Homemade Shrubs or Drinking Vinegars – Cold Process

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Last week, we shared a recipe for this amazing Black Cherry Shrub and were so floored by the ease of making them and pleased with the flavor results that we’ve tried a few more variations.

Homemade Shrubs Fillmore Container

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Cooking the Peaches, Ginger, Vanilla Bean & sugar for Shrub

That Black Cherry version that we made spent some time on the stove in order to speed up the  sugar dissolving and the break down of fruits before the straining; separating the meats from the resulting syrup. We prepared a Peach Ginger Vanilla Shrub in the same manner, simply swapping the fruit and adding a couple of slices of fresh ginger root and a partially spent vanilla bean that I pulled from my homemade vanilla extract bottle. There were still some bean flecks and flavoring that remained, which was sufficient for this small preparation.

You can get similar results in a cold process – in which no extra water, and no heating is needed. It does require more time, but it seems to produce a more mellow syrup, which is worth the wait if subtle nuances in flavor matter to you. This is a wonderful route to go if you’re just needed to rescue a bit of fruit and have zero time for prepping.

 

Here’s how simple it is:

Following the general ratio of 1 part sugar : 1 part fruit : 1 part vinegar for the finished product

Red Raspberry Cold Process Shrub Fillmore Container

Red Raspberries in their sugar bath for a cold process Shrub

  • Put clean fruit (cut/roughly chopped/broken) into a bowl.
  • Add sugar & fold it into fruit so that fruits are covered with the sugar.
  • Cover the bowl & set aside to allow the release of juices. If I’m going away or if it’s over night, I set it into the refrigerator, but this does slow down the process of the sugar getting dissolved by the juice. It can sit in the refrigerator for a day or 2 depending on your timing & the fruit.
  • When it appears that juices are sufficiently released and the sugar is dissolved, strain out the meat/pulp.
  • Put the resulting fruit syrup into a jar, and add the appropriate portion of apple cider vinegar.
  • Cap, Label, Refrigerate.  We like to use jars we have on hand, but our reCAP POUR Caps are great for this! POUR cap Fillmore Container

 

You might be anxious to try your shrub right away…which is fine. However, if you allow it to rest in the refrigerator for a day or more, you’ll find that the flavors seem more harmonious than at first.

 

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Black Cherry Shrub Recipe

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We’ve been enjoying locally made Shrubs for a couple of years now and have had it in my mind that I really need to try to make some homemade versions.

Since Marisa’s Food in Jars Mastery Challenge has a focus on Shrubs this month, I had some frozen Black Cherries and fresh Raspberries on hand and was stuck at home thanks to Storm Stella, it finally happened!

Black Cherry Shrub Recipe Fillmore Container

This recipe calls for cooking fruits, and it took almost no effort. I also made a cold process recipe, which is just as simple, but it takes more “sitting” time, so that recipe will go up a little later.  A little fruit can go a long way when making shrubs – since the end product is usually enjoyed mixed with something else.  It’s a great way to rescue that small portion of fruit that didn’t get used up or that you’ve uncovered in a freezer clean-out! We enjoy shrub it over ice, with seltzer. The ratio depends on the strength of the shrub – which varies with the type of fruit(s) used. We usually use about 1 part shrub to 4 or 5 parts seltzer.

Simmering Cherries for Shrub Fillmore ContainerThe generally accepted ratio for a shrub is equal parts fruit, sugar & vinegar. Here, I cooked the fruit in order to speed up the entire process, so this required some water.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Black Cherries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup vinegar (apple cider vinegar is our preference)

 

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  1.  In a saucepan, simmer equal parts water & sugar until the sugar is completely dissolved.
  2.  Add the fruit and simmer until fruit is sufficiently softened and can easily be crushed.
  3. Crush fruit to release the juices and allow to cool.
  4. Pour through a fine sieve or straining funnel and collect the juices. If you want to maintain higher clarity of your shrub, just allow the juices to drip through.  At this point, you may choose to save the fruit syrup as is OR you can add your vinegar to complete the shrub.
  5. Cap it, label it and store in your refrigerator. I love keeping some of these French Square bottles on hand for things like this…they look so pretty, but are also great space savers and fun for sharing!cherry-meat

 

 

 

Don’t throw out that fruit meat!

What remains will vary depending on the fruit you used, but it may still be useful. You can use it in a milk kefir secondary ferment, or stir into your yogurt, cottage cheese, or use it to flavor your oatmeal. You can also work it into some applesauce.

 

 

 

 

Shrubs will continue to happen in our kitchen for a couple of reasons…it’s a great way to really stretch the flavor of a small amount of fruit…whether it’s a hand full of fruits that just aren’t plate-worthy, those extras from a batch of jam or those little bits of fruit that got tossed in the freezer in a panic. There is little to no waste if you put the sweetened pulp or meat to work in other ways!

Have fun playing around with different fruits & spices! peach-ginger-vanilla-shrubAs I’m putting the finishing touches on this blog post, I have some peaches with some ginger slices & vanilla bean simmering on the stove for what I can only imagine will be an intoxicating shrub!

Here are a few more enticing flavor combinations and shrub recipes for you to try:

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Polish Dill Pickle Soup or How to Use those so-so Pickles

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I recently came upon this Polish Dill Pickle Soup by  Sommer of A Spicy Perspective and was instantly intrigued. We love Dill. I love finding ways to rescue food. Our kids have been practicing their knife & sauteing skills. My father had recently delivered a load of potatoes. So, of course, we made it tonight and it was a hit!

Actual words spoken in reference to said soup:

“It’s miraculous!”

Just what a mama likes to hear about supper.

Polish Dill Pickle Soup

Polish Dill Pickle Soup

We added a bit more chopped pickles and a sprinkling of feta cheese when we served it…amazing! You can get recipe here.

How did we get those so-so pickles? Sometimes, life gives you more cucumbers than you need! In summers past, we shared our favorite ways in which to put cucumbers – especially large ones – to use. However, one can only use so much pickle relish (as yummy as it is) and the refrigerated cucumber salads do indeed have a limited shelf life. So, in the hopes of not having them go to waste, we pickled many cucumbers which were, in all honesty, not ideal for canning. The result was a portion of my pantry that consisted of pickles that I was not excited about putting on our table, let alone sharing with guests.  Lesson learned…it’s too time consuming to put up food- especially if it requires water bath processing –  that isn’t in its prime, no matter how tempting!

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St. Patrick’s Day Printables

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Whether you’re celebrating St. Patrick’s Day on a large or small scale, we’ve got some festive details that will add some fun to your event. Our wide selection of containers & colorful Daisy and Straw Hole Lids & accessories, earth-friendly paper drinking straws,  along with the charming free printables available will help you customize your amazing favors & gifts in an economical fashion!St Patrick's Day Fillmore Container

We’ve pulled together some of  printables and inspiration from a few of our favorite crafting & creative DIY’ers.

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Green Themed Printable : Yesterday on Tuesday

Lucky Tags and Clover Leaf Lid Topper

Lucky Tags and Clover Leaf Lid Topper : Yesterday on Tuesday

Have a Ball Printables : Yesterday on Tuesday

Have a Ball Printables : Yesterday on Tuesday

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Rainbow Printable : Dukes & Duchesses

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Luck of the Leprechaun Printable : Dukes & Duchesses

I Struck Gold Printable : Kids Stuff World

I Struck Gold Printable : Kids Stuff World

 

Looking for more inspiration for sharing the Luck of the Irish this St. Paddy’s Day? Check out our St. Patrick’s Day Pinterest Board!


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JarBox Keeps Jars Organized and Safe

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We keep our canning jars safe, clean, & organized using a JarBox!Jarbox

The JarBox is a set of two rigid plastic shells molded to safely nestle one dozen (12) canning jars. The JarBox trays snap firmly together, encasing their contents safely and protecting your canning investment from top to bottom. You can also use the JarBoxes separately as trays for jars, for carrying or transporting your preserves. The JarBox is available in two sizes, one for quart sized jars and one for pint sized jars.

JarBoxes are designed to be stacked atop one another. Each JarBox locks into the one above it and below it, increasing strength and structural integrity. When locked together, the entire stack of JarBoxes functions as one whole. This functionality helps ensure the safety of your glass jars, and is a safe and convenient way to stack jars in a shelving unit.

The JarBox is a pretty nifty invention because it offers a protective, stackable, and versatile storage for your canning jars, as well as a safe way to transport your canning creations. We also love that its made in the USA.

GIVEAWAY

We want you to have your own JarBox! Enter the giveaway below and you’ll have a chance to win your own JarBox. Winner gets to pick which size, pint or quart.

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How to Make Milk Kefir

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Several years ago, Amanda Pfeifer of Phickle, spent some time sharing some of her fermenting expertise at our Preservation Station – such a treat! She graciously shared some of her Milk Kefir grains (SCOBY) with us and we’ve been enjoying them ever since! We’ve continued to feed them, and they’ve continued to reproduce and we’ve shared them with friends.  Make your own Milk Kefir Fillmore Container

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Milk Kefir Grains

 

 

Lately, I’ve been getting questions about milk kefir… and since it’s time to share some more of the SCOBY, I thought it would be timely to also share how easy it is to care for them! It really is so easy and if you’re trying to increase your probiotics, this is a very inexpensive way to accomplish that.

 

 

 

Here’s how I got started:

I put my grains into a pint jar, filled it about 3/4 full with milk and put it in the refrigerator to rest until I was ready to start. The jar gets a label stating the date that it goes into resting. (This is helpful when I have several jars, and could be helpful as a reference if you were trying to trouble shoot; a little more scientific). I imagine that Amanda shared some of her whole milk with me, but since then, I’ve used whole and most often 2% Milk (homogenized) and the grains continue to grow.  The refrigeration slows down their activity, so the grains can last quite a long time at rest.

If my kefir supply is getting low, I get the jar of resting grains in milk out of the refrigerator and top it off with fresh milk. Then I set the cap on the jar to allow it to breath, but to keep particulates out and set it in a visible place on my counter ( out or direct sunlight). When this was new to our family, I put a “Don’t Touch” label on it to avoid accidents. I let it set out for between 8 – 24 hours until it is noticeably cultured. The temperature, type of milk, and other factors play a role in the rate of fermentation. Sometimes it separates out like in the photo above, but not usually. Winter time ferments don’t always behave in the same way.

straining kefir fillmore container

When I’m pleased with the level of fermentation, I gather 2 fresh jars & lids, my strainer, a container for collecting and a spoon.  I pour the kefir into the strainer while gently moving the grains around so that the kefir can pass through.The grains that remain in the strainer get placed into a clean jar which is then covered 3/4 full with milk and refrigerated. The strained milk kefir gets poured into a clean jar, capped and labeled with the date and refrigerated. At this point, you could  add some flavor to your milk kefir by way of fruits or juices, or do a secondary ferment! 

 

Milk Kefir with reCAP POUR cap Fillmore Container

 

 

I use my reCap POUR lid for the jar of finished kefir. It’s perfect for pouring that little dose of probiotics onto Oakley’s food! 

If you’re so inclined, you’ll find more details on the science behind this process & trouble shooting tips on Amanda’s Milk Kefir Guide.  You can also find more ways to brighten up your milk kefir drink like this Cinnamon Maple Milk Kefir.

Need a break from the drinkable version? Try these Marinated Kefir Cheese Balls!

 

 

 

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Rosemary Grapefruit Jam for National Grapefruit Month

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We had quite a few grapefruit from the holidays and it was quite apparent that if I didn’t do something with a goodly portion of them now, some of them may end up feeding our worms. Their peels had begun to dry out a bit and sadly,  the opportunity for marmalade had passed.  I set out to find a way to use those tangy grapefruit meats.grapefruit-rosemary-jam-text1

I discovered that there simply are not many Grapefruit Jam recipes to be had. I suppose that shouldn’t have been a surprise, since their distinct flavor is so strong.  In fact, the only one I could find was posted by Marisa, on Food in Jars. I wanted to add something fresh & savory to the flavor profile to change it up a bit, so I headed to my garden and snipped the nicest sprigs of rosemary I could find.  I was quite pleased with the end result, but then, I love grapefruit! Here it is…thanks to Marisa!

 

Rosemary Grapefruit Jam – yields will vary, but I got 4 8oz jars with some to spare supremed-grapefruit

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 lbs of Supremed Grapefruit meats & juices (about 8 – 9 grapefruits)
  • several fresh Rosemary Sprigs (washed well, with any discolored leaves removed)
  1. Supreme  your grapefruit, collecting all of the meat and juice in a large bowl, and setting aside the seeds.
  2. Carefully pour all of the meat and juices into a large, wide non reactive pot and add the sugar.
  3. Take the seeds you’ve collected and place them into a tea ball (as I did) or, if you’d rather, you can gather them up in a folded piece of cheesecloth, and put the contained seeds into the pot. This will allow you to extract a bit more pectin to aid with your set. Add your rosemary sprigs. I tucked mine into the latch on my tea ball. However, you could just strip the leaves off of the woody parts so that you don’t have to fish them out later.
  4. After stirring the mixture until the sugar is dissolved. If you are using a thermometer that attaches to your pot, attack it now, before it gets too hot to touch. Take the time to make sure that the tip of the thermometer isn’t touching the bottom of your pot, and that the sensor is as far under the surface of the mixture as possible. As this cooks, you’ll lose some volume and you want the sensor to continue to provide an accurate read. Attached Digital Thermometer Fillmore Container
  5. Crank up the heat and bring it to a boil. While stirring regularly, continue to boil until it has reached 220 degrees and passed the plate test. (important tip from Marisa – turn off the gas, or remove from heat while you’re testing to avoid scorching)
  6. When you  are pleased with the set, remove from the heat, remove your thermometer.
  7. Funnel into your prepared jars of choice, allowing 1/4 inch headspace.  Clean rims, apply lids and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
  8. Remove jars from your canner & allow them to completely cool, untouched. If you used 2-piece lids, remove the bands and test the seal. If you used the single piece lids, check to see that the button is down.  Store them in a cool place out of direct light. Refrigerate or freeze any unsealed jars.grapefruit-jam-line-up fillmore containerIf you’ve got nice grapefruits that are marmalade-worthy, be sure to check out the posts for the Food in Jars Mastery Challenge for the month of January! It was all marmalade, all the time! I’m pretty confident that you’d find the answer to just about any marmalade question in amazing posts like this one on Marmalade Troubleshooting.

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Super Bowl 2017 Giveaway

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If you’re planning to watch the big game with family & friends, we’re giving some lucky winner the opportunity to add some extra team spirit to their party with a fun Super Bowl Giveaway!super-bowl-2017-fillmore-container_1_1

The winner will get:

So that we can get this cool bundle to the winner in time for the big game, this Giveaway will end  this Friday, January 27th at Midnight.

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Food in Jars Mastery Challenge 2017

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It’s been a joy to see the tremendous response by so many preservers to Marisa McClellan’s Food in Jars Mastery Challenge! While her challenge has given well seasoned preservers another excuse to put things up or to branch out, it has also encouraged those who have very little preserving experience!

 

If this is news to you, January’s Challenge was Marmalade,strawberry-meyer-lemon-marmalade and according to the engagement by participants on Marisa’s new facebook group, there’s no shortage of homemade marmalade on our continent. Her eventual round up of recipes from those who responded may indeed prove to be the most extensive Marmalade Recipe Roundup ever.  You can find the new Food in Jars Community Group on facebook and request to join and follow along there, surrounded by other preserving comrades.

Our favorite marmalade to date, has been this Strawberry Meyer Lemon Marmalade, but we’ve added a couple more to our list of recipes to try before our citrus is spent!

P.S. February is National Grapefruit Month…so keep your eyes peeled, as we’ll be sure to share some recipes for Marmalades and Preserves that give Grapefruit the leading role!

 

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We are quite excited to see the details that are coming in February – on Salt Preserving – as we tried our hand at this Herbes Salées last fall and it’s now a staple! It’s found in BATCH, the cookbook by Joel and Dana from Well Preserved. We featured their recipe in this Herb post where you can get an idea of how easy it is.

You can find the details on how to be part of Marisa’s Mastery Challenge and her schedule of topics for the year. We encourage you to follow along even if you’re not sure that you’ll be able to accomplish each one. If you plan on squeezing in a batch of marmalade for this month’s challenge, here’s where you submit it. You’ll find an impressive wealth of marmalade knowledge in Marisa’s blog this month, so be sure to check it out.

 

 

 

 

We’ll update the monthly Master Challenges here with a link to Marisa’s intro for each one.

 

 

 

 

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Valentine’s Day

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We think these new Smooth-Sided jars from Ball are perfect for some Valentine’s Day fun. Fill them with treats to give someone sweet, or pair them with our Valentine’s Day straws and lids for a festive drink.valentines-straws-lids-fillmore-container

pink-hearts-and-brown-straws-fillmore-container_We now carry over 40 paper straw designs/colors! From polka dots, to chevron, to hearts, solid colors and so much more.  Our paper straws are made from FDA approved materials and non-toxic, food contact safe inks and made in the USA. You can learn more about why our paper straws are safe and eco-friendly here.

Don’t forget to pair our pretty straws with our daisy & straw-hole lids.

If you want to get crafty for Valentine’s Day, we pulled together a list of sweet ideas.

Valentine's Day Ideas - Fillmore Container

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