How to Decide What to Plant in Your Garden

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Planting a Relish Garden

This time of the year, when I’m feeling like I could be done with winter, and those beautiful seed catalogs begin arriving, I tend to get wrapped up in visions of garden grandeur. I over buy. Every year. Last year I was able to share quite a few of the extra plants that I started indoors, but I still had too many. It was the first year that we took part in a local CSA…and it was a wonderful to supplement in way of variety, but also to make up for what didn’t grow well for us last year.

After evaluating our family’s pantry habits, we’re trying something different this year with our garden. We’re planning to participate in the CSA again and knowing what will likely be provided there is helping me shape my garden as well.

This year, there are 5 items that I wish to stock up on in my pantry. I’ll be planting my garden with those in mind. We can do more frequent small to mid-sized batches for the pantry and also enjoy them fresh pretty much all summer.

The first 3 are tomato based: Tomato Jam (from Marisa over at Food in Jars) Whole Tomatoes and Roasted Tomato Sauce. We’ve chosen a variety of tomatoes that will do well for those recipes and will have a large patch of Basil.

tomato seeds

I love seeing the variation in hues that the heirlooms bring to the jar!

BlogYellowTomato and RoastedTomatoes

The other 2 are cucumber based:  Pickled Relish and Pickles! Although we enjoy relish on our dogs & burgers, we also use it for pulled BBQ meats – pork or chicken, or in ham salad. We’re trying 2 varieties of cucumbers – ones that are known to be good for pickling, several peppers to add color, some onions and a lot of dill! We love to use fresh dill!

Relish Garden

Relish and pickles

Go here for tips on keeping those pickles crispy!

We love canning jams & fruit butters, but since we have terrific local orchards, we can either pick our own there or pay a little more and still get incredible deals on fresh local fruits without the effort. We also are in the midst of Amish Dutch Country – and often come across most berries in plentiful amounts.

What are your pantry staples?

Strawberry Meyer Lemon Marmalade

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It’s Meyer lemon season! There are so many reasons to love Meyer lemons! Oh, let us count the ways:Meyer-Lemon cropped

  1. They are sweeter than regular lemons;
  2. They have a thin rind that’s edible;
  3. They yield more juice than regular lemons;
  4. They have a beautiful floral aroma;
  5. They are not as acidic as regular lemons;

Oh, and there are so many yummy things you can make with them. Our current favorite is Marisa McClellan’s recipe for Strawberry Meyer Lemon Marmalade. She showed us how to make this at the PA Farm Show. The recipe is in her most recent book Preserving by the Pint. This recipe produces a marmalade that is so vibrant with color, that it feels and tastes like a ray of sunshine. Which feels pretty good about now, since temperatures have  been in the single digits here in Lancaster, PA.

Most of us probably can’t get our hands on local strawberries in the middle of winter, and that’s okay. The rest of the marmalade components make up for the lack luster strawberries that are available this time of year. If you aren’t in an area with easy access to fresh, local Meyer lemons, we’ve heard the Lemon Ladies are a great source for getting quality Meyer lemons shipped straight to your door.

Strawberry Meyer Lemon Marmalade

Recipe reprinted with permission from Preserving by the Pint © 2014 by Marisa McClellan, Running Press, a member of the Perseus Book Group.Strawberry Meyer Lemon Marmalade

Yield: 4 (half-pint/250 ml) jars

Ingredients:
1 pound/460 g Meyer lemons
1 pound/460 g strawberries
2 cups/400 g granulated sugar

Wash and dry the lemons. Trim off the ends and slice the fruit in half from to top to bottom. Using a sharp paring knife, cut out the pithy center core of each lemon half and remove the seeds. Reserve both the pithy cores and seeds (we’ll be using them as a pectin source).

When all lemons have been trimmed, slice the halves into thin half-moons, place in a glass or plastic bowl, and cover with 2 cups/480 ml of water.

Gather up the reserved seeds and pith and place them in the center of a cheesecloth square. Tie the bundle up tightly to prevent the seeds from escaping. Add this bundle to the bowl where the lemon slices are soaking. Cover and set aside.

While the lemon slices soak, wash the strawberries and chop them well. Place them in a separate glass or plastic bowl and add the sugar. Stir to combine and cover.

Let both bowls sit for at least an hour and up to 3 hours. Stir the strawberries once or twice, if possible, to help the sugar draw out their liquid.

When you’re ready to cook the marmalade, prepare a boiling water bath and 4 half-pint/250 ml jars. Place 4 lids in a small saucepan of water and bring to a gentle simmer.

Pour the lemon mixture and the strawberries mixture into a wide, nonreactive pan. Bring to a boil and cook over medium-high heat for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring regularly.

The marmalade is done when it reaches and holds 220°F/105°C, looks shiny, and is able to pass the plate test.

Funnel the finished marmalade into the prepared jars, leaving 1/2 inch/12 mm of headspace. Wipe the rims, apply the lids and rings, and process in boiling water for 10 minutes.

P.S.

We have a giveaway running over on Punk Domestics for our new Orchard Road jelly jars (a perfect jar to fill with Strawberry Meyer Lemon Marmalade) and a $50 store credit. Read the review about these new jars here, and enter to win some here.

Does Fillmore Container offer “Free Shipping”?

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We get this question fairly often, and in light of the Amazons of the world, it’s not surprising. While some retailers have felt compelled to offer this as part of their marketing model, there is a simple fact that cannot be ignored.

FACT:  Neither UPS, FedEx nor any other carrier ships anything for free.

So, when companies offer “free shipping”, where does the money come from to pay the carriers?

ANSWER:  The pockets of every one of their customers.

Companies who are offering  “free shipping” have simply built the cost of shipping into their product pricing in order to maintain the margins they need. The result: consumers pay more for products than they would have without “free shipping”.

Here are the 2 reasons that we don’t offer free shipping.

  1. Customers who pick up their orders get the same product pricing as those being shipped. Their cost for product does not subsidize the cost of shipping discounts for other customers.
  2. We’re serious about what it takes to pack and ship glassware properly. This means investing in quality materials and quality employees.

Quality MaterialsFillmore Carton

  • While we procure upcycled cartons for smaller orders, most orders require boxes specifically designed for heavy, fragile contents. This means meeting standards approved by UPS: double-walled corrugated cartons with high strength ratings to protect your purchase from our door to yours; and with optimally calculated dimensions that maximize your shipping dollar.
  • Our Biodegradable, Compostable Packing Peanuts are made in-house at a controlled density – heavy enough to protect, but light enough to not add unnecessary weight (cost) to the package. Making them in-house also means they’re in better shape to protect and less dusty than ones that have changed hands several times.

Quality Employees

  • Our warehouse crew takes great pride in shipping high volumes of fragile glassware with an incredibly low rate of damage. They understand that every well-packed carton and properly stacked and wrapped pallet is an opportunity to make a customer’s day and uphold Fillmore’s reputation.
  • We value and reward team members by providing a family wage and family health coverage.

Want to strengthen your shipping dollar?Optimal Shipping Quantity

  • Whenever possible, use the “optimal quantity for shipping”. This is the number of cases that will best fit into our carton while maximizing the dimensional weight of the package. This can get tricky if your cart has a variety of items. Use the Shipping Estimator on the right of your cart to see how adjusting quantities impacts shipping. If you see a sudden jump in the shipping, you likely just added enough to require an additional shipping carton. You can see an example of this below.

Shipping Optimal
Shipping Above Optimal

  • Consider larger orders. If you are ordering regularly and receiving your orders in cartons, look at your order history to see if you could afford (the money and the space) to place larger orders less frequently. Instead of getting 4 or 5 huge cartons delivered to your door every 2 weeks, you could more than double the size of your order for about the same shipping cost. If you can have your order shipped to a business with a dock, you will save even more. In general, our customers see substantial savings when they are able to consolidate their orders.
  • Here is an example: Both of these orders are for the same jars.

This order is for 40 cases and would be shipping ground, packed in several cartons. Ground Shipping 40 cases

This order is for 80 cases. You’ll see that the quote includes the necessary pallet cost in addition to the lift gate cost. In spite of those needed line items, the total shipping cost was only $25 more, but the case quantity was doubled!Doubled Freight Quote

We are currently able to provide some automated quotes into Canada. If you need a quote for a delivery point outside of the US or Canada, the most effective way to receive that quote is to log in, add the correct shipping address to your profile and put the items you want in your cart. Then email info@fillmorecontainer.com to let us know that you have created a cart with the needed delivery details. We are usually able to return a quote to you within the business day.

Hopefully you’ll find our delivered cost to still be favorable to that of our competitors. If not, know that we’ll keep trying to mitigate the costs of shipping and pass the savings along.

Can I re-use my Baby Food Jars?

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If  you want to reuse old baby food jars, ask yourself these three questions first.

  1. Do you plan to use old baby food jars for a vase or craft project where you’re not expecting the lid to do anything important?
  2. Do you want to preserve food in old baby food jars?
  3. Do you want to use old baby food jars for anything that you don’t want leaking or spilling?

If you answered YES to #2 & #3 you’ll want to consider finding different jars for your project. Baby food jars are fine for a vase or craft project, but if you want to store something, or preserve food in these jars please read this post first!

Here’s what you need to know about reusing baby food jars:

Most baby food manufactures utilize Press-on/Twist-off (PT) closures on their glass jars. In this application, the sealing compound (plastisol) covers more of the lid (which contains no threading) and is pressed into the threads of the jar through a high-speed Vapour-Vacuum System. During that process, the plastisol takes on the shape of the threads on the finish of the glass.Thread on jar and lid - FillmoreNotice there are multiple threads on the finish of the jar. While this allows for easy lid removal, and claims of easy re-application, it does not allow you to place the lid back on in its original position, and why many a parent has had leaking or spilling of that partially used jar placed back into your baby bag. It’s almost impossible to get those multiple threads lined up perfectly. See the crooked lid in the image below.Baby Food Jar Crooked Lid

In speaking with a representative from Beechnut, the choice to use this type of closure was purely a safety measure to ensure the safety of the food.  Beechnut’s site (as other sites) recommend that opened baby food be refrigerated and eaten within 2 – 3 days.

Even if you are not concerned about the contents “going bad” because they won’t be consumed, it is unwise to attempt to use the lids with the jars. They will not provide a reliable seal because you are unable to replicate the process initially used to apply them.

Because the proper application of the lids requires an automated capper system, the replacement caps are not readily available.

If you have a project in mind that just uses the jar – no problem! We encourage the re-purposing and up-cycling of packaging whenever it’s safely possible. There are many creative and useful ways to just use the jars. But, if your project involves the lid, please consider using a safer option.

Cuppa Noodle Soup Mason Jar Meal

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Mason Jar Meals are the perfect solution to lunch-packing boredom. They offer quick healthy meals for lunch, on the go, or a busy weeknight. You can prep a bunch of meals at once and your fridge will be stocked with delicious meals all week long.Meals in Jars

Robin Joss, owner of Big Red Kitchen introduced us to Mason Jar Meals a few years ago. Robin’s blog contains hundreds of family-friendly Mason Jar Meal ideas & recipes

There are a lot of reasons we love Mason Jar Meals, but these top the list:

  • Lunch packing is suddenly a pleasant experience!
  • Mason jars are dishwasher safe, reusable, and they make your food look yummy!
  • Portion control is easy to manage.
  • No more mismatched plastic containers that overtake your kitchen cabinet.
  • Food waste is reduced when you can see exactly what’s in your fridge.

Want to learn more? You’ll find everything you need to know about Mason Jar Meals here.

A big thanks to Robin for sharing some really great recipes at the PA Farm Show. We are featuring the two Cuppa Noodle Soup recipes below, and Robin is sharing the recipe for a Roasted Sweet Potato and Chickpea Salad over on her blog. You will also have a chance to win your own Mason Jar Meal Kit at the end of the post.CuppaNoodlewithText

Chicken Cuppa Noodles – from Robin Joss, Big Red Kitchen

For each 1 pint/.5 liter jar you will need:
2 sheets of ramen noodles, each the size of a deck of cards. Do not break them up
1/3 cup roasted chicken, diced. Tip: 5 boneless, skinless chicken thighs will fill 6 jars. Or to save time, use a rotisserie chicken.
1/3 cup mixed frozen vegetables – carrots, green beans, peas, and corn
1/4 tsp. celery salt
1/4 tsp. dried parsley flakes or 2 tsp. fresh
1/8  tsp. black pepper

Layer the ingredients in pint jars in the order above. Screw the lids on and store in the fridge for up to 4 days or in the freezer for 1 month. When you are ready to eat the soup, fill the jar with cold water to the base of the neck of the jar. Microwave on high heat for 2.5 minutes. Cover and let rest 2 minutes. Stir and eat. Caution, these are hot! TIP: Slip the jar into a cozy to protect your hands from the hot jar.

Asian Cuppa Noodles from Robin Joss, Big Red Kitchen

For each 1 pint/.5 liter jar you will need:
Angel hair rice noodles the size of 2 decks of cards. Using a pair of scissors is the easiest way to cut the noodles the right size.
1/3 cup-roasted chicken, diced. Tip: 5 boneless, skinless chicken thighs will fill 6 jars. Or to save time, use a rotisserie chicken.
1 tbsp. sliced green onions – greens only
2 tsp. soy sauce
1/8 tsp. toasted sesame oil – always store in fridge
1/4 tsp. ginger powder, or 1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
1/2 tsp. sriracha
*salt to taste

Layer the ingredients in pint jars in the order above. Screw the lids on and store in the fridge for up to 4 days or in the freezer for 1 month. When you are ready to make, fill the jar with cold water to the base of the neck of the jar. Microwave on high heat for 2.5 minutes. Cover and let rest 2 minutes. Stir and eat. Caution, these are hot! TIP: Slip the jar into a cozy to protect your hands from the hot jar.

If you like a little crunch with your soup, use a BNTO to pack some crackers inside the jar. The BNTO sits right inside the jar keeping your crackers nice and crispy. Before you add water to the soup, just remove the BNTO.

Remember to use glass safely:
Do not pour boiling water in a cold or frozen jar.
Do not freeze with water in jars.

Head over to Big Red Kitchen to get a recipe for Roasted Sweet Potato and Chickpea Salad, and you’ll find so many other great Mason Jar Meal recipes to try, and check out our Pinterest Board – Mason Jars on-the-go.Salad in Jars Robin BRK

The GiveawayBNTO Giveaway1

One lucky winner will win a Mason Jar Meal Kit – filled with all the Mason jar essentials needed to make the Cuppa Noodle Soup recipes and the Roasted Sweet Potato and Chickpea Salad.

Mason Jar Meal Kit includes:

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The Purple Heritage Collection Jars are HERE

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We are giddy with delight! Pallets of these beautiful PURPLE Heritage Collection jars rolled into our warehouse yesterday!

Purple Heritage Collection Jars

Purple is the newest color in Ball’s limited edition Heritage Collection. The jars are available in quart and pint size featuring 1915 period-inspired purple color and embossed logos on the front and back. They are safe for canning, food storage, and whatever your heart desires.

Ball developed the Heritage Collection in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the development of a series of jars, designed by the Ball brothers, each intended to be better than the one before. 1913 saw the launch of the first true “Perfect Mason” jar. In 1914 “PERFECTION,” jars were released and then “IMPROVED” jars in 1915. Heritage Collection2015

These limited edition Purple Heritage Collection jars join the blue (released in 2013) and green (released in 2014) Heritage jars as a celebration of the original Ball Mason jar.

We think the new purple jars will pair perfectly with our new purple lids. They’d even look great with our red and pink lids and some fun straws!

PinkPurpleRedLids

Oh, and and look at the entire Heritage collection with red, pink & blue  ReCAPs! We also have ReCAPS in black & silver.

HeritageJars-ReCAPS

You can get your purple Heritage jars here. Ball is no longer making the blue and green heritage jars, but we still have some available. You can find the entire heritage collection here.

HeritageLineup

The PA Farm Show in Review

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The  PA Farm Show has come and gone. We are sad to see it go, but excited to share all the wonderful things we learned!

A big THANKS to all our excellent presenters – Food in Jars, Phickle, Big Red Kitchen, Buy Fresh Buy Local, Daniel Gasteiger, Penn State Cooperative Extension, Chef Sean Arnold and Chef Jim Switzenberg.

It was so wonderful to see such passion for food – whether it was canning, fermenting, dehydrating, creating Mason jar meals, or artfully crafted meals. Every presentation left us craving more!

For those that were not able to attend, we will be sharing recipes and tips throughout the next couple of months. Until then, enjoy this snapshot of Fillmore Container’s Preservation Station at the PA Farm Show 2015.

Marisa McClellan, popular food blogger and author of Food in Jars and Preserving by the Pint showed us how to make Pear Cranberry Chutney, Dilled Carrot Spears, Pear Chocolate Jam and Strawberry Meyer Lemon Marmalade.Marisa - Food in Jars at PA Farm Show
Amanda Feifer, the fermentation educator behind the blog Phickle.com taught us about Kefir, Pickling Seasonal Vegetables, sauerkraut, and Kombucha.PhickleFermentsFarmShowPA

Daniel Gasteiger, top 20 garden blogger, newspaper gardening and food writer, and author of Yes, You Can! And Freeze and Dry it, Too, taught us all about dehydrating.DanielPAFarmShow
Buy Fresh Buy Local and Jim Switzenberg from the John Wright Restaurant tempted our tastebuds with local produce prepared beautifully.Jim BFBL-PAFarmShow

Penn State Cooperative Extension’s  Rick Kralj gave us on overview on pressure canning meat, and Nancy Wiker talked all about canning tomatoes. PennStateFarmShow

Robin Joss, owner of Big Red Kitchen, shared some great Mason Jar Meal recipes including, On the Go Breakfast Bowls, Korean Beef and Rice Bowls, Cuppa Noodle Soups, Pork Meatballs with Chipotle Apple Butter, and Mason Jar Salads.

BRK at PA Farm Show

Sean Arnold, from the Healthy World Café, taught us how to make smashed Squash & Maple Syrup, and Potato Leek Soup.SeanPAFarmShow

Thanks to all who stopped by our Preservation Station. We’d love to hear what you’d like to see at the Preservation Station in 2016. Leave a comment with your ideas!

Congratulations to the winner of our Farm Show Canning Kit, Jo’Ann Godshall! She plans to fill her jars with Fire in The Hole Jelly and applesauce.

 

 

Fillmore Supports Squash Hunger Event

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A lot of Butternut Squash Soup was lovingly made in York, PA this past weekend at the Squash Hunger event, organized by York County Food Alliance and the Healthy World Cafe’.

The soup will be distributed to a variety of groups working to end hunger locally, including food banks and pantries, senior centers, and WIC. Some of the soups will be frozen for use later this winter and we were honored to provide freezer safe jars for packaging the soup.

Watch this video about the event, and read more about the program here and here.

Cooking with Local Produce and Canning Tomatoes at the PA Farm Show

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Today, Friday January 16, 2015 we will have two demonstrations at the Family Living Stage at the PA Farm Show.

First up is Buy Fresh Buy Local, a subsidiary of PASA. They will talk about how to find, choose and appreciate great local foods, and support the farmers and lands, which produce them. Sean Arnold, from the Healthy World Café’,  will join this presentation and demonstrate how to incorporate local produce into your meals at the Family Living Stage.

Sean Arnold

Sean Arnold

Sean Arnold is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and currently obtaining his Master’s of Science in Sustainable Food Systems from Green Mountain College. Sean is a food service leader with more than 15 years experience driving teams to success while promoting sustainable and environmentally-conscious initiatives. Sean is currently the Executive Chef for Underground West, a personal and private event company serving South Central Pennsylvania and Central Maryland. For the last several years, Sean and a team of volunteers have been working tirelessly to develop the Healthy World Café. The Healthy World Café is a not-for-profit community café dedicated to simultaneously providing affordable meals while promoting locally sourced foods.

Sean looks forward to continuing his passion of learning, and to educate others on the importance of local sustainable food. Please join him at the Family Living Stage today as he demonstrates how to make Potato Leek Soup, & Smashed Squash and Maple Syrup.

Family Living Stage 12-1 pm: Potato Leek Soup, and Smashed Squash with Maple Syrup with Sean Arnold.

PennStateExtensionWordMark_Blue

Next up is a tomato canning demonstration by Nancy Wiker, Senior Extension Educator for Lancaster County Penn State Cooperative NancyWiker.Extension. Nancy is a certified ServSafe instructor, and serves on the food safety team with Penn State Extension.  She is 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.

Nancy will teach us everything we need to know about preserving tomatoes with the Let’s Preserve Basics of Home Canning publication from Penn State Extension. She will demonstrate how to can crushed tomatoes from Penn State Extension’s Let’s Preserve Tomatoes publication. You can see her demonstration at the Family Living stage. After the demo, stop by the Penn State Cooperative Extension booth at the Farm Show, they have a lot of great resources on canning.

Family Living Stage 1-2 pm: Canning tomatoes demonstration by Nancy Wiker.

In addition to the demonstrations at the Family Living Stage we encourage you to visit Fillmore Container’s Preservation Station on the Main Floor in the Family Living area of the Pennsylvania Farm Show. You can find us here.

Don’t forget to enter your chance to win our PA Farm Show Canning Kit below.
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Mason Jar Meals at PA Farm Show

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Robin JossToday, Thursday January 15, 2015 we are pleased to welcome the queen of Mason Jar Meals – Robin Joss to our Preservation Station at the PA Farm Show.

Robin Joss, owner of Big Red Kitchen, a blog containing hundreds of family-friendly recipes and entertaining ideas, created Mason Jar Meals to solve lunch-packing boredom, improve lunch-packing variety, offer healthier options, and prep a bunch of meals at once that were delicious and visually appealing. From salads to desserts, Big Red Kitchen offers many ideas for getting you started in creating your own Mason Jar Meals for packing on-the-go meals. You’ll find everything you need to know about Mason Jar Meals here. Robin will offer demos throughout the day at Fillmore Container’s Preservation Station (find our booth here). We loved her demo yesterday on how to build a Mason jar salad. Here’s her schedule for today:

Thursday – January 15

  • Fillmore Container’s Preservation Station Demo Schedule:
    • 10 am: On the Go Breakfast Bowls
    • 3 pm: Korean Beef and Rice Bowls
  • Family Living Stage 12-1 pm: How to make your own Cuppa Noodle Soups including, Chicken Noodle and an Asian Noodle Soup.

If you can’t join us today, here’s our schedule for the rest of the week. Don’t forget to enter your chance to win our PA Farm Show Canning Kit below.
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