The Food in Jars Mastery Challenge

January 2, 2017

Join the Food in Jars community for a year-long food preservation mastery challenge. Each month brings a different skill on which to focus and explore!

Happy New Year, friends! And welcome to the Food in Jars Mastery Challenge!

Back in 2010, the blogger we all knew as Tigress hosted a year-long canning challenge known as the Can Jam. Each month, she’d announce a new category of ingredients and we’d all head out and make a preserve featuring that particular food. It was fun to be pushed to try new things and I so loved the sense of community that the Can Jam created.

There have been other challenges in more recent years (Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Charcutepalooza is one such memorable project) and after much pondering, I’ve decided to host one in 2017.

This challenge will be skill-based. Each month, we’ll all focus on a different pickling or preserving skill, with the intention that we end this calendar year with a greater level of expertise and comfort with a wide range of food preservation techniques than when we started.

At the beginning of each month, I’ll publish a blog post sharing tips on how to be successful with that skill and then will ask you to go forth and try it out. 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.

If you have a blog or an Instagram account, I invite you to post the results of your project by the 25th of the month so that I can include it in a round-up (I’ll provide a monthly Google Forms link that you can use to submit your name and URL). However, you don’t have to have any kind of blog or social presence to participate. This challenge is about learning and sharing above all else.

Calendar of Preserving Skills
January – Marmalade
February – Salt Preserving
March – Jelly OR Shrubs
April – Quick Pickles
May – Cold Pack Preserving
June – Jam
July – Hot Pack Preserving
August – Low Temperature Pasteurization OR Steam Canning
September – Fruit Butter
October – Drying and Dehydration OR Pressure Canning
November – Fermentation
December – Fruit Pastes

If you’d like to join the challenge, please use the form below to sign up for the email list. If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments and I’ll try to be quick with my replies. Oh, and if you post to Instagram or tweet about the challenge, please use the hashtag #fijchallenge

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165 thoughts on "The Food in Jars Mastery Challenge"

  • This sounds so fun!! Will a pressure canner be needed for any of this? I just do water bath canning right now.

    1. Yes! I added pressure canning to the October topic. It makes sense to offer two topics that month, since not everyone is going to have a pressure canner handy.

    2. We’ll focus on both drying and pressure canning in October. So if you want to try pressure canning, I’ll offer up that information. But if that’s not a piece of gear you want to invest in, there will be another option.

      1. perfect, thanks! very considerate of you. Perhaps by then I’ll have been persuaded to buy a pressure canner πŸ˜‰

        1. I was hesitant as well to pressure can. My boyfriend gave me one for my birthday last year and now I don’t know how I ever lived without one! Being able to can low acid fruits (tomatoes!!) beans and meats (chili!) is a lifesaver. It’s so worth the learning curve πŸ™‚

        2. You might check local small stores who carry canning/fermentation supplies. There’s one near me in Portland that rents dehydrators and pressure canners, so you don’t have to invest in big equipment you may only occasionally use.

  • This sounds like just the kick in the pants I needed! Both to up my game with food preservation and to get back into the blogging habit. I had just started one when we moved and have been too busy ever since! I have made some time to can and preserve, but not to expand my skill base. Here we go!

  • Our chapter of the Master Food Preservers is teaching a Citrus Celebration class this month, so this is a great chance for me to plan my demo around this challenge (and for the rest of the year as well!).

  • Ditto on the “kick in the pants”! I have a blog too but am the “lazy canner/blogger”. This is the perfect way to start off a more productive preserving new year . Thanks Marisa!

  • Awesome! I’ve been trying to talk myself into taking the jump into pressure canning, and this will be great motivation.

  • Such an amazing idea! Almost everything I know about preserving comes from your blog (or your cookbooks which I am addicted to) and I’m excited to learn a new skill a month. I’m sure that you will make it seem so easy and accessible (like always)! Thank you for the challenge πŸ™‚

  • I just signed up! Quick question: Will you be sharing a recipe to try each month, or do we need to go it on our own? I’m looking forward to making marmalade!

    1. I will provide a basic recipe or give instructions as to the technique, but you’re welcome to go out on your own and try something that will work for your household. The last thing I want is for you to end up with a preserve that you won’t use or enjoy.

    1. My hope is that I’ve left it open-ended enough that you’ll be able to practice the monthly skill no matter what’s currently in season where you are!

  • I’m excited about this — I was already wanting to try marmalade with the tangerines that grow in our backyard, so this will give me a nudge!

  • How funny is this?? The other day I made my first Marmalade… It wasn’t quite what is wanted but it was all good! I used Navel oranges and fresh Cranberries, simmered with Hibiscus flowers for color, flavor, and vitamins (yes I took them out afterwards ?)

    Does that count as a marmalade?? Hrm. I need to go do some research here!!

  • I am in South Africa, so our seasons are upside down from yours, but I am absolutely going to take part.

    I taught myself to do jams, marmalades, jellies, pickles, relishes, chutneys etc mainly from your original blog. I also invested in a Excallibur dehydrated a couple of years ago when it first became available down here (at a much higher price that you guys get it at). Now I am just trying to source a pressure canner locally.

  • I’ll be blogging about it in French. And not go on FB, as I’m seriously trying to quit. Oh and I’ve never found a marmalade I liked, so… extra challenge for January, yay!

  • I’ve got a marmalade recipe that I’m itching to try! I’m also attempting to create a blog. So this year, along with this challenge, I’m also attempting a blog.

    Watch out world. πŸ™‚

  • Oh gosh, I loved the Can Jam! I met so many awesome people through it, including you! What a great idea to do something like it again. πŸ™‚

  • This sounds right up my alley! I love food in jars. Canning, or dried foods. OK, I love mason jars of all kinds. I have some gallon jars for my cannisters. I can see how much of what I have in each jar. I do label them though, for The DH.

  • Hooray! I brought home like 5lbs of oranges from my SIL’s backyard tree after our holiday travels and was going to make marmalade anyway πŸ™‚

  • I loved doing the Can Jam and met so many great people through it! I’ve missed that camaraderie, and excited that you’re starting up a new challenge, Marisa. Maybe this is what I need to break the 2017 funk!

  • I signed up but haven’t received anything. Is there any type of email that is suppose to arrive after we join?

  • HI.. I am having trouble accessing the form, any issues going on? Maybe I will try again later. Thanks for this. I did tigress can jam and loved it. It kept me motivated.

  • I don’t know if I can do every month, but my Mother expressed an interest in orange marmalade and they have, or had oranges. I’ll see if they still do. If not, it’s off to the store I guess.

    1. I don’t do Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest or Facebook so can only communicate through your Food in Jars Blog. I guess I won’t be able to see your demos either.

      But I did sign up for a Craftsy Class with Blue Chair so maybe I’ll just watch that over and over.

      1. You can watch the Facebook video without being a member of Facebook. I will also embed the finished video on the blog once it’s finished, so you can watch it there.

  • I’m interested and want to participate, but not sure I’ll be able to pull it off every month. Can I still join in the fun, even if I don’t do it every month?

  • This is going to be so much fun! Now to start exploring recipes that I’ve been wanting to try and expanding my food preservation horizons!

  • This is awesome!!! And a lot of work for you. Thank you for spearheading. Looking forward to the challenge and also to seeing what others produce.

  • I am super excited about this !!! I normally only preserve, pickle & jam at the holidays for gifts. This will give me the opportunity to bring it into my life otherwise.

  • Thank you! I am signing up, although I wonΒ΄t be able to do the challenge every month. But I am eager to learn with you!!!

      1. Marisa, can you sign my daughter up. She has been working on marmalade all weekend and it just seems fair that she get credit for her own. Kat Munro Alabama

  • I am hoping to learn some new skills – even though I know I can’t do the challenge activity
    every month.

    Thanks for offering to teach us!

  • Marissa, I definitely want to participate. I don’t know how I misses the sign up. I am a big fan of yours. Have both cookbooks.


  • oh my goodness! Just saw this – what fun! A couple of categories I’ve been working on the last few years – but several I have no clue! I’ve learned so much from you already and have your books…. marmalade is on my list – but no real motivation or need – so….. here we go! How do I sign up?

  • I was able to get my hands on some Seville oranges yesterday at my local PCC. The produce manager was nice enough to call me when they came in. I plan to make the marmalade tomorrow. I’m a bit worried how tart it will be so I plan to do the method without the pith. This will be my first time attempting marmalade.

  • I would absolutely LOVE to joim if it’s not too late! My dad has been begging for a batch of homemade marmalade!

  • I started canning because of the Tigress challenge. I am looking forward to learning new skills! Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge. πŸ™‚

  • Please sign me up for the Food in Jars Mastery Challenge if I am not too late. I am very excited to learn some new skills and try new recipes.

  • I just picked 18 beautiful Meyer Lemons off of my indoor/outdoor dwarf tree in Kansas and was trying to figure out what to do with some of them. The strawberry/Meyer lemon marmalade sounds delicious. Please sign me up for the challenge, I’d like to broaden my knowledge and canning skills.

  • I would love to join your challenge.. I’m a little late to the party but.. better late than never.. right? I have my own garden and belong to a CSA plus I try to practice clean cooking and baking, I’ always looking for new info and recipes. Thank you!!

  • Just finished my preserved lemons for the February challenge. Giving that jar a shake a couple,times a day as I pass it on the counter. Eager to eventually use it in recipes!

  • I’ve never made jelly, so tried the Apple Lemon Lavender jelly. It didn’t set as much as I thought it would, even after set test, but taste was great. Will try the Raspberry Meyer Lemon Shrub next.

  • I cannot express fully how obsessed I am with preserved lemons thanks to this challenge. Thank you!

  • I’ve been looking for something like this and hoping someone would host a revival of the Can Jam or Mastery Challenge. Any chance we’ll see a 2019 round? If not, I’ll have to rally some local pals, but it’d be great to have the whole experience.