Update: This contest has closed! Thanks to all for entering… winners will be notified this week.

Those pretty mason jars everyone’s obsessed with? They’re good for more than just decoration! But if home canning seems a little intimidating, no fear: Jarden Home Brands (makers of the iconic Ball jars) are trying to make things a little easier with their first-ever International Can-It-Forward Day on August 16, which includes local events, lots of recipes and instructions, and even a live webcast with chef Hugh Acheson.

To celebrate, Jarden Home Brands is giving away a killer prize package (approx. value: $86) of home canning goods and kitchen gadgets:

-one case (6 jars) of pint-size Heritage jars in spring green

-one case (6 jars) of quart-size Heritage jars in spring green

-one case (6 lids) of Design Series lids in green

-one case (6 lids) of Design Series lids in blue

-one set of Frozen Herb Starters

-one pair of five-blade Herb Scissors

-one Fresh Herb Keeper

-one set (2 lids) of regular mouth Herb Shaker lids

Reblog this post before Monday 8/18/14 for your chance to win this Ball prize package. The prize pack winner will be randomly selected.

Re-blog to your heart’s content, y’all—it’s canning season! -MB

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Dandelion Marmalade from Kitchen Vignettes by Aubergine

Truly, dandelions are an amazing plant. You can roast the roots for coffee, make your own homemade capers by pickling their buds, booze it up with dandelion wine, I mean, what can’t you make from the mighty little plant? Lately, I’ve been eating a ton of dandelion green salads. They’re great for the liver and at this time of year, not too bitter and quite tender and lovely. Sprinkle a few wild violets on top and some candied pecans and you have a gourmet wild-harvested salad if I ever saw one.

Last year, I heard about dandelion marmalade and was instantly intrigued. I finally cooked up a batch and was very pleased with the results though I have to say the dandelion taste is quite subtle, a bit of a stretch of the imagination really. But the petals are nicely present and lend a lovely little chew. Next time I try this, I think I will be more hardcore about it, leave out the citrus altogether, and just have straight-up dandelion jam. I’ll keep you posted on the results.

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Plenty of room left in the jellies and jam pantry to go, new shelves this year added to the second pantry and the pears have finished out the first pantry. I still have okra to pickle, chipotles to smoke, sweet peppers to roast, another 3-4 more batches of tomatoes and a pot of soup is going into the canner today. I’m going to go shake the trees for empty jars that have wandered off over the year because as always I’ll run out of jars before I run out of food.

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Preserved Lemons.  Dude.  The greatest thing:

a jar

lemons (twice as many as will fit in the jar)

kosher salt

Put a lemon stem end down on a cutting board.  With a sharp knife slice it as if you were going to cut it in half, but stop 1/2 inch from the bottom.  Make a perpendicular cut stopping 1/2 inch short of the stem again so it is quartered, but still intact. Over a bowl of kosher salt, hold the quarters open, stuff as much salt in as you can, and let the extra salt fall back in the bowl.  Put the cut side up in a sterilized, bone dry jar.  Repeat until the jar is stuffed with salted lemons.  Put a lid on the jar and leave it on the counter overnight.  In the morning, juice the remaining lemons and fill the jar to the brim with juice, making sure the lemons are submerged.  Put a lid on, just finger tight (you want air to be able to escape) and place in a dark spot, but not in the refrigerator.  For the next week, turn and shake the jar once a day to redistribute the salt.  Do it for a month and then enjoy!  

They have a million and one uses, but I’ve taken to adding them (minced) to things I might used to have used bacon in: they punch up the flavor and give you salty hit here and there keeping things interesting for your palette.

BONUS PLAY:  Preserved Lemon Puree.  Take the rinsed rind from three preserved lemons, blend with 1/2 cup water.  When pureed, mix in 1 tablespoon olive oil.   Store in the fridge in a glass jar covered with a layer of olive oil and it will last for several months.  Add to anything that likes salt and lemons to ratchet the flavor up a level.  Deviled eggs, dip for artichokes, crab, salad dressing.  Add to mayo…  You got it!

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August 12, 2013 main pantry cupboard snapshot. 480 jars in both pantries as of then (I canned soups and stock during fall and winter) The same cupboard now. I started last canning season with 148 full jars of things I only can every other or even third year. This year I start with 159 jars of mostly jellies and relishes. Cutting it pretty close on canned tomatoes (4 qts left), ketchup (last jar) and completely out of bread & butter jalapeños, bread & butter pickles, dill stackers and regular salsa. With everything all straightened and counted I’ll start labeling this years first batch of green beans (14 pints), Pickled Beets (6 half pints) and soup stock (23 pints) and see how fast I can fill it up again.

Grow food
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