below to enter!

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Upcoming Classes & Events: April, May, and June 2017

We are hurtling towards the true start of the canning season (at least up here in the mid-Atlantic region. I know lots of you down south have been canning for months) and so my teaching season is starting up as well. I’m not teaching nearly as much as I have in past years, so if you want to take a class with me, make sure to mark your calendars and sign up! As always, my full calendar can be found here.

Saturday, April 29 (Morris Arboretum, Chestnut Hill)
(THERE ARE JUST THREE SPOTS LEFT IN THIS CLASS) In this two-hour, hands-on workshop at the Morris Arboretum, you’ll learn the basics of pickling. I’ll walk you through the steps of pickling carrots in a vinegar brine and fermenting cucumbers in a salt water brine. Marisa will also show you how to safely preserve the vinegar pickles using the boiling water bath method. All students will go home with the recipes and canning details, as well as a jar of carrot pickles made in class that day. $40/45. Register here.

Sunday, May 7 (Headhouse Square, Philadelphia)
This is the final opening day for the Headhouse Square Farmers Market (they’ll now be doing year round!). I’ll be there from 10 am to 2 pm, along with fellow local authors Tenaya Darlington and Amanda Feifer, selling and signing books. If you don’t yet have a copy of Naturally Sweet Food in Jars, come and pick one up.

Monday, May 8 (Culinary Literacy Center, Free Library of Philadelphia)
Co-taught with Joy Manning, this Improvisational Grain Bowl class will teach you how to turn the contents of your CSA box, farmers market haul, or Instacart order into hearty and wholesome grain bowls. This class will focus on essential techniques, including different ways to cook grains, using the blender to make quick sauces, and how to combine flavors and textures for a satisfying spring meal. 6-8 pm. $15. Register here.

Thursday, May 11 (Haddon Township, NJ)
I’ll be at the Haddon Township branch of the Camden County Library system for a free jam making demo. I’ll show you how to make a batch Strawberry Vanilla Jam, sweetened with honey and set with Pomona’s Pectin. Bring your questions! 6:30-8 pm. Free.

Sunday, June 11 (Hillsdale, NY)
I’m teaching not one, but two classes at the Hillsdale General Store Home Chef. This is going to be a fun and satisfying day of canning. If you can swing it, I highly encourage the canning curious to join me for both classes.

11 am to 1:30 pm – An introductory canning class! We’ll make strawberry preserves and strawberry chutney and will dig into the details of boiling water bath canning. $55. Register here.
2:30-4:30 pm – Pressure canning! Join me for an in-depth pressure canning workshop. We’ll make onion jam with rosemary and balsamic vinegar and will safely can it in a pressure canner. $75. Register here.

Saturday, June 17 (Philadelphia)
In this hands on pickling workshop at Greensgrow in Kensington, we’ll make both shelf stable and fermented pickles. You’ll go home with a useful handout and the two jars of pickles you made in class. 12-2 pm. $35. Details and registration info here.

Tuesday, June 20 (Culinary Literacy Center, Free Library of Philadelphia)
Co-taught with Joy Manning, this Improvisational Salad class will teach you how to turn the bounty of your CSA box, farmers market haul, or Instacart order into delicious satisfying entree salads. This class will focus on essential techniques, including whipping up a quick homemade dressing and how to combine flavors and textures for the perfect summer meal. 6-8 pm. $15. Register here.

 

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