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.

What Does Preserving Mean to You?

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Over the years, we’ve been inspired by so many preservers. We love to hear all the stories about why they love preserving.

Jars Ready
We enjoy swapping tips & recipes. We’ve eagerly learned a thing (or 10) during a podcast, webinar, or hands-on canning class. We’ve proudly followed bloggers who have gone on to write a book(s) about their passion for preserving. We especially love when customers stop in and share a jar of their favorite jam or pickles.  We get just as excited as our customers do when their small businesses suddenly take off!

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What we love most about preserving is the wonderful people we meet, the community we’ve formed across the nation with similar minded preservers, the great tips and recipes we’ve learned along the way, and the opportunity to pass along a tradition that helps feed families.Boys&Pickles

We’ve asked a few of our favorite preserving experts to reflect on their experience with preserving; how they think it’s changed over time; what preserving means to them; and how their preserving skills and interests have changed over time. We were intrigued by everything they had to say and wanted it share it with all of you.

Theresa Loe, Living Homegrown TLoe_Headshot_10

Theresa Loe is the founder of LivingHomegrown.com and the Canning Academy® – a website and online school dedicated to helping people live farm-fresh without a farm.  She is also the Co-Executive Producer and on-air Canning Expert for the national gardening TV series Growing A Greener World on PBS. And she is the host of the Living Homegrown Podcast a weekly program on canning, fermenting and small-space food growing.

The preserving of our grandmother’s time was more geared toward marathon canning sessions with the main purpose of preserving a bountiful harvest and stocking up the pantry. The recipes were large and the process was sometimes back breaking work.

Then in more recent years as food became industrialized, home canning’s popularity waned because people thought everything they needed could be found in the store. But as we now know, that industrialized food may have been cheap, but we paid the price with our health. People now realize that processed food is full of preservatives and lacks flavor and nutrition. Today, they are more interested in what’s IN their food and are looking to canning again to fill their pantry with pure foods that are free of preservatives. Smaller-batch and low-sugar recipes are more popular now than ever before. Canning Academy Logo_ SMALL

As a lifelong gardener, I really appreciate that magic moment when produce is at its peak. You can’t find that kind of flavor in the grocery store because the produce in the store is chosen for its shipping ability – not for its flavor quality. So for me, canning is about capturing that magic moment of homegrown flavor and keeping it in a time capsule called a canning jar. Then later when I want to relive that magic moment, I only have to open my pantry and it’s sitting there waiting for me.

I grew up in a family of gardeners and preserved food my whole life. But I never really fully appreciated canning until I had formal training through the Master Food Preserver program and then later went to culinary school. It was at that point that I learned the nuances of flavor science and canning became an art form for me. We now have an heirloom tree orchard with some very spectacular fruit varieties. And although preserving the harvest is still important, I’m obsessed with capturing those unusual flavors that you can’t buy in the store. I love to experiment to showcase the heirloom fruit. So my canning today is more small-batch, low sugar recipes where I use spices and herbs to showcase flavor.

Joel MacCharles & Dana Harrison, Well Preserved and Batch

Batch_Author_sqareJoel MacCharles and Dana Harrison are founders of WellPreserved, co-authors of Batch: Over 200 Recipes, Tips and Techniques for a WellPreserved Kitchen. Joel is a writer, public speaker and cook. Dana is a designer, illustrator and art director.  

I think the biggest change in preserving has little to do with the act in question – it’s actually how ‘preserving’ is perceived. When we started in 2008, the term largely referred to water bath canning, by 2010 it was perceived as a trend (Slate called it ‘ridiculously trendy’ back then) and current preservers are expanding their techniques and learning about curing, fermenting, dehydrating, pressure canning and more. People are learning to get beyond thinking of preserves as sugar or vinegar-soaked condiments and exploring many more methods of preserving than we’ve seen in the past. The results are exciting – the perception of preserving is moving away from being a nostalgic curiosity and evolving into a practical set of tools that is relevant and exciting for the modern home cook.

As people have broadened their methods of preserving we’ve also seen an explosion of influences Batch_Coverfrom other cultures and palates. Kimchi, lime pickles, charcuterie, sauerkraut and kefir are appearing in kitchens across North America. By going beyond the water bath people have been able to be far more experimental and have started to safely evolve preserving through experimentation. Homemade chili salt, coffee-flavored kombucha, flavored ginger beer and garlic-fermented honey are all examples of the progression of flavor and technique that makes this a fascinating time to be involved in the preserving community.

From a personal perspective, we continue to experiment and combine techniques and flavors to see what happens. I’m in a phase where I’m particularly obsessed with smoking anything and enjoy combining it with other techniques. Smoked onion powder, smoked fermented hot sauce, and smoked garlic-scape salt are all examples of such experiments. Preserving isn’t changing; our relationship with and understanding of it are.  

Marisa McClellan, Food in Jars

Marisa McClellan author photoMarisa McClellan is a blogger, food writer, canning teacher, and dedicated farmers market shopper who lives in Center City Philadelphia. Marisa is the author of Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-Round,  Preserving by the Pint: Quick Seasonal Canning for Small Spaces, and her newest book is Naturally Sweet Food in Jars.

Preserving means so much to me. It’s become a key component of how I identify myself. Knowing how to preserve food means that I can support my local farmers, save money (because when you have all the equipment and you’re buying seconds in season, it does save money), and know what I’m eating. I love knowing that a little hard work in the summer months means that I’ll have delicious things to eat and share all year round. Naturally Sweet Food in Jars cover low res

I feel like my own preserving practice has changed a great deal over time. I’ve gone from high sugar, large batch preserving, to an approach that focuses on small batches and natural sweeteners (except when it comes to tomatoes. I still do tomatoes in great, big batches). While I don’t think that I can speak for all preservers out there, I do feel like there are a number of other people who have gone through the same transition that I have. So many of us are simply trying to find ways to fit preserving into busy lives and modern diets, because knowing where our food comes from matters to us!

One of the things I most appreciate about preserving food is that it has allowed me to build relationships with people that would otherwise be strangers. I count my growers and fellow canners among some of my dearest friends in the world. My life is so much richer because I preserve food.

Amanda Feifer, Ferment Your Vegetables

AmandaFeiferAmanda Feifer is the fermentation educator behind the blog Phickle.com and book Ferment Your Vegetables. She teaches classes on topics ranging from hot sauce and miso to sauerkraut and kombucha. Her demos at the PA Farm Show will explore popular fermentation topics including, kefir, kombucha, pickling and more.

One thing I love about fermentation is that it hasn’t changed much at all over the millennia. It’s so old, we don’t have any kind of written or oral history to tell us how it came to be, but it’s easy to believe that humans began using it as a preservation method. Too many things ripe at the same moment in time? Only one thing to do: preserve them, without the benefit of sterile methods or reliable heat sources, and survive the winter.

I love to imagine my grandmothers and their grandmothers making vegetable ferments or yogurt or cheese or vinega9781592336821_Cover_WebSmallr or country wine the same way I do today. It makes me very proud to continue the tradition that was likely begun by women born far too long ago to appear on even the deepest roots on my family tree.

My own process has been slightly streamlined and made more creative with the help of home experimentation and the results of scientific research. I have the luxury of a food budget that permits me to try a new recipe and not stress if it doesn’t turn out, and year-round food shops that mean I preserve my food, at least in part, for the pleasure of its flavor and the variety it provides in my diet. I also have a small family, so fermenting in jars rather than large crocks as my ancestors did, is often the way I go. At the end of the day (or month, as is more accurate in sauerkraut fermentation), my sauerkraut surely tastes the same as my great-great-great-great-grandmother’s did and it definitely contains the same delicious, probiotic bacteria that her’s did.

Linda Ziedrich, The Joy of Pickling, and The Joy of Jams

LindaHaving recently sold the farm where for 22 years she grew, prepared, and wrote about fruits and vegetables, Linda is continuing her experiments in the garden and kitchen of a little bungalow in the small town of Lebanon, Oregon. Linda’s best-selling book, The Joy of Pickling, will be released in its third edition on July 1, 2016. That book and its sister, The Joy of Jams, Jellies, and Other Sweet Preserves, are the fruit of Linda’s empirical research as well as her studies of culinary traditions around the world. Linda also keeps a blog, teaches preserving classes, and develops products for Crisp & Co., a pickle manufacturer based in Delaware.

My family’s approach to preserving the bounty has always depended on the nature of the bounty. For every tree or vegetable variety on the homestead, yields vary from year to year. If the Gravenstein yield is small, for example, I might use the fruit for applesauce and apple butter and put off cider making until fall, when we harvest other apple varieties. I always dry tomatoes, but I fill the dehydrator over and over only when the pantry is already well-stocked with tomato sauce and juice. For us, preserving has never been simply about pasteurizing food in jars. Options have always included wine and cider and beer making, vegetable fermentation, dehydration, freezing, salting, and smoking.The Joy of Pickling

Now that the kids are grown and gone, my twin problems have been overabundance and overwork. So we’ve scaled down to a little house on a city lot. I think a lot about what food plants will grow best here, what my husband and I most like to eat, and what we can produce that money can’t buy. With limited space, my preference is sometimes for fresh food over preserved. If I’m to grow all the greens we love and can’t find at the farmers’ market, the kids may have to grow or find cucumbers and make their own darn pickles!   

The main way preserving has changed in recent years is that it’s no longer old-fashioned. Preserving food–as well as growing it, gleaning it, and gathering it in the wild–is now a common pursuit for educated, urban young adults. Many are scientific-minded; they want to know the reasons behind methods and techniques. These new preservers tend to be experimental, too. Some are especially interested in fermenting vegetables, usually in small batches for quick consumption. Others are exploring the range of foods they can seal up in mason jars. It’s hard for me to keep up with the demand for information and advice!

Sean Timberlake, Punk Domestics

SeanTimberlake_landscapeA professional writer for 20 years, Sean started his personal blog, Hedonia, in 2006. Sean, who resides in San Francisco, launched Punk Domestics, a community for DIY and food preservation enthusiasts, in 2010, and is the Food Preservation Expert for About.com.

When I launched Punk Domestics six years ago, making preserves was a hot trend. We were still in the throes of a major economic recession, and many people had more time than money on their hands, so preserving food seemed like a great way to conserve money while building a pantry. Since that time, trends within preserving and DIY blog space have come and gone, or persisted. In 2011, we had Charcutepalooza, where hundreds of bloggers signed on to undertake increasingly complex challenges from the book “Charcuterie” by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn. In the last couple years, I’ve seen a huge increase in interest in fermented foods and beverages. This has been evidenced in more book titles on the topic coming out, as well as multiple products that enable it, like Kraut Source, FarmCurious Ferments, and others.

Charcutepalooza ultimately opened the door for me to bring groups to Italy in 2012, when we worked with a local butcher to turn a hog into multiple kinds of salumi. I’ve since gone back with another group, and am returning this fall. We work with a local preserving artisan, make hand-rolled pasta, go foraging for porcini or truffles, and more. The food culture in Italy is fabulous, and there’s a rich history of preserving.PDlogo

For me personally, preserving has increasingly become a part of my everyday cooking routine. I did not grow up preserving, and so in the early years I made the mistake of canning scores of jars of jams, when I barely manage to consume a jar a year. Now, I only preserve what we’ll use, plus a few other things for gifts or special occasions. That said, we still can 100 pounds of tomatoes every year — because we use them! We haven’t had to purchase a jar of tomatoes in nearly a decade.

I have also jumped on the fermentation bandwagon. There’s always a batch of sauerkraut or kimchi bubbling away in our kitchen, as well as a jar of preserved lemons mellowing in its salt brine, and I’ve got a continuous brew of kombucha going as well. Currently I’ve got a few wide-mouth half-pints full of a sort of St. Marcellin cheese curing, using a recipe from David Asher’s book “The Art of Natural Cheesemaking.” The products of these efforts become building blocks in our meals. Our tomatoes are used in soups, pastas, and pizzas. Preserved lemons lend brightness to practically everything we make. And we start each day with a glass of kombucha and a couple forkfuls of kraut to get the gut going.  

Sharon Peterson, Simply Canning

Sharon is a simple woman in love with her hardworking husband, and homeschool mom of 4 sons. When not homeschooling, taking care of her family, or working on Simply Canning she can be found in the garden  She calls it her happy place!  She loves simplicity and self reliance and that love flows over to food production in her kitchen too.  Join her at SimplyCanning for safe and fun home canning tips and tricks right from her kitchen. 

Sharon-ResizedI didn’t grow up canning with my mom or grandma. Mom did some canning with friends but I never participated. I love to garden and I learned home preserving after I was married and had a garden that kept growing and growing and growing. I started out with the easy things like tomatoes, because I had lots of them; and apples, because who doesn’t love apple butter!

My mom offered me her pressure canner when she and my dad were downsizing from the farmhouse to a smaller home better suited to just the two of them. I almost said no! Then I had second thoughts and realized that canners were kind of expensive and maybe I better take it. I started pressure canning the next summer and look where I am now.

From basics like tomatoes and apples, I have branched out into vegetables and soups. After many years of learning and confidence building I’ve added canning meat. I sure wish I had started that much earlier. It is a freezer space saver for sure.

Simply Canning Book CoverOne thing I’ve learned is that if you are going to do a lot of canning, nice equipment is worth the cost. I’m thinking of my water bath canner. I started out with the black speckled granite ware canner it rusted and I upgraded to a gorgeous stainless steel water bath. Not required specifically but most definitely nicer! I’ve also upgraded to a larger size pressure canner so I can double stack pints and get more processed at a time.

SimplyCanning.com was started out as a hobby to share my love for canning and preserving and it has turned out to be an incredible blessing to me and my family. The people I have met over the years developing the site are amazing folks! So many times I’ve wished I could invite some of the ladies to my kitchen table to share a cup of coffee and some biscuits or toast with homemade jam.

Nancy Wiker Retired Extension Educator, Lancaster County

Nancy Wiker, was the Senior Extension Educator for Lancaster County Penn State Cooperative Extension, prior to her retirement in 2015. Nancy is a certified ServSafe instructor, and served on the food safety team with Penn State Extension.  She was the state co-chair of the StrongWomen/Growing Stronger program team, which provides nutrition and strength training classes in many counties in Pennsylvania. She holds a Bachelor of Science Degree and a Master’s Degree in Extension Education from Penn State University.

NancyWiker.My sister and I helped Mom can and freeze foods. Like most families at that time, we grew the produce in the garden and preserved it for the winter.  She used the processing methods her mother used. She did not have a pressure canner, nor did my grandmother. To store frozen foods, Mom rented a “locker” at a store in town and later we had a chest freezer at home.

Mom’s boiling water bath processing times were different from today; she processed raw packed peaches for 10 minutes and raw crushed tomatoes for 20 minutes. Some foods, like applesauce and pickles were open kettle.  As long as I can remember, she used two piece lids, except on jelly, which was sealed with wax.

Needless to say, many of her practices were risky. She canned because she liked to control the seasonings and food combinations that went into the jar. She was open to new research and did implement many changes over the years.

Her best advice was to clean the rim of the jar carefully before placing the lid. She was adamant that that was the secret to jars sealing properly. To me, home food preserving is honoring my heritage.

Today home food preservation is not an economical issue in most households, it has become a craft, with more gourmet appeal. The practice seems to have skipped a generation, perhaps when more women began to work outside the home and more prepared products have come on the market. Research has provided safer methods and more specific directions producing a safe and tasty product.  At the end of the season, when the shelves are lined with filled jars, it is a great feeling of satisfaction. Mom felt that way too: she took pictures of her canned goods.

What do you love about preserving?

Top Preserving Tips for 2016

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Although many of you preserve year round, some of you are anxiously awaiting your favorite local fruits and vegetables to come to season.PreservingJars

We’ve picked out some of our top preserving posts that will be helpful, as you evaluate your equipment, gather your supplies, and set your preserving goals. We are also sharing our answers to some of the frequently asked preserving questions we get from all of you. Not to mention a few links to a few of our favorite preserving recipes!

Be sure to bookmark (or pin) this post, so you can reference it throughout your preserving season.

Top Preserving Questions

The top 5 things you need to do to prepare for canning season.

What’s the difference between a pressure CANNER and a pressure COOKER?

Which jars are safe for pressure canning?

Is it okay if my water bath canner and canning rings are rusty?

How to organize your canning supplies.

How can I avoid lid buckling or dimpling when I water bath?

How do I choose a canning lid for my jar?

How to measure jars and lids for the perfect match?

Is it safe to freeze food in glass jars?

Can I reuse baby food jars for preserving?

How to know if you should can or freeze?

Top Preserving Tips

How do I get crispy pickles?

Can I make a double batch of jam?

How to make sugar free jam with Pomona’s Pectin.

Can I use honey instead of sugar?

What’s the best way to pit cherries?

Can I can tomato soup?

Our Favorite Preserving Recipes

Simple Sauerkraut

Amish Christmas Jam

Lavender Jelly

Chive Blossom Infused Vinegar

Strawberry – Vanilla Preserves

Apple Pie Filling

Cucumber Relish

Vegetable Stock

Apple Butter

 

 

 

The Best Containers for Extracts & Oils

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Amber Glass Containers with PolyCone Phenolic Lids & Dropper Lids

The best jars for storing extracts, oils and other liquids are the Amber Boston Round glass containers. The Amber jars come in a variety of sizes (1 oz., 2 oz4 oz., 8 oz., 16 oz., and 32 oz.) and offer UV protection for light-sensitive products and have a narrow mouth for precision pouring. Our customers have used these jars for DIY cleaning liquids, bitters, specialty drinks, extracts (like our homemade vanilla extract) and so much more.

Amber Bottles Dropper Lids Phenolic Lids

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PolyCone Lined Phenolic Caps

The lids for the Amber jars are pretty cool! The jars use the PolyCone Lined Phenolic Caps. The caps form an exceptionally tight seal and provide a good chemical barrier. The cone shaped liner allows for a superior seal because it molds itself around the sealing area of the finish on the glass bottles. It is constructed of an oil-resistant plastic, which makes it a great match for oils, essential oils, solvents and liquids that require more care in storage or that could be caustic to your average lid. Pairing our Amber glass containers with PolyCone lids creates an excellent storage option for extracts, oils, brews, chemicals, medicines and other valuable liquids.

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Dropper Caps

Also available are Dropper Caps which are ideal for measuring out small amounts of liquids. We offer dropper caps that pair with our 1 oz, 2 oz,  and 4 oz jars.  Whether you are making your own tinctures, custom fragrances or essential oil blends our dropper will become indispensable.

Funnels

Mini_Stainless_Steel_FunnelThe easiest way to fill these jars is with our Mini Stainless Steel Funnel. It’s the perfect size to transfer herbs, spices, extracts, oils and other liquids into the Amber jars without risking spillage.

 

 

New Fermenting Tools + a Giveaway

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FementingGroupPhoto

We’ve continued to add to our fermenting supplies products, and are really excited to bring in more products to round out this category. We recently added some new fermenting gadgets and we never got the chance to properly introduce these new tools.

As we expand our fermenting knowledge, we’ve been using these new tools quite a bit. We are mainly inspired by Amanda Feifer author of  Ferment Your Vegetables. Lately we’ve tried our hand at Curried Cauliflower Pickles, Winter Herb Kvass, Radish and Onion Pickles, Simple Sauerkraut. We hope  you’ll find these ferment tools to be as helpful as we have!

Pickle PipePickle_Pipe_3_Pack
The Pickle Pipe by Mason Tops is a one-piece, self-sealing, silicone and waterless airlock. When fermenting vegetables, it is important that carbon dioxide is allowed to escape (or else the jar can explode) and that oxygen is not allowed to enter (or else your food will spoil with mold).

The Pickle Pipe maintains the perfect, maintenance-free fermentation environment without the need to ‘burp’ your jars every day, or monitor the water levels of traditional airlocks. The Pickle Pipe will allow you to “set and forget” your ferments without the daily maintenance of other airlock solutions.

The low profile design allows you to store your ferments in tight spaces, and when finished, simply pop them in the dishwasher for years of use. The Pickle Pipes come packaged as a set of 3. They fit all wide mouth Mason jars and are BPA free.

Pickle PackerPickle_Packer
The Pickle Packer has been specifically designed for small-batch fermentation of sauerkraut and other veggies in both wide mouth and regular mouth mason jars.

The unique design allows both ends to be used for packing vegetables for your ferments. This allows the Pickle Packer to be used in a wide variety of fermenting jars and containers.

Pickle Packers are made from all natural untreated Acacia wood and finished with a food-safe mineral oil to seal and protect.

Pickle PebblesPickle_Pebbles_4_Pack
Pickle Pebbles have been specifically designed for use with fermentation and take the guess work out of your lacto ferments by ensuring your veggies stay below the surface of the brine thereby eliminating exposure to oxygen (which is the main cause of failure when using lacto fermenting methods).

While a single Pickle Pebble is often enough to keep veggies below the brine, they can also be stacked to provide extra weight. Pickle Pebbles are made of non-iridized soda glass which guarantees that no other substances leach into your ferment. Pickle Pebbles are sold in a pack of four.

These new ferment tools join the rest of our ferment line-up including, Amanda’s book, Ferment Your Vegetables, 3-Piece Econo Airlock and Rubber Stoppers,  our reCap Widemouth Pour Caps and our iLID Storage Lids, and much more.

GIVEAWAY

Ferment Your Vegetables Pickle Pipes Packer GiveawayTo celebrate our new additions we are hosting a giveaway! Enter your chance to win your own fermentation starter kit below. One lucky winner will receive:

 

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Naturally Sweet Food In Jars Review + a Giveaway

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We’ve been looking forward to Marisa McClellan’s latest creation; Naturally Sweet Food in Jars; for quite some time and are thrilled to have added it to our Preserving Library along with the original Food in Jars and Preserving by the Pint.Naturally Sweet Food in Jars cover low res

Marisa McClellan author photo low resMarisa McClellan is a food blogger, cookbook author, and canning teacher based in Center City Philadelphia. In addition to her books, she has written for publications like Vegetarian Times, USA Today, Parents Magazine, The Sweethome, Food Network, Serious Eats, The Kitchn, Grid Philly, Saveur, Edible Philly, and Table Matters.

Marisa also co-hosts a podcast dedicated living a food-focused life called Local Mouthful. Find more of her jams, pickles, and preserves (all cooked up in her 80-square-foot kitchen) at foodinjars.com.

While this book is certainly easy on the eyes and could make a lovely addition to your countertop or coffee table, we’re pretty sure that it will quickly be given lots of love, complete with dog-eared favorites, post-it-notes, penciled-in batch conversions, and perhaps some sticky spots.Naturally Sweet Food in Jars Contents

It is packed with recipes that do not include refined sugar – which is a big deal if you love preserves, but wish to reduce or remove sugar from your diet. The book is organized by sweetener/sugar alternatives. Many of her jam recipes utilize Pomona’s Pectin – which is the perfect choice when adjusting the amount or the source of sweetness. The book is ideal for those who prefer to sweeten their foods with naturally occurring sugars from fruit juices or date paste, rather than refined or processed sweeteners, all without compromising taste or safe canning practices.

Marisa also shares some of her favorite recipes that are not preserves, but one which put preserves into action, like this Maple Applesauce Cake. Not-for-Preserving Recipes Font

The book also includes some fun condiment staples, such as Sriracha-Style Hot Sauce with honey, Date Pancake Syrup with maple, Cantaloupe-Basil Jam and Marinated Multicolored Peppers with agave, and Fennel and Parsley Relish with fruit juice.

Our local orchard, Kauffman’s Fruit Farm was running some great prices on apples earlier this month, so taking a strong cue from my kids’ taste buds, I landed on Marisa’s Chunky Spiced Applesauce as our feature recipe.  Chunky Spiced Applesauce Food in Jars Book

Chunky Spiced Applesauce

“Recipe reprinted with permission from Naturally Sweet Food in Jars © 2016 by Marisa McClellan, Running Press, a member of the Perseus Book Group.”

In the fall apples are cheap and abundant. Making applesauce is a great way to preserve some of that bounty. I sweeten mine with a splash of apple juice concentrate because it lends sweetness without making the sauce cloying. If you’re working with really sweet apples, you can skip the added concentrate entirely and can this sauce without so much as a drop of extra sweetener.EDITOrchard Road Ball Collection Elite Jar Applesauce

Makes 4 (pint/500 ml) jars

  • 5 pounds/2.3 kg apples
  • 1/2 cup/118 ml apple juice or cider
  • 2 pieces star anise
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 cup/118 ml apple juice concentrate

Prepare a boiling water bath and 4 pint/500 ml jars.

Peel and chop the apples. Put them into a large, non-reactive pot with the apple cider, star anise, and cinnamon sticks and cover. Set the pot on the stove over medium-high heat and bring to a low simmer. Let the apples cook for approximately 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the fruit is soft enough to crush with the back of a wooden spoon.  Apples Cinnamon Star Anise Fillmore Container

Remove the star anise pieces and the cinnamon sticks. Using a potato masher, work the cooked apples into a chunky puree (if you prefer a smoother sauce, feel free to use an immersion blender instead). Add the nutmeg and cloves and mash some more. Taste and add the apple cider concentrate a few tablespoons at a time, until the sauce has reached your preferred level of sweetness.Smashing the Apples

Spoon the applesauce into the prepared jars, leaving 1/2 inch/12 mm of headspace. Use a chopstick to ease out any trapped air pockets and add more sauce to return the headspace to the proper levels, if necessary. Wipe the rims, apply the lids and rings, and process in a boiling water canner for 15 minutes.

TIP – if you have a tea ball, or a small swatch of cheese cloth, I’d recommend putting your star anise in it to contain those little seeds if they get dislodged at some point. It’s much easier to simply pull that and your cinnamon stick out that way instead of fishing around for pieces.

We canned the first batch – even canned some in our new adorable Ball 8oz Collection Elite Jam Jars to send along in their lunches. We are giving away a few cases of these over on Marisa’s blog! Enter here. Fruited Ball Collection Elite Jam Jar Applesauce

Later that week, we actually made another batch for dessert! We enjoyed it warm – right off of the stove – and it quickly disappeared into hungry bellies! The flavor combinations and its chunky nature is reminiscent of stewed apples…delish!

In celebration of this wonderful new book, we’re hosting a giveaway which includes:

Enter your chance below.

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Psst…don’t forget to also enter the giveaway of Ball 8oz Fruited Jam Jars over on Marisa’s blog.

 

How to Make Your Own Natural Cleaning Products

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For some households, using homemade products for the home and for the body has been a long-lasting lifestyle choice as opposed to a trend that has intermittently taken the home-maker interwebs by storm.   Indeed, there are is a spectrum on this …many feel that they don’t have the time or don’t wish to bother with the “making” portion of this…which is why the demand for natural cleaners – be they produced commercially or cottage industry style – has exploded.  (We’ll share a couple of our favorite pre-made links at the end of this post.)

Cleaning Supplies Lineup
I must admit that I initially struggled with whether or not this was something worth taking on …as if I needed another “project”.  At Christmas, my sweet friend Nancy, gifted me a jar of her homemade Laundry Detergent and raved about how easy it was to make and how well it worked. Yes, I did need to make a special trip to Millers Natural Foods in order to finish off my initial ingredient list. But now that I have all of the basics and know what I’ll need every so often, it’s a breeze.

So, why make your own cleaning products?

When asked, most converts will say that they made the switch for a combination of the desire to:

  • reduce allergens/chemicals/toxins exposure to their family/pets
  • reduce toxins in the environment
  • reduce packaging waste
  • save $$$

Although we’re not aware of personal allergies or immediate health problems in our family, we’ve been taking steps to remove chemical laden products from our home…little by little. I cannot honestly claim that we will have a chemical free home by this time next year, as I have a difficult time pitching items that still have use, but I do look forward to having a much simpler (and much more environmentally friendly) housecleaning supply zone.

We thought we’d start with products that we use often enough in our home and that required pretty simple ingredients that aren’t single-purpose items– Laundry Detergent, Scouring Powder and Glass Cleaner.

Laundry Detergent:

Fillmore Container Jars Laundry

Felsnaptha for Pre-Treating in Mason JarOur favorite Laundry Detergent uses the basic recipe from Wellness Mama. The amounts below are based on using 1 bar of the Fels-Naptha. We tripled the recipe for the simple fact that we’re keeping up with 3 busy children and 1 furry friend who all love to be outside.  Fels-Naptha also makes a pretty impressive pre-treater for those tough stains…so I put the remnants into a jam jar topped with a colorful iLID – super convenient!

  • 1 bar Fels-Naptha (finely grated)
  • 1 cup Borax
  • 1 cup Washing Soda

Adding sodas

 

I’ve found that the simplest way to make this is in my food processer – but you can certainly just use the fine side of an ordinary grater.  Using the grating blade first, I grated all my Fels-Naptha bars and poured the flakes into a large bowl.  After replacing the grating blade with the chopping blade, I returned the flakes, added the Borax & Washing Soda and chopped until the 3 ingredients appeared to be sufficiently dispersed.  If you use your processor, remember to allow the dust to settle before taking the cover off.  Carefully pour you detergent into your container of choice and launder away!

How much do you need to use? Wellness Mama recommends 1 – 3 Tablespoons, depending on the size and soiled factor.

DIY Laundry Detergent in Montana Jar

We like the Montana and Heritage Hill Jars to hold the laundry detergent, not just because of their capacity, but also because the lids lift off. However, if you’re tight on space, are doing smaller jars for gifting or don’t mind unscrewing the lid, the squared off Cracker Jars or Queenline Jars are equally as charming.

(Side note: There has been some confusion on the safety of Borax. See this post for the low-down and the basis for that confusion.)

Scouring Powder:

Scouring Powder Fillmore Container reCap Flip CapBLOG

We really like this Scouring Powder – also from Wellness Mama. It does the trick. If you have a pan that you know is going to take some serious elbow grease, dampen the burnt area, sprinkle some of your scouring powder on and let it set for a bit before scrubbing away.

DIY Scouring Powder Fillmore Container Flip CapSimply mix these together and they’re ready to go. I actually made a double batch used the quart jar to mix the ingredients, capped it with a Pour Cap and keep it under my sink for refilling. I poured some into an 8oz jam jar for at my sink. I topped the small jar with the Flip Cap and the Shaker Insert from the accessories kit.

  • 1 cup baking soda
  • ½ cup salt (not iodized)
  • ½ cup washing soda
  • You can add up to 5 drops of essential lemon oil for scent- but it’s entirely optional.

Glass Cleaner:Adapta Spray Glass Cleaner Fillmore

We found this Window & Glass Cleaner from Rodale’s Organic Life to be quite simple and effective. Mason Jar Spray Adapta Fillmore Container

  • 2 cups Water (distilled/filtered if possible to decrease residue)
  • 2 T Vinegar
  • Up to 10 drops of essential oil of choice – entirely optional
  • A few drops of Dr. Bronner’s Castille Soap (Suggested for the first batch if you’re switching from the commercial products. It helps to break down the film that the others left behind. I opted for the one that contained Lavender to offset the vinegar scent.)

I use a 26oz jar because it’s just a little smaller (easier to hold and not as heavy) with our Adapta Sprayer. Really, any regular mouth jar will do. You simply trim the tube to fit the jar that you’ll be using – even one of those quilted jam jars would work.

If you are looking for some more specialized cleaners, Rodale has a collection of recipes for several natural cleaners. Whether you’re making your own dishwashing detergent or hand soap, our Adapta Pumps will turn any regular mouth mason jar into a dispenser – and can also be trimmed to fit the height of your jar!

Adapta pumpAdaptasprayer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where to Find Supplies

While Dr. Bronner’s products and Fels-Naptha are not found in every average grocery market, you can usually find them in natural food stores which are becoming more and more prevalent, and of course, they can easily be found online.

We’ve got you covered on containers, pumps, spray caps, and pour or flip caps.

Where to Purchase Pre-made Natural Cleaning Supplies

Don’t have the energy to tackle this on your own, but would like to use more natural products? Here are a few options:

While we’re partial to supporting the cottage industry makers, we know that their products are not often carried by the larger establishments, but online, in boutique storefronts, and at seasonal or weekly markets. So if you’re hoping to clean greener while supporting local makers, it may just require a little bit of investigation in your locale.

Natural Cleaning Products for our Lancaster Folks and Beyond:

Lemon Street Market carries a variety of natural and sustainable products and actually has a detergent refill station.

Rhubarb’s Market carries an extensive line of natural and/organic household products, most of which are commercially produced.

Millers Natural Foods in Bird-in-Hand also carries a wide selection of “finished product”, but also multi-purpose cleaning ingredients including Dr. Bronner’s products in volumes from 8oz to the gallon jugs.TandiLaundry

Tandi’s Naturals offers natural cleaning products for the body and the home. They can be purchased online, but are also available in Lancaster (at Lemon Street Market) and in Philadelphia (Green Aisle Grocery, Weaver’s Way and more )

Nether Providence Soap Company makes an amazing Laundry Butter .

Sweet Grass Farm packages their Laundry Soap Concentrate in bags which would work well for refilling your favorite bulk sized jar.

Learn more about some of these natural cleaning products here.

 

 

Tips for a Growing Candle Business

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Is your candle line growing? We hope it is! As with any growing business, there are important opportunities along the way to add value for your customers – both in the way of the physical product they purchase, in addition to the experience and engagement involved in that purchase.
Soy Candles in Mason Jars 11-6-2013 10-06-57 AMEducate and encourage your customers in proper candle maintenance. Be sure to include burning instructions that are customized to the type and size of each candle. It may even impress your clients if you take the time explain what a melt pool is and why it matters to their enjoyment of their purchase.

Metal Candle AccessoriesTake it a step further by offering the proper tools. Not only will they encourage proper care for the customer, but they are also good add-ons for candles purchased as gifts and could be bundled for seasonal events like Mother’s Day or Christmas.

There are several ways in which you can extinguish a candle, and while you might not have a strong preference, there are some considerations. Wick Dippers are a great alternative to blowing out candles – no smoke, and the wick is primed for the next lighting. However, if your candles are dye-free or your wicks mushroom, the method used will have an impact on the amount of soot ending up in the wax pool. In these cases, consider a snuffer as a good solution to offer your customers.

If your wick requires regular trimming, offering wick trimmers which trim and catch the snippet to keep your wax clean will encourage proper burning.

Candle_Warning_LabelEvery candle should have a caution label or tag listing the key rules for candle fire-safety. A label should include basic instructions for burning a jar candle properly. We’ve just added new warning labels that include basic instructions for burning a jar candle properly.

The labels are professionally made in the USA using the best label material to form to the jar, strong adhesive to stay in place, and smudge-free printing.

Don’t forget about those who are unable to burn candles because of housing regulations or fear of fire! If you haven’t added wax melts or wax for warmers, you may wish to consider it. We do carry the Tart Clam Shells.

Lids and covers also add to the cost of your end product. Sometimes there are more choices, and although it may be more to manage, it could strengthen customer loyalty. You may wish to consider offering lid options – especially if you’re using the CT style lids that are available in such a wide array of colors and styles (Olde tyme lids, colored lids, glass lids, daisy or star lids and more). If you feel like some of your customers, given the option, would rather have a dust cover for their candle, but official lids for the ones they’ll be gifting, why not give them the option?Candle Toppers-Fillmore Container

Encourage your customers to be environmentally aware by offering suggestions on how to avoid tossing the spent candle containers. Provide ideas for re-purposing the containers in their home or provide contact information for your local Craft Reuse Center or thrift shop (Lancaster Creative Reuse is always our referral). Consider offering an incentive for returned containers. (This isn’t always practical, and does take a little time to manage, BUT if you have a very environmentally conscious customer base, could be a very good thing. Don’t forget to be very clear about your standards for the return especially if you’re offering a credit.)

Introducing Ball’s Collection Elite Jars + a Giveaway

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Our warehouse was a sea of BLUE this morning! We anxiously welcomed Ball’s newest line the Collection Elite® Color Series jars made with blue glass. We’re so excited that we are giving away a few cases of them. See the details at the end of the post.

Blue Ball Elite Tower

These beautiful blue glass jars are available in three never-before-released sizes: regular mouth half-pint, wide mouth pint, and wide mouth quart and all three styles just landed in our warehouse and are available here.

EliteBlueJars-WarehouseFillmore Container

Each jar is made in the USA of colored glass (not coated). Ball uses a fritted colorant derived from natural minerals mined from the earth. The colorant is added to the glass fritting process which dissolves the mineral into the glass mix. The colorant is inert within the glass walls, so it does not leach out. Ball Collection Elite Jars Fillmore

The blue jars function exactly the same as Ball’s clear jars, so they are safe for water bath canning, pressure canning and food storage. They are also a beautiful addition to any Mason jar crafting or candle line. All jars are packaged in packs of four and come with silver bands and lids.

Ball Collection Elite Regular Mouth Half-Pint 8 oz. Jars
Blue 8oz Jelly Jar Fillmore Container

Ball Collection Elite Wide Mouth Pint 16 oz. Jars

Blue Wide Mouth Pint Jar

Ball Collection Elite Wide Mouth Quart 32 oz. Jars

Blue Quart Wide Mouth Jar Fillmore Container

Collection Elite Vintage Jam JarElite VintageJam Jar Fillmore Container

In addition to these beauties, Ball also added a Collection Elite regular mouth 8oz jam jar. The jars are packaged in packs of four and come with silver bands and lids. This jar is bound to be a favorite for your gifting jams and preserves! Like the vintage style jam jars, this one sports a squat shape and is covered with a variety of embossed fruits. It would also make a charming container for fruity and preserve scented candles. This jar is clear, but it could be topped with our festive colored regular mouth G70 CT lids for a little color. These are safe for home canning.

Ball Collection Elite RM 8oz Jam

The Giveaway

Three lucky winners will get to pick one case of the new Ball Collection Elite jars. Winners get to pick which jar they prefer. Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter. Good Luck!
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