Tag Archives | jar porn

Decorated Jars for the Winter Philly Food Swap

packaged rhubarb liqueur

Last night was our Winter Philly Food Swap. The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society was so kind to host us and 35 swappers braved the rainy night to come out and trade their goodies. I brought two half pound bundles of my burnt sugar toffee, two half pints of fermented hot sauce that I made some months back and four small jars of rhubarb liqueur that I’ve had cooking since last April (made using this recipe as a guide).

Not wanting to bring naked bottles and wanting something a little more elegant than my standard Sharpie scrawl, I spent the moments before I left for the swap figuring out how best to label my jars (I’m something of a last minute girl). I was pleased with what I ended up devising and thought you all might like a peek at what I did.

I made a little label on white card stock and cut it out with pinking shears. Then, using some stripey bakers’ twine, I secured the label to the jar by wrapping the twine around and around. What I like about this is that it adheres the label to the side of the jar without using any adhesive. It is such a pain to remove sticky residue from jars when it’s time to use them again.

It’s not perfect, but worked fairly well in a pinch. If I do this again in the future, I’ll make sure to leave far more white space on the label, so that I don’t cover up the writing with the twine.

What’s your favorite way to label jars for holiday giving?

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Jars on Vacation: A Week in Lancaster County, PA

recent jar acquisitions

We’ve been back home for just over 24 hours and already, our vacation week is starting fade in the presence of regular life. While I unpack, do laundry and find spots for some of the treasures we picked up, here are a few jars from the trip.

baby pattypan in a jar

Baby pattypan squash, on their way to being pickled.

peanut butter chocolate dessert in a jar

We finished dinner at Ma(i)son in Lancaster City with a half pint jar full of chocolate peanut butter goodness.

finished dessert

All gone.

bailing wire jars

A couple of the vintage jars I picked up.

Food in Jars

Spelling out the name of this blog. It was too bad I couldn’t find a better ‘F’ in that box of blocks.

pickled pattypans

Those pattypans, all pickled and delicious.

packing jars

Making refrigerator pickles on a picnic table. You’ll see more of these soon, in an unexpected place.

post-vacation sea of jars

And home again.

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There’s a New Brand of Mason Jars in Town + Giveaway

Penley product line

Canning jars, at least as we know them now, have been around since 1868. John L. Mason developed the system of a threaded jar with a lid designed for sealing (he used lead lids with a rubber seal, not exactly the two-piece lid we know now, but very close). The technology hasn’t change much since then.

It used to be that there were a number of canning jar manufacturers. Ball. Kerr. Atlas. Drey. Mason. Globe. Mom’s. Knox. Golden Harvest. However, as so often happens, through a process of competition and consolidation, the number of jar producers grew fewer over the years.

Penley Mason jar

In 1993, the Ball Corporation (which by that time was the only domestic canning jar manufacturer) spun off their canning jar sector into the company that is now known at Jarden Home Brands. They make all the Ball, Kerr and Golden Harvest jars currently available in stores. One of the reasons that canning jars can be so pricey is that there’s been no competition in this sector of the market.*

However, thanks to the growing popularity of canning in recent years, we’re finally going to start seeing some new canning jars hit the market this season. Walmart has a line of mason jars called Mainstays, as well as a fancier variety branded with the Better Homes and Garden name. And soon, a variety of stores will be carrying Penley Mason jars (these are not the jars that Walmart is carrying). Those Penley jars are the ones I want to talk about today.

Penley lid

I recently had an opportunity to preview the line of jars made by the Penley Corporation. Up until now, they’ve been in the business of making and distributing clothespins, matches, toothpicks, plastic cutlery and drinking straws. Canning jars are a departure for them, but from the examples I’ve seen, they are doing an amazingly good job with their new product.

In most respects, they are physically nearly identical to the jars most of us currently use. They make pints and quarts in both regular and wide mouth and an embossed half pint in a regular mouth. Lids and rings are interchangeable between Ball, Kerr and Penley, which is fabulous for those of us who already have a stash of lids or who are planning on using Tattler lids this season.

When I met with the Penley rep, he pointed out the fact that they intentionally left the back of their pints and quarts smooth to better accommodate the labels that so many canners apply to their jars. I was happy to see that particularly since I’ve always hated the round of wheat and fruit on the back of the Ball jars (in researching this post, I learned that it’s been there since 1970).

made in china

As far as performance goes, I’ve canned in these jars several times now and they’ve been perfect, not a failed seal among them. What’s more, they just feel good in the hand. They are sturdy and solid, just the way I expect a good canning jar to be. As you can see from the picture above, there’s a water spot left on that jar from a run through the dishwasher, there because I’ve used this jar for leftover storage and the transportation of iced coffee to work. They’ve seamlessly become part of my collection of working jars.

Finally (and best of all), they are going to be less expensive than Ball or Kerr jars. While it will only be a dollar or two difference, if you do a lot of canning, that can add up quickly.

As far as I can see, there are only two drawbacks to these jars. The first is that they’ve left no space on the lid for writing. As someone who always writes on the lids of my preserves with a Sharpie, this is a minor annoyance. Second is that the jars are made in China. I pass no judgment on Penley for making this choice as in today’s market it is really the only way to make a lower cost product. If you are someone who avoids things made outside of the U.S. I wanted to make sure you were aware (and as you can see, they’ve clearly printed the origin on the bottom of all the Penley jars).

Penley jars will be available at limited locations around the country this season and more widely available next year. Keep your eyes peeled for them in your local grocery store. Additionally, thanks to Penley, I have one case (12 jars) of these jars to give away to a Food in Jars reader (the winner gets to choose the size they’d like).

To enter, leave a comment and share your favorite unconventional canning jar use. The contest runs through Monday, May 9 at 11:59 p.m. One comment per person, please.

Disclosure: The Penley Corp. gave me an assortment of jars and lids to try. However, all thoughts and opinions expresses herein are my own and untainted by the free loot.

*There are the Leifheit jars, but they are so much more expensive (around $20 for six jars) than Ball and Kerr jars, that I don’t see them as a viable alternative for people who do more than the most basic recreational canning.

Seven Boxes of Preserves in the Back of the Car

355 | 365

I’m still deep in cookbook land right now, but I wanted to take a moment to share this picture with you all. This is the back of my (new!) car, filled with jars of preserves on their way to the photography studio where the images for my cookbook will be made. My editor and I made the drop Tuesday morning, parking illegally and ferrying the boxes from curb to elevator (using one box to keep the door propped).

I’ve been making and setting aside these jars since this last year (I did my darnedest to test recipes in season). It was so satisfying to create recipes for the book, but also a challenge to make so much good stuff that I couldn’t open or eat. I had to be so, so careful during the holidays that I didn’t accidentally wrap a jar that I was intended to keep. As it was, I was short the promised number of both damson plum and strawberry vanilla jam.

There were approximately 75 jars in this load. I owe at least another 20. There is still a long way to go before sleep or celebration, but still, this felt good. Tangible. Real. So I thought I would share.

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Jars on Vacation

half gallons of pickles

Scott and I are back in Philadelphia, after more than a week out on the west coast. It was a glorious trip, full of good food, delightful day trips, lots of rest and plenty of time with my parents. While I work on unpacking, doing laundry and sorting through the mail, here are a few pictures to keep you busy.

happy girl kitchen co. pickles

At the Ferry Building Farmers’ Market in San Francisco.

happy girl kitchen co. jams

Canned smoked salmon at the Tillamook creamery in Tillamook, OR.

canned smoked salmon

Jar-shaped canisters!

jar-shaped canisters

Three pictures of the display in the window of the Pearl District Anthropologie in Portland. It made me cringe a little, to see perfectly good jars spoiled in this way. But I couldn’t help be charmed by them nonetheless.

painted jars at Anthropologie
painted jars at Anthropologie
painted jars at Anthropologie

Another shop in downtown Portland that was using jars in their window display. Happily, these weren’t painted so they can be used again.

window display of jars

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Vintage Canning Jar Art

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Back before the wedding, a friend from church gave me more than dozen boxes of canning jars from her basement. Recently retired, Debby was trying to follow through with a personal pledge to clean out her cellar and after some soul searching, had determined that her canning days were long past.

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I was totally delighted to receive the jars (although my apartment is now officially overcome by glass vessels) and as she unearthed them from a nook by the washing machine, I was instantly charmed by the box art (they just don’t design packaging the way they used to!).

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Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to save many of these boxes, as the years, a few leaks and a bit of crumbling drywall had not been kind to them. But before I sent them to the big recycling plant in the sky, I was careful to capture some of their simple appeal.
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This canning wax wasn’t from Debby’s basement, I actually spotted it at a thrift store while we were on our honeymoon, and could resist grabbing a photo (even though it’s not recommended to can with wax anymore).

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