Tag Archives | MightyNest

MightyNest, 4th Burner Pots, & a Preserving by the Pint Giveaway

4th burner pot

Back in April, I teamed up with my friends at MightyNest for a canning party at a fabulous cooking school in Evanston called Now We’re Cookin’. I made a batch of my honey-sweetened strawberry jam for the gathered audience and signed a bunch of books. MightyNest held on to a small cache of those signed books and is currently giving one away (along with six pretty tulip-shaped Weck jars and a sturdy bamboo cutting board). The giveaway ends today (all this travel has me off my blogging game) and so if you want to enter, please head over to this blog post right now!

Another thing came out of that night in Evanston. The MightyNest team was so taken with my 4th burner pot (I tucked it into my checked luggage and brought it with me on that trip) that they’ve added them to their product line. This is my favorite piece of cookware for small batch canning. I use it as a canning pot. I heat up my pickling liquid in it. I use it as a tea kettle when canning tomatoes and other water packed vegetables. It’s versatile, it’s sturdy, and it only costs $40.

Updated to add: The MightyNest folks just sent me the code for the widget, so you can now enter the giveaway right here!

*Just so you know, MightyNest is a Food in Jars sponsor. However, I loved their products and their team long before they started sending a few bucks my way to help support this site. They are good people.

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June Sponsors: Cuppow, MightyNest, Fillmore Container, Mrs. Wages, and Preserving Now!

A very nice @cuppow display in Northampton!

It is June! It’s time to start looking forward to local cherries and to say thanks to the companies that help make it possible for me to write blog posts, answer questions, try out new products, and generally invest the bulk of my waking hours to this site. Please shower them with your love (and your dollars)!

First up is perennial Food in Jars favorite, jar accessory maker Cuppow! They are the creator of the original mason jar travel mug topper and, more recently, of the BNTO, a cup that fits into a wide mouth mason jar and transforms it into a lunch box. Now that the days have gotten warmer, I drink a lot of iced coffee and find myself reaching for a wide mouth cuppow nearly every day so that I can drink from a pint and a half jar without worrying about spills.

New to the official sponsorship rolls this month is MightyNest. They sponsored last week’s amazing giveaway (which is still open for entries until tomorrow) are one of the best resources around for non-toxic, natural, and organic products for homes and families.

Next comes our friends at Fillmore Container. They sell all manner of canning jars and lids, as well as a handful of books and jar accessories. They’re a family-owned business based in Lancaster, PA and they happily work with home canners and commercial producers alike. Visit their blog for lots of good canning tricks and tips.

Mrs. Wages is also back for another month of canning goodness! I’ve written for them for the last three summers and this year, we’re teaming up for an official partnership. They make all sorts of pectins and canning mixes. Make sure to sign up for their newsletter for monthly installments of canning goodness.

Last, but certainly not least is Preserving Now! Operated by Lyn Deardorff, Preserving Now is both a website and school dedicated to helping people expand their canning and preserving skills. If you’re in the Atlanta area, make sure to check out her schedule of upcoming classes and events!

If you’d like to be a sponsor, there are lots of spots available, starting at just $75 a month.
Please visit my sponsorship page for more details!

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Storing Fresh Produce Without Plastic Bags + Giveaway

farmers market haul

The season of farmers markets, CSA shares, and home gardens is finally here. After our long winter and equally extended spring, I couldn’t be happier to have access to fresh greens, tasty brassicas like kohlrabi, and local asparagus (and soon, the tomatoes will be here!).

fridge interior

One thing that often trips me up for those first couple weeks as I adjust from grocery store produce to fruits and vegetables that are straight from the farm or orchard is storage. Each week, there is a basket of entirely unpackaged food that needs to be processed a little (to make it as ready to use as possible) and put away.

three containers

In past years, I’ve been heavily dependent on a motley assortment of plastic bags. This year, I’m working hard at eliminating unsustainable plastic from my produce storage. Thanks to the nice folks at MightyNest, I’ve had some new glass food storage containers, reusable produce bags, and dish towels to play with that have made tucking my farmers market haul easier (and even something of a pleasure!).

I’d thought I’d take some time to share my tips for stashing my greens and goods without plastic in the hopes that it might be helpful for some of you!

butter lettuce

For lettuces that I want to prep for easy use but still keep in whole leaf form (in case I want to slip a leaf or two onto a sandwich), I pull the head apart, wash the leaves, and dry them. A salad spinner is nice for drying greens, but if you don’t have one, lay out a clean kitchen towel and lay the lettuce out in a single layer. Put another towel on top, pat it down, and then carefully roll it all up. Give the lettuce bundle a gentle shake over your sink and unroll again (these Full Circle bamboo towels are incredibly absorbent!). The lettuce should be dry enough to store!

Then, layer the lettuce leaves in a container, separating the leaves every couple levels with a small cloth or paper towel (I have a stash of these Bird-E Towels, which are great for this purpose). As far as the container goes, I like to use the 109 ounce Duralex lidded bowl, as it is large enough for a whole heck of a lot of lettuce.

Side note: I also love that you can buy replacement lids for these bowls when the original wears out. I hate having to give up on a container simply because the lid has gone bad. Someone out there was thinking!

packed produce

For heartier things, like kohlrabi, kale, asparagus, green garlic, harukei turnips, and even celery or lovage, any sturdy glass container will do the job. These items don’t need a whole lot of absorbent padding or breaking down, so I simply grab any vessel that can hold the food and will fit in my fridge.

I really like the long low six cup ones with the tight fitting lids (those Duralex bowls in smaller sizes are also good). What’s nice about these long, low containers is that they’re also oven safe, so you can bake and store in them as well! They also stack evenly and securely. And as you can see, sometimes I double things up if I feel like it won’t impact the flavor or consistency. Kale and green garlic can hang out nicely without flavor transfer or texture degradation.

bundled spinach

For large bundles of spinach or mustard greens that I want to keep whole, I use the towel technique. I get a tea towel slightly damp and roll the greens up in it, tucking the ends in and trying to get at least two layers of material around the veg. It should be just damp, but not sopping.

Tucked into the crisper, this helps keep the greens fresh and perky, at least for a few days. I do make it a priority to use these tender greens in the first couple days after bringing them home, because they aren’t going to last an entire week (the kale will last much longer because it’s simply sturdier by nature).

produce bags

Other tips for storing.

  • If you’re going to use them promptly, cucumbers don’t need to be refrigerated. They actually do better above 50 degrees F and so can be kept on the counter for up to three days.
  • When we get into tomato season, keep them away from the cold and store them stem end down for the best lifespan.
  • Use that tea towel technique described earlier for asparagus as well as tender greens.
  • Any time you store radishes, small turnips or beets that came with their greens, separate the roots from the leaves upon bringing them home. Wrap and store the greens separately to keep them crisp and useable.
  • Leeks don’t need any special treatment at all. Just shake off the worst of the dirt from the roots and pop them into the crisper.
  • Conventional wisdom used to be that you never washed berries before storing, but research has shown that washing them in a vinegar solution before storing actually extends their lifespan.

spinach in towel 640

So, now to the giveaway portion of this blog post. I’ve teamed up with the nice people at MightyNest to give a set of storage containers, towels, and other goodies away to one lucky Food in Jars winner. This giveaway is working a little bit differently than some have in the past. Instead of simply signing up in the hopes of getting some free stuff, I’m going to ask you to take a pledge. A promise that this year, you’ll do your best to enjoy seasonal produce as much as you possibly can (seems like a good thing to work towards, right!).

The other cool thing about this pledge is that in the process, you’ll also be able to earn points for your local school to help them win $1000 this month in the MightyNest for Schools “Get Fresh” Challenge. It doesn’t matter whether you have kids in school or not. Pick your local school, the one you attended for 4th grade, or the one your favorite child attends. Just click the button that says “I Pledge” to enter!

Disclosure: MightyNest provided containers, towels, produce bags, and a produce brush to me for photography purposes and at no cost to me. They are also providing the giveaway package for the winner and are a site sponsor. However, my opinions still remain entirely my own.

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Links: Pumpkin Syrup, Cranberries, and Winners

Looks like we're all set for copies of my book for tonight's talk at Temple!

I spent the end of last week feeling like I was on the verge of getting really sick. In response, I hunkered down, drank buckets of tea, and slept multiple 12 hour stretches. Happily, the worst of the crud never came, but I did fall behind in everything but my Scandal watching. We’re off to Scott’s mom’s house for Thanksgiving on Wednesday morning, so I’m trying to squeeze all my catching up into Monday and Tuesday. It’s probably not going to happen, but I’ll do my best.

Now, links!

Anolon Dutch Oven

anolon DO winner We had two giveaways come to their end last week. First was the Duralex giveaway sponsored by MightyNest that ended last Wednesday. The winner in that giveaway was selected through Rafflecopter and is Brenda McNamee Diggs.

The Anolon giveaway ended on Saturday night and the winner, selected by random.com, is Sarah (commenter #8). Thanks to everyone who took the time to enter! I’ll have  a Thanksgiving week giveaway up tomorrow, so stay tuned!

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MightyNest Giveaway Winner

Yummy food swap items!

I’ve had a couple of breathlessly busy days in the Chicago area and I have one more full day of book stuff up in Lake Forest before I head home and I can wrap my brain around writing a post of substance (and I have so many dancing around my brain. Zucchini! Plum chutney! And a Canning 101 post about pickle texture!).

However, lots of you have been getting in touch wanting to know who won the MightyNest giveaway I posted last week. I’ve consulted Random.org and the winner is commenter #659. That’s Amanda F. who wrote, “We are trying to get rid of plastics in the kitchen. Those silicone popsicle molds look so much easier to remove than the plastic ones we currently have.”

Thanks to all of you who took the time to enter the giveaway! And you know, I think Amanda F. is right, those silicone popsicle molds look pretty darn awesome.

 

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Weck Jar FAQ and MightyNest Giveaway

plum jam

It used to be that Weck jars were precious things, hard to come by outside of Germany. Then people started discovering how pretty and useful they are. Suddenly, stores from Crate & Barrel to Williams-Sonoma and beyond began stocking them.

No explanation is needed when it comes to storing dry goods in Weck jars, but when it comes to the actual act of canning in them, newcomers sometimes need a little help. A couple years ago, I wrote a step-by-step guide to using Weck jars, and while I have no intention of reinventing that particular wheel today, I do want to pluck out a few of the most commonly asked questions about canning in Weck jars and highlight them here so that they’re easy to access.

mixed plums

How do you tell if Weck jars are sealed? You can tell that Weck jars are sealed because the little tab on the rubber seal will point downwards. You can also test your seal in much the same way that you do with Ball jars. Once the jars are cool, remove the clips and grasp the lid of the jar. Lift off the counter an inch or two. If the seal holds fast, you’re golden. If it starts to lose its seal or breaks the suction entirely, that’s a jar that needs to be refrigerated.

Can you reuse the rubber seal? In all printed materials available in the US, they don’t recommend that you use the rubber seal for Weck jars more than once. However, I’ve been told the instructions printed in other countries tell you that it is reusable until it is stretched out or begins to lose its elasticity. Because I don’t like to take chances, I replace the rubber seal with each use.

Can you pressure can in Weck jars? I have not tried it personally, but I was told that it can be done, provided you add a third clip to the lid, in order to help prevent siphoning during processing.

Is it possible to buy replacement clips? It is! You can actually easily buy replacement clips, rubber rings and even lids for Weck jars. MightyNest, sponsor of today’s giveaway sells all the replacement parts in their canning section.

multi-colored plum jam

Because Weck jars are quite a bit more expensive than traditional mason jars, I tend to save them for my favorite preserves. These are the recipes that I like so much that I tend to either keep them all for myself or share them with only those people who are truly deserving.

Plum jam is one of my most beloved preserves, because its flavor reminds me of the rummy jam my mom used to make with the fruit from our backyard trees, in Southern California, when I was very young.

For this jam, I combined 5 cups of chopped plums (a mixture of yellow and red) with 2 1/2 cups of sugar. Once the juices started to run, I cooked the fruit and sugar over high heat until the fruit broke down and the syrup thickened enough to hang off the spatula in little pink windows. A squeeze of lemon juice went in at the end for balance. Processed for ten minutes in an array of Weck jars, this is one preserve I’ll be rationing this winter, to ensure it lasts until plum season returns.

plum jam in Weck Jars

If you’ve been contemplating adding some Weck jars to your kitchen, you’re going to love today’s giveaway. It’s provided by MightyNest, an online shop and community hub designed to help people find a world of products (everything from kitchenware to personal care) that are healthy and non-toxic. Here’s what MightyNest has put together for this giveaway:

20 quart canning pot with a rack designed to hold 7 quarts
6 1-liter asparagus jars
6 1/2 liter tulip jars
6 160ml mold jars
Weck jar lifter (these are great, because they don’t catch on the clips the same way that jar lifters designed for Ball jars can).

MightyNest is also hosting a giveaway of my book over on their blog this week. If you’ve not yet gotten your copy, make sure to click over to enter!

If you’re interested in entering this giveaway, here’s how to do it.

  1. Leave a comment on this post and tell me what one change you’d like to make to your kitchenware to make it healthier. If you’re stumped for ideas, head over to MightyNest and browse their many lovely kitchen items. You’ll be chomping at the bit for something new in no time (I want everything they sell).
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm east coast time on Friday, August 24. Winner will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog on Saturday, August 25, 2012.
  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.
Disclosure: MightyNest provided the jars, canner and jar lifter for this giveaway at no cost to me. I have not been compensated for my time or this post. My opinions remain mine entirely. 
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