Author: Cathy

My Preserve Jars Are Full Again!

Yesterday, I decided it was time to refill my empty preserve jars. I ended up doing more than I had intended when I decided to use the entire fruit.  I usually make strawberry, blueberry and raspberry preserves, but decided to mix it up a little. I made pineapple and orange preserves, candied orange peels and orange syrup.  The kids used the orange syrup on their pancakes this morning and said it was delicious. Earlier this summer, I wanted to make preserves for the first time and couldn’t decide which recipe to use, because there are so many. I finally asked my Grandma how she makes hers. She told me that she  just puts in about as much sugar as fruit and simmers it until it’s thick enough. You could definitely cut the sugar in half for a low sugar preserve, which I intend on slowly lowering the amount of sugar each time I make preserves, so the kids don’t notice the change.

Orange Zest Preserve Jars            Pineapple Preserve Jars

I started by washing and drying four large, organic Valencia Oranges. I zested the top and bottom of each orange to dry out for my little parakeet that I love to spoil. Then, I quartered each orange, peeled the quarters and cut the zested tips off. I cut the remaining quartered peels into strips, tossed them in a pan, covered them with water and set them on the stove on high to boil. I cut the orange slices into small pieces, which ended up being about 4 cups of oranges. I put them in a pan with four cups of sugar, put the pan on the stove on medium-high heat to boil, then turned them down to medium to simmer. I used canned pineapple chunks for the pineapple preserves.

Boiling-Orange-Peels            Candied Orange Peels Preserve Jars 

While the orange and pineapple preserves were simmering, I blanched the orange peels six times, because I like them only slightly bitter, then drained and set them aside. I then placed two cups of water and four cups of sugar into the pan and brought it to a boil over medium-high heat until it reaches the thread stage.  I don’t have a candy thermometer, so I looked up how to tell when the sugar mixture was at the thread stage. I placed a drop of the hot sugar mixture in a cup of cold water and when it made a soft thread of sugar in the water, instead of  a cloud, I knew it was ready. I then placed the orange peels into the sugar mixture, brought it back to boil and then lowered it back to medium to simmer.

Pineapple Preserve Jars            Orange Preserve Jars

While I was waiting for the  candied orange peels to become translucent, I periodically tested the orange preserves by placing a small amount onto a glass plate I had placed in the freezer. When the preserves felt like the right thickness after two minutes on the cold plate, I knew they were ready. It took about 40 minutes for the oranges, even though it usually only takes about 30 minutes when I make berry preserves. The time will vary based on the type of fruit or berries you use, that’s why I use the plate in the freezer test. I let the preserves cool in the pan for about 30 minutes before placed the finished preserves into hot preserve jars, that I had kept in a sink of hot water until the preserves were ready, secured the lids and set them aside to cool to room temperature before placing in the refrigerator.

Preserve-Lid-Top            Preserve Jar Lid Cover

I then crocheted little lid covers for my preserve jars, which you can purchase in a variety of colors and styles that I’ll be adding to my crochet website.

Candied Orange Peel Preserve Jars            Candied Orange Peels Preserve Jars

Next, I drained the orange peels, placed them on foil to cool for about 15 minutes, coated them with granulated sugar before laying them back on the foil to dry overnight, then think about how nice it would be to have a food dehydrator. I saved the orange sugar syrup in jars to put on pancakes later. Some people also use it to flavor their tea as a substitute for plain sugar.

Orange Zest Preserve Jars           Candied Orange Peels Preserve Jars

After the zest and candied orange peels had completely dried, I placed them into canning jars for storage. The orange peels fit perfectly into a 32-ounce jar. Too bad they will only look pretty in the jar for about a day before the kids eat them all!

 

Mason Jar Cover Giveaway!

There are many reasons you may want to cover your mason jars. You might need to cover some vegetables or liquids that you’re fermenting to keep the light from destroying the enzymes. You may want to cover your jars for decoration, to minimize breakage, or to control the condensation from your beverage.  There are many great jar covers out there to choose from. The giveaway is for the jar covers in the photos below and were handmade by me.

Solid Mason Jar Cover

I may just be learning about all the things you can do with canning jars, but I’ve been crocheting for 20 years and have decided to try my hand at crochet for mason jars. I’m starting with the two patterns I tested out this week. The solid cover above and the decorative lacy cover below.

Lace Mason Jar CoverI’ve decided to give away my test subjects, so enter to win this set of eight crocheted mason jar covers! The winner will receive the four solid covers that are great at keeping light out of your veggie ferments and the four decorative lace covers, which are great for candles!

Lace Mason Jar Candle Cover

I had a hard time choosing a color to start with, so I ended up with four colors. I used Sugar’n Cream by Lily, 100% cotton yarn. The colors I chose are Sage Green, Tangerine, Warm Brown and Yellow.  All of the covers fit the quart mason jars, regular and wide mouth. I hope whoever wins enjoys these crocheted jar covers as much as I enjoyed making them!

UPDATE: Even though the giveaway is over, you can still purchase the mason jar crocheted covers at my crochet website!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Fermenting Food In Jars

I first became interested in fermenting jars of food when I was researching my son’s food allergies and ran across how to ferment food for the benefits of the  probiotics. I found recipes for fermenting vegetables, fermenting fruit and using milk kefir and water kefir to ferment food. I started fermenting food in mason jars, since that was what I could get my hands on, joined fermenting groups to get an idea of how others were fermenting vegetables and to find recipes for fermented food. I also acquired some milk kefir grains and water kefir grains to make probiotic beverages, cheeses and baked goods.  Here are some great books on fermenting foods and links to find milk and water kefir grains.

Cultured Food for Life
Cultured Food for Life
Nourishing Traditions
Nourishing Traditions
Wild Fermentation
Wild Fermentation
The Art of Fermentation
The Art of Fermentation
Kefir Grains
Living Probiotic
Milk Kefir Grains

Fermented Foods
vol. 2: Milk Kefir
Fermented Foods Vol 2 Milk Kefir
Fermenting vol. 3: Milk Kefir
Fermenting Vol 3 Milk Kefir
How To Make Kefir
How To Make Kefir
Live, Organic Water Kefir Grains
Water Kefir Grains
All You Need to Know about Kefir Water Plus 45 Recipes
Water Kefir

Fermenting vol. 4: Water Kefir
Fermenting Vol 4 Water Kefir
Fermented Foods vol. 3: Water Kefir
Fermeted Foods Vol 3 Water Kefir

When I started fermenting vegetables in mason jars, I had a few trials and a few explosions in the kitchen. I quickly learned that it was far easier to ferment in Fido jars to avoid those nasty kitchen nightmares. I’ve recently run across special kits you can use to transform your mason jars into fermenting jars. I do have plans to try them out in the future since I love trying new things. When reading posts in the fermenting groups, there seems to be a difference of opinion as to which jars are the best to use and often seems to depend on personal preference or availability.  Either way, fermenting food is a growing trend and you can find some great accessories for straining, transforming jars and recipes for fermented food. I’ve posted links to some kits to transform your mason jars and some straining accessories. I also posted a couple of free books on my social sites, so be sure to check those out too!

Perfect Pickler Fermenting Kit
Perfect Pickler Fermenting Kit
FARMcurious Mason Jar
Mold Free Fermenting Kit
FARMcurious Mason Jar Mold Free Fermenting Kit

Kraut Kaps© 3 Pack
Kraut Kaps 3 Pack

12 Pack Kit - mason jar
to fermenting crock
12 Pack Kit Mason Jar Fermenting Crock

Kefir Fermenter
Kefir Fermenter
KEFIR FERMENTER: Set
Kefir Fermenter Set

Sprouting Jar Strainer Lid
Sprouting Jar Strainer

Chef Craft 21551
3-Piece Mesh Strainer Set
Chef Craft Mesh Strainer

DIY Mason Jar Sewing Kit

DIY Mason Jar Sewing Kit

I came across these really cute mason jar pincushion sewing kits that are super quick and simple to make. I love all the different fabric options there are with the pin cushion lids. It literally only takes a few minutes and very little material to make your own sewing kit. I think it would be a great gift project for any group of ladies that likes the needle or yarn crafts. Depending on the size of the jar, you could put anything from sewing supplies, to crochet or knitting supplies in your jar. You can really make it your own with the material choices and then you alway have the option to decorate the jar with ribbons or paint.

DIY Mason Jar Sewing Kit

To get started, you will need a mason jar of any size or style with the lid and screw on band. You’ll need some really cute fabric, stuffing for the jar pin cushion, scissors, and glue. It seems that hot glue is the overwhelming preference for this project. I’m sure if you don’t have a glue gun, you could use super glue, gorilla glue or something similar.

DIY Mason Jar Sewing Kit

The first step is to cut the fabric twice the diameter of the inner lid. Then trace the inner lid on another piece of fabric and cut it out. You should have two circles cut out. One for the stuffing used make the pin cushion and the other to secure the fabric ends under the lid.

DIY Mason Jar Sewing Kit

Next, you will place the stuffing in the center of the larger piece of fabric, place the lid on top of the stuffing, and start pulling the fabric around the stuffing and gluing it to the lid. Do this all the way around the lid, pulling the fabric smooth, until you have it all secured to the underside of the lid. Now glue the smaller fabric piece over the fabric ends to keep them secure.

DIY Mason Jar Sewing Kit

Place the jar pin cushion into the screw on ring, fill the mason jar with your sewing kit items and screw the mason jar pin cushion on top. I saw that someone also put one of those round plastic needle holders in the lid and said it fit perfectly, so that’s also an option. Now doesn’t it look easy to make your own sewing kit? I would love to see some different styles of canning jars used for this project. Post yours in the comments for everyone to see.

These canning jars look they would make some interesting DIY pin cushion sewing kits!

Leifheit
Leifheit Canning Jar
Global Amici
Global Amici Canning Jar
Ball
Ball Crystal Jelly Jar
Bormioli Rocco
Bormioli Rocco Canning Jar

DIY Mason Jar Soap Dispenser

Mason Jar Soap Dispenser

I thought I would start with, the ever so popular, Mason Jar Soap Dispenser. I believe you can use just about any canning jar that takes a screw on lid. You could be as humble or sophisticated as you want with the selection of jars out there. With a little time and imagination, the possibilities are endless!

There are many DIY mason jar soap dispenser sites and videos where you use an old pump from a soap or lotion bottle you already have. If you don’t want to make one yourself, you can just buy a mason jar soap dispenser pump and place it on the bottle.

When I looked through some of the photos online, I saw some pretty creative soap dispensers. They were painted, glittered, frosted, metallic coated and crochet covered. I also saw several with the wonderful idea of putting decorations inside to float around in the soap. I saw shells, marbles, Christmas decorations, crayons, legos and other small toys. I found that they were also being used to dispense lotion, hand sanitizer, ketchup and mustard, oil, vinegar and snow cone syrup.

Fun MasonJar Soap Dispenser

The basics are all the same in the many instructional sites I found. You need a jar with a lid, a dispenser pump, something to make a hole in the lid and glue. All paint and other decorations are optional.

DIY Mason Jar Soap Dispenser

If you decide to repurpose a pump from a plastic bottle, there is some preparation for that. First you need to decide if you’re going to attach the pump directly to your lid or add the threaded mouth from the plastic bottle. If you just use the pump, make the hole the size of the pump tube. If you use the threaded bottle top, you’ll need to trace the mouth onto the lid and make your hole that size. I’ve seen comments preferring both methods, so personal preference seems to be the deciding factor.

DIY Mason Jar Soap Dispenser

You’ll need to punch or drill a hole in your lid. I saw some using a drill and others using a hammer and nail or small screwdriver to punch into the lid. Now I had to put the photo of drilling with the glass jar between the legs. I would not recommend that method unless you feel confident you will not break the glass. Ouch!

DIY Mason Jar Soap Dispenser

Then you either glue the pump into the lid from the top or the bottle mouth into the lid from the bottom then screw on the pump. I’ve seen people use hot glue guns, epoxy, Project glue by DAP, Liquid Nails and Gorilla Glue. Remember to trim the pump tube diagonally at the bottom to fit the height of your jar and pour in some soap. I hope you enjoy your Mason Jar Soap Dispenser.

DIY Mason Jar Soap Dispenser
DIY Mason Jar Soap Dispenser

Make your own Mason Jar Soap Dispenser

Leifheit
Leifheit Canning Jar
Global Amici
Global Amici Canning Jar
Ball
Ball Crystal Jelly Jar
Bormioli Rocco
Bormioli Rocco Canning Jar

Pre-made Mason Jar Soap Dispenser

Industrial Rewind Mason Jar Soap Dispenser

Mason Jar Soap Dispenser
Pint Canning Jar Soap Dispenser Set

Canning Jar Soap Dispenser-Set
Ball Mason Jar Soap Dispenser

Ball Mason Jar Soap Dispenser
Smiths Mason Jar Soap Dispenser

Mason Jar Soap Dispenser
Mason Jar Bathroom Caddy

Mason Jar Bathroom Caddy
Pint Mason Jar Soap Dispenser

Pint Mason Jar Soap Dispenser