Tag Archives | jar love

Brewing Tea in Jars + Keeping Tea Bags in Place

clothes pinned tea bags

For the last year or so, I’ve been in the habit of brewing up a quart jar of herbal tea each morning when I make myself that vital mug of something hot and caffeinated (I’m currently deeply addicted to PG Tips with milk and honey, but I feel a coffee jag coming on any day now).

While I have no problem drinking water all day long, I’ve found that it makes for a nice treat to have something with a bit of flavor to sip with lunch. This quart jar tea fits the bill because it’s easy and helps me work through my embarrassingly large tea stash. It also frees me from the temptation of spending $3+ on an iced tea if I go out to run an errand or two in the afternoon.

verticle tea in jar

Most of the time I find myself using tea bags and have always employed the trick of attaching a clothespin to the tags on the bag to keep them from flying into the jar when I pour in the boiling water. However, back in January, I learned another way from my sister. She’s also in the habit of brewing tea in quart jars (funny how certain things run in families) and she keeps her tea bags in place with rubber bands.

When I first noticed that all the quart jars in her cabinet had rubber bands positioned below the 1 inch ring, I thought she was using them as a way for people to identify their jar. But when I asked about it, she relieved their true purpose and said that she leaves the on all the time, even when running the jars through the dishwasher.

rubber banded tea bags

I think her use of rubber bands is brilliant, particularly because it also identifies which jars are drinking glass regulars verses ones being used for canning (if you use certain jars for drinking all the time, you weaken them a little and so it’s best to keep them out of your canning ecosystem if you can as they’re more prone to breakage).

It’s also a trick to remember this summer if you have a stash of jars you use for parties and outdoor gatherings. Assign everyone a different color and pop the rubber bands on the jars to keep your drinks straight.

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Homemade Jar Flour Shaker

Flour Shaker

This clever idea is the brainchild of canner and fellow Portland, Oregon expat Jessica Smedley. She recently picked up a few of these punched out canning jar lids, popped on a jar of all-purpose flour and had herself an instant flour shaker.

Flour Shaker

I’ve recently started feeding and using my sourdough starter again (I am amazed that I didn’t manage to kill it during many months of neglect this summer) and regularly find myself needing to dust my countertop with a little flour before kneading my bread dough. This little rig would be just the thing to make that task a little easier.

If you want to set up your own flour shaker, you can buy these lids from the folks at Fillmore Container. Thanks for sharing your idea, Jessica!


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Giveaway: Four Ounce Smooth Sided Jars from Fillmore Container

solo four ounce jar

Over the years that I’ve been canning, I’ve acquired a fairly vast assortment of jars. Some of the basic type that can be picked up at any grocery or hardware store, while others are older models that can only be found at yard sales and secondhand shops.

Whenever I take pictures of my preserves in these vintage jars, I’m asked to name the source of these pretty jars. Most of the time, I end up disappointing the questioner when I confess that I picked up the jars in question at a tag sale in rural Pennsylvania some years back.

smooth sides close-up

Happily, today is going to be a little different. The jars I’m showing off in these photos aren’t vintage and impossible to find. These four-ounce, smooth-sided jars are from Fillmore Container, cost just $3.99 a dozen¬†and are quite easy to order (the shipping can get spendy though, so consider pairing up with a friend to keep it affordable).

When I first discovered these jars, I was ridiculously happy (yes, I do realize that it’s a little silly to have one’s joy level attached to the accessibility of a particular canning jar, but it’s me we’re talking about). You see, while I’ve always appreciated having the four-ounce jar as an option in my canning, I’ve never liked the quilted finish that Ball uses on that size. I’d seen photos of these smooth-sided quarter pints in the past, but I wasn’t sure how to get my hands on some.

labeled smooth sided jar

Then, back in August, Lisa Reinhart from Fillmore Container came to my canning demo at Lemon Street Market in Lancaster City and brought a dozen of these smooth-sided little jars with her. I was over the moon (particularly since she sent me home with the box). I’ve since used them for all manner of things from basic canning projects to spice storage (without the quilting, it’s much easier to tell the dried basil from the oregano with just a glance).

I also love the absence of pattern because it means that there are far fewer limitations when it comes to labeling these jars. Instead of being tethered to a small label, you can devise a longer sticker that bends around the entirety of the jar. Or, you can use one of the new stickers from Ball that dissolves when soaked (that’s what I’m using above), but not worry about placing it precisely in the area designed for it.

As you start to plan your holiday gift giving, consider this size for your projects. I am certain that my Pear Vanilla Jam would look gorgeous in these jars, as would any number of chutneys, jellies and syrups.

four ounce comparison

As you can see from the photo above, these smooth-sided jars (on the left) are little squatter than the quilted versions. However, they hold the same amount and the conventional two-piece lids fit them perfectly. That said, if you want to go for a different look, Fillmore also sells one-piece lids that are designed for boiling water bath canning as well. They come in red, green, yellow, black, white, silver and gold and are quite easy to use (I’ll have a tutorial on using one-piece lids up later this week).

Thanks to Fillmore Container, I have a case of 12 jars and 12 one-piece lids (winner gets to choose the color) to give away to one reader of this blog. Here’s what you do to enter.

  1. Leave a comment on this post and tell me how you’d use these four-ounce, smooth-sided jars.
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm east coast time on Friday, September 28, 2012. Winner will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog over the weekend.
  3. Giveaway is open to US residents.
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left via the comment form on the blog, I cannot accept submissions via email.

Finally, make sure to click on over to the Fillmore Container blog. They have a little interview with me up there right now and have a signed copy of my book, along with my favorite blossom trivet, to give away as well.

Disclosure: Fillmore Container gave me a dozen of these jars and lids to try out and they’re also providing the same for this giveaway. However, my opinions are uninfluenced by the gift and my opinions are entirely my own.¬†

Where I Store My Homecanned Goods + Giveaway

dry sink

The reasons I preserve food are many. I like knowing what’s in my dinner (and if it’s too sweet or too puckery, I have no one to blame but myself). I appreciate knowing where the food came from and having a relationship with the people who grew it (even if that relationship is confined to Saturday mornings, a few words and exchange of money for goods). I also find it to be quite life affirming. Canning is a way of reminding your future self that she matters and that, barring any unforeseen events, you intend to be on the planet for a while longer.

jars in the dry sink

There’s also something so cozy about having a stockpile of good things to eat. Lately, I’ve been enjoying seeing the ways in which people stash and store their home canned stuff. There was a period there where I was posting at least one link to the Food in Jars Facebook page a day, sharing the various pantry pictures I found or was sent. I was particularly tickled when I got to see Heather’s kitchen shelves in person when I was in Portland last month.

front hall closet

I figured that it was only fair that I finally share with you all where my own extended pantry lives. I’m reluctant to confess that when it comes to pantry management, I am not the most organized. I like to imagine that if I had a dedicated space in which to store these filled and sealed jars, I might be better about maintenance and categorization, but deep in my heart, I recognize that I will never be Martha-like in my devotion to scrupulous neatness.

front hall closet

At the moment there are three primary spots where my pantry resides. The first is in a dry sink in my dining room. That’s the piece of furniture you can see at the top of this post. It mostly contains jams and fruit sauces, although I do keep the pressure canned stocks on the bottom-left shelf. I think the jars like it in there, because it’s nice and dark.

The next place is our front-hall closet. We are quite fortunate in that though this apartment is just 1,100 square feet, the closets are nice and roomy. The one closest to the front door is large enough that I’ve entertained thoughts of cleaning it out and transforming it into a home office. However, if I did that, both the coats and my tomatoes would be homeless. So it remains home to all manner of coats, folding chairs, coolers that primarily serve as yogurt incubators, backpacks that only get used when we fly and lots of pickles, canned fruit and tomatoes. It always surprises people when I go to retrieve their coats at the end of an evening and also hand them a jar of hot dog relish for the road.

under my desk

Finally, there’s the overflow spot, under my desk in the den. This is a space that is primarily Scott’s domain. However, he’s willing to share with me and so I use the built-in desk along the wall. When I’m not snapping photos of the space, I throw a dark towel over those jars, so that the light coming in from the window (not pictured but to the right of this desk) doesn’t prematurely age the contents of those jars.

cookbook giveaway

Okay, now that you’ve taken the tour of my closets and nooks, time for a little giveaway. A publisher sent these two Better Homes and Gardens Cookbooks to me while I was still at Slashfood (nearly two years ago now), so they aren’t the newest cookbooks on the block. They are, however, still in brand-new condition (still in their original shrink-wrap and everything) and the time has come for them to move on to a life with a cook who will unwrap them and splash a bit of butter or chocolate on their pages.

If you’d like a chance to win the pair of these books, leave a comment and share a story about a pantry you have known (good, bad or otherwise). This giveaway will close on Friday, November 5th at 11:59 p.m.

A happy jar encounter + giveaway

jars as target

I am always on the lookout for canning supplies. Whether I’m at a grocery store, hardware store or rummage sale, I constantly scan shelves and displays for jars, lids, pectin and more. It’s not that I’m in need of these supplies (I am quite well stocked at this point). I just like being aware of what’s out there, what new products Jarden Home Brands is releasing and the general availability of canning gear.

Last Sunday, I was seriously disappointed by both an Acme and a Giant out in Delaware County. We were on an errand out that way and stopped in to both grocery stores, looking for canning stuff (for me) and Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper (for Scott). We left both stores empty-handed on both fronts. However, the canning universe redeemed itself in a big way tonight. On a quick, post-dinner trip to Target tonight, I discovered a holy mother lode of preserving paraphernalia (unfortunately, I don’t see any of this stuff on Target.com). I practically danced with joy, right there in the main aisle of the South Philadelphia Target.

They had products I’ve never even seen before, including a freezer container that had knobs on top that allow you to indicate the date of freezing with a few clicks and a giant, one-gallon Ball storage jar, produced to commemorate the 125th anniversary of the Ball company (yes, that’s me in the picture above, cradling the huge jar and grinning like I’ve just won the lottery).

The other thing the had tonight were copies of the very hard to find Ball Blue Book of Canning (the 100th anniversary edition, no less). Because I know just what a pain it can be to lay hands on this most useful little book, I bought two copies to pass along to a couple of Food in Jars readers. If you want one, leave a comment between now and Friday at 5 p.m., when I’ll pick winners.

And happy canning!

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