Food in Jars Mastery Challenge 2019

January 7, 2019(updated on April 29, 2019)

Two years ago, I organized a year long preserving project called the Food in Jars Mastery Challenge (heavily inspired by 2010’s Tigress Can Jam). For each month the year, we tackled a different food preservation skill.

After a year away, I’ve decided that it’s we’re going to do it again! This incarnation of the challenge is going to be a little different (and hopefully streamlined a little to make it easier for me!), but I think it will still bring a lot of value, community building, and fun to everyone who participates.

This time, we’re going to mix up the challenges. Some months, we’ll dig into a preserving skill, while other months will be centered around a category of produce. As was the case last time, the intention is that we all end 2019 with a greater levels of food preservation comfort and fluency.

At the beginning of each month, I’ll publish a blog post introducing that month’s topic and then will ask you to make a preserve that fits into that category.

It doesn’t have to be a water bath processed recipe to qualify for the challenge. Preserves, condiments, pickles and other recipes that are designed for the fridge or freezer are welcome, as are things that are dried or fermented.

We’ll be talking in greater depth about each challenge in the Food in Jars Community on Facebook and I’ll be popping in regularly to answer questions.

Around the 15th of the month I’ll publish a post that will include a Google form that you can use to report your experience with the month’s challenge. Finished projects are due by the 25th of the month so that I have time to pull together the end of month blog post.

I will try to close out each month with a few data points from the reporting, and some of the best projects shared, but I’m not going to be doing an extensive monthly round-up (that part killed me last time). Everyone should report their results using the Google form.

If you want to share images of your finished projects, I’m asking that you share them on Instagram using the hashtag #fijchallenge. You don’t have to be an Instagram user to participate, but it’s the only way I can manage to collect pictures of your finished projects.

Here’s the list of challenges for 2019. They’re not all going to be perfectly seasonal for all who are participating, but I’ve done my best. I’ve also slotted a wild card in for October, so hopefully people will feel free to make that month a perfectly customized challenge for their region.

Calendar of Preserving Skills
January – Citrus
February – Fermentation
March – Herbs
April – Use Up Last Year’s Preserves
May – Berries
June – Jam
July – Stonefruit
August – Tomatoes
September – Pickles, Relishes, Chow Chows, and Piccalili
October – Wild Card
November – Apples, Pears, Quince, and Persimmon
December – Foods in Jars for Holiday Giving

You can use the form below to indicate that you’re participating in the challenge. To stay up-to-date with all the challenges, make sure to join the Food in Jars Community on Facebook and subscribe to my newsletter using the widget at the bottom of the page.

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60 thoughts on "Food in Jars Mastery Challenge 2019"

  • I’m so excited to try the challenge this year! I didn’t have the time last challenge, but I really wanted to do it. I like the new format too!

  • I’m really interested to see what comes of the persimmon month. We still have a LOT of astringent Asian persimmons slowly working to get fully ripe before they can be eaten. I’d love some ideas for using them than eating with a spoon or making cake. I’ve frozen enough pulp to make a dozen cakes over the course of the year already. Do you think I could use frozen pulp to make jam?

  • i am going to try to keep pace, but i fear our Texas growing season (tomatoes in May/June, pears/apples in august) may make it tough to track.

  • Yeah!!!
    Have wanted to explore canning for years. Santa brought me supplies and a few cases of jars. This is just the thing. Much more fun to do it with others – even virtually.

  • Last time I was only able to read about all of the great ideas. This time I am hoping to try them. Is there a Pinterest page to follow?

    1. I haven’t set up a Pinterest page for the Mastery Challenge. Most of the time, people share ideas in our Facebook Community group or on Instagram.

  • I’m so looking forward to this! I participated the first time around and loved it.

  • I am looking forward to working on my skills… I really need the use the jam month.. things are starting to get backed up on the canning shelf, and I would hate to toss all that hard work!

    1. That’s totally ok. I’m going to be collecting contributor images from Instagram, but you can still participate and submit your projects, even if you’re not sharing images.

  • I am interested to follow this, but most of the produce specific prompts won’t suit those in the southern hemisphere eg we are approaching the end of our berry and stonefruit season in the next month and quinces etc will be here in a couple of months time. However, I will file away the ideas for next year, so it is all good!

    1. You are welcome to play along, even if you can’t meet the monthly challenges perfect. And hopefully you’ll join us for the skill focused months, which should be a little more flexible.

  • Do I have to can/preserve something each month or does your monthly challenge mean you can prepare something (example, from citrus like lemon curd.). I’d love to participate but am away from my home and all of my canning equipment until April. So if I decide not to sign up can I still see all of your suggested recipes, etc. This sounds like fun and a great learning experience. Thank you!

  • I would love it if you could post (or invite participants to post) recipes for the monthly challenge. I love canning and love the input and diversity of hearing from other canners out there. Thanks for your wonderful spirit Marisa, you are fabulous.

  • I have made up A lot already . have plans to make Strawberry And apple cinnamon jam. Have already made my herbs , Chili powder, Italian seasoning, Taco seasoning, Poultry seasoning, Ranch mix, Onion soup mix, and more, Also have plans to make homemade maple syrup and some soy sauce. I look forward to the challenge.

  • I am thrilled we are doing this again, and so excited that January is citrus!!! My trees are busting with fruit – Meyer lemon, Eureka lemons, limes, kumquats and blood oranges. Yeah! Marissa – when do we officially start?

  • Yay!! I learned some of my favorite things by doing this challenge before and look forward to learning more this year.

  • Can someone explain how the challenge works? Do I select something citrus this month and preserve it any way I want? Or are there guidelines?

  • I am excited for the challenge but don’t use facebook 🙁

    guess I’ll have to keep up with updates and comments on insta? or is there somewhere else?

    1. You can follow along using the hashtag #fijchallenge on Instagram. And I’ll be posting everything here to the blog as well, so make sure to check here for details on the monthly challenges and for the monthly submission form.

  • I started canning with the Tigress can jam (wonder about her–probably off djing in the Mediterranean somewhere)! This is a fun way to practice seasonality and preserving, can’t wait!

  • I just made the Meyer Lemon Marmalade, fortunately Trader Joes here had Meyer lemons! It came out great. I have always thought that my thermometer was off because I could never get jam to the right temperature, but I was able to get a 220 reading. I don’t think I can sign up for the entire challenge, but will follow along and try to make as many of the jams as possible. Thank you so much for the motivation and great instructions.

    1. I am so happy to hear that the marmalade worked out well for you. And there’s no pressure to complete the entire challenge. You are welcome to dip in and out as life and your interests allow.

  • I have just discovered this but I am in Australia and worried that the seasonal challenges are not achievable for me … would you still recommend signing up? Any suggestions or thoughts? Thanks!

  • Can you add the “mastery” tag to this post for easy finding? This is where I check for the monthly calendar.