How to Use an Atmospheric Steam Canner

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New News on the Use of Steam Canners!

There has been more research attention given to the use of Atmospheric Steam Canners recently and several reliable sources are now stating that it is indeed safe to use them under certain circumstances as an alternative to a Water bath canner.  Our local experts from the Penn State Extension Office shared this information in their most recent Newsletter and the local newspaper Lancaster Online recently covered this news and has created a wonderful video   in which Marth Zepp walks you through the process of using a Steam Bath Canner and touches on some important reminders.

If you’re close to the Lancaster Area, you may want to attend the Workshop on Steam Canning in June!

Atmospheric steam canner

Photo Credit : Penn State Extension; Lancaster

“An atmospheric steam canner can be an alternative to a boiling water canner. Use a steam canner only to process high acid foods such as peaches, pears, and apples, or acidified foods such as pickles and relishes. Foods must be high in acid with a pH of 4.6 or below.

Use a research tested recipe developed for a boiling water canner from an approved source such as USDA recipes or from Penn State Extension. The booklet accompanying an atmospheric steam canner can’t be relied on to provide safe canning instructions or process times.

Use standard canning jars with 2-piece metal lids.

Jars must be heated prior to filling just as in other forms of processing.

A rack should be in the base of the canner to lift the jars above the water.

Fill the base of the steam canner with 2 to 2½ quarts of water. Heat. As each jar is filled, place it on the rack and replace the cover until all jars are filled.

Jars must be processed in pure steam at 212°F. Watch for venting prior to starting the processing time. Turn the heat on high under the canner, and watch for a full column of steam 6 to 8 inches long flowing from the vent hole(s). Once you see full venting, begin timing the process. Steam has to flow freely from the canner vent(s) during the entire process or the food is considered under-processed and unsafe.

Regulate burner heat so that the canner maintains a steady flow of steam and a temperature of 212°F. A canner that is boiling too vigorously can boil dry within 20 minutes. If a canner boils dry, the canner can be damaged and the food is considered under-processed and potentially unsafe.

Adjust processing time for higher elevations as required by a tested recipe.

Processing time must not exceed 45 minutes including any modification for elevation because the canner could boil dry.

Do not open the canner during processing— steam will escape and the temperature will be lowered.

When processing time is complete, remove the lid. Allow jars to sit in the canner for five minutes; then remove to a towel covered counter away from drafts. Allow jars to cool naturally—don’t force cool jars.

Before canning your first load of food, do a dry run to practice maintaining a steady stream of steam.

As with any canning, steam will be produced. It is best to have adequate ventilation to allow excess steam to escape from the room.”

 

 

The National Center for Home Food Preservation also put out a statement on the practice.

You can find the full Let’s Preserve Newsletter from our local Penn State Extension Office which includes many other tips on preserving and food safety here.

Gift Ideas for Teachers

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The school year is soon coming to a close, and we’ve been on the hunt for some fun ways to say “thank you” to the teachers who encourage our kids to love learning all school year long.

Teacher Thank You Gifts

Sweet Treats

This Ice Cream themed teacher’s gift is the perfect way to send that special teacher sailing into summer vacation. Malia of Yesterday on Tuesday used our Heritage Hill Jars to put together this ice cream themed gift. Plus, she has free printables so you can put this gift together in a snap!Ice Cream Themed Teacher Appreciation Gift and Printables

Dig in the Dirt

Get your kids digging in the dirt and make a Terrarium for that special teacher. It’s a low maintenance gift that any Teacher can enjoy at home, or in their classroom when school starts again. Use a jar you have on hand, or chose from one of these. A little gnome or kid painted rock can transform the terrarium into a customized garden that sums up a year of thanks. Get step-by-step on how to make a teacher terrarium here. If you have multiple teachers to gift too, a smaller planting project, might be the way to go.InglenookTer1 - Containers

Get Cooking

If  your kid’s teachers like to grill? Then make him/her some Spice rubs. This project is so easy the kids can do it. Have them make a double batch and your pantry will be stocked for grill season too.Cocoa Spice Rub RecipeLet There be Light

Take the kids on a nature hunt in your back yard and make a Mason jar lantern for that teacher that plans to hang out on their back porch all summer. Fill it with Citronella to keep those pesky bugs away!
Mason Jar Sea Shell Lantern

Make Some Jam

Whip up a batch of your favorite jam and have the kids make some homemade labels. Need some jam recipe ideas? You’re sure to find something in our recipe file.

kid decorated jar labels

Smelling Sweet

What teacher doesn’t want to pamper herself over the summer? Gift her some homemade bath and body products to recharge over the summer. Don’t have time to make your own, we have a few favorites here.
Candle Bath & Body Fillmore Container

Want more ideas? Check out our Teacher Appreciation & Classmate Ideas board on Pinterest.

eacherPinterest Board

Plum Strawberry Rosemary Jam Recipe

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Adapted and contributed by Vivian Solomon, who was inspired by a recipe in The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook by Rachel Saunders, Plum-Strawberry-Rosemary Jam is a low-sugar cooked jam made with Pomona’s Pectin. Pomona’s Pectin contains no sugar or preservatives and jells reliably with low amounts of any sweetener.

Plum Strawberry Rosemary Jam

Photo Credit: Vivian Solomon

 

Vivian says: “The Plum-Strawberry-Rosemary Jam is a big hit!” It came out perfectly jelled with deep color and a bit of tartness.

Yield: 4 to 5 cups  

Note: This is a two-day jam. The berries and plums are prepared and mixed with some of the sugar, then macerated for 12 or so hours.

 

Before You Begin:

Prepare calcium water.  To do this, combine ½ teaspoon calcium powder (in the small packet in your box of Pomona’s Pectin) with ½ cup water in a small, clear jar with a lid. Shake well.  Extra calcium water should be stored in the refrigerator for future use.

Wondering what calcium water is? Calcium water is a solution of the monocalcium phosphate powder (food-grade rock mineral source) that comes in its own packet with every purchase of Pomona’s Pectin. The Pomona’s Pectin directions tell you how to make calcium water with the calcium powder. Pomona’s Pectin recipes call for calcium water because the pectin is activated by calcium, not by sugar. You can read more about calcium water here.

Plum-Strawberry-Rosemary Jam Ingredients

2 cups mashed strawberries

2 cups unpeeled, pitted, chopped, and mashed sweet plums (Vivian used Santa Rosa)

2 cups sugar, divided

3 teaspoons calcium water

2 Tablespoons lemon juice

2½ teaspoons Pomona’s Pectin powder

2 10” sprigs of fresh rosemary

 

Plum-Strawberry-Rosemary Jam Directions

1. Prepare strawberries by washing, hulling, and mashing.

2. Prepare plums by washing, pitting, cutting into small dice, and mashing. Don’t peel.

3. Measure out 2 cups of mashed strawberries and 2 cups of mashed plums into a bowl or container with a lid. (If you have extra, save for another use.) Add ½ cup of the sugar and mix well. Cover and put in refrigerator to macerate for 12 to 14 hours.

4. The next day, when ready to make the jam, wash jars, lids, and bands. Place jars in canner, fill canner 2/3 full with water, bring to a boil. Turn off heat, cover, and keep jars in hot canner water until ready to use. Place lids in water in a small sauce pan; cover and heat to a low boil. Turn off heat and keep lids in hot water until ready to use.

5. Transfer macerated fruit into a sauce pan; add calcium water and lemon juice, and mix well.

6. Measure remaining sugar (1½ cups) into a bowl. Thoroughly mix pectin powder into sugar. Set aside.

VIvians plum-strawberry-rosemary jam on spoon

Photo Credit: Vivian Solomon

7. Bring fruit mixture to a full boil. Add pectin-sugar mixture, stirring vigorously for 1 to 2 minutes to dissolve the pectin while the jam comes back up to a boil. Once the jam returns to a full boil, remove it from the heat.

8. Lay the rosemary sprigs into the hot jam, and gently mix.  Allow to steep, covered, for 1-2 minutes. After steeping, taste if you like – the rosemary flavor will not be as strong in the finished jam as it is at this stage. Remove the rosemary sprigs, and stir the jam.

9. Fill hot jars to ¼” of top. Wipe rims clean. Screw on 2-piece lids. Put filled jars in boiling water to cover. Boil 10 minutes (add 1 minute more for every 1,000 ft. above sea level). Remove from water. Let jars cool. Check seals; lids should be sucked down. Eat within 1 year. Lasts 3 weeks once opened.

Option from Mary Lou at Pomona’s:  I made this jam recently, with a few small changes that I want to share. I only had 1½ cups of mashed plums. I used Flavorosa, which is called a Pluot or Plumcot as that is what was available at my local farmers’ market. To make up for the missing ½ cup of mashed plums, I used 2½ cups of mashed strawberries, also from my farmers’ market. The strawberries were sweet, but the plum skins were quite bitter, so I put some plum skins in but not all. I prefer more tart, less sweet, so I did macerate the fruit in ½ cup of sugar (for 9 hours), but then stirred the pectin into only ½ cup of sugar – for a total in the jam of 1 cup of sugar, not 2 cups. And finally, I added a small pinch of salt (never more than 1/8 teaspoon) to the fruit mixture and I steeped the rosemary in the fruit for 2 minutes.

I am happy to report that this may be the most delicious jam I have ever tasted! (My next favorite is Merry Mulled Merlot.) The texture, the color, and the taste are absolutely wonderful. Thank you Vivian!Thawing strawberries

If you’re interested in learning more about preserving with less sugar, you can find more delicious recipes in the cookbook Preserving with Pomona’s Pectin by Allison Carroll Duffy.

Looking for more ways to preserve those Strawberries? We’ve pulled together some of our favorites here.

 

Homemade Vinaigrette & Dressing Recipes

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Dill Vinaigrette reCap Salad with spaceIt’s easy to get caught up in the glory of fresh greens, fruits & herbs in the spring and summer when everything is new & fresh! Here are some of our favorite ways to make even the humblest of salads shine! Psst…GIVEAWAY at the end of the post.

Most vinaigrettes also take your grilled or roasted vegetables to another level of goodness.  We’ll let you in on a little secret…you can enjoy these all year ‘round if you stash some fruits & herbs into your freezer or dehydrate them!

Berries & Fruits:

From the Herb Patch:

  • Chives are blooming now in my herb patch, so it’s time for Chive infused Vinegar which can then use to make some Chive Vinaigrette, or to add some kick to other cooking or pickling.
  • This Dill Vinaigrette (adapted from thekitchn) is incredibly addicting and may just be the perfect way to enjoy & get the most out of those first weeks of the garden, when pickings may be on the smaller side! I put this together in a pint jar with no fuss and capped with a reCap for easy storing & pouring.Chopped Dill challot onion
    • Dissolve 1 tsp of salt into 4 T of white vinegar
    • Add the following:
      •  2 T Dijon mustard (or brown mustard)
      • ½ to ¾ C  of Chopped Dill
      • 1 – 2 tsp minced shallot or spring onion
      • 1 C olive oil (or salad oil of your choice)
      • Cap the jar and Shake well to blend all ingredients. Be sure to shake well before serving as well.

      For a creamier version – try Molly Watson’s Buttermilk Dill Salad Dressing.

    mason-jar-Italian-salad-dressing

     

 

Rhubarb:

Finishing Off Jam Jars:

  • Theresa shares her versatile Balsamic N’ Jam Vinaigrette and Jam’n Asian Salad Dressing here.

Other Tips:

Speed things up with your blender by trying this cool mason jar blender trick from Theresa over at Living Homegrown!

If you’re feeling rather empowered with creativity, the folks over at the kitchn have put together an amazing post that includes the basic Vinaigrette Formula plus other options for Olive Oils and Vinegars!Dill Vinaigrette on salad

Do you have an amazing dressing recipe you’d love to share? We’d love to hear from you!

GIVEAWAY

We’re having a nice little giveaway that will make your salad dressing adventures a little more enjoyable!

One lucky winner will get a pair of reCap Pour Caps – for those vinaigrettes; and a reCap Flip Cap for those creamy, spoonable dressings. Winner gets to choose the color! Enter below.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Rhubarb Recipe Round-Up

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Rhubarb -redDepending on which growing zone you’re in, rhubarb season may already be in full force, or it may just be beginning to show up in smallish bundles at the market. Often, the Red Variety of Rhubarb is most popular – that rosy hue just pops in those gorgeous foody posts- so it’s no surprise.

However, did you know that the Green Variety is the more productive one? The color doesn’t seem to have an impact on the flavor or sweetness, so if your family really loves rhubarb, you may want to consider the green variety for your garden. If you prefer your preserves to have a little more redness, Martha Zepp, our local Master Canner suggests that you can add a few cranberries or lingonberries.

Prepare rhubarb. Measure fruit into sauce pan.Rhubarb weds so nicely with many fruits when it comes to preserves. We were so inspired by the delightful Blubarb Jam recipe from Preserving with Pomona’s Pectin, that we went digging for more Rhubarb deliciousness! Here are just a few of those lovely combinations that we think will be sure to please the pallet!

Rhubarb Preserves

Marisa’s generous selection of recipes on her Food in Jars blog is almost always my first stop when it comes to sweet-sided preserves. Sweet Cherry Rhubarb Jam with Pomona’s Pectin brings together the perfect blend of sweet while using less sugar.  Her Honey Sweetened Rhubarb Compote with Ginger is another great one if you’re looking to avoid the refined sugar. I made a small batch of this Vanilla Rhubarb Jam last year with my green rhubarb. I was delighted in the taste as well as the way the lighter hue showed off those flecks of vanilla. Vanilla Rhubarb Jam

We enjoyed this low sugar Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam last year.  Linda Ziedrich, author of The Joy of Jams, Jellies, and Other Sweet Preserves, and The Joy of Pickling, shared this Blueberry-Rhubarb Jam recipe with us a couple seasons ago.

blubarbjam - pomonas

If you’re looking for a more traditional larger batch recipe to deal with a surplus of fresh produce, this Strawberry Rhubarb Jam from Simply Canning will make 6 half pints.Rhubarb Stalks & Strawberries

Make a Salad

If eating salads and enjoying them more is one of your goals this summer, you might like this Rhubarb Vinaigrette from Diary of a Tomato or this honey sweetened  Rhubarb Vinaigrette from Dinner with Julie. You can streamline your vinaigrette making if you’ve got some of this Rhubarb Syrup on hand.

Pickle it!

You might consider adding some Pickled Rhubarb like these Rhubarb Lactopickles from Phickle, or these from Joel at Well Preserved as a side kick to your salads.

For Dessert

Need to take a dessert to a potluck? Any of these are sure to be a hit! Cherry Rhubarb Crisp, Rhubarb Pudding Cake, Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp Bars

Thirsty?

This Rhubarb Shrub from Autumn Makes & Does; author of a great new book Beyond Canning sounds like a very refreshing way to unwind after a long day. A tall glass of Homemade All-Natural Pink Lemonade with Rhubarb, or a Rhubarb Cordial might also do the trick.

rhubarb-shrub-2-1024x682

Rhubarb Shrub
Photo Credit: Autumn Makes and Does

 

 

Sale on Canning Tools

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Canning Sale - Fillmore ContainerWe’re celebrating farmer’s markets, roadside stands and gardens of every shape and size with 10% savings on our most basic and popular “must haves” for the home food preserver.

Items included in this special sale:

Canning Sale

Shop NowEnter Coupon Code CANMORE at checkout. Here’s to canning more this year!

 

Blubarb Jam Recipe with Pomona’s Pectin

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The combination of blueberries and rhubarb is less common than the typical strawberry-rhubarb pairing, but it really shouldn’t be—this lovely, deep blue jam is a delicious, tangy treat. This recipe was adapted from one by jam-maker Kirsten Jennings, who first tried it at a local restaurant and liked it so much that she figured out how to make it at home herself.blubarbjam - pomonas

The recipe is in the book Preserving with Pomona’s Pectin by Allison Carroll Duffy (Fair Winds Press, June 2013), but they’ve let us share it with you below.

Blubarb Jam

Excerpted from Preserving with Pomona’s Pectin by Allison Carroll Duffy (Fair Winds Press, June 2013)

Yield: 4 to 5 half-pint (8-ounce) jars

Before You Begin: Pomonas Calcium Water Label
Prepare calcium water.  To do this, combine ½ teaspoon calcium powder (in the small packet in your box of Pomona’s pectin) with ½ cup water in a small, clear jar with a lid. Shake well.  Extra calcium water may be stored in the refrigerator for future use.

Wondering what calcium water is? Calcium water is a solution of the monocalcium phosphate powder (food-grade rock mineral source) that comes in its own packet with every purchase of Pomona’s Pectin. The Pomona’s Pectin directions tell you how to make calcium water with the calcium powder. Pomona’s Pectin recipes call for calcium water because the pectin is activated by calcium, not by sugar. You can read more about calcium water here.

IngredientsPomona's Pectin & Preserving with Pomona's Pectin Book

1 pound blueberries
1 pound trimmed rhubarb stalks
½ cup water
¼ cup lemon juice
2 teaspoons calcium water
1¼ cups sugar
2½ teaspoons Pomona’s pectin powder

Blubarb Jam Directions

1. Wash your jars, lids, and bands. Place jars in canner, fill canner 2/3 full with water, bring canner to a rolling boil, and boil jars for 10 minutes to sterilize them. (Add 1 extra minute of sterilizing time for every 1000 feet above sea level.) Reduce heat and allow jars to remain in hot canner water until ready to use. Place lids in water in a small sauce pan, heat to a low simmer, and hold until ready to use. (If you’re using newer Ball lids, you may skip this part. However, I am in the habit of dipping my lids into the water bath before applying them.)

2. Rinse blueberries, remove stems, and mash in a large bowl. Set aside.

3. RhubarbRinse rhubarb, slice stalks lengthwise into thin strips, and then dice. Combine diced rhubarb in a saucepan with the ½ cup of water. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat, and then simmer, covered, for 5 minutes, or until rhubarb is soft, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and mash rhubarb.

4. Measure out 2 cups of the mashed blueberries and 2 cups (473 ml) of the mashed rhubarb (saving any extra for another use), and combine the measured quantities in a saucepan. Add lemon juice and the calcium water, and mix well.

5. In a separate bowl, combine sugar and pectin powder. Mix thoroughly and set aside.

6. Bring fruit mixture to a full boil over high heat. Slowly add pectin sugar mixture, stirring constantly. Continue to stir vigorously for 1 to 2 minutes to dissolve pectin while the jam comes back up to a boil. Once the jam returns to a full boil, remove it from the heat.

7. Can Your Jam: Remove jars from canner and ladle jam into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace. Remove trapped air bubbles, wipe rims with a damp cloth, put on lids and screw bands, and tighten to fingertip tight. Lower filled jars into canner, ensuring jars are not touching each other and are covered with at least 1 to 2 inches of water. Place lid on canner, return to a rolling boil, and process for 10 minutes. (Add 1 extra minute of processing time for every 1000 feet above sea level). Turn off heat and allow canner to sit untouched for 5 minutes, then remove jars and allow to cool undisturbed for 12 to 24 hours. Confirm that jars have sealed, then store properly.

TIP: Frozen Ease!
You can substitute frozen berries for the fresh, and if you don’t have a lot of time, this is a good option. Simply defrost the berries, and then mash them as the recipe calls for. After defrosting, the berries will be in a lot of juice, but don’t drain them—simply incorporate all of the juice into the mashed berries.

How to Make a Terrarium

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Terrarium-101-2_20-2A few weeks ago we attended a terrarium class at Inglenook, a local coworking space for home, garden, and other creative professionals. We brought along a couple of our favorite large containers and took the time to focus on creating a sweet little contained garden to observe, tend and love.InglenookTer1 - Containers

Staci Jasin of Insitu Design, the instructor for the terrarium class, is our guest blogger today and has provided us with a step-by-step on how to create your own terrarium.

How To Get Started:

CHOOSE YOUR CONTAINER

Fillmore Container has several great terrarium container options including, 2.5 gallon Montana Jar, 2 gallon Heritage Hill Jar, and the 1.5 gallon Montana Jar. A lid is nice because it keeps moisture in, as long as you remember to take it off when a lot of water forms on the glass.  You might even have a terrarium container around your house or find a vintage item in an antique stores – the options can be limitless! Just do a test and pour water in the container to make sure it doesn’t leak.  Think about the shape, space, and imagine the height and width of plants inside the container you choose.Terrarium - how to make

CREATE THE EARTH

This is the step that makes a terrarium a ‘terrarium.’ The idea is that you are creating an ecosystem for the plants to live happily and healthy lives.  You do this by creating a good base:InglenookTer2 filling

  1. Add gravel (pea gravel, small river jacks, crushed sea glass) – you need a medium that has space to receive extra water to a depth of 1”+ (keep it to the scale of your container)
  2. Place a thin layer of moist long-fibered sphagnum moss – this helps keep the soil from washing into the gravel
  3. Sprinkle agricultural charcoal to just about cover the sphagnum moss bed – this acts as a filter to keep the ecosystem balanced
  4. Add soil.  An organic potting soil does the trick to keep the plants tucked in.  Let this soil layer be no about the same height as the plants (usually ~1.5-2” if you purchase small ‘terrarium sized’ plants)

PLANT YOUR PLANTS

Now’s the time to place your plants – choose temperate moisture and partial sun loving plants rather than succulents which like dry and sunny conditions.  You can purchase small plants at nursery or you might even be able to take cuttings and rootings from houseplants like spider plant and baby’s tears.  If you look outside, find little ferns unfurling right now (a good reason to start your terrarium now!).  In your soil layer, dig a small hole and tuck the plant in.  Put some light pressure around the roots once you have all the plants placed just where you like them. Remember, plants grow! So, give them space to get wide and tall.Terrarium FromTop - MontanaJar

PERSONALIZE & IMAGINETerrarium - watering

I love rocks and I’m happy when I can place a special rock in a terrarium.  Maybe there’s something special to you to place in your terrarium.  A little gnome or fairy figurine can transform your terrarium to something magical, or use more gravel to add texture to the top layer.  Use your imagination and take the time to look at the terrarium at the eye level as you move elements until its “just right!”

FIND ITS HOME

Terrariums like indirect light and consistently moist (not wet) soil.  Your container’s style might blend well with the aesthetics of a room in your house and that’s where its home will be.  The most successful terrariums are often within frequent sight of the caretaker (out of sight, out of mind rings true here).  Since terrariums are living ecosystems, it is fun to observe them, to watch the plants grow up close and be able to take note if the soil seems dry or wet.  In the hot summer months, be sure to keep your terrarium container off of its outdoors on a patio or porch where heat can get trapped inside.

Like all gardening, remember to enjoy the process.  Let the terrarium building be easy and the caretaking of it be a simple pause in your week.Terrarium-MontanaJar

Asparagus Recipe Round Up

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It’s that time of the year in these parts…when just about every road side stand and farmer’s market is showing off their bundles of freshly cut asparagus. Those bright green spears, sometimes tipped with some purple hues are just irresistible! Our family loves to enjoy them roasted – with a little olive oil & sea salt, or with some Chef Tim’s drizzled over them. Since the growing season is pretty short for these beauties, we like to preserve some for later.

PinterestFresh Asparagus RoundUpWe’ve pulled together a few of our favorites and some new recipes that will provide you with a variety of tastes…and include different methods of preserving. We hope that you try some and are sure to let us know which are your favorites!

If you’ve always wondered about which way is the proper way to put your spears into your jars, you’re not alone! Guess what…there isn’t really a “proper” way! Here’s what we’ve found: They often wish to float, so if you’re worried about putting them in head first, chances are, those little tips won’t get messed up. I usually place a slice of lemon on top to help keep them under the brine, but it still allows for plenty of wiggle room. If you put them in this way, it’s easier to remove them from the jar without fussing with them or breaking the tips. However, if you wish for them to be super straight, or if you’re aiming for a pattern (by mixing in some white asparagus), you may find that it’s easier to pack them more tightly when putting them in stalk first.  So, it’s really up to you! They’ll taste just as good either way!

Probiotic Asparagus Pickle

These fermented asparagus pickles are a favorite way to fete the arrival of spring and look so pretty setting on the counter! Thanks to Phickle for sharing it with us.

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch of washed asparagus, approximately 15 spears, woody ends trimmed. Medium-thickness asparagus spears that have roughly the same circumference as one another work best in this recipe.
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 whole glove of garlic, peeled
  • 2 cups brine (1 tablespoon of coarse or kosher salt dissolved into 2 cups of room temperature water)

Yield: 1 quart; fermentation time approximately 2 weeks at room temperature

1. (Optional)  Chop your asparagus spears crosswise into 2-3 inch pieces, a slanted cut is always pretty. I chose to let mine stand like little soldiers. It really depends on how you’re thinking of serving them.

2. Place your seasonings in the bottom of the quart jar, place asparagus spears over the seasonings and pour brine into jar until there is a layer of brine over the spears. You don’t want your brine level above the shoulders of the jar.BLOGSeasonings for Probiotic Pickled Asparagus

3. Ensure that veggies are completely submerged. I’ve used  a glass Pickle Pebble which fits perfectly and one of my Pickle Pipes – a super easy set-up.  Some people use special jars with airlocks, plastic bags filled with brine or even boiled stones to do the same thing. Amanda shows how to keep them underneath the brine using a jam jar full of water as a weight and then cover the whole thing with a cloth napkin and secure it with a rubber band.Probiotic Pickles Pickle Pebble

4. Let them sit at room temp (somewhere between 64F and 75F is best) for 1-2 weeks, or until your desired acidity has been reached, then remove the weight, close the jar with its normal lid and stick them in the fridge. Enjoy them ’til they’re gone. It’s never long in our house! For more recipes from Phickle, check out her book Ferment Your Vegetables or her blog.Probiotic Pickles with Pickle Pipe

Refrigerator Pickles, Quick Pickles and Water Bath Processed Pickles

Quick Pickled Asparagus

Spicy Asparagus Carrot Refrigerator Pickles from One Tomato, Two Tomato

If you love to play with flavors from your herb garden, this Lemon & Tarragon Pickled Asparagus  and Fennel Pickled Asparagus  from Erin can be “quickled” (in the refrigerator) or made shelf-stable by water bath processing. Our 4th Burner Pot with straining basket and 16 oz Paragon jars came in handy for this recipe.

Lemon Tarragon Pickled Asparagus

What to do with those Asparagus ends?

Freeze them for a creamy asparagus soup on a dreary day.

Toss them into your vegetable stock bin in the freezer.

Want to use them right away? Try this Chilled Asparagus & Almond Soup

The Best Tall Jars for Asparagus

We picked out a few of our favorite tall jars that are perfect for pickling asparagus & string beans.TallJars with WM - Fillmore Container

The Ball wide mouth 24 oz. jar (venti Mason jar) is a new favorite with canners & Mason jar meal fanatics. There’s no shoulders, so it is easy to fill, easy to empty, and can be used for freezing in addition to hot fill canning, water bath canning and pressure canning.

The Orchard Road 16oz. wide mouth jar is a premium option for preserving. The jars are designed for water bath canning and for pressure canning.

The 16 oz Paragon jar is tall and narrow with a lug lid and is often used for canning asparagus, string beans, and olives. If you’ve never canned with lug lids, here’s a tutorial.

 

How to be Earth Day Friendly Every Day

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Earth Day - No YearWe’ve been sharing some Earth Friendly practices and products through Facebook and Google+ this month and thought we’d pull some together in one spot!  If you’re reading this, you’re probably already of the mindset that every day is earth day, but perhaps you’ll find something new.

We aim to be as earth-friendly in our operations as we’re able -  making our own peanuts, re-using our strong cardboard boxes, donating extra samples & unsellable glassware to our local Creative Re-Use Center, sorting & recycling common items like shredded paper, flat paper, glass & other recyclables. We’re also pretty diligent about the products we carry – like our eco-friendly and compostable Paper Straws, (which are on sale through 4/26/16, use code earthday16 to get 25% off see details below) or our Stainless Steel Straws  (if you’re in it for the long haul) and other mason jar accessories by iLID, Cuppow, reCAP. It feels good to support manufacturers who share the desire to operate with environmentally sound standards!FillmoreContainer EarthDay Special 2016

Waste Less:

Make Salad Dressing! You might not ever have to buy salad dressing every again! Chances are, you’ve got most of these ingredients in your home already. One of the simplest ways to use up leftover Jam is to whip up some amazing dressing! Use that pickle brine as a vinegar replacement in your favorite vinaigrette recipe or try this Dill Pickle Vinaigrette.

Vegtable Stock in jarsMake Stock! Keep a bin/bag in your freezer to collect vegetable scraps to make vegetable stock or as part of a batch of meat stock. While you can certainly freeze the stock once it’s done, you can also pressure can it so that it’s shelf stable!

Make Pesto! Marisa McClellan, of Food in Jars, shares several pesto recipes – including this Carrot Top & Garlic Scape Pesto . You can also find some suggestions for swapping the greens or the nuts to vary your pesto to suit what you have on hand.

Conserve water! It’s amazing what great ideas arise from necessity! Theresa Loe ‘s  8 Tips for Growing Food in a Drought  contains a long list of (more than 8!) quite practical ways to conserve water and to re-purpose water in useful ways.

Reduce the need for Chemicals & Plastics:Cleaning Supplies Lineup

We’re hooked on making our own Cleaning Products, which are more earth friendly than those loaded with the chemicals and fragrances and result in little or no plastic packaging. You can get some recipes and more links here.

If you’re looking for more ways to minimize plastic & packaging waste, The Zero Waste Chef has a seemingly endless list of ways to get, prepare, store & preserve food with minimal waste.  One of our favorite posts is “My Favorite Kitchen Gadgets” in which she admits to coveting jars. And, although we’re in the business of jars, it doesn’t break my heart that most of her jars appear to be very re-purposed. It simply reinforces the reason we’re fond of jars, strengthens our resolve to do what we can to be better stewards of this earth and gives us hope that there are others willing to be intentional about doing the same.

Re-Purpose:blogTee Shirt Tote and Jar Sleeve

A friend passed along this link on how to no-sew a T-Shirt Tote Bag, we made one, loved it, used it and promptly gave it away to the first person who saw it in use! I was so inspired to use up some of my other clothing scraps I’d squirrelled away, I made a Jar Sleeve – in about 20 seconds with my sewing machine. I could’ve done the knotting, but my machine was out! Use these when you go to market so you can skip the plastic & paper! I use my jar sleeve to hold a jar of local yogurt or 2 of my 8oz jelly jars full of spices.

If you’re selling your products, try sharing ways in which your customers can re-use or re-purpose your containers. Grab some inspiration from our Pinterest board or come up with your own ideas if you’re not able to re-use returned containers.