Homemade Maraschino Cherries: Easy, Delicious, Fun!

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I decided to try out a recipe for homemade Maraschino cherries for my summer beverage and dessert enjoyment. Who knew it was so easy – and soooo delicious? Continue reading

How to Bake Pumpkin Bread In A Canning Jar

 

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Just in time for pumpkin season, here’s an amazingly versatile recipe, shared by one of our longtime staff members. Use 8 canning jars (wide-mouth pint size) and bake this moist, spiced pumpkin bread right in the jars! After they come out of the oven, screw the lids and bands on tightly and the hot jars will vacuum seal themselves. Sealed jars of bread keep for up to one year. That’s right – ONE WHOLE YEAR. Makes a fantastic “oh-my-goodness-I-forgot-about-that-potluck-today” bread AND a creative gift for those on your Christmas list (piano teachers, bus drivers, babysitters, mail carriers, neighbors, etc.) who deserve a little something special. Variations included in the recipe to make other types of bread in a jar, too! 

Pumpkin Bread in a Jar
Yields 8
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Ingredients
  1. 2/3 c. shortening
  2. 2 c. pumpkin
  3. 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  4. 1 tsp. ground cloves
  5. 2 2/3 c. white sugar
  6. 2/3 c. water
  7. 2 tsp. baking soda
  8. 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  9. 4 eggs
  10. 3 1/3 c. all-purpose flour
  11. 1 tsp. cinnamon
  12. 2/3 c. chopped nuts (optional)
Instructions
  1. In a large mixing bowl, cream shortening and sugar; beat in eggs.
  2. Add pumpkin and water.
  3. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices.
  4. Add to pumpkin mixture.
  5. Stir in nuts, if using.
  6. Pour mixture into greased wide-mouth pint canning jars, filling them each half full.
  7. Bake at 325° F for 45 minutes.
  8. When done, remove one jar at a time and wipe off sealing rim with a cloth.
  9. Screw lid on tightly with band. The heat will vacuum seal the jar. Makes 8 pints.
Notes
  1. Variations: Substitute one of the following for the pumpkin: 2 cups shredded apples; 2 cups shredded carrots; 1 can cranberry sauce; 2 cups mashed bananas; 2 cups chopped peaches; 2 cups applesauce; 2 cups shredded zucchini; 2 cups fruit cocktail; or 1 3/4 cups applesauce plus 1/4 cup raisins.
Lehman's Country Life http://blog.lehmans.com/

Editor’s Note: This post was first published in November 2010.

Water Bath or Pressure Canners: What Works for You?

Ball Blue Book Food Canning Guide

Ideal for beginning or experienced home canners–The Ball Blue Book has the best and most up-to-date home food preserving information. Available at Lehmans.com or Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio.

When folks new to canning start out, one of biggest questions asked is this one: which kind of canner should I use? And the answer most often heard is this one: “Well, it depends. What are you canning?”

As frustrating as that might be, that fuzzy answer isn’t out of line.

It really is important to know what you’ll be canning. Depending on the acidity level of the food, different processes and methods are used. Continue reading

Crazy for Canning Jars

Turn canning jars into durable sippy cups (for you and the little ones)! BPA-free plastic lids are dishwasher safe.

Turn canning jars into durable sippy cups (for you and the little ones)! BPA-free plastic lids are dishwasher safe.

Trust me when I tell you that I am seldom ahead of the curve when it comes to the latest craze. In fact, I am a bit of a cultural illiterate when it comes to things like TV shows (the Walking What??), fashion and food fads. I never feel the need to update my wardrobe or my décor to keep up with a trend. If you are looking for a poster child for stuck-in-the-mud and stodgy, then I just might be your girl. So it gives me no small amount of pleasure to realize that when it comes to Mason jars I was way cool before anybody else.

Our candle hooks turn your favorite jar into an emergency lantern or a simple, stunning centerpiece. At Lehmans.com and our store in Kidron, Ohio.

Our candle hooks turn your favorite jar into an emergency light or a simple, stunning centerpiece. At Lehmans.com and our store in Kidron, Ohio.

I had long ago realized that Mason jars are far better first cups for kids than any

bright colored, ergonomically designed vessel. The small size fits a child’s hand and they are virtually unbreakable. Add in that they now make dandy lids so drinks aren’t wasted, and you have a winner. The new lid inserts that hold straws are nice if not essential.

Store homemade sauces and dressings easily and serve with no drippy mess! Store and Pour Caps at Lehmans.com and our store in Kidron, Ohio.

Store homemade sauces and dressings easily and serve with no drippy mess! Store and Pour Caps at Lehmans.com and our store in Kidron, Ohio.

Years ago, I cut my own lid inserts out of cheesecloth for seed sprouters, and I always had jars of lacto-fermented vegetables going. The lids that hold airlocks are a real improvement on my method of setting the jars on plates to hold the overflow brine.

Plastic containers? I laugh at the notion of purchasing them. Glass jars don’t hold flavors or odors and as long as you don’t overfill them are great for freezing leftovers. I like the straight-sided, wide-mouth jars for things like a few cups of soup. I freeze them and when I want to make a quick meal for one or two I run them under warm water and the food slips right out.

Purple canning jars and classy stainless steel straws give this brunch table a pop of color and style. At Lehmans.com and our store in Kidron, Ohio.

Purple canning jars and classy stainless steel straws give this brunch table a pop of color and style. At Lehmans.com and our store in Kidron, Ohio.

New toppers let me transform my jars into dispensers for everything from homemade lotions to dishwashing detergent. As someone who makes nearly all of her household cleaners and personal care products, these toppers are a game changer.

Pretty labels turn ordinary jars into practical gifts. I have filled them with soup and baking mixes, simple sewing kits and herbal tea blends. I store seeds in them and use them as candle holders during power outages. There is nothing else in my home that is a versatile.

Straight-sided, 1.5-pint jars are ideal for teacher gifts, freezing leftovers and make perfect drinking glasses, too. At Lehmans.com and our store in Kidron, Ohio.

Straight-sided, 1.5-pint jars are ideal for teacher gifts, freezing leftovers and make perfect drinking glasses, too. At Lehmans.com and our store in Kidron, Ohio.

New toppers let me transform my jars into dispensers for everything from homemade lotions to dishwashing detergent. As someone who makes nearly all of her household cleaners and personal care products, these toppers are a game changer.

Pretty labels turn ordinary jars into practical gifts. I have filled them with soup and baking mixes, simple sewing kits and herbal tea blends. I store seeds in them and use them as candle holders during power outages. There is nothing else in my home that is a versatile.

This week a friend was moving and he dropped off boxes of jars he no longer has room for. They are old and dusty and some of the lids are rusty. Who cares? A scrub in hot, soapy water and a good rinse and the jars will be good for decades more use. Canning jars could be the logo for reduce, reuse and recycle.

Click here for more ideas on creative uses and accessories for canning jars.

Lehman’s Hacks: Christmas Canning Jar Craft!

Beeswax tealights, Ball® canning jars

Lit with tealights, the jars really sparkle! Find tealights and jars at Lehmans.com.

The first thing we did was look at Pinterest.

In retrospect, that may have been a mistake.

After all, we’re writers and editors here at Country Life, not semi-professional crafters.But we had a great time making our “disco ball jars” as writer Sarah christened the project, and we hope you will too.

Continue reading

Canning Makes It Easy To Handle Special Diets!

Here you can see my 'pineapple' zukes, left, and drink concentrates, center and right. I use Ball® and Kerr® jars.

Here you can see my ‘pineapple’ zukes, left, and drink concentrates, center and right. I use Ball® and Kerr® jars.

When I was growing up in Kent, Ohio my mother and grandmother canned tomatoes every Labor day. I hated it, I just wanted to be normal and buy tomatoes from the store in a real can not a jar that we said was a can. I didn’t want the bees swarming our hot house and I wanted to tell my friends of some fun activity that we did- not can tomatoes!

I smile when I think of that young girl that so desperately wanted to fit in and be cool. Now I have given up and embraced the country world I am in and love to can. I love the freedom I have when I pull a jar off the shelf and don’t need to read the fine print or call the company to make sure it won’t harm my family. I also love that I can look at recipes in canning cookbooks and not have to make any real dietary changes. Continue reading

Lactofermenting for the Time-Challenged

Stainless steel bowl available at Lehmans.com.

All the root veggies are washed well, not a speck of soil remains. Then they air-dry. Use a colander, or spread on your counter on a clean dishtowel. Stainless steel bowl for photo spiffiness only! (Lehmans.com has ’em.)

Alrighty then, it’s that time of year. The garden is starting to really gear up and I have more produce than we can eat before it goes bad. My plan for filling the pantry with wholesome and delicious foods that have less than 5 ingredients, none of which came out of a lab, is working.

Pickling for people disinclined to boil vinegar
So, what is a girl to do with all this bounty?

I know, I’ll lacto-ferment it all. I like lacto-fermented veggies, so does the hubbin, and I really actually find cutting up veggies to be enjoyable. I’m weird that way!

And as a completely unrelated bonus, lacto-fermenting things is so incredibly easy that even I can’t mess it up. Though I thought I had and threw out the first batch I ever made: more on that later.

Lacto-fermenting is what creates sauerkraut, kimchi and cocktail onions, to name some of the more commonly known results of the process.

Sandor Katz The Art of Fermentation at Lehmans.com

Make your own healthy, pure lacto-fermented veggies, vinegars, pickles and more! Pick up The Art of Fermentation now at Lehmans.com to get started fast.

It is a bacterial process, utilizing critters that are present in any environment that has not been completely sterilized (it will not work in outer space, so those of you reading this from the Mir Space Station, sorry, try it when you get back home), so yes, when I first got into this process I had to get over my germophobia and embrace the little things (metaphorically speaking). It’s similar to the fermentation that creates alcohol, just with different microbes.

Which brings me to examine exactly how one goes about lacto-fermenting, rather than creating carrot booze accidentally.

We want to attract the right kind of microbe, so we have to create the right kind of environment. Think of it as very, very small game trapping, because the microbes are all there, hanging out together. We want to encourage the lactobacilli, while discouraging the yeasts (alcohol) and other things that would spoil our food. Continue reading

In a Pickle…and Those Darn Tomatoes!

Try pickled beets in the Perfect Pickler! It's available now at Lehmans.com.

Perfect Pickler: large size fits your 1 gal to 2-1/2 gal wide mouth jar; small size fits your 1/2 pt to 2 pt wide mouth jars.

Beyond Pickles I have always made a lot of pickles. We eat something pickled nearly every day. Pickled beans and beets are our favorites with carrots and cauliflower nearly as popular. We like bread and butter pickles too but by now, last year’s are are getting a bit soggy and nobody likes a soggy pickle. Lately, I have been making a lot more lacto-fermented pickled than traditional canned pickles in brine. We can make a ½ gallon of pickles and eat them over the course of a few weeks and then just make up another crispy batch. The process is really simple too. All you need is a sharp knife and a cutting board and some ½ gallon jars. Almost any vegetable can be fermented although a few things don’t appeal to me. I have tried pickled greens and found them, well…odd is all I can say about them. Continue reading

American Gardener Tim Takes 2014 Plan from 2013 Garden

Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving

Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving

One of our American Gardeners, Tim, isn’t a stranger to Country Life. He’s the man behind the title “Prepper Dad”, and has shared his common-sense ideas about preparing for emergencies. One of his biggest ‘to-do’ items is growing and preserving his garden’s produce. Last year, he canned and froze hundreds of containers of veggies, fruit and herbs from what he calls “the small garden.” He’s shared some pictures of that project as he prepares for gardening in 2014. “This has been the longest winter in a long time, I’m telling ya,” he says. But he’s readying sprouts and seeds, some of which are the varieties included in the American Gardens project. And he’s looking forward to a bigger garden in 2014.

The garden just after planting peas and lettuce in back left corner, 160 walla walla and texas sweet onions in row on left edge up to near left, first saturday in april. Strawberry patch in center back still overgrown and un-netted. Rest of area freshly scraped of weeds by a hoe and the soil loosened an broken up by hand with a garden fork. about to spread 3 bales of straw 6-8" deep over whole area but 1/2" deep in onion bed. Shallow roots and bulbs need light and water to grow

The beginning…
The garden just after planting peas and lettuce starts in back left corner, 160 Walla Walla and Texas sweet onions in row on left edge up to near left. This is the first Saturday in April 2013.

Strawberry patch in center to right back still overgrown and un-netted. Rest of area freshly scraped of weeds by a hoe and the soil loosened and broken up by hand with a garden fork. Shortly after this photo, I spread 3 bales of straw 6-8″ deep over whole area but only 1/2″ deep in onion bed. Shallow roots and bulbs need light and water to grow!

The peas on April 12, two weeks old & about to get 2nd and last shot of miracle grow. Used twine from TSC to make trellises for vines to climb. had to cover with bottomless milk jugs twice to save lettuce ftom frost.

The peas on April 12, two weeks old & about to get 2nd and last shot of liquid fertilizer.

Used twine to make trellises for vines to climb. Had to cover lettuce with bottomless milk jugs twice to save the lettuce from frost. It got really cold in April last year, but it’s colder this year! Continue reading

15 Ways to Transform Your Canning Jars

It’s no secret. Canning jars are for more than canning. They’re super useful around the house and great for when you need a simple, inexpensive decoration. We’ve put together a list of our favorite uses for these jars.

#1: FLOWER VASE
Put flowers inside the jars and tie ribbon or twine around the rims for centerpieces. For more color, you can paint the jars.
Continue reading