It happens every spring. I go from loving a cup of hot tea or coffee in the morning, to someone who can only deal with iced drinks (I blame the Philadelphia humidity).
My favorite way to make these iced morning drinks to cold brew them in mason jars. It’s a simple process of putting ground coffee (I use 4 ounces of ground coffee in a quart jar) or loose leaf tea (2-3 tablespoons) in a jar, covering the grounds or leaves with water and letting them steep overnight.
The filters come sized to fit wide mouth pints, quarts, and half gallon jars and make the process of cold brewing so easy. The leaves and grounds are contained so that when steeping is done, you can remove the filter with little mess.
Each filter also comes with a stainless lid and two silicone seals to ensure that you can brew without leaking all over.
Disclosure: Mason Jar Lifestyle is a Food in Jars partner and contributes financially to the upkeep of this site. The cold brew filters you see pictured here were provided at no cost to me. However, all thoughts and opinions expressed here are entirely my own.
Join me on Monday, June 17, 2019 at 9 pm ET/6 pm PT over on the Food in Jars Facebook group for some livestreaming goodness. I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about pectin and when to choose one style over another.
So, instead of doing a demo, I’m going to take some time to talk about the various pectin types and why we choose different pectins in different situations. Make sure to gather up all your pectin questions and plan on joining me!
Every spring, I look forward to seeing what new products the folks at Ball Canning are going to bring to market for the start of the canning season.
This year, there’s a whole lot of new stuff and it’s all so good. Topping my list for most exciting new product line is this series of Vintage Aqua Jars, made in the style of the “Perfect Mason” jars that were manufactured between 1910-1923.
As you can see in this side-by-side picture of one of the new vintage-style jars (on the left) next to an actual vintage jar (on the right), they’ve done a beautiful job of evoking the old jars, while also streamlining the shape slightly.
While the old jars do have a certain charm, the new jars are made from smooth glass that is free from imperfections. That makes them appropriate for canning and preserving, adding a new array of interesting jars to a home canner’s options!
The next product that I’m totally thrilled by are these Leak-Proof Storage Lids. They are available in both regular and wide mouth sizes, come in boxes of six, and are safe for the dishwasher and freezer.
They are the perfect thing to use to shake up a jar of vinaigrette and do an excellent job of ensuring that a smoothie transported in a Pint & Half won’t leak all over your backpack.
I also appreciate that they don’t have removable gaskets, as there’s nothing to lose and crud doesn’t get stuck under a rubber or silicone seal. Find them at Target and on Amazon.
They’ve also paired those leak-proof lids with smooth-sided 4 ounce storage jars, creating Leak-Proof Storage Jars. They are just the thing for freezing pesto, fruit curds, and baby food (in six months or so, I plan on putting these things through their paces!).
I can’t currently find these online anywhere, but I’ve seen them at area Targets, so keep your eyes peeled.
Now it’s time to talk tools. The first tool-based release is this new, streamlined Utensil Set for Preserving. It features a sturdy wide mouth funnel, an easy-to-use jar lifter, and that handy tool that allows you to remove bubbles and measure headspace. It no longer contains a lid wand (because Ball no longer asks you to simmer your lids before using).
This is another one that I can’t find online yet, but you should start to see it popping up at retailers as we get deeper into the canning season.
If you want a kit that’s a bit more inclusive, the new Preserving Starter Kit is the way to go. In addition to the funnel, jar lifter and bubbling tool that the smaller set contains, it’s also got four half pint jars, a packet of pectin, and a really useful flat canning rack.
I think that the flat, flexible canning rack is worth the price of the whole kit. It’s sized to fit a standard 12 quart stock pot nicely and doesn’t fold up like my beloved blossom trivet. It’s already become the rack I reach for most often.
And that’s it for the new products now available from Ball Canning! I am working on some partnered recipe posts with Ball this summer, so stay tuned for those!
Disclosure: Everything you see pictured here was sent to me by Ball Canning for photography and review purposes. I was not compensated for this post beyond the jars and tools seen here.
One of the projects I’ve had cooking for months (in addition to these babies!) is the first ever Food Preservation Retreat. Fillmore Container and I are cohosting this daylong gathering for food preservation enthusiasts tomorrow (June 8, 2019) at the Lampeter Cafe in Lampeter, PA.
I’ve long wanted to throw an event like this and I’m delighted that it has come together as beautifully as it has. The lion’s share of the credit goes to the team at Fillmore, who have put so much work into ensuring that it will be an excellent day.
One of my hopes for the retreat was to put together a collection of useful gear that the participants could take home and put to work in their own kitchens. I think that the goodie bag we managed to put together is both useful and fun!
Our friends at Ball Canning contributed their new three-piece Utensil Set for Preserving. This sturdy kit contains a preserver’s hardest working tools.
Pomona’s Universal Pectin (my favorite pectin when one is working with less refined sweeteners like honey, maple, or coconut sugar), sent everyone a box of their pectin. I’m going to be doing a session at 4 pm ET on preserving with natural sweeteners in which I’ll talk about Pomona’s Pectin that we will be livestreaming on Facebook. Tune in if you’re free.
Blueberry rhubarb jam is a less common combination, but is no less delicious than the more familiar strawberry version. It’s a perfect jam to make during the transition from spring to summer.
It’s jam month in the Mastery Challenge universe and so on Monday night, I hopped onto Facebook for some live jam making. I made a small batch of Blueberry Rhubarb Jam in for the folks who tuned in (you can watch it whenever you have time right here), chatted about my summer preserving plans (I’m going for mellow this year), and gave everyone a good look at my rapidly growing belly (yes, there are indeed twins in there).
What I particularly like about this fruit combination (fondly called Blubarb by some folks), is that the berries and rhubarb really balance each other, but it’s not as common as the strawberry rhubarb combo. When used in equal portions, I find that the blueberries bring body and sweetness to the jam, while the rhubarb offers up its signature tang and zip. The end result is something that is satisfying and wonderfully spreadable (I used some commercial pectin, but the blueberries contribute a goodly amount of pectin as well).
It might seem impossible, but this is the first time I’ve posted a recipe for this exact combination. I went simple with this batch, but next time I make it, I might add a bunch of lemon zest. Or perhaps some freshly grated ginger. I also believe that cinnamon and blueberries always go nicely together. There are so many different ways to take a basic recipe and transform it into something fresh and new-to-you. I think that’s one of the things I love most about canning. There are always so many themes open for riffing and exploration.
And if this particular jam doesn’t speak to you, make sure to explore some of the blueberry recipes from the archives.
1 pound blueberries, rinsed and picked over for stems
1 pound rhubarb, cleaned and diced
1 pound granulated sugar
2 tablespoons powdered fruit pectin
Prepare a small water bath canning pot and four half pint jars.
Pour the blueberries into a non-reactive pot (I used a five quart Dutch oven for this batch and it worked nicely). Using a potato masher, work the blueberries until they're mostly crushed. Add the rhubarb. Whisk the pectin into the sugar and add that to the pot as well.
Place the pan on the stove over high heat and bring the fruit to a boil. Cook, stirring regularly for 18 to 22 minutes, until the fruit starts to thicken into jam.
Once the jam has thickened satisfyingly and has reduced by at least one-third, it is done.
Funnel the jam into the prepared jars. Wipe the rims, apply the lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes.
When the time is up, remove the jars and set them on a folded kitchen towel to cool. When the jars have cooled enough that you can comfortably handle them, check the seals. Sealed jars can be stored at room temperature for up to a year. Any unsealed jars should be refrigerated and used promptly.
My bi-monthly Facebook Live demos were on break during April and May while I was off on book tour. But they’re coming back for the months of June and July (before I get too big and pregnant to stand for more than a few minutes at a time).
For this month’s Mastery Challenge, we’re focusing on jam making and so on Monday, June 3, 2019 at 9 pm ET/6 pm PT, I’ll be making a small batch of Blueberry Rhubarb Jam (often fondly called Blubarb) over on the Food in Jars Facebook page.
This demo (like all of these livestream events I do) are your opportunity to hang out with me in my kitchen, ask questions, and hopefully build your personal toolbox of food preservation skills. This time around, you’ll also get a chance to see my every increasing baby belly! I hope to see some of you there!
Hello Mastery Challenge participants! It’s June and this month we’re focusing on jam making, which is probably going to be one of the most familiar challenge topic we’ll dig into this year. After all, the majority of canners start their food preservation career with a batch of jam.
What is Jam?
For our purposes, we’re going to define jam as a fruit-based spread that is sweetened. Sugar is the most traditional sweetener, but you can also use honey, maple, agave, coconut sugar, fruit juice concentrates, or non-sugar sweeteners.
Just remember that jam made without any true sugar will not hold its color or quality for long). And, if you’re curious about making jam with these alternative sweeteners, make sure to check out my book, Naturally Sweet Food in Jars!
What Style of Jam to Make?
There are no rules as to the style of jam you choose to make. You can go large batch or small, conventionally sweetened or low sugar, added pectin or pectin free, and sweet or savory. If there’s a style you’ve been wanting to try and you’ve thus far avoided it in your preserving life, consider taking it for a spin.
There are more jam recipes in the archives of this site than I have time to count and there are yet still more in my cookbooks. Beyond that, there are hundreds of jam recipes online and in the many canning cookbooks out there.
However, you really don’t need a recipe to make jam. Prep some fruit. Measure out approximately half as much sugar. Combine them until the sugar dissolves. Add a little lemon juice and perhaps some cinnamon or vanilla paste. Cook it in a low, wide pan until it thickens.
However, if you want to work with a more proper recipe, here’s a collection of recipes from the last handful of years.
Happy June, dear readers! It’s the start of the month and that means that it’s time to thank the businesses that help make this site possible. Please do show them that you appreciate their support with your time and attention!
Also on board is Sticker You. They sell custom die-cut vinyl stickers, labels, decals, tattoos, magnets and more, in any size, shape and quantity. They have a wide variety of labels you can order to make your preserves look slick and professional.
Moxy & Zen are back again to spread the word about their Pickle Recipe Underwear. Made from breathable organic bamboo, these are the perfect thing for the person in your life who wants to wear their pickle love on their person. Use the code “foodinjars” for 20% off your order.
It’s hard to believe, but May is over and that means that our fifth month of the Mastery Challenge is all done. This time, we focused on preserving berries. All stripes of berry preserves were fair game this time around and many of you took full advantage of the spectrum of options.
This time around, we had nearly 90 people report that they made more than 175 preserves. There were a whopping 68 batches of jam, 6 shrubs, 5 chutneys, 5 fruit butters, 4 compotes, 3 jellies, and 2 pie fillings.
Now, some comments from this month’s participants.
Loved it. It gave me the incentive to visit a local u-pick and the excuse to buy entirely too many strawberries. (If that’s even possible!)
Karen in Virginia
It was your Strawberry Vanilla Jam that first brought me to your blog, which led me to buying “Preserving by the Pint”, which later led me to the Facebook Community Group Challenge. Loving every minute! I’m more of an occasional canner than a lot of people in the group but I love seeing what everyone’s doing.
Sue in North Carolina
Berries are my jam! I still have one more May project to make: Blueberry Lemon Curd. Thanks for the challenge!
Kathleen in Arlington
I also want to acknowledge the comments that many of you made voicing your frustration with the lack of available fresh berries for this month. It’s hard to pick a perfect topic for everyone every time. I’m sorry if this month didn’t work perfectly for you. Hopefully next month’s Jam challenge will work better.
This was the first full week I’ve been at home since early April. I’ve spent the time sorting through piles that have been languishing for months and restocking the fridge and pantry with more than just a few days of food (when I’m away, Scott exists mostly on bananas, hard boiled eggs, and takeout).
I’ve also been finding my way back to more robust cooking projects. For weeks now, when I did dash home for a few days, I’d make a big turkey meatloaf or a pot of chili to leave behind as leftovers before leaving again. That kind of cooking is highly serviceable, but doesn’t really do much for culinary creative satisfaction.
So, with a stretch of available days and a recipe to develop for my partnership with Cento, I pulled out the yeast and flour and got down to work. The result? This really gorgeous and delicious marinated artichoke and red onion focaccia.
This trick of either nestling preserved foods into the top of focaccia or painting the surface with a preserve of some kind is one I’ve turned to many times over the years (you’ll find a sweet version of this recipe in The Food in Jars Kitchen). It’s a great way to use up tasty condiments and makes a delightful thing to have in the fridge or to take to a potluck.
Here’s How You Do It
You start by making a simple dough of all-purpose flour, sugar, salt, instant yeast, and water. I build my dough in my stand mixer, but truly it doesn’t require too much kneading and so could just as easily be done by hand. Once the dough comes together, you drizzle it with a little olive oil and set it to rise.
Once it has finished its first rise, you gently deflate the dough, reform it into a tight ball and let it rise again. I often let it do this second rise overnight in the fridge, but it can also be done on the counter (the fridge does give it the opportunity to develop a deeper flavor, but it will still be good if you’re working more quickly).
Then it’s just a matter of stretching it out on an oiled baking sheet (make sure to create actual holes as you stretch, to ensure it will have a properly pockmarked surface) and arranging your Cento marinated artichokes (I get four slices per artichoke) and slivered red onions on the surface of the dough. I like to place them firmly, to ensure that they’ll stay in place. The stretched and topped dough rises a final time for just 10-15 minutes before baking.
This is artichoke and red onion focaccia can be paired with any number of meals. We ate it the first night with grilled chicken salad bowls. The next morning, I sliced a square down the middle, toasted it lightly, and tucked some scrambled eggs inside. Hunks have been dipped in hummus and roasted red pepper dip. And if you think that a batch this size is too much, know that it freezes nicely as well.
Oh, and if artichokes aren’t your thing, try topping it with eggplant strips, sliced olives, or marinated mushrooms.
5 cups/600 g all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon fine sea salt
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
1 3/4 cups/420 ml warm water (110°–115°F)
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 Cento marinated long stem Roman artichokes, sliced
1/2 red onion, cut into half moons
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, stir together the flour, sugar, salt, and yeast. Add the water and mix to combine. Once the water is integrated, switch to the dough hook and knead until the dough is stretchy.
Remove the bowl from the mixer. Wet your hands and coax the dough into a ball. Coat it with a tablespoon of oil. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and let the dough rise until it has doubled in size, about an hour or so. Gently deflate the dough and fold it over itself a few times. Reshape it into a smooth ball and let it double in size a second time (this can be done overnight in the refrigerator. If you choose this route, let the dough return to room temperature for about 2 hours before proceeding with baking).
While the dough rises a second time, preheat the oven to 425°F. Grease an 18 x 13-inch rimmed baking sheet with the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Once the dough is finished its second rise, turn it out onto the prepared pan. Using your hands, stretch it out to the corners of the pan, making small holes with your fingertips as you stretch the dough. The holes will close during baking, but if you don’t make holes through to the bottom of the pan, the bread won’t have its characteristic craggy, pockmarked surface. If the dough is bouncing back too much, let it rest a few minutes and resume your stretching and prodding.
Arrange the marinated artichoke slices and red onion slivers on top of the focaccia, pressing them in firmly.
Let the focaccia rise again for 10 to 15 minutes, just until the dough starts to curve up around the artichokes and onions.
Bake until the top is nicely burnished and a peek at the bottom shows an even brown exterior, 20 to 23 minutes. Remove from the oven and let the focaccia cool in the pan. Do let it cool to room temperature before slicing, to prevent it from becoming gummy inside.