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Mixed Berry Jam from Ball® Fresh Preserving Products

This post is sponsored by Ball® Fresh Preserving Products by Newell Brands.

Nearly every summer since 2012, I’ve been issued a preserving challenge by my friends at Ball®Fresh Preserving Products by Newell Brands. Some years, they’ve asked me to develop a few new canning recipes. Other years, I’ve trekked to New York or Indiana to offer canning demos. This year, I’m really excited because they’ve given me a handful of their most popular recipes and asked me to create new ways to use them (a concept that’s much like my upcoming book!).

So from now until September, once a month I’ll be sharing my process for making the preserve and then unveiling a recipe that transforms it into something new and delicious. For this first month, the preserve was Mixed Berry Jam (I preserved it in some of the Ball® Smooth Sided Half-Pint Jars pictured above and available for purchase here. These are the best jars for labeling!).

Right off the bat, I was delighted with their pick of recipe. It’s a relatively small batch, with a short, simple ingredient list. I also know berry jams to be really versatile, so I knew I’d be able to make something interesting with it.

You start by washing and mashing enough fruit to yield 4 cups. For me, this wound up being about 1 3/4 pounds fruit (I used single 1 pound package of strawberries, and 1 1/2 clamshells of blueberries).

You want to make sure you have your jars warming and the lids washed before you start cooking the jam, because the cook time is quite short and you do want the jars to be ready for you when you’re ready for them.

Once the berries are well-mashed, they get scraped into a large pan. You add the pectin powder (4 1/2 tablespoons), stir well to combine and bring the fruit to a boil, stirring constantly.

Always take care when moving pots of hot jam!

Once the fruit is boiling madly, you stream in the sugar and stir to combine. Bring that to a rapid boil and cook for just a minute longer. Once the time is up, you pull the pot from the stove. As it starts to cool from the boiling point, you should see visible signs of set, both on the spatula and the walls of the pot.

Then, working one at a time, fill each jar to 1/4 inch headspace, wipe the rim clean with a damp cloth, and apply a new, clean lid and ring. When all jars are full, process them in a boiling water bath canner for ten minutes (adjusting your processing time for altitude, if necessary).

The finished jam is well-set, brightly flavored, and gorgeously colored. Check in tomorrow to discover what I did with it (hint: It’s something you can make on the weekend and eat for breakfast all week long!).

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Newell Brands as part of a compensated partnership. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own. 

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Sponsored Post: Meet McDonald Paper & Restaurant Supplies

I’ve learned a lot about gear in my years as an avid home cook and canning teacher. Nothing is more useful than a freshly sharpened knife. Always bring extra jars and containers to classes. And most of the time, the best place to buy durable, portable, affordable equipment is your local restaurant supply store.

Recently, the folks from McDonald Paper & Restaurant Supplies reached out and asked if I might be interested in dedicating a post to some of the tools they sell that are just as useful at home as they are in more professional food settings. Of course I said yes!

First, a little about McDonald Paper & Restaurant Supplies. Founded in 1994, they’re based in the New York metro area and carry more than 20,000 items for restaurants, coffee shops, bakeries, supermarkets, catering companies, and home cooks.

If you visit their 25,000 SF showroom in Brooklyn (open M-F, 7am – 7pm; Sat, 8am – 2pm), you’ll find professional cutlery, food prep tools, kitchen hand tools, mixing bowls, cookware, and extra-sturdy commercial grade dinnerware (great for households that are hard on their dishes). Home mixologists will find shakers, muddlers, cocktail prep tools, and kits that can help raise their cocktail game to the pro level.

Now, on to the gear!

  1. Giant, polycarbonate measuring cups – These big, indestructible measuring cups are amazing tools for canners. You can easily see how much produce you’ve prepped, they’re relatively light, and they can go in the dishwasher. For maximum versatility, get both the 2 quart and 4 quart versions.
  2. Stainless mixing bowls – They come in a huge range of sizes, but I like the 8 quart for holding produce and mixing salads.
  3. Stainless steel skimmers – These are the best for lifting foam from the top of your jam and scalding tomatoes and peaches for peeling.
  4. Rasp-style zesters – These are a quarter of the price of the name brand zesters and work just as well.
  5. Large, polycarbonate food storage containers – I use glass in my kitchen wherever I can, but there are times when nothing serves quite as well as a really large, plastic container. I use my 4 quart square poly tub for leftover soups and stews all the time. It may well be the hardest working vessel in my kitchen.
  6. Waterproof digital thermometers – I reach for my thermometer on a near-daily basis and use it to test for doneness in jams, loaves of bread, roast chicken, and even the honey syrup I use to hold my homemade granola bars together. So useful, and when bought from a restaurant supply store, so cheap!
  7. Jars – McDonald Paper carries some cute jars that I’ve not seen at other outlets. I think there’s a road trip to Brooklyn in my future!

That’s just a short list of some of my hardest working gear from restaurant supplies stores. Do you guys have any favorites?

Disclosure: McDonald Paper & Restaurant Supplies is a Food in Jars sponsor and contributes to the upkeep of this site. All thoughts and opinions remain my own. 

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Blue Apron During a Busy Work Season

Today’s post is sponsored by Blue Apron.

In a little less than three months, I will be turning in the manuscript for my 4th(!) cookbook. This book focuses on cooking, baking, and otherwise transforming homemade preserves. Over the last month or so, I’ve been deep in the recipe development phase. This means that I might spend a full day in the kitchen and end up with nothing that can be eaten for dinner

Occasionally, I pre-cook strategically for those days when the recipe development schedule leans sweet and have some leftovers ready to go. Other nights, a bag of salad and a grocery store chicken is the answer. And during one recent busy week, Blue Apron swept in and saved the day by delivering three meals directly to my doorstep, so that I could easily cook dinner without having to plan, shop, or waste a drop of food.

You might think I’d be tired of being in the kitchen after a day of recipe testing, but as long as I don’t have to make any additional decisions or hit the grocery store, I don’t mind it a bit. Blue Apron does all the choosing and thinking for me, which transforms the process of making dinner into something pleasurable. Each week, they offer up eight new recipes that are designed to satisfy eaters of all stripes (including vegetarians!).

We can just add this to the list of ways that Blue Apron meal kits have saved my bacon. They’ve also helped me be a good houseguest,  avoid take-out while preparing for a conferencebumped me out of my weeknight dinner rut, and made it possible for me to hand off dinner prep to my husband.

This time around, our 2-person box (there’s also a family plan) included ingredients for Seared Steaks and Mashed Potatoes (cheesy mashed potatoes!), Soy-Marinated Chicken Tenders (yellow sweet potatoes! delicious!), and Spiced Chicken and Garlic Rice (I loved how the roasted squash was tossed with the rice before plating).

As always, I was impressed by the food I found in the box. The quality of the ingredients was top notch, the portion sizes are perfect for two people, and the chef-designed recipes were approachable, educational, and delicious.

One of the concerns that people often have about Blue Apron is the amount of packaging involved. I continue to be impressed with how the amount of packing materials seems to reduce with every order I receive (and most of it is recyclable). If you can’t recycle the materials in your area, you can also opt to return the packing materials through the mail for reuse and recycling.

This blog post is the last one in my formal blogging partnership with Blue Apron, but I plan on continuing on as a Blue Apron customer. I don’t plan on ordering every week, but will opt in during my busy times because it allows me to skip the grocery store and still eat high quality, home cooked food. They add dishes to the rotation on a regular basis, so there’s always something new to try.

If you’re intrigued by my experience with Blue Apron, they’ve got an offer for you, too! The first 50 readers to use this link to sign up for the service will get $30 off their first Blue Apron order.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Blue Apron. They sent me a 2-Person box, containing three meals for two people. They’ve also compensated me for my time and attention. However, all thoughts and opinions expressed are entirely mine.

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Giveaway: Primo Manual Water Pump + Water Coupons

This post is sponsored by Primo Water.

When I was in college, I boldly declared to my friends that I was never going to live in a city that didn’t have good tasting tap water (I believe that my thinking was that water flavor would be an indicator of the quality of the municipality). And then I proceeded to make my home in Philadelphia, a city with many fine qualities, but decidedly lackluster water.

Happily, I’ve learned that much like judging books by their covers, cities shouldn’t be judged by the flavor of their municipal water supply because there are a number of relatively easy fixes. In my case, my easy fixes for water flavor are an in-sink water filter and the occasional purchase of a jug of Primo Water.

When I first considered Primo Water, I thought that it wasn’t actually an option for me because I didn’t have the space to dedicate to one of their dispensers (though I do love the looks of their Ceramic Water Dispenser). However, then I spotted the Manual Water Pump and realized that this was the perfect solution to my space limitations.

The manual pump allows me to buy a bottle of water when I need one for canning workshops, picnics, and parties without having to commit space to a larger dispenser. The plastic bottles (they come in either 3 or 5 gallon sizes) hold plenty of water for my events and when they’re empty, can be refilled or returned (with tons of locations, there’s bound to be one near you). Best of all, the water always tastes great.

The water goes through a careful, multi-step filtering process that leaves you with water that you’re excited to drink, use, and share. Another thing to note is how Primo Water can serve as the perfect blank slate for homemade syrups and pickling brines. It’s a really good option if you find that your tap water is giving your preserves a funky flavor.

As we head into the holiday entertaining season, instead of picking up a case of individually bottled water for your guests (so much disposable plastic!), consider a refillable/reusable bottle of Primo Water, a manual pump, and a stack of dishwasher safe glasses. It’s an easy way to ensure that everyone has access to plenty of tasty, clean water, no monitoring and refilling necessary. When the party is over, return the bottle and tuck the pump away until the next event!

Thanks to the good folks at Primo Water, I have five of these manual pumps to give away this week. Each winner will also receive 2 coupons 5 gallon jugs of water. Please use the widget below to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: This is a sponsored giveaway. Primo Water sent me the pump you see pictured here, as well as a pair of coupons to cover the cost of the water. They also compensated me for my time and attention. However, alll thoughts and opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

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Giveaway: Raw Rutes Yaozu 2 Liter Fermenting Crock

Longing for a mini fermenting crock to call your own? Read on to learn about a charming little fermentation vessel and enter for a chance to win one as well! (This is a sponsored post!)

When it comes to fermenting, small batch is the name of my game. As much as I admire the folks who make sauerkraut 25 pounds of cabbage at a time, my space constraints mean that my very largest batches of kraut, kimchi, or brined dilly beans top out at no more than five pounds of total ingredients (and often, much less than that!).

Over the years, this small batch approach has meant that mason jars have been my vessel of choice for fermentation. I do have a 10L crock that I was given years ago, but it’s just too darn big for my workflow (it sits next to my desk and holds my collection of airlocks and jar-sized pickle weights).

Still, I’ve often gazed upon the various large pickle crocks out there with a good deal of envy, wishing that there was one that would work for my small batch life. Amazingly, the folks at Raw Rutes sensed that I was pining for a petite pickling crock and created one (okay, so they didn’t make it just for me. But it’s the perfect size and is so adorable that it feels like the answer to my wish!).

The Raw Rutes Yaozu fermenting crock is small enough to fit on the counter of even the smallest kitchens. Made from natural clay and finished with food-safe white glaze, this little crock feels solid and is easy to use. It comes with a pair of clay weights and a built-in water channel (which means you don’t have to mess around with airlocks).

Best of all, this crocks holds the perfect amount for my household. When the fermentation phase is done, you’ve got between one and two quarts of tasty kraut, kosher dills, or sauerruben to decant into jars, tuck into the fridge, and fork up alongside any number of sandwiches, salads, and soups. As you can see in the picture below, it’s actually not even that much bigger than a quart jar!

At this point, you’re probably thinking, “This all sounds great, Marisa. But how do I get my hands on one of these sweet mini crocks?” You could either head over to the Raw Rutes website and get your order in before the rush. OR, you can take your chances and try to win one of two crocks I’m giving away this week!

Use the widget below to enter the blog giveaway and then head over to Instagram to enter the second giveaway I’m hosting over there. So many chances to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. The folks at Raw Rutes have compensated me for my time and efforts. However, I only accept sponsored posts from businesses that jive with the mission of Food in Jars (to educate and inspire people to pickle, preserve, and cook from scratch) and Raw Rutes is most decidedly in line with that mission. The thoughts and opinions expressed here are honest and entirely my own.

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The Dinnertime Hand-off with Blue Apron

Today’s post is sponsored by Blue Apron.

Over the last year, I’ve had several opportunities to write about my experiences with Blue Apron meal kits. I’ve shared how I used them to be a good houseguest, how they helped me avoid take-out while preparing for a conference, and how they bumped me out of my weeknight dinner rut.

This time, our box of three meal kits (we get the plan designed for two people. Bigger households might like the family plan better) made all the difference during a week when I down with a rotten cold. Here’s why. Most of the time, when I make dinner, all the information lives in my head. I don’t follow a lot of recipes and often simply improvise with what we have.

This is an approach that works well for us when I’m functioning at the top of my game. But on those nights when I am sick, tired, or have to teach a class, keeping everything in my head makes it hard for Scott to step in and make dinner happen.

However, when we have a Blue Apron recipe to make, the hand-off is seamless. We’ve already got all the high-quality ingredients necessary, so there’s no shopping necessary. Then, I can start things, tell him exactly what I’ve done, and he can simply pick up where I’ve left off. Being able to surrender dinner responsibility to him without worry made all the difference for me this week. It was magical.

Another really exciting thing that happened for us with this Blue Apron box was the fact that one of the recipes helped push the boundaries of Scott’s culinary comfort zone. The chef-designed recipe for Chicken Tagine with Cherry Tomatoes, Dates, and Couscous initially did not speak to him (he’s not typically a fan of dried fruit in savory dishes). But after his plate was clean, he said he enjoyed it and would happily eat something like it again. Score one for Blue Apron!

In addition to the Chicken Tagine, we also had these Heirloom Tomato, Lamb, and Beef Burgers with Loaded Cheesy Potatoes (the burgers were really good, but those potatoes were amazing!) and the Fairytale Eggplant and Mozzarella Pizza (another winner).

One of the worries that people often have about Blue Apron is the amount of packaging involved. I continue to be impressed with how the amount of packing materials seems to reduce with every order I receive (and most of it is recyclable). If you can’t recycle the materials in your area, you can also opt to return the packing materials through the mail for reuse and recycling.

If you’re intrigued by my experience with Blue Apron, they’ve got an offer for you, too! The first fifty readers to use this link to sign up for the service will get three meals for free on their first Blue Apron order.

Oh, and if you want to take a peek at more of the possible meals you’ll get from Blue Aproncheck out their recipe page.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Blue Apron. They sent me a 2-Person box, containing three meals for two people. They’ve also compensated me for my time and attention. However, all thoughts and opinions expressed are entirely mine.

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