A few years ago, I started making a homemade ornaments for family. This year’s ornament is a (be)dazzling canning lid ornament. It is the perfect way to reuse the inner lids (that you can reseal) and if you are anything like me, you might seems always have more of the canning rings than jars. Hmm… if not they are easy to buy as well. Solid or single piece canning or regular jar lids work great too and can be a nice up-cycle option. You can keep the ornaments simple or really put a lot of effort into creating designs using combinations and placement of sequins, glitter, beads etc. They almost feel a little bit like a diorama. I was really pleased with the result, especially since glitter is the gift that keeps on giving. Kids of most ages can join in this activity. It might be easiest spread out over two sessions so that the glitter/glue on the backside can dry before working on the front side.
If using two piece lids, start by gluing the lid to the ring. Run a line of glue around the inside of the ring and insert the lid.
Flip over the ring-lid, using a paint brush cover the exposed part of the inserted lid with glue and cover with glitter and or sequins. this is the ‘back’. I suggest letting it dry for a bit at this point.
On the ‘inside’ of the ring-lid, squirt in glue and brush it all around the lid, wherever you want glitter or sequins to adhere. On some of the ornaments I did it edge to edge, on others I wanted it to look like the glitter ‘pooled’ or was just more around bottom. apply the glue liberally so the sequins have something to stick in to and it gives a little depth. This will also ensure that the underside of the flat lid is completely covered. I had a few rings with rust on them, I made sure to pain those areas with glue so the glitter would hide.
Pour or sprinkle in sequins. Arrange them if you like and then pour in glitter to fill in all around them. this will make sure all the glue is covered.
You can gently tap out any excess on to a paper plate or piece of paper to re-use or just wait till it dries and then tap it out.
For some of the ornaments I wanted to glue certain sequins an beads along the edge to add dimension. I did this as a third step.
Once all dry, tap out all the glitter etc again. You can keep reusing!
Cut a long piece of wire or fishing line, wrap it around the outside of the ring, crossing it a few times at the top and then creating a loop with the ends. This will allow you to use an ornament hanger etc. you could also tie ribbon around the outside to make a loop or just glue on an ornament hanger.
Enjoy! please share photos is you make these.
They make excellent last minute gifts or early school dismally day activities. Happy Holidays!
I have a generous Asian pear tree that each year delivers me several bushels of fruit. My go to recipes to preserve are poached, jammed, dried and sauced but I love to play with spices and flavor combinations. Last year the new jam flavors were red wine, madras curry, tandoori and rosemary. Rosemary was the all around winner, the madras curry came in close second and the red wine was a great way to use remaining wine sauce from my poached pear recipe. I also make a vanilla pear spread by swirling in vanilla bean paste.
I make a large batch of the basic pear jam/spread and then divide it out into smaller portions in either a bowl or sauce pan if you need to keep warm. Now you can add the spice or flavors to taste, starting with a small amount (maybe a teaspoon per four cups) and adding more as needed based on taste. I use the small half-pint jars which are great for gifting. For the rosemary pear, I used sprigs, put them in the sauce whole and let it simmer for a while to to infuse flavors (taste after a while). I then remove the full sprigs, spoon jam into jars and placed some diced rosemary needles on the top before finishing the canning process.
Harvard beets are a vintage recipe quite popular for good reason in all the guild, church and society cookbooks: tasty, simple and flexible. Many of you know I have a love of vintage cookbooks but today I share with you a quick updated version using your pressure cooker; taking the stovetop simmer from at least 40 minutes to 20 minutes. These sweet, tangy and spicy beets make an excellent side dish to share, addition to a salad or a dish to put away in the freezer (or can)for a later date. What makes them Harvard? Legend is murky but it could be the crimson color or their New England popularity or some say they were ‘invented’ in a long-ago English tavern named Harwood. The number of legends is about equal to the number of recipe variations. I was lucky to have some overwintered beets that I just harvested for this batch (motley looking beet crew).
3 pounds of beets; I don’t get hung up on size.
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons jam; a citrus marmalade works great; I used fig jam!
1 tablespoon orange zest
Optional: pinch of cinnamon or clove
2 teaspoons cornstarch (ok to omit this if you prefer)
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon salt (maybe omit if using salted butter)
2 cups of water
Wash the beets well and trim off the tops. Save them to braise, sauté or make into ‘chips’.
Place the beets and 2 cups of water in the pressure cooker. Cook at 15 psi for 20 minutes if using stovetop or if using electric pot – high pressure (~ 11psi) for 30 minutes.
When done cooking you can use the quick release method to get ready for next step.
When safe to open the pot, go ahead and remove the beets. You need to rinse and drain the beets with cool water. This will help them cool down as well. Do NOT toss the water from the pressure cooker!
Once cool remove the skins. They should almost slip right off, but you might need to use a paring knife.
To the pressure cooker pot full of beet juice, add the vinegar. Turn the heat back on until it starts simmering. Once simmering, add the jam, cornstarch, butter and salt. Whisk it up! It should start to thicken up. At this point, you are almost done.
Put the beets in a serving dish, pour in the liquid. Taste and add additional salt, sweet or maybe pepper to your taste preference.
I love to serve with goat cheese or on top of a salad.
Don’t forget beets stain everything. You can actually tie-dye with them but that is likely not your goal today, so be careful. I wore gloves to peel to save the washing and scrubbing of my hands later.
Some recipes call for canned beets. Just don’t. Support a farmer or gardner.
If you want to take it until step further you can also can/preserve harvard beets, omit the cornstarch (you would add that in when serving). Here is a recipe for guidance http://pickyourown.org/pickledbeets.htm.
Fortunately, the pressure cooker isn’t required you could simmer the beets in the water on the stovetop for 40 minutes or so, and go from there in the recipe. I will say that they are just fine served right way but the flavors mellowed and merged after a day in fridge.
This recipe can easily be adjusted based on the amount of beets you have. Just be sure there is enough liquid for your pot.
Recipe adapted from Weinstein’s Great Big Pressure Cooker Book. One of my faves.
What is your favorite version of Harvard or Pickled Beets?
This year was a bumper backyard plum year. I still have plum butter and savory plum sauce left in the pantry, so in search of new recipes that use a lot of plum, stumbled across pie filling idea at the Local Kitchen blog. Thank you for the inspiration! Here is my execution of this easy preserved pie filling – hot water bath canning is optional. I think it will freeze wonderfully and I put a jar into my fridge for almost immediate use. Too tarty? Add sugar to your liking when ready to bake the pie. This will vary with plum variety etc. I used mostly sugar plums, but a few Italian and also yellow egg (I think).
Tart Plum with Cardamom Pie
7 lbs plums cleaned up and chopped (remove pits, stems, keep the skin!), very forgiving if a little over or a little under; use any kind
1 lemon for zest and juice
2 cups granulated sugar, love organic!
½ tsp ground cardamom, could also use cinnamon and nutmeg
¼ tsp kosher salt
Premade pie crusts, top and bottom
1 tablespoon cream or half & Half
1 tablespoon sugar and two pinches of cardamom
Or make you own J
You will also need some cornstarch or thickener [e.g. ClearJel] to use when ready to bake the pie. I did not add before canning, although you can add ClearJel at this point, but not cornstarch. Just make a note on your label what you did or did not do.
Instructions – Filling
Combine your prepped plums and sugar. Add them to the sugar as you chop to help keep their color and start the maceration process. I had the luxury of time and let mine macerate (such a on odd word on the tongue) overnight in the fridge. Try to let them mingle for at least an hour.
Add lemon zest, ground cardamom and salt to macerated sugary plums. Mix to coat. Keep letting sit around if you have time. The longer it macerates the more syrupy/liquid.
Get all your stuff ready if planning to can the filling [jars, lids, hot water etc]. Quart jars are the right size to make a full size pie.
Pour off the syrupy liquid into a large non-reactive pot. Bring to a rolling boil for 3-4 minutes. It will start foaming, so be sure to skim the foam off.
Add the plums. And bring again to a boil. Reduce the heat and let simmer for 15-20 minutes. The goal is soft fruit and a more thick consistency.
When you are ready to fill the jars, keep it at a simmer and use a funnel to fill jars. Leaving an 1 inch of headspace. Seems like a lot but trust me you need it.
Remove the bubbles and all the other proper canning techniques. Process in hot water bath for 30 minutes.
OR you could freeze in quart bags/containers. This will make somewhere between 3-4 quarters so you might have a funny little bit left.
I am a believer in pre-made pie crusts – sorry if that lets you down. Buy a high quality, preferable organic pie crust and follow their directions. I am just not awesome at homemade pie crusts, unless doing hand pies or “rustic” versions [read: ugly]
Heat up pie filling in a sauce pan and if you need to thicken it with cornstarch or other thickener like Clear Jel. Now is time to sweeten, adjust any spices etc. I also hade a few random plums on the counter that I chopped up really small and tossed into the filling while heating.
I baked it with a double crust (bottom and top). Before putting in the oven coat the top crust with a little bit of cream and sprinkle with some cardamom and sugar. Make a few slits and bake at 425 for about 45 minutes. Halfway through you will need to cover the edges with tinfoil so they do not burn.
If possible let it cool before serving. If you just can’t wait [like me], it will be a bit runny but still amazing with some ice cream or whipped cream!
Enjoy this easy canning recipe! I will be trying with other fruits as well – pear anyone?
Fresh figs are a fine treat and preserving them opens up many more possibilities, from dried to newton to jam to pudding. I covet (yes, I know) my neighbors majestic fig tree and this year made it out in time to harvest about 10 pounds of green figs in 10 minutes. I am not sure of the exact varietal but think it might be a Kadota, Desert King or lattarulla (Italian honey fig) based on climate and description. I honestly hadn’t put much thought to figs (a flying fig?), other than I loved to eat them in any presentation but especially as a jam with cheese. Do some research for your self about this complex inward blooming druplet. Now let us get down to figgin’ business [groan].
Sultry Fig Jam
This recipe is made a tad bit sultry by adding balsamic vinegar. Inspired by Put Em Up by Sherri Vinton
2 pounds of figs, any edible variety
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
½ cup nice quality balsamic vinegar
¼ cup commercial lemon juice
½ orange for zesting
Makes about 4 cups and doubled well, just increase time to reduce.
Prepare the figs by trimming off the stems and halving or quartering the fruit.
Add them to a large nonreactive pot, add the water and heat it to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes until the fruit is really soft. You then can mash up by hand (potato masher) or use an immersion blender, on low, pulsing.
Add the sugar, balsamic vinegar and lemon juice. Keep it at a simma’ and stir frequently for 20 to 30 minutes, until it becomes thicker than honey. You can use the gel test or my favorite, guessing. About 10 minutes before done, zest in your orange peel.
Ladle into jars (smaller is better for sharing), leave about ¼ inch headspace and process using a hot water bath method for 10 minutes. If you have never canned please take a class or do more research on safe canning practices, as I do not expound on them here….
Enjoy this sophisticated jam served alongside cheese, on buttered toast or stirred into yogurt. You could even use as a marinade or filling for cookie (think jam thumbprints!)
Options: add in candied ginger, simmer a 2 inch cinnamon stick (then remove), fresh or dried apricot or really play up the orange flavor.
Boozy Figs in Honey Syrup
Boozy is optional but figs packed in honey syrup is a must. Inspired again out of Put Em UP! I cannot wait to try these out. I am thinking to smoosh and spread on a cheese plate or warmed up and served over ice cream. Black Mission figs are in the stores right now and for color/interest I used them in combination with my green figs. If all else fails, they look pretty in the jars.
3 pounds of figs, stemmed, washed
1 cup of honey
½ cup Cointreau or other favorite liquor (thinking brandy or bourbon)
¼ cup sugar
Commercial lemon juice, enough to put a tablespoon in each pint jar
2 cups water plus more for initial simmer
Optional orange zest
Makes 3-5 pints, depends how good you are at packing the jars and how much syrup you have.
Place the prepared figs in a saucepan and cover completely and then some with water. Bring this to a boil and then just simmer for 2 short minutes. Drain.
Combine the honey, sugar and water in small pan and bring to a quick boil. Pour syrup into larger pan with the figs, add the booze and simmer for 5-7 minutes. Do not over cook them or they will be even more fragile. Turn off the heat but you can leave the pot on the burner.
Have your pint jars all prepared (clean hot and ready) and add a tablespoon of lemon juice to each jar and the orange zest if you like. I used my wire egg yolk separator to scoop up each fig and place into the jars. Ladle or pour in the syrup into each fig filled jar, leaving about ½ inch of headspace. Put the lids on and swirl and invert to make sure that there are not air bubbles lurking. Take the lid off and remove bubbles as needed. You might need to add more syrup too. I poured the warm syrup into a large glass measuring cup and then poured. It was easier than ladling with this recipe.
Process the boozy figs for 45 MINTUES (yes, fourty five) in a hot water bath. Why so long? Do not question; just figgin’ do it… because you are packing lightly cooked whole fruit and figs are really low acid.
This is simple yet versatile savory plum canning recipe from The Complete Book of Home Preserving. Makes a great sauce or marinade for a variety of foods. We love it on meat! Think chicken, duck or pork. Delish.
Ingredients: Makes about 4 pints, suggest canning or freezing in 8 oz portions
2 cups lightly packed brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup apple cider vinegar
¾ cup finely chopped onion (I’ve used yellow, white and purple)
2 tablespoons canned chopped green chilies (you could do fresh too!)
2 tablespoons whole mustard seeds
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 cloves of minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced ginger
10 cups chopped and pitted plums
Combine all the ingredients EXCEPT the plums in a large pot/pan over high heat. Bring to boil, stirring constantly. Add the plums, return to a boil and then reduce the heat to low, and simmer for about 1 ½ to 2 hours, stirring every once and while. Goal is a thick but still fluid sauce.
Prepare your jars and lids as you would for other hot water bath canning recipes. Fill the jars leaving ½ inch of head space and process for 20 minutes. If you have never canned using hot water method, be sure to go learn about it. I do not regurgitate all the really important steps (air bubbles, prep, safety) – do your research. J Here is a great site for more details.
A simple recipe using the bounty of your back yard plum tree. Adjust the spicy to your liking. Enjoy! The best part is the char…. You could do them on a grill or in the oven. Enough for 6 drumsticks, drummettes (plus/minus wing) or 2 full legs. We love the drumsticks and leave the skin on! More meat, still some skin and finger friendly. But you could really use any cut of chicken.
½ cup of savory plum sauce (recipe above)
1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce (you can omit and just dip it in Sriracha or other favorite hot sauce when eating) – adjust accordingly!!!
If you don’t have a hot sauce, use some red pepper flakes (1 tablespoon) and canola oil (3 teaspoons)
Mix marinade with chicken pieces and let sit for at 30 minutes. Prepare the baking sheet by lining with foil and spraying with cooking spray or rub with oil. You will hate this recipe if you don’t line the pan. Trust me.
Roast in a preheated over at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes. Feel free to baste while cooking with remaining marinade, but totally not necessary. Finish under the broiler for a few minutes to get the skin crispy and charred. Warning: have napkins at the ready.
Sunshine strawberry oven jam comes to us from the Small Batch Preserving book. The “sunshine” comes in as reference to the throwback process of placing the cooked berries out in the sun for several days to evaporate the liquid and thicken up the jam. I can only imagine the bugs, primarily bees in my yard, that would be highly interested in supervising the process. Good thing you can use the oven instead, with convection as a bonus option. Feel free to use lemon juice or balsamic vinegar in the recipe. However, the balsamic brightens up the flavor (perhaps the new “sunshine”?) but is not overpowering in this recipe’s ratio. I was able to make this 100% organic – look for quality berries, organic cane sugar and I even found some certified organic vinegar.
8 cups of halved or quartered (if larger) strawberries
4 cups sugar
¼ cup balsamic vinegar (get a good one) or lemon juice.
Combine berries and sugar in a large sauce or preserving pan. Let them sit and mingle (aka macerate) for 2 hours. Wander by and stir it every so often.
Add vinegar and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and boil gently for about 10 minutes, stirring.
Pour into two 13×9 or jelly roll pans and place in oven at 170 F. If you can go lower in temperature, do it! I lined my pans with parchment paper for easier clean up. Bake until the mixture thickens up and forms a gel (use your standard preserving tests). This will take about 10 hours with a regular oven and 3-4 hours with convection. Do not try to cram it all in one pan…… trust me. Stir every so often.
Ladle into prepared glass jars ( ½ inch headspace, hot, sterilized, ready to go) and process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. You could also freeze or eat it all in one sitting.
Makes about 4 cups. I left my berries in larger pieces and did not crush or blend them up. The berries will break down and spread, despite being whole. I also found that as I filled the jars, I wanted to put more fruit in and less liquid…. So I did. I reserved the remaining liquid and am using it as syrup.
You can add fresh herbs to the jars before processing. Mint, basil or thyme would be delightful.
Serve on a spoon, yogurt, ice cream, bread or cheesecake.
Once you try the pairing of balsamic vinegar and strawberry, your life may never be the same. Strawberry Balsamic sauce is simple and versatile. The best part (other than flay-vore) is that at the end of the recipe you actually end up with two products: the chunky fruit sauce and the strained strawberry vinegar. The fruit sauce is amazing on cheesecake, ice cream, biscuits or with a nice cheese. Feel free to dribble dabble the strawberry vinegar as a salad dressing or as an addition to a fine olive oil for dipping, among many sweet and savory applications.
Balsamic Strawberry Sauce
4 – 5 cups hulled and halved (unless small) strawberries
¾ cup balsamic vinegar (don’t go cheap)
½ – 1 cup honey (or sugar if you like)
Combine the balsamic vinegar and half of the honey in a sauce pan.
Heat to a boil then simmer until reduced by about 25%. This might take 10 minutes or so. Stir periodically.
Add in the berries and simmer again for 30-60 minutes. This will help the berries break down and more of the vinegar tang dissipate.
Near the end, taste your sauce and if you want sweeter, add more honey. Stir to combine.
After nice and simmered and thickened up a bit, you could mash the berries with a potato masher, if you want. Or just leave whole – they are probably falling apart by now anyways
Pour the sauce through a sieve/fine wire colander with a bowl underneath to catch most of the liquid. Let it sit and drain for a bit.
Once the sauce has drained, it is ready to serve. If for some odd reason, any remains, you can store in refrigerator or freeze for a future date. You could also process in a hot water bath and preserve it for the long haul (~ 10 minutes, following good canning practices)
Pour the remaining strawberry vinegar into a jar. This can be stored in the fridge. I put half away in the freezer.
Makes about 2 cups of sauce and 1 cup of vinegar
Cheesecake with Balsamic Strawberry Sauce
Amazingly good, not complicated and well worth the from scratch effort. Besides a homemade cheesecake really is the most respectful thing you can do for the strawberry sauce after all. Thank you to Tyler Florence and the Food Network. Here is the link to their recipe. No sense in me repeating this one…. I made it as directed, save for the sauce. The cinnamon in the crust is a must and be sure to choose a good full fat cream cheese and sour cream – none of that fake low fat business. Mine turned out a bit yellow, because my hen’s eggs have such vibrant yolks.