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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a Rafflecopter giveaway

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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It’s National Sugar Awareness Week!

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It seems fitting, as we’re leaving that holiday eating and last year’s baggage behind us and begin to focus on the little ways to make this year better! I was surprised at the number of people who’ve told me that they don’t make jam (or allow themselves to enjoy jam) anymore because of the amount of sugar most recipes contained. While many traditional recipes have called for almost as much sugar as fruit, the world of jam making and preserving has changed quite a bit!

Pomona's Ball iLid Giveaway1

 

With products like Pomona’s Pectin (which don’t require sugar for the set), one can significantly cut back on the sugar, or substitute it all together with alternative sweeteners. Preserving with Pomona’s Pectin will help you on your journey to reduce or to substitute the sugar content.

 

 

 

 

Marisa McClellan’s Naturally Sweet Food in Jars is filled with preserving recipes that do allow you to use sweetening agents like maple syrup, honey, apple juice, agave and more! Naturally Sweet Food in Jars cover low res

At one of Marisa’s classes here at Fillmore Container, she made her Pear Vanilla Jam with Honey and discussed some tips on preserving without processed sugar. You can find more of our favorite Low Sugar Jam recipes that Marisa McClellan shares on her blog Food in Jars.

If you’re fortunate enough to enjoy some apples from some local orchards, this Low Sugar Apple Ginger Butter  will make your home smell marvelous on these cold & damp days we’ve been having!

You’ll find many recipes sans sugar or with reduced sugar on our board, here.

 

It’s worth recognizing that sugar does have another role in the preserving of jams & jellies. The higher levels of sugar helps to keep water activity lower – which helps to keep the product more stable. It can also help maintain brightness of color a bit longer on the shelf. Once low sugar preserves are opened, they can often have a shorter refrigerated life, so canning in small jars and being careful not to contaminate the contents becomes quite helpful.

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NEW Smooth Sided Jars from Ball®

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We are giddy over these sleek new jars from Ball. The new Smooth-Sided Jar Collection offers a smooth face on three sides of the jar, with a minimized Ball logo on one side. We love it, because these new jars will accommodate a wide variety of labeling for preserves, increase decorating options for crafting, decor, gifting and sharing.ball-smooth-sided-jars-fillmore-container-text

The creative possibilities are endless for labeling, and these jars are safe for canning, but also ideal for storage too: candy, buttons, popcorn kernels, nails, potpourri and more.ball-smooth-sided-jars-fillmore-container-3text

  • Each case includes 12 jars, 12 lids and 12 bands
  • Smooth sides with a minimized Ball® logo offer plenty of labeling and crafting space
  • Safe and perfect for canning
  • BPA free
  • Made in the USA

The new Smooth-Sided jars are available in three sizes:

 

 

We are often asked which Ball products we carry, so we’ve put a full list together for you.

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We Just Added the reCAP Fermenter

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We added another useful tool to our fermenting products. Introducing The reCAP® Fermenter: an easy to use waterless airlock set for making ferments. It fits the pour spout of the pour caps  which means it can work with both regular mouth and wide mouth Mason jars!


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reCAP® Fermentation
is different than some other fermenting systems because it is a low-profile, waterless airlock with a one-way valve to let gases escape and absolutely not let air in. This eliminates the need to monitor the jars every day, but makes it easy to peek in and taste when desired.

What makes the reCAP Fermenter so special:

  • EASY – Low profile, Waterless Airlock (no maintenance) & interchangeable between regular and wide mouth Mason jars. Quick Clean Up & Dishwasher safe.
  • SAFE – Rust-free, BPA-free, Food Safe Plastic. True One-way Valve (allow gases to escape and will not let air in)
  • DURABLE – An Economical, Multipurpose Solution that will last for many years.
  • NO Maintenance or monitoring required.

recap fermenter

Mason jars are a popular vessel for fermentation. reCAP Mason Jars converts the pour cap into a fermenting tool with the reCAP Fermenter.  The waterless airlock and stopper fits perfectly into reCAP’s pour cap. Once the ferment is complete, simply remove the stopper, press down the pour lid and it’s ready for storage!  The reCAP Fermenter can then be used in another batch.  No need to scramble for lids and rings.

The reCAP® Fermentation comes as a 3-pack. It is dishwasher safe and made of BPA-free, food safe plastic. Order yours here.ferment 3-pack

Recipes and Resources

We highly recommend the book Ferment Your Vegetables by Amanda Feifer. It’s a great guide to making your own pickles, kimchi, kraut and so much more. Amanda’s blog Phickle is also a wealth of resources and recipes. Batch, by the folks at Well Preserved covers a variety of preserving methods including fermenting.

A few of our favorite ferment recipes:

Simple Sauerkraut

Kale Kimchi

Mirepoix Sauerkraut Recipe

If you are totally new to fermenting, don’t be scared. Watch this video to see how easy it really is!

GIVEAWAY

To celebrate the new addition to our Fermenting Supplies, we put together a fun fermenting package. We will pick one lucky winner. Enter below.

Fermenting Package includes:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Quick Pickling for the Holidays

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Pickling isn’t just for summer time! Looking to add something crunchy to your relish trays at the upcoming Holiday gatherings, or even to share with your neighbors? Grab some cucumbers or other veggies and get pickling!

Quick Pickles, AKA Refrigerator Pickles are stored in the refrigerator, so there isn’t any need for a boiling water bath. Yes, you will need to have a little room in your refrigerator, but perhaps it’s a good time to do a little clean out anyway. Pickling Spices in Jars Fillmore Container

Don’t have fresh Dill or spices on hand or know that you’re going to be super short on time?  You can buy spice mixes like Mrs. Wages Refrigerator Pickle Mixes, which are available in Kosher Dill, Polish Dill and even Bread & Butter!

If you’re lucky enough to have some of your pickling spices on hand from the summer, you can find a wide selection of Quick Pickle recipes or even Fermented Veggie Recipes to try! Because the canning process isn’t needed for these, it gives you the opportunity to use some jars that you might feel uncomfortable using in the canner. (You might want to do some browsing!)

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Hot Cocoa Mix Recipe for Gifting

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homemade-christmas-hot-cocoa-kit Fillmore ContainerContinuing our Homemade Christmas theme, we’re sharing a delicious trio with the amazing teachers in our lives! A jar of Hot Cocoa Mix, a jar of Homemade Marshmallows, and a little jar of crushed Peppermint Candy Cane.

This creamy dreamy Hot Cocoa just may be what snowy days are may for! This year, I learned that my kids are more persnickety about their hot cocoa than I ever realized. So, when we tested out this recipe from Alton Brown and they loved it, I knew it was the one! Since we had quite a few folks on our list, the recipe that we’re sharing here is for a bulk or gifting volume. It will fill  8 – 9  of the 26 oz Square Mason Jars.  You can find the original recipe here if you’d like to make a smaller batch.

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/homemade-marshmallows-recipe.htmlHot Cocoa Mix

  • 10 Cups Powdered Sugar
  • 5 Cups Dutch Process Cocoa
  • 12 1/2 Cups Powdered Milk
  • 5 tsp Salt
  • 10 tsp Cornstarch
  • 5  –  6 Pinches of Cayenne Pepper (optional!) I didn’t use this for our batch since I didn’t know if everyone would appreciate it.

In a very large bowl, mix all ingredients together. Package or store in air-tight containers.

 

 

To enjoy your Hot Cocoa: Mix 5 T with 8 – 10 ounces of hot water, stir well, top with a fluffy marshmallow, a dollop of whipped cream or some peppermint crumbles.homemade hot cocoa Fillmore Container

We’ve made free printables with the hot cocoa instructions for you to attach to your gifting jars.

 

Our jars of Hot Cocoa Mix were accompanied by these Homemade Airy Marshmallows. After a marshmallow disaster years ago, I’d kind of given up on them. But after seeing how easy Ina Garten made it look in her video, I decided to give it another try. Happily, there was only delight in the resulting billowy mounds of sweetness, which proved quite tempting to my helpers. It was difficult to ensure that we had enough to fill all of the pint gift jars!

 

A couple of tips once you flip that marshmallow mound into your powder sugar covered cutting surface:http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/homemade-marshmallows-recipe.html

  • On slicing, we found that a large chef knife used in a downward motion worked best.
  • Keep plenty of powdered sugar on your cutting surface and as you slice the initial long strips, roll the raw edges in the sugar to keep them from sticking to….well anything else they’d touch.
  • Toss cubes into a bowl with more powdered sugar to ensure that all sides are powdered.
  • Gently toss into a large sieve and tap off the excess powdered sugar back into the bowl before storing.

 

Crushed Candy Cane Jam Jars Fillmore Container

We topped it off with little jam jars filled with crushed candy canes, topped with our festive red lids.

Are you doing some homemade Christmas or Holiday Gifts this year? We’d love to see what you’re making & gifting, so please share with us!

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