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This post is sponsored by ARM & HAMMER.

I will confess that I’ve never been a meticulous produce washer. I certainly like to remove dirt from farmers market goods, and I always give waxed citrus a rinse with boiling water before zesting. But beyond that, I typically felt like a quick dunk under running water was enough to cover the worst of the ills.

However, then I got pregnant and started feeling a lot more concerned about ensuring that the fruits and vegetables I was eating were as pesticide-free as possible.

Right at the time I was doing some research about the merits of homemade verses store bought produce washes, I got an email from ARM & HAMMER, asking if I might like to try their new produce wash. It felt like kismet.

This spray is an easy way to remove more than 90% of surface pesticide residue, as well as dirt, wax, and other contaminants. It’s gluten-free, vegan, and doesn’t leave any flavor or odor behind. Using it has really put my pregnancy anxiety to rest, as least when it comes to the fruits and vegetables I’m eating.

Made from purified water, baking soda, salt, two plant-based clean agents, lemon oil, and a food-safe preservative, the formula is based on a study out of the University of Massachusetts as well as several independent studies.

To use the wash it easy. Place the produce you’re preparing in the sink or a colander. Spray it generously with the ARM & HAMMER Fruit & Vegetable Wash. Then rub or agitate the produce to remove surface dirt to wax. Finally, rinse the produce under running water.

ARM & HAMMER Fruit & Vegetable Wash costs $4.99 and is available now.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by ARM & HAMMER. The provided the produce that you see pictured here and I was compensated for my time. All thoughts and opinions remain my own.

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This post is sponsored by Cento.

One of the most unexpectedly challenging things that I’ve had to deal with since learning I was pregnant with twins is finding ways to get enough wholesome, baby-building food into my body. Every meal I eat (often as many as five or six a day) needs to be packed with protein, healthy fiber, vegetables, and flavor. 

I have found that the more delicious and tempting the food I prepare for myself, the more willing I am to tuck in all day long. So, when the folks from Cento Fine Foods reached out and asked if I’d like to collaborate on a couple of recipes, I immediately started thinking about things I could make to enliven my many daily meals. After all, Cento products excel at bringing the flavor.

The first thing I started to imagine was a sandwich spread. Something bursting with preserved and pickled vegetables, bound together with cream cheese that I could use in place of mayo or mustard on a sandwich, or as a base for a piece of toast piled high with cold chicken and roasted vegetables. After some contemplation, I collected a block of cream cheese, roasted red peppers, some very tangy pepperoncini, capers, garlic, flat leaf parsley, and a jar of diced pickled jalapeños.

The finished is runny right out the food processor, but thickens up nicely after a few hours in the fridge. It is great in my imagined scenarios, as well as folded into scrambled eggs, or as a base for a non-traditional pizza. I also like to use it as a dip for carrot sticks and cucumber spears.

While I was home last week, it was a most welcome spread to have in the fridge because it helped me unify various leftovers into appealing mini-meals. I’ve been back on the road this week, but my husband tells me that there is still plenty left and it is still looking (and tasting!) good. I can’t wait to curl up on the couch with a ramekin of this spread and an array of veggies and whole grain crackers. After a week away, it’s particularly good to know that there’s homemade food waiting for me. 

And make sure to check back in on May 23, when I’ll share a recipe for preserved vegetable focaccia made with Cento products. 

Disclosure: This blog post was written in partnership with Cento. They provided some of the ingredients pictured and compensated me for my time and expertise. All opinions expressed are entirely my own. 

Creamy Sandwich Spread with Cento

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup roasted red peppers
  • 3/4 cup pepperoncini
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 tablespoon minced preserved jalapeño
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 2 garlic cloves

Instructions

  1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the cream cheese, roasted red peppers, pepperoncini, parsley, jalapeño, capers, and garlic cloves.
  2. Run the processor until the ingredients are well combined and there aren't any big pieces of pepper or parsley.
  3. Transfer the spread to a container and refrigerate for at least an hour before using to help it firm up. This spread will keep for at least two weeks in the fridge.
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Happy Monday, friends! I’m currently on an airplane, on my way to Indiana for some book events. I’ve got granola in my suitcase and I’m excited to share the new book with you all. Here are the details on where I’ll be this week.

May 6 (Columbus, IN): Book talk with snacks at the Bartholomew County Public Library. 6-7 pm.

May 7 (St. Louis, MO): Book talk with snacks at the Baden Library. 5:30-6:30 pm.

May 8 (Mundelein, IL): Book talk with snacks at the Fremont Public Library. 7-8:30 pm.

May 9 (Gurnee, IL): Book talk with snacks at the Warren-Newport Public Library. 7-8:30 pm.

May 10 (Chicago, IL): Cooking class and talk at Read It and Eat! 6:30-8:30 pm. Register here.

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This blog post was written in partnership with OXO.

I got home from my west coast book tour late on Tuesday night, tired and so happy to be home. I spent Wednesday unpacking, doing laundry, refilling the fridge, and making this salad.

I had agreed to do this partner post with OXO before leaving on the trip and upon my return, a box of their brand spanking new peelers were waiting for me. They’re made using the same Japanese stainless steel blades as their original OXO Swivel Peeler, which means that they’re super sharp, long-lasting, and won’t rust.

I loved using their new corn peeler. The specially designed blade quickly, efficiently, and safely zips through ears of corn, removing the kernels completely and leaving a bare cob behind. While I don’t think I’m going to be doing a ton of preserving this summer (the babies are due August 8!), I know that this tool is going to be a boon when next I make my beloved Roasted Corn Salsa (the recipe is in Food in Jars).

In the meantime, I hope to make this Mexican Street Corn Salad many more times. You start by removing the kernels. Once the cobs are clean, you toast the kernels in a skillet in a bit of butter. Once the corn has blistered, you add lime juice, mayonnaise, queso fresco, cilantro, and jalapeno.

The finished dish is creamy, flavorful, and bright. As corn comes into season in more parts of the country, I highly recommend that you give it a try. 

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by OXO. They provided the assortment of peelers you see above. All words, thoughts, and opinions are my own.

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Happy May, friends! This month, the Mastery Challenge topic is berries! Fresh, frozen, or dried are all fair game, as are any stripe of berry, as well as any kind of preserve that speaks to you, as long as it features a berry.

Now, I know that the topic of berries doesn’t match perfectly with what’s in season in every part of the country (it’s quite hard to make it perfect for everyone all the time). If local berries aren’t available in your region, you could use imported berries, or put some frozen berries to work.

If you can’t abide non-local produce, you could also take a look at the Southern Hemisphere challenge topics, to see if that May topic speaks to you.


Here are some possible preserves you could tackle this month.

  • Jam
  • Jelly
  • Fruit butter
  • Syrup
  • Shrub
  • Chutney
  • Infused vinegar
  • Liqueur
  • Compote
  • Curd

Here are a few of my favorite berry preserves.

Finally, let’s recap how to participate in the Mastery Challenge. You choose a project that fits the challenge and you make it. Around the 15th of the month, I will publish a post here on the blog that will include a Google Form. You will use this to report your project (though this is not required, it ensures that I am able to include you in the monthly data).

If you want to share a picture of the thing you made, post it to Instagram with the hashtag #fijchallenge. And if you have questions, join us in the FIJ Community Group over on Facebook. Most importantly, have fun.

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Happy April, 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!

Lancaster, PA-based and family-owned Fillmore Container are with us again! They offer all manner of canning jars, lids, and other preservation gear and carry just about every Ball jar currently available, so if you’re looking for a particular style, check them out. There are also just a couple seats left in the Food Preservation Retreat we’re hosting together in June, so if you’ve been on the fence, make sure to sign up.

Our friends over at EcoJarz are another stalwart sponsor. They make an array of products designed to fit on top of mason jars, including cheese graterscoffee brewers, and stainless steel storage lids. They recently added mason jar toothbrush holders to their line-up, which is such a clever, everyday tool!

Back for another month is McDonald Paper & Restaurant Supply. Based in Brooklyn, they are open to the public and sell all manner of culinary supplies. Restaurant supply stores are a great way to get affordable, durable kitchen gear (including jars!). I’m a big of their big food storage containers for macerating fruit for jam and I love these recyclable lidded aluminum containers for those times when I’m bringing food to friends and neighbors.

Mason Jar Lifestyle is a one-stop shopping site for all the jar lovers out there. They sell all manner of mason jar accessories and adaptors. If you’re in the market for lidsstrawssprouting lidsfermentation weightsairlockstea light converterscozies, they are there for you. 

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 have joined us this month 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.

And if your company, shop, or family business is interested in reaching the food-loving and engaged Food in Jars audience, you can find more details here. Leave a comment on this post or drop me a note to learn more!

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Friends! April is over and thus wraps up the fourth month of the Mastery Challenge. This time, we focused on using and transforming the preserves in our pantries.

This time around, we had nearly 90 people report that they made nearly 200 dishes. There were three frozen treats, four batches of compound butter, five batches of cocktails, 7 marinades, 10 loaves of bread, 11 cheese plates, 12 vinaigrettes, 14 pies or tarts, 24 batches of cookies, 27 savory sides, and 41 savory mains.

There were also 34 projects that didn’t fall into the categories I offered. All told, that’s a lot of preserves in action!

As is so often the case, attitudes at the start of the month were mixed. A healthy portion of you felt good about the topic, but the rest were all over the board.

Happily, by the end of the month, the majority of you who participated felt really good about cooking with preserves. I’m kind of delighted with how positive the results were this time around.


For the visually inclined among you, here’s a pie chart of the dish breakdown.

The photo above from @genaboehme includes a Victoria Sandwich with strawberry-rhubarb jam, a cheese plate with marmalade glazed nuts, French onion soup with turkey stock from last Thanksgiving’s bird, and quinoa salad with preserved lemon, pickled onions, and other odds and ends.

From @nadia_c_hassani, a Raspberry Almond Vacherin featuring her homemade red currant jelly.

Finally, from @oregoncolette, a batch of asian ginger soy-sauce chicken (sounds delicious!). Now, some comments from this month!

Thanks for pushing me to work through the crazy amount of pesto in our freezer! Still going strong…

Maia from Berkeley, CA

While I always cook from my larder, I tend to use my canned items first, and let my freezer items languish. As we enter berry season, freezer space is desperately needed, so I chose to use this months challenge to work down my freezer preserves! It worked out wonderfully, though this challenge might carry over into the next month as freezer space is still a bit tight

Beth from Oregon

One of the main reasons I do preserving projects is so I can produce unique dishes… so I enjoyed seeing all the ways other people were using things up. I’m still rationing some preserves until their ingredients are in season, though!

Maxine from Vermont

To see more of what your fellow Mastery Challenge participants made this month, make sure to check out the #fijchallenge feed on Instagram and join the Food in Jars Community group on Facebook!

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Friends! My apologies for the radio silence on the blog over the last couple weeks. I’ve been on the road with The Food in Jars Kitchen and have found that traveling and promoting a book while pregnant is kind of hard! The time I would have used for blogging and answering emails in the past has now been turned over to napping.

I’m wrapping up my west coast tour today with a class at the Gourmandise School in Los Angeles and then I’m flying back to Philadelphia for a few days. I’ll be back on the road over the weekend and into next week. Here’s where I’ll be. Please mark your calendars and plan to join me if I’m coming to your neck of the woods!

May 4 (Hillsdale, NY): Canning classes at Hillsdale Home Chef. 11 am – 1 pm, strawberry jam and applesauce. 2:30-4:30 pm, pickles three ways.

May 6 (Columbus, IN): Book talk with snacks at the Bartholomew County Public Library. 6-7 pm.

May 7 (St. Louis, MO): Book talk with snacks at the Baden Library. 5:30-6:30 pm.

May 8 (Mundelein, IL): Book talk with snacks at the Fremont Public Library. 7-8:30 pm.

May 9 (Gurnee, IL): Book talk with snacks at the Warren-Newport Public Library. 7-8:30 pm.

May 10 (Chicago, IL): Cooking class and talk at Read It and Eat! 6:30-8:30 pm. Register here.

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Hello Mastery Challenge participants! It’s hard to believe, but we’re halfway through the fourth month of the challenge. The topic this time around is herbs and it has been such a pleasure to see all the fun things you’ve all made on the Food in Jars Community Group and the #fijchallenge hashtag on Instagram.

Remember that you don’t have to share your post on social media to participate in the challenge. The option to share on a blog, on Instagram, or in our FB community group is simply there as a way to help you connect with other challenge participants and build your virtual and real life food preservation communities.

If social sharing isn’t your thing, that’s okay too. Just skip the field in the form that asks for the link to your project.

The deadline for submission is April 25, but if you’re already done, feel free to submit them now. I do ask that you only submit the form once, so that I can get an accurate count of the number of people participating this month. If you don’t see the form below, click this link to find it.

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Back in the fall, I joined the Abrams Dinner Party. It’s a group run by Abrams Books in which they select a collection of bloggers, writers, and influences and send us all their newly released cookbooks. This has brought some really great volumes into world, my very favorite of which has been Korean Home Cooking.

They recently sent the spring stack of books and I’ve slowly been making my way through them (this pregnancy has forced me to trim my ambitions in a big way. Gestating twins is hard work!). So far, the only one I’ve managed to bring into the kitchen has been Pescan by Abbie Cornish and Jacqueline King Schiller. It’s a book that features mostly plant-based, dairy-free recipes (it includes some seafood and eggs) and it was the page on beans that caught my eye.

I cook a lot of dried beans, but I mostly keep them simple in the hopes that they’ll be flexible and versatile. These beans are the opposite of my normal beans. They include onion, garlic, half an orange, cumin, bay leaves, and more. They are incredibly flavorful and the night we ate them, my husband and I both kept commenting on how much we were enjoying them.

Scott left town the morning after we ate them together and I proceeded to live on the leftovers while he was out of town. Twice I ate them as pictured above, over rice and chopped arugula and topped by sour cream, grated cheddar, and a scoop of homemade salsa. Later, I stirred them together with the remaining rice and salsa, along with some baby spinach and turned them into a soupy, pseudo-casserole that made a very nice lunch. 

I plan on exploring more of this book, but in the nearer term, I’ll be making these beans again. 

Disclosure: I was given a review copy of this book as part of my participation in the Abrams Dinner Party. No additional payment was received and all thoughts and opinions expressed are entirely my own.

Fiesta Black Beans from Pescan

Yield: makes about 8 cups of beans

Ingredients

  • 1 pound (455 g) dried black beans, unsoaked
  • 1/2 sweet orange, such as Cara Cara or Valencia
  • 1/2 yellow onion, peeled and root end trimmed
  • 4 large garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 1 (3 by 1-inch/7.5 by 2.5 cm) strip kombu (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • Fresh cilantro for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. Spread the beans on a baking sheet and pick out any little stones or shriveled or discolored beans. Rinse the beans well in a colander, then place them in a heavy pot with a lid. Fill the pot with enough water to cover the beans by 2 inches (5 cm). Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and skim off any foam that has risen to the surface.
  2. Lower the heat to keep the beans at a gentle simmer. Add the orange, skin side down, to the pot. Add the onion half, garlic, kombu (if using), salt, pepper, cumin, bay leaves, and red pepper flakes. Do not skim once you have added the spices, as they may rise to the surface.
  3. Cover the pot, leaving the lid slightly ajar. Give the beans a stir every once in a while to help them cook evenly and to make sure they don't stick to the bottom. Add more water if needed during cooking to make sure the beans stay immersed. Continue simmering until they are tender. This should take 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
  4. Remove the orange from the pot and set aside. Discard the onion half, garlic cloves, and bay leaves. When the orange is cool enough to handle, squeeze its juice into the pot. Drizzle with the oil and give it a final stir. Garnish with the cilantro, if desired. Cool and refrigerate in an airtight container for up to to five days or freeze for up to 6 months.

Notes

If you prefer, you can also make these beans in an Instant Pot. Add all the ingredients at the start and cook them under pressure for 35 minutes.

This recipe is excerpted from Pescan by Abbie Cornish and Jacqueline King Schiller.

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