In 2017, I completed the Food in Jars Challenge, which was ambitiously and excitedly brought to participants by cookbook author, blogger and food preserving extraordinaire, Marisa McClellan. I stayed pretty faithful to the monthly challenges and only missed two months (but was doing other preserving things during those months, so I don’t feel like I really ‘missed’ them completely.)
Anyway, after such a fun year that included lots of work, some new recipes and techniques, and mostly successes, I felt like the challenge was worthy of a 2017 wrap up blog. I’m listing each month below with a link to each month’s entry from my blog, quick summaries, and links to applicable recipes and other resources I used.
Hope you enjoy! I’m not currently involved in any specific challenge groups for 2018, though there will definitely be canning going on, and I’m still a member of the Food in Jars Community.
- Orange Marmalade (Pomona’s Pectin cookbook recipe) – this was my first experience with using Pomona’s Pectin and I fell in love!
- Gravalax (Combination of this recipe and this recipe) – this was a cool process and turned out great. I prefer it smoked versus salt cured – but it was a fun experiment!
- Salt Preserved Meyer Lemons, Key Limes (Shout out to Lemon Ladies for the Meyers!) I now cannot live without these in my refrigerator. The limes more so than the lemons, but both are great to have on hand! Salted lime margarita, anyone?
- Salt Preserved Egg Yolks – also a cool experiment. We enjoyed these grated like Parmesan cheese – mostly on salad is how we ate them. I am not sure if I would make them again, but I didn’t know they were a thing prior to this challenge, so a fun new thing to try!
- Confetti Pepper Jelly (Pomona’s Pectin cookbook recipe.) This is delicious on pork chops. Would also be good with cream cheese and crackers, but haven’t tried it that way yet. Will be making this recipe again!
- Raspberry Rhubarb Shrub – This turned out, but I just don’t “get” the popularity of shrubs. It’s not for me. I’m going to try to use this up in salad dressing I guess. Probably wouldn’t make again!
- Quick Pickled Vegetables – These were good, but the longer they sat in fridge the less I liked them. They were pretty in the jar!
- Pickled Ginger – I can’t remember what recipe I followed here, but it doesn’t really matter, it was a failed attempt. I think I just don’t like pickled ginger, but my husband does and he also wasn’t a fan of this.
- Spicy Pickled Green Beans – I had been wanting to try these for awhile, and they are good! They ended up spicier than I anticipated, next time I would just make them plain without the pepper flakes.
- Low-Sugar Strawberry Jam (Pomona’s Pectin cookbook recipe) – We went to Schumacher’s Nursery and picked our own berries. It was fun, and they were delicious!
- Ketchup (my own safe recipe, I talk about it in my July blog entry.)
- Low-Sugar Raspberry Jam (Pomona’s Pectin cookbook recipe) – We have two large ever-bearing raspberry patches in our yard and get berries off the vines between June and October. They are so good!
- Peach BBQ Sauce – This recipe turned out fine, but it is a bit bland for our taste. We will use it by mixing with other BBQ and hot sauces.
- Garden Zucchini Relish (family recipe that is quite similar to this.) – we love this for making tartar sauce, and also mixing into chicken salad or topping hot dogs.
- Dill Pickles – I snagged some nice small cucumbers from the local farmer’s market – they make perfect pickles!
- Maple Sweetened Pumpkin Butter – This is NOT a recipe that is safe for canning. However, it is very good and I froze it in quart bags and used it for Thanksgiving pumpkin pie.
- Sweet Pickle Relish (I honestly can’t remember which recipe I used, oops!) – I made this for my grandparents and gave most of the batch to them, they love it and always return my jars!
- Extras Stand – As our garden hit maximum production in September, we were having a tad bit of trouble keeping up. My husband came up with this idea and constructed it in our front yard. It was so fun to put things in it and watch people take them. After we constructed this, I learned about the Food is Free project based in Austin, Texas. Pretty neat!
- Marinated Sundried Tomatoes – I made a big batch of these out of cherry tomatoes. Once dehydrated, I put them in a quart size bag in the freezer. We take them out, rehydrate them a bit, and put them on our salads.
- Dried Herbs – Before the first freeze, we cut all of our herbs down and put them on baking sheets to dry out. When they are completely dried, I put them all into mason jars for dry storage.
- Smoked Serrano Peppers – Our serrano peppers produced a TON of peppers this year. I wasn’t sure what to do with all of them, and we ended up putting most of them on the smoker to dry/smoke them. They are amazing!
- Dried Black Beans – We grew these for the first time this year. Once they were dry, it was kind of fun to pop the pods open and shell the beans. I think the variety was black turtle beans? We would grow these again.
- Spaghetti Sauce – We kind of do our own thing here, though we use approved recipes as a guideline and we pressure can the final product.
- Savory Tomato Jam – This was a first for me this year. In my opinion, it tastes kind of like a cross between spicy ketchup and BBQ sauce.
- Green Tomato Bacon Jam – I couldn’t let go of the last of the green cherry tomatoes on the vine, so I found this awesome recipe and made it. It’s a refrigerator/freezer recipe – not safe for canning – but it rocks. Seriously, so good!
- Hot Pepper Butter/Mustard – we love this on ham loaf, and in spicy sauce for sandwiches etc. This is a pantry staple in our house!
- Green Tomato Salsa (Freezer Batch) – we usually make this and can it, but this year it was a smaller batch and I was honestly kind of tired of canning by this point – so I made a small batch, put a few quart jars of it in the refrigerator to eat, and a few quart bags in the freezer for later. We like to make green chicken chili, green shredded pork, jalapeno corn dip, and more with it.
- Sauerkraut – this was a big fail. It’s too bad, as it wasted our good purple cabbage from the garden. I believe we packed the half-gallon jar too tight and used too much salt – it basically salt cured the cabbage instead of fermenting it. I’m currently trying again with the Food in Jars recipe – we are about a week in and it’s going much better.
- Raspberry Peach Wine (Yum!) – my husband is the winemaker, my role in the process is more of a taste tester. We used raspberries from our patches and peaches from the local grocery store when they were in season. The batch was started in July, and ready for drinking/bottling in November.
The category for December was Fruit Pastes, but I skipped it and did my own thing (again.) I made the following things mostly to give away as gifts to co-workers and family members. All turned out well, with the cranberry mustard being my favorite of the three!
- Cranberry Mustard – Whole wheat bread, sliced turkey breast, baby spinach and this … need I say more?
- Oktoberfest Mustard – This needs to ‘mellow’ before it’s suitable for eating, so I haven’t yet tried it. Soon, we will!