Homemade Relish is a Game Changer for Pulled Chicken or Pork BBQ

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Crockpot Pulled Chicken with RelishThe cooler weather and our rather intense family schedule was the catalyst for this easy meal, but it would really be a great main course for any time of the year! From summertime picnics, to holiday potlucks, or an office luncheon, this is sure to become a favorite.

We have some “excess” relish in our home – result of recipe testing and an abundance of produce. While it’s painful to consider the eventual end of grilling season, this is a great way to allow the flavors in your lingering jars of relish & BBQ sauces to shine! I’ve even added some salsa remnants. This recipe uses Chicken – which works well for our family…kids prefer it over pork and it yields about a pint of chicken broth which I can freeze for later.

Recipe:

4 lbs boneless chicken breast
½ to 1 pint relish
10-12oz BBQ sauce

Add about 4 pounds of boneless chicken breast into the crockpot (nothing else – just the chicken!), cover and let cook on high for about 3 – 4 hours. Crockpots and Slow Cookers can vary greatly, so I’d recommend checking it at 3 hours so that it doesn’t get too dry.

When cooking is complete, carefully poor off the broth for use later. (I’ll freeze mine!)

Shred the chicken to your liking and turn the crockpot on LOW.

Add 1/2 to 1 Pint of Relish.

Add 10 – 12oz of your favorite BBQ sauce. (We used “Larry’s Original BBQ Sauce” from Currituck BBQ Company which we purchased while on vacation.)

Mix and place the lid back on to retain warmth.

Serving options are endless! Serve on a roll, scooped onto tortillas, over your favorite rice, on a mound of mashed potatoes, atop a baked potato or even heaped on a bed of mixed greens!

For more ideas on preserves in action, check out our Pinterest board.





Canning Classes at Fillmore Container with Food in Jars on October 11

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Marisa McClellan author photoMarisa McClellan, popular canning blogger and author of canning books, Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year Round and Preserving by the Pint: Quick Seasonal Canning for Small Spaces, is coming to Fillmore Container on Saturday, October 11, 2014 for canning classes and a book signing.

The classes are perfect for both those curious about canning but overwhelmed by the process, along with the canning enthusiast interested in learning new tips. Marisa will forever change the way you think about preserving your herbs and produce.  Her approach to smaller batches of ingredients, reducing cooking times, and switching out canning pots in favor of others are just some of the concepts she will discuss. Here are a few things we learned last time she was here.

The Classes

October 11th 10am – 12pm
Honey Sweetened Pear Jam
FIJ DemosThis canning class will offer a hands-on approach on how to make two varieties of Pear Jam.  Marisa will demonstrate how to reduce, or eliminate sugar in preserves by using Pomona’s Pectin. At the end of the class each attendee will take home their own jar of freshly made jam. Register here.

October 11th 1pm – 3pm
Preserving Tomatoes

This canning class will offer a hands-on approach on how to make two varieties of tomato preserves – whole peeled tomatoes and Marisa’s most popular recipe, Tomato Jam. Marisa will explain the basics of preserving tomato based preserves. Everyone will go home with their own jar of whole peeled tomatoes and tomato jam. Register here. (Note: If tomato season comes to an abrupt end and tomatoes aren’t available for the class, we will explore chutneys instead!)

October 11th 3pm – 4pm
Meet & Greet with Marisa McClellan

If you can’t make either class, but you’d still like to get your book signed. Join us for a meet & greet with Marisa McClellan, the author of Food in Jars and Preserving by the Pint. (no registration required)

Marisa’s books are available for purchase here, or you can buy a copy the day of the classes.

Hope to see you there!

Is it OK if my water bath canner or canning rings are rusty?

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We won’t tell you that rust is good, but it doesn’t have to mean the end of the road for your canning supplies.

Water Bath Canners & Racks:

If you’re using a typical agate water bath canner, chances are, it has many stories to tell and the battle scars to prove its usefulness. Sadly, while they are light and easy to handle, they are prone to chip and then the rusting starts. I still use mine – and they have a little rust.Rusty Canner

That’s OK…just be sure that your rusty spots are not going to interfere with its performance and safety. Use your common sense…if the handles don’t feel secure or if there is weakness in any area of your canner, it’s time to replace it. One of these days, I’ll need to replace mine, but not quite yet! (When that time comes, there are many creative & useful ways to re-purpose old canners or racks!)

I just needed to replace my canning rack for my large water bath canner, as it was just too visually rusty and so easy to replace. I’d also found that a cake rack or a rack made of bands worked better for the wide range of jar sizes I’d been using. It didn’t have dividers and gave me more flexibility in spacing my jars.Small Canner Cake Rack

As you can see, it also has a little rust – the result of canning with it at the Farm Show last year and not being able to properly dry it between batches.

Canning Rings:Canning Ring Storage

A little rust on the outside of your rings isn’t a bad thing. However, you do want to stay away from the rings that become distorted or have rust on the inside or any part that will be in contact with your lid or the jar. If the rust is against your lid or jar, it may not interfere with the sealing process, but it will likely transfer rust onto your lid or jar…which will not look very nice- especially if you end up gifting or sharing those goods.  Here are some ideas on how to re-purpose those old rings!

Here some tips on avoid that pesky oxidation!

The best way to avoid rust is quite simple…to limit the contact with water or moisture. Sounds easy, right?

Don’t forget to empty and clean your canner & drying rack in a timely fashion.

I’m not sure what your order of operations is when you’re canning, but mine usually is worked in with something else. So, after I remove the last batch of jars from the canner and set them lovingly on the counter to cool, I’m on to cleaning up the mess that I made or getting supper ready, laundry, email, helping the kids…anything but hauling that hot canner of water out to the worm pile. Thus, it sets there with water in it until the kids go to bed. I know, it’s not ideal.  I’ll try to do better! Please note, though…it is important to let that water cool down enough (cool enough to touch) before handling it…it’s not worth getting burned in the effort to deter rust.

Don’t forget to remove those rings or bands from your sealed jars.

This should be happening anyway for safety purposes, but this is just another benefit of removing them. Rusting bands on jars can make it difficult to open the jars and quite simply looks bad.

It is possible (especially during prolonged water bath times) that some contents exited the jars and would be deposited on everything in your canner. When you know this has happened, it’s particularly important to wash them in warm soapy water.

Dry everything thoroughly!

Most canners and all racks and rings/bands have curled edges or tight joints that hold water…making it impossible for even the best towel dryer to remove.  I will often put my oven on warm and place my washed and towel dried water bath canner, metal rack and metal bands into the oven for a warm bake to ensure that the moisture is driven out.Drying Canner in Oven

The Trouble with Tomato Soup

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We’ve gotten many requests for tomato soup recipes for canning…and our responses may have seemed a little elusive. Well, the reality (until further research changes the recommendations of the National Center for Home Preservation) is that you just might not be able to safely can your favorite “heat & eat” tomato soup. There are a couple of pressure canner tomato soup recipes out there, but you will still have limits on the ingredients and not everyone can or desires to do pressure canning.

Here are just a few of the things that stand in our way of canning that perfect tomato soup:

  • Recipes for tomato soup vary greatly – some folks like a creamy soup, others a more broth based soup. Creamy soups do not freeze well, nor can they be safely canned. It is unsafe to can products that include flour or butter – often used in creation of the roux – for the purpose of giving soups that creamy taste & feel.
  • Other ingredients like peppers, celery & onions also vary and can have a significant impact on the pH of the final product to be canned. It’s important that the ratio of these items in your recipe has been properly tested and recommended by a trusted authority.
  • The length of time required to safely can tomato products (as recommended by the NCHFP) is rather extensive. In addition, dense tomato products require longer processing times (in order for the heat to sufficiently reach the core of the product) and/or the practice of using smaller, sometimes less efficient sizes of jars. This issue becomes amplified when thickening agents are used – even if it’s Clear Jel. The viscosity of the product will determine how the heat penetrates into the product even under pressure canner conditions.  We just can’t argue with thermodynamics!

There is hope! If you’re going to make a homemade tomato soup, why not make it awesome…and allow yourself some flexibility?

Our suggestion… simply put up some good “Tomato Base” in your pantry or some roasted tomatoes in your pantry or freezer.Tomato Soup- FillmoreContainer

When you crave some tomato soup, grab your tomato product of choice, whip up your roux, add your finishing spices and create a masterpiece! You’ll be pleased with the results, and the time in which you were able to do it!

Our favorite is a creamy soup – and I know I’ll not be canning it, or freezing it in its final form. But we will be enjoying incredible homemade tomato soup!

However you decide to treat your tomatoes when framing for soup will vary depending on the season, the level of tomato bounty, the time you’ve got, the space you have in your freezer, the abundance of other fresh ingredients like herbs, onions, garlic & peppers and the final destination for your preserved tomato goodness.

What to do with very large cucumbers – Cucumber Relish!

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Super large cucumbers are often hard to transform into crispy pickle spears, and are often quite seedy, but still have much potential! I recently had some very large cucumbers. My initial plan was to pickle them, but their seedy nature was making that difficult. So, we changed things up a little. After I washed and trimmed them, I used my mandolin to slice as much of each cucumber as I could until the seeds began to interfere with the crispness of the slice. All of these nice slices were transformed into Maw Maw’s Cucumber Salad which we’d shared earlier. Yum!MawMawsCucumberSaladCrackerJar

I took the remaining cucumber parts, sliced them lengthwise and scooped out the seeds. These were then cubed for relish! I like a relish in which all of the players can be identified, so removing the seedy watery parts helps to maintain more texture.Cubed Veggies for Relish

As it turns out, I knew that I’d be short on Peppers for this recipe, so I washed & cubed all of my peppers first to see what ratio of the original recipe I’d be able to make. I ended up with only half of what the recipe called for.

Cucumber Relish – a small batch or a half batch.

Based on the recipe from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving 

This recipe makes 4 Pints.  (You might notice that I only have 3 Pints and a 12oz Jar – I used a small portion as an ingredient in a crockpot chicken meal.)

Ingredients

5 cups cucumbers
2 cups green bell peppers
2 cups red /yellow bell peppers
½ cup onion
¼ to ½ cup pickling salt
1 ½ cup white vinegar
1 ¼ cup sugar
1 ½ tbsp. celery seeds
1 ½ tbsp. mustard seeds

Clean, seed (as appropriate) and finely chop the cucumbers, green & yellow bell peppers and onion.

In a non-reactive bowl, combine the cucumbers, peppers, onions, and the pickling salt and cover it. Let it set in a cool place for about 4 hours.

Transfer into a colander in the sink and rinse thoroughly with cold water for 4 minutes. Drain well, gently press more of the excess water out with your hands, set aside to drain further. Cucumber Relish Rinsed & DrainingPrepare water bath canner, jars & lids.

In a large non-reactive saucepan, combine vinegar, sugar, mustard seeds & celery seeds. On medium heat, and while stirring, bring to a boil. ucumber Relish BrineAdd cucumber, pepper & onion mixture and while stirring, return to a boil. Reduce heat, but maintain a gentle boil for about 10 minutes.

Scoop the relish into warmed canning jars, allowing ½ inch of headspace. Cucumber Relish Up CloseRemove any air bubbles, wipe rims clean, lid the jars and apply rings only to finger-tip tightness.

Place jars into the prepared water bath canner. Adjust water level if needed (you should have at least an inch above the jars) so that the jars are completely covered throughout the process. Bring to a boil and process jars (8oz and 16oz) for 10 minutes.  When the time is up, remove from heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes before carefully removing them from the canner.

Place hot filled jars on a towel lined counter to cool untouched for 12 hours. When jars have completely cooled, remove rings, test the seal and store in a cool dark place. If any of your lids have not sealed, refrigerate it and enjoy right away! Cucumber Relish Sealed in Orchard Road Canning Jars

4 Tips for Crispy Pickles

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We don’t all have the space in our refrigerators to be squirrelling away “Refrigerator Pickles” to last us the year. Some recipes call for a “pickling agent”, but if you’re adverse to that, or if you really want to increase your crispy odds, here are some tips and recipes that should keep your crisp-o-meter happy!Boys&Pickles-Fillmore Container

  • Freshly Picked – pickle them as close to the harvesting as possible!Cucumber Relish in Jars
  • Smaller is Better – stick with pickling cucumbers that have not grown too much larger than your thumb. Turn those big ones into refrigerator pickles, or relish.
  • Pint or Smaller – try canning in pint jars or smaller – the larger jars will require longer processing which results in a softer end product.
  • Try Low Temperature Pasteurization Treatment as described here by the National Center for Home Food Preservation. Please note that you can only use this method if the recipe indicates that it is appropriate and be sure to monitor temperature carefully!

Here’s a great collection of pickling recipes from Clemson University.

Quick Pickled Green Beans and Lemon Cucumber

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Pickled Green BeansOur CSA share has been plentiful with green beans. We’ve been enjoying them a variety of ways; sautéed with coconut oil; in one of our favorite chicken casseroles; and even crunching on them raw. However, on the eve of a weekend away I realized there was a lonely bag of green beans and a couple lemon cucumbers in the fridge beckoning to be eaten.quick pickled green beans-ingredients

I remembered a pickling recipe we made with some broccoli this past winter. It was so easy and tasty I thought I’d give it a try with green beans and lemon cucumber. The results were fantastic, and the green beans were gone before we even left for our weekend trip.

I used a quart jar for the green beans and one of Ball’s blue Heritage Collection pint jars for the lemon cucumbers. Since these quick pickles are going in the fridge, and not the water bath canner, you can use any jar you please. I choose to keep my beans and cucumbers seperate, as I thought the yellow of the lemon cucumbers looked pretty in the blue jar.

Quick Pickled Green Beans and Lemon Cucumber

2 cups distilled white vinegar
2 cups water
2 tablespoons pickling salt
4 cups total of green beans and/or lemon cucumber
3-4 peeled garlic cloves
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes

Combine the vinegar, water, and salt together in a saucepan and bring to a boil.

Wash and snip the beans to your liking. Wash and slice the cucumbers to your liking.

spices in jarPut the garlic cloves, mustard seeds, peppercorns, and red chili flakes in the bottom of the jar(s) and pack the green beans/lemon cucumbers on top of the spices. jar and brine

Cover the beans/cucumbers with the hot vinegar brine. Cap the jar and let it cool to room temperature. Place the jar in the refrigerator and let it chill for at least 2-3 hours before serving.

Pickles will keep for 2-3 weeks.

Canning Tips from Marisa McClellan + New Orchard Road Products

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We had a blast with Marisa McClellan last week. She spent the day doing demos at Fillmore Container, Le Creuset at Tanger Outlets and Lemon Street Market.FIJ Demos

Preserving by the Pint - signedWe watched as she prepared variations of her Apricot Jam from Preserving by the Pint. We were partial to the version with red pepper! Before she left for the day she signed some of the Food in Jars and Preserving by the Pint books that we have in stock, so the next few orders will get a signed copy. You can order your copies here.

For those that couldn’t attend, here are some of the canning tips Marisa shared during the demos.

  • Use a measuring cup when filling jar. If you are filling a half-pint jar and using a 1-cup measuring cup, you know that one scoop will fill the jar. This takes away the guesswork and makes filling go quicker.
  • You can use any kind of pot as a water bath canner. As long as there is about 1-2” of water covering the jars.
  • Use a cake rack to stack jars. If you are using squatty jars and you have room to stack jars in your pot, it is okay to stack them. Use a cake rack to separate the jars.
  • Screw lids till “fingertip tight”. If your lids are too tight during water bathing, there’s no way for the air to release from your jars and it could cause your lids to buckle. More on this here.
  • Consider the bounce test as a guide for determining how much pectin a fruit contains. Fruits that are high in natural pectin will have a more rigid cell structure and tend to bounce if you drop them. For example, blueberries have more pectin and tend to bounce, strawberries tend to squash easier, so they are lower in pectin.
  • Use the drip test as a way to determine if your jam is the right consistency. The longer the drips hang on your spoon or spatula the closer it is.
  • Store your jars with the rings off. Free your jars of rings when storing, this will help you identify if a canned good has gone bad.  If the contents begin to ferment and create gas, the lids will pop off.OrchardRoad

You can find more canning tips from Marisa here.

Many of our attendees walked away with samples of our newest line of jars – Orchard Road. Our far flung friends who couldn’t attend, had a chance to win a bundle of Orchard Road jars on the blog. Congratulations to Beth R. who won a case of wide mouth pint jars and regular mouth jelly jars (8 oz.). Plus, a pack of regular mouth bands and lids and a pack of wide mouth bands and lids. Beth told us she plans to fill them with apple butter and pasta sauce, yum!

OrchardRoadJarsWe’ve recently added the entire line of Orchard Road jars. Orchard Road is a new canning company that believes in celebrating all things fresh, natural and homemade. The new company told us its entire product line has been tested by an independent lab against Ball products. Orchard Road products performed just as well as Ball products did. The Orchard Road jar weights are either the same or a bit heavier than some of the other jars.orchard road jar weights

 Here’s why we like these new jars:

  • The words Orchard Road are embossed on only one side of the jar, making these great candidates for labeling or customizing for selling or gifting.
  • The lids leave a lot of room for labeling.
  • The jars come six to a case, which is great for our small batch canners.
  • The jars are packed in a sturdy box with dividers. Perfect for storing and protecting those precious canned goods.

To learn more about the jars check out Simply Canning’s review of the Orchard Road jars.

The jars are available in quart regular mouth and wide mouth; pint regular mouth and wide mouth; an 8oz regular mouth jelly jar. Jars are packed as 6 in a case. Lids and bands are available separately. You can check out the whole line here.

Food in Jars Demos + Giveaway of Orchard Road Jars

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Marisa McClellan author photoThe Food in Jars demo and book signing with Marisa McClellan is almost here. This Friday, August 8, 2014 Fillmore Container (10am – 11:30am), Le Creuset at Tanger Outlets (1pm – 3pm) and Lemon Street Market (5:30pm – 7:30pm) will host Marisa, as she demonstrates how easy it is to preserve!

Marisa will be making Yellow Plum Jam with Vanilla, a recipe from her newest cookbook Preserving by the Pint, and we can’t wait to taste test. There are still seats available, register here.

Attendees of the Fillmore Container, or Lemon Street Market demos will have the chance to win this bundle of our newest jars from Orchard Road.OrchardRoadJars

Orchard Road canning jars are a premium option for preserving, crafting, mason jar projects and events. They are designed for water canning and for pressure canning. The words Orchard Road are embossed on only one side of the jar, making these great candidates for labeling or customizing for selling or gifting.

OrchardRoadCurrently, we carry the quart regular mouth and wide mouth; pint regular mouth and wide mouth; an 8oz regular mouth jelly jar. Jars are packed as 6 in a case. Lids and bands are available separately.

The Giveaway

We know many of you live too far to travel to come to the Food in Jars demos in Lancaster, PA. But, we didn’t want you to miss out on winning some of these new jars. Here’s your chance to win the same bundle of Orchard Road jars and lids:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Gingered Lemon-Fig Preserves + a Giveaway with Pomona’s

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Pomona full size[2]The team that created Pomona’s Universal Pectin, a sugar-free, preservative-free, low-methoxyl citrus pectin, is celebrating their namesake, Pomona, this month. Pomona was the Roman goddess of fruitful abundance. Her name comes from the Latin word pomum, “fruit,” specifically orchard fruit. She watches over and protects fruit trees and cares for their cultivation.

In celebration of the Roman goddess festival day, Pomona’s is having a fun giveaway and since we love Pomona’s Pectin, we decided to join in the fun.

Two lucky winners will receive a copy of Preserving with Pomona’s Pectin by Allison Carroll Duffy and a box of Pomona’s Universal Pectin, and we are throwing in a case of Orchard Road jelly jars with lids and bands, and a stainless steel funnel. You can enter to win at the end of the post.

Preserving with Pomona’s Pectin is the first official Pomona’s Universal Pectin cookbook and it explains how to use Pomona’s to create low sugar, or no sugar marmalades, preserves, conserves, jams, and jellies. The book includes many recipes, including the one we are sharing today.

Gingered Lemon-Fig Preserves

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

In this spectacular preserve, a touch of heat from the ginger and a little tartness from the lemons beautifully highlight the lushness of fresh, ripe figs. Try serving sandwiched between gingersnap cookies to accentuate its flavor profile. To ensure proper acidity levels, be sure to use commonly available, full-acid lemons such as Eureka or Lisbon lemons in this recipe.

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 may be stored in the refrigerator for future use.

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

Ingredients

2 pounds ripe figs
2 tablespoons peeled, finely grated ginger root
7 medium lemons, divided
4 teaspoons calcium water
1¼ cups sugar
3 teaspoons Pomona’s pectin powder

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.

2. Rinse figs, remove stems, and slice them in half lengthwise. (Cut them into smaller pieces if you prefer, or if you’re working with large figs.) Combine figs in a saucepan with grated ginger.

3. Wash lemons thoroughly. Using a vegetable peeler, slice off long pieces of the exterior of some of the lemon peels, avoiding the inner white part. Then, using a chef’s knife, slice these pieces into very thin strips about 1-inch long. Repeat this process until you have accumulated ¼ cup of thin, 1-inch long strips. Add these strips to the fig mixture.

4. Slice lemons in half and squeeze out their juice, discarding the remaining peels. Divide the juice, setting aside 1/3 cup for later use. Add the remaining quantity to the fig mixture.

5. Bring the fig mixture to a boil over high heat, reduce heat, and simmer, covered, for 12 to 15 minutes or until lemon peels are soft, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.

6. Measure 4 cups of the cooked fig mixture and return the measured quantity to the saucepan. Add the reserved 1/3 cup lemon juice and calcium water and mix well.

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

8. Bring fig mixture back 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 preserves come back up to a boil. Once the preserves return to a full boil, remove from heat.

9. Can Your Preserves: Remove jars from canner and ladle jam into hot jars, leaving ¼ 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.

Grate That Ginger!
Using a paring knife or a vegetable peeler, slice the thin, brown skin off a chunk of fresh, firm ginger root. Then, using a fine mesh grater, grate the ginger root. Don’t peel the whole root at once—continue to peel as you go along, so that you don’t peel more than you need. Grating the ginger will create a good bit of juice; be sure to incorporate it into your measured quantity of grated ginger.

For more great recipes from Pomona’s you’ll want to get a copy of Preserving with Pomona’s Pectin, or sign-up to get their newsletter – Jam Notes.

The GiveawayPomona's Collage

Two lucky winners will receive:

From Pomona’s:

From Fillmore Container:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Giveaway terms and conditions are: Giveaway is open to anyone with a U.S. or Canadian mailing address who is 18 years or older. Giveaway runs from August 5, 2014, through August 13, 2014. Winners will be randomly chosen.