Monday, October 31, 2011

Canning Pear Butter

I was looking at the recipe for pear butter in The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving and pondering why they would give instructions that seem to me like the hard way of doing things. It actually took awhile for it to occur to me that people who don't do much canning might not even own a food mill. I was a little slow to figure things out, but I did finally realize that perhaps I should write both instructions.

My recipe for pear butter is reall basically the same as apple butter, except that I use a little less sugar.

Pear Butter
(Yield is about 4 half-pint jars for every dozen pears used)
(Printable Recipe)

Use one of the following methods to prepare the pulp. As always, I recommend using Fruit Fresh when cutting up the fruit.

Method 1: To prepare the pulp, first quarter the pears. Cook pears until they are soft (about 20 minutes) using just enough water to prevent sticking (enough to cover bottom of pan). Run the pears through a food mill.

Method 2: Peel, quarter and core pears. Cook pears until they are soft (about 20 minutes) using just enough water to prevent sticking (enough to cover bottom of pan). Process in a blender or food processor.

Measure pulp. For each quart of pulp, add 1 1/2 cups sugar, 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp cloves, and 1/4 tsp nutmeg. Cook slowly until thick. At first you only have to stir occasionally, but as it thickens you will have to stir more often. The pear butter is ready when it will mound up on a spoon.

Fill hot canning jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Add lids and process in a water bath for 10 minutes.

High altitude instructions
1,001 - 3,000 feet : increase processing time by 5 minutes
3,001 - 6,000 feet : increase processing time by 10 minutes
6,001 - 8,000 feet : increase processing time by 15 minutes
8,001 - 10,000 feet : increase processing time by 20 minutes

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Delicacies at Revel Restaurant - the Fermented Kind

National Can it Forward Day has come and gone but that doesn’t mean the pickling action is over in the Pacific Northwest. In addition to working with Canning Across America I have the great privilege of working with amazing chefs and farmers at Seattle area markets and culinary events. Through this connection I’ve become involved with the Seattle’s Chef Collaborative chapter and therefore am afforded the opportunity to enjoy an amazing array of educational events offered up at area restaurants and farms.
Most recently I was invited to one of my favorite Seattle restaurants headed by Chef Rachel Yang, Revel, to partake in all things fermented. And while we didn’t eat everything you can ferment there was a pretty overwhelming array of preserved delicacies to try. Chef Yang and her co-conspirator and husband, Seif Chirchi have had a very healthy fermenting pantry going for years at their restaurant, Joule, in Wallingford and they favored us with an incredible dose of what they’ve been up to in that magic pantry...

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Apple Pie Filling

I honestly still consider myself to be a newbie at canning pie filling. I use to just can the fruit in syrup and then add the remaining ingredients for a pie later. Though I have seen sites on the internet that say to can it with cornstarch, the USDA doesn't recommend this (see post on ClearJel) and I don't do it. Even after ClearJel can along I still just kept canning fruit in syrup for awhile. I guess I can be quite a creature of habit some times.

When I first tried canning , I followed the USDA instructions exactly. However I had problems with getting too much liquid in some jars and too little in other jars.

This year I decided to fill the jars the way I fill them if I am canning them with syrup. That is, use a slotted spoon to put the fruit in the jars, and then ladle liquid on top. This is pretty easy to do because the ClearJel actually doesn't thicken until the jar is cooling. It is still thin when you are filling the jars.

This worked much better for me. I am happy with the results and look forward to enjoying a tasty, hot pie when the snow is piled high outside.

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The Line in Winter

It’s hard to conjure green in January. While it dominates the landscape for most of the year, in mid-winter it is a fugitive from the cold, hidden beneath a thick blanket of snow. We’ve just had our third major blizzard of the season here at Stonegate Farm, and only the fence lines now mark the faint contours of productive land.

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It’s been quite a star turn for tomatoes on the farm this season.  No blight, no gummy end rot, just loose, far-reaching tangles of sweet fruit splattered across the fencerow in the orchard.  Their indeterminate sprawl has been almost unseemly, shaming the rest of the farm with an insatiable appetite for sun and sweetness.

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This Too Shall Pass

Hurricanes Irene and Lee came and went last month and ripped through the farm with blustery, sodden winds and a muddy swill of rain that’s still running down the drive.

Newly planted seeds of Fall arugula, snap peas, and mesclun greens were washed out of their beds, heading toward the Hudson.  Chickens stood out in the wind and rain, transfixed by the chaos, their pouffy feathers matted like leaves. Bees hummed in damp confusion around the hive.

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In a muddy drizzle last week, we harvested the last of the oak leaf and lolla rosa lettuce, tilled under the remaining rain-stunted eggplant and peppers, and yanked out the tangled sprawl of tomatoes in the orchard.

The normally solemn end-of-season ritual was buoyed by some cranking iTunes, although “This is the End” by the Doors didn’t do much to lift the mood.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Picking the Right Tomato for your Garden

Could you imagine where the pizza industry would be today without tomato sauce? The top two condiments in the United States, ketchup and salsa, are tomato-based. It is safe to say that the tomato is an all-American culinary entity, a piece of Americana sharing ranks with apple pie, maple syrup, and that staple of staples, good ole corn. We've become very familiar with the pale, mild-flavored hybrid tomatoes in the supermarkets, the thick canned pastes, and those cute little cherries at your local salad bar. But, for those of us who really love tomatoes, and are looking for something a little more unique or very specific, we grow our own. I am going to attempt to briefly cover the basics of tomato varieties that gardeners should be familiar with.

Determinate vs. Indeterminate

Many growers have heard these terms applied to a few different fruits. These words refer to the specific plant's fruit production habit.

Determinate tomato varieties produce one large crop and then produce little or no fruit for the rest of the season. They are usually shorter than indeterminate varieties and have a fixed height. So, there is no need to stake them. These are often paste or plum tomato varieties.

Indeterminate or the vining varieties are going to be the most common variety for home gardening. They produce a continuous crop all summer until frost, and then they will start to die back.
Tomato Varieties

Your standard or slicing tomatoes are the common medium-sized round tomatoes. These will most often be used in soups or sliced for salads. You've seen these in six-pack trays at your local supermarket.

Beef Steak are big tomatoes, some up to 2 pounds. These are the ones that, when sliced, fit sandwiches and burgers very nicely. Beef Steak varieties are also great for stuffing and baking. They are rarely found in supermarkets because their size and tenderness makes them more trouble than they are worth for big retailers. However, they are a home garden dream, a big tasty return on the simple investment in a tiny packet of seeds. Some popular cultivars of this variety are 'Better Boy', 'Big Beef', and 'Park's Whopper'.

Cherry tomatoes are very small tomatoes, ranging from barely bigger than your finger tip to the size of a golf ball. They are often very sweet and perfect by themselves just as a snack. They are the sublime salad tomato because they add lots of flavor, and you don't have to slice them. The elongated smaller and sweeter grape tomatoes are also a tasty variation of the cherry tomato. Cherry tomato plants produce a large amount of fruit, so you don't have to plant many to get plenty of tomatoes.

Paste or plum tomatoes are, as the name suggests, often used for canning and sauces. They work well for this because they are less juicy than other varieties, they don't have a core, and they have far less seeds than other varieties. They are usually small and slightly elongated or pear-shaped. They are often lumped together as Roma tomatoes, which is actually just one cultivar of this tomato variety.

Choose Your Tomato Wisely

Breeders have had fun with this popular garden plant. They come in all sizes and colors, from pink and striped to almost black. But, the best way to pick your tomato is to grow for your needs. If you want sandwich tomatoes, grow Beef Steaks. If you love tomatoes in your salad, try some different cherry varieties. If your garden is the source for most of your canned goods, you should probably try to grow a few paste tomatoes. Growing your own tomatoes will give you power over selection and power over growing methods. It is cheaper than than buying them at the supermarket, and it can be much more rewarding. Have a good time in your garden, and grow the tomato that's just right for you.

Monday, October 24, 2011


During the long, hot days of summer, the last factor we think about is Christmas looking. After all, that's a task we typically relegate to the month of December, proper? But the truth is, the job of shopping for Christmas items is something numerous men and women loathe. Parking lots are crowded, malls are jam packed, and finding just the suitable reward for that unique someone can take hours, or even days. What if there was a method to get some of your Christmas items ready in the course of the summertime and place them away in storage so they'll be ready to go when the vacation season rolls close to? Before you grab your keys and jump within the car to go purchasing now, stop and take a look around your personal home and garden. There may possibly be some reward possibilities lurking appropriate under your personal nose which are home made, thoughtful, and really inexpensive.

A lot of of us raise vegetable gardens in the summer time, and we wind up with far more recent develop than we can possibly use. As opposed to letting it rot on the vine or giving it all away to neighbors, think about canning. Many vegetables like refreshing green beans and tomatoes may be canned and then given away as gifts at the holidays. Recent bell peppers is often built into relishes, and cucumbers may be pickled and canned. Cans of refreshing produce also make wonderful hostess's gifts when you are invited to holiday parties. Top off the jar having a colorful square of fabric and tie with a ribbon to make the present actually attractive and special.

In case you get pleasure from cooking, take into account utilizing your refreshing produce to make other things like home made spaghetti sauce, fresh salsa, or pickle relish that could be canned. For a actually great touch, put a couple jars of spaghetti sauce into a gift basket after which consist of some related products such as a pound of pasta along with a loaf of contemporary Italian bread. Other great touches may possibly incorporate an Italian cookbook, a bottle of good red wine or gourmet olive oil, and even some refreshing Parmesan cheese. The thought of themed present baskets based on your home made canned goods can be expanded into other areas, too. As an example, if you've created some refreshing salsa, contain products in your present basket like tortilla chips, margarita mix, plus a bottle of great quality tequila.

Homemade items from the garden don't have to be limited to only vegetables. In case you grow fruits such as blueberries, cherries, or raspberries, contemplate making homemade jams or pie fillings that is often canned for vacation gifts. Nice additions to round out a gift basket with these goods could contain a new pie dish, or some do-it-yourself bread for toasting. Fresh fruits can also be built into syrups that may be given as presents along with some selfmade pancake mix. Furthermore, if you grow fresh herbs just like parsley or basil, take into account producing recent pesto at the end of the summertime and canning it into little jars to give as items.

Related Post: Homemade Christmas Gifts

Tomatoes Using

The English word tomato comes from the Spanish tomatl, first appearing in print in 1595. A member of the deadly nightshade family, tomatoes were erroneously thought to be poisonous (although the leaves are poisonous) by Europeans who were suspicious of their bright, shiny fruit. Native versions were small, like cherry tomatoes, and most likely yellow rather than red.

The tomato is native to western South America and Central America. In 1519, Cortez discovered tomatoes growing in Montezuma's gardens and brought seeds back to Europe where they were planted as ornamental curiosities, but not eaten

Start with great tomatoes and the right cut. You'll get the best results if you buy ripe tomatoes at a farm stand or farmers' market or get them from your own garden. They'll be the tastiest and juiciest, since they've been picked at their ripest. How you cut the tomatoes is important, too. A half-inch dice is the perfect size, because it will give you a juicy sauce while maintaining the integrity of the tomatoes.
Add a good amount of olive oil. The oil serves a double purpose here. First, it combines with the juices drawn by the salt to make the sauce. No oil means no sauce, just tomato juice. Second, a good fruity extra-virgin olive oil will lend its rich flavor to the dish, giving it lots of body and depth.

Toss the sauce with hot pasta. This is key: The heat of just-cooked pasta helps release the flavors in the tomatoes and creates a better integrated dish than if you mixed the sauce with cold pasta. Please send your review to Indo Munch

The high acidic content of the tomato makes it a prime candidate for canning, which is one of the main reasons the tomato was canned more than any other fruit or vegetable by the end of the nineteenth century. For more information

Grandma Hystad's Recipes, Drinks, Bar mixes, Food and Cooking Tips














3 tablespoons.(45 ml)butter
2 cups(500 ml)thin sliced onion
4 cups(1125 ml)bouillon
Salt and pepper to taste
Worcestershire sauce to taste
2 teaspoons.(10 ml)sugar
French bread
Parmesan cheese or other finely grated cheese
heat butter, add onions, simmer about 10 minutes or until soft
and lightly brown. Add bouillon, bring to boil and simmer 20 minutes.
Season to taste with salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce. Add sugar.
Pour soup into individual soup dishes. On top of each, float a slice
Of sauted French bread and sprinkle with grated cheese. Put in oven
350 F, (175 C), until cheese is melted.

YIELD: 6 servings.
TIME: 60 minutes.

1 cup, 2 tbsp. .(280 ml)pudding mix
2 cups(500 ml)water
2 tablespoons(30 ml)butter or margarine
1-teaspoon(5 ml)vanilla
Combine pudding mix and water in saucepan. Bring to boil, turn
Stove down and boil gently for 2-3 minutes. Stir constantly. Remove from heat, add
margarine and vanilla. Stir. Let stand for 15 minutes, stir again and chill.

YIELD: 4 servings.

Super Easy Vegan Pasta Salad

2 cups whole wheat pasta, cooked & cooled

2 ripe tomatoes, chopped

1/2 green pepper, chopped

1 green onion, thinly sliced

1/4 cucumber, chopped

1/2 cup organic sugar

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/3 cup ketchup

1/4 cup vinegar

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon paprika


Mix together the sugar, ketchup, vinegar, oil, salt, pepper and paprika. Pour the dressing over the pasta and veggies, and stir well.

Peach Muffins

1 cups flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

teaspoon salt

1 cup milk

4 teaspoons oil

2 eggs, beaten lightly

cup peeled peaches

Bake at 400 F., 15-20 minutes.

1 teaspoon (5 ml)sugar
2 teaspoons..(10 ml)..salt
teaspoon..(2.5 ml)...pepper
teaspoon .(2.5 ml)...paprika
1 cup(375 ml).salad oil
cup(125 ml).vinegar
1 clove of garlic (if desired)
Put sugar, salt, pepper and paprika in jar. Add oil, vinegar and
garlic. Shake well. When dressing is thoroughly blended, pour
over salad.
YIELD: approximately 2 cups (500 ml)
CALORIES: 92 per tablespoon (15 ml)
TIME: 10 minutes.

1 egg yolk
teaspoon (2.5 ml) salt
teaspoon(2.5 ml).dry mustard
teaspoon ...(1.25 ml)...paprika
dash cayenne
2 tablespoons ..(30 ml)vinegar
1 cup .(250 ml)..salad oil
Put egg yolk and seasoning in bowl and mix well. Add 1 tablespoon( vinegar and beat well. Gradually beat in oil until cup of mixture is used. Then add 1-2 tablespoons (15-30 ml) at a time. As mixture thickens add remaining vinegar. If oil is added to quickly, mayonnaise will curdle. To fix this add 1 more egg yolk and continue.
Store mayonnaise in covered jar and refrigerate.
YIELD: approximately 1 cup (310 ml).
CALORIES: 104 per tablespoon (15 ml).
Time: 15 minutes


A Sure Cure

An older lady came out screaming after being told by the young Doctor she was pregnant. The head doctor of the clinic stopped her and asked her what the problem was. She tells him and he gets her to settle down in a chair, and then rushes over to the young doctor that she came from.

Whats the matter with you, telling a 80 year old lady she is pregnant he asks the young Doctor.

The Doctor kept writing the prescription he was filling out, and without looking up at his superior, asked, Does she still have the hiccups?


TENDER CUTS of meat can be cooked by dry heat, as in broiling, pan-broiling, or roasting.
TOUGH CUTS can only be made tender by moist heat, as in pot-roasting and Stewing.

Our main object is to prevent shrinkage in so far as possible, and produce a tender, juicy, tasty product. In roasting, searing does little to help keep in juices, less shrinkage results at a lower temperature for a longer time (300 F). Searing however makes the meat look attractive and the outside layers taste better.

An uncovered pan with a rack in the bottom gives the best results in roasting. Cooking time varies with preference.
For rare meat, 16 minutes per pound.
For medium meat, 22 minutes per pound.
For well done meat, 30 minutes per pound.

Add salt during or after cooking, not before. The salt flavour does not penetrate more then 1 inch. If the meat does not reach the desired colour during roasting, increase the heat to (500 F) for a few minutes before removing from the pan.

Methods of searing is subjecting the meat to a high temperature until it is nicely browned.

By Browning in an uncovered pan in a hot oven (450 F-500F).
By Browning in hot fat in a frying pan on the surface burner.
By Adding boiling water and cooking at boiling temperature until the outside of the meat has lost its red colour.

Reasons For Cooking Meat
To develop flavour.
To soften the connective tissue when present in large quantity.
To kill any living organisms that may be present


How safe is our food supply?

Increasingly, the corporations that supply us with processed foods are unable to guarantee the safety of their ingredients. As a result, not just red meat and poultry, is now a potential carrier of pathogens, government and industry officials concede. As the drive to keep food costs down intensifies, most corporations do not even know who is supplying their ingredients, let alone if those suppliers are screening the items for microbes and other potential dangers.

Some concede that they cannot ensure the safety of items from frozen vegetables to pizzas and that they are shifting the burden of safety to the consumer. It seems the only time we know the products are unsafe, is when there is a problem, people get sick, and the product is recalled.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association has called for new safety initiatives. They include new training and more food safety audits. The grocers also want a new internet-based recall system to speed up the process of finding and removing recalled food products.

For information on receiving recalls by e-mail, or for other food safety facts, visit:

Dont just guess to tell when meat, poultry and seafood are done. Instead, use a food thermometer to make sure foods have reached at least the following internal temperatures:

Steaks: 145 degrees F (medium rare)

Ground beef: 160 degrees F

Chicken breasts: 165 degrees F

Whole poultry: 165 degrees F

Pork: 160 degrees F

Fish: 145 degrees F

Officials of Ottawa Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency remind home canners and consumers that home canning and bottling of seafood is popular in Canada, but food safety awareness should be the priority when home canning or when buying home canned products from vendors.

Improper preparation, canning or storage, especially of low-acid foods such as clams, lobster and whelks, can cause serious illness, even botulism. Bacteria that produce colourless, odourless, tasteless, invisible toxins not necessarily destroyed by cooking cause botulism.

To keep home canned food safe, the Canadian health agencies advise canners remember to:

Use a pressure canner and strictly follow the manufacturer's instructions for low-acid food canning or bottling. Recipe ingredients, amounts, or jar sizes should not be changed because these can affect times/pressures needed and could result in bacteria remains in the food.

Clean and keep sanitizing hands, all work surfaces, food, utensils, and equipment during all stages of the canning process.

Use home canned product within one year. Once the container has been opened, refrigerate leftovers immediately.

Never eat canned foods if the closure or seal has been broken, or if the container is swollen or leaking. If in doubt, throw it out.

The Memorial Day weekend is coming up. It marks the unofficial start of summer. Many will celebrate with a cook out or picnic, two things that can lead to food borne illnesses.

Food safety experts say hand washing and cooking food thoroughly can help prevent those illnesses.

Never use the same plate to carry both raw and cooked food.

And that burger-flipping spatula? Same principal applies: Don't use the same one to drop the burgers on the grill and then retrieve them once cooked.

Most people believe that when meat turns brown, it's done. In fact, one out of four burgers turn brown before it reaches 160 degrees. Use a cooking thermometer.


Cooking steak is not the same as cooking ground beef. Bacteria like to congregate on the surface and edges of steak. So be sure to sear it to kill toxins.


If you have teenagers, or in fact any adult, impress on them the risks of driving while intoxicated. Statistics demonstrate drunk drivers cause many fatal road accidents.

It should be known that like any other drug, addiction is a potential hazard. Excess of alcohol will affect organs such as the brain, heart, and liver.


In tall glass add half chilled Guinness stout, and half chilled champagne. Stir quickly.

Rum Punch

Pint Puerto Rican Rum

Pint peach Brandy

Pint Lemon or Lime Juice

5 tablespoons Bitters

6 Pints Soda Water

Stir rum, brandy, juice and bitters in a bowl. When ready to serve, add block of ice and soda.

Serve 10 persons

House Standard
1 jigger Tequila
2 jiggers Tomato Juice
2 dashes Tabasco
Shake with cracked ice and strain.
Serve with slice of lemon.

3 cups brewed strong black tea
1 quart orange juice
1 cup lime or lemon juice
2 cups raspberry syrup
1 cup crushed pineapple
Bar sugar to taste
2 quarts club soda

Pour all ingredients except soda over a large block of ice in a punch bowl. Stir well. Let it chill. At serving time, add chilled soda.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Winter Dinners in a Jar

The reason I mention heritage fruits and vegetable is that with items such as tomatoes, you will not need to add another acid to your mix. However if you choose to buy your fruits in the grocery, you will need to add some lemon juice to your mix. The rule of thumb here is two tablespoons lemon juice or teaspoon citric acid into each quart of tomatoes, added before you fill your jars.With spring around the corner, farm markets and road side stands are getting ready to offer you a wide variety of organically grown heritage food stuff. Now is the time to start thinking about your foods for the summer and next winter. And canned dinners is a good place as any to begin.Planning dinners so far in advance can seem not only time consuming, but a daunting prospect. The simplest thing to do is to go into your cabinets and see what store-bought goods you already have there. Most of us havespaghetti sauce,pizza sauce,baked beans and BBQ sauce -great for sweet and saucy ribs. And if you have children, canned pastas seems to be the mainstay.

There is very little information on canning your own pasta dinners out there. Yet the major companies as well as homesteaders have been doing this for years. The problems occur with what types of pasta you want to can and how much of it you stuff into a jar. You will need only enough to loosely fit into the can/jar, never jam pack it in, or fill it to the brim. As with any home canning you need to leave at least inch of head space. Elbow macaroni, shells or spaghetti noodles are the easiest. It is not recommended that you can pasta because dense foods are harder to heat all the way through during processing.Homemade pastas are simple, and something that everyone should try their hand at. And you can add your own twist, or flavoring, to the noodles, like beet, spinach or Parmesan. Once you have your noodles, forming them into shapes is simple, pack them into the jar, loosely and then add your sauce. Kids love meat ravioli, spaghetti and meatballs, and beef and macaroni. Processing takes the same amount of time as your meats do, 75 minutes for pints and 90 minutes for quarts at 10 pounds pressure, unless you live at an altitude more than 1,000 feet; consult your canning manual for directions for increasing your pressure.

Soups, like chicken noodle soup, are a wonderful item to always have on hand. Any of the soups you buy at the store can be modified to your taste, removing or adding certain vegetables, seasoning, and salt . If you have meats in your stock, processing time will take longer then a plain, chicken, meat or vegetable stock. Stews, like roast beef, are the same.And speaking of meats, canning your own meats, poultry, fish and seafood is very rewarding. These items are cooked and stewed in their own juices creating an extra tender meal in a natural stock. Canned Beef strips make an excellent stroganoff. Canned chicken works wonders as a quick chicken with almond rice, while canned salmon makes an irresistible salmon and raisin pie.Which ever dinner tempts your the most, remember that healthy eating requires that you know what is in your food, that you follow all the canning instructions carefully, never eat anything that isn't sealed properly, and throughly cook all your foods. And most importantly, enjoy.

Topsy Turvy Tomato Planter - Does it work? Read my review!

topsy turvy
topsy turvy (Photo credit: looseends)
Growing tomatoes is an easy first step for first time gardeners, tomatoes are easy to grow in planters so it is almost a given that someone would come up with a "Topsy Turvy Tomato Planter", an innovation that makes growing and watering tomatoes even easier and increases yield...

Topsy Turvy Tomato Planter - What is it?

I love to cook, and I've recently been experimenting with making my own homemade salsa and pasta sauces. Obviously, I've been using tons of canned tomatoes in the process. A friend at work recently brought me a few home-grown tomatoes, and I asked her how she possibly had time to grow tomatoes herself. She said she's been using a Topsy Turvy Tomato Planter. I was instantly interested in finding out more. I thought that would be a wonderful way to save money on buying tomatoes at the market, and have much better home-grown tasting tomatoes at the same time.

The Topsy Turvy Tomato Planter is a simple planter that allows you to plant tomato seedlings upside down. The roots stay in the planter and the plant hangs underneath. The sun warms the planter, which acts like a greenhouse. This makes the roots very happy. When you water, it allows the moisture and any tomato food you use to drain directly down onto the plant.

I bought this back in April, and I decided to plant cherry tomatoes in it. You can put three plants in each planter. You can even mix different tomato varieties, or even grow other vegetables or herbs. But, for my first try, I decided to stick with small tomatoes. A few weeks ago, my plants just exploded! My plants grew so fast, and then tomatoes started popping up- I have picked probably a hundred tomatoes so far and we probably have a hundred more ready to pick! The vines are almost touching the ground! I can't even describe how wonderful they taste!

Topsy Turvy Tomato Planter Issues I had
I have a small garden, and I wasn't sure where I was going to hang my planter. But, I have an old clothes line in the backyard (which I've been begging my husband to get rid of for years) which ended up being absolutely perfect for hanging my Topsy Turvy from. The only con has been that the planter does get pretty heavy with 3 plants, dirt, and water, so you have to have a good sturdy hook to hang it from. My clothes line ended up needing a bit of reinforcement, but it's working just great now.
For the first several weeks, I was afraid it wouldn't grow. I followed the directions and watered my plants twice a day. I noticed about midway through the first bloom that some of my tomatoes were splitting. I read that this sometimes happens due to over-watering, so you'll need to figure out how much water works just right for your location. I adjusted how much I was watering, and the problem went away. Very easily fixed.

Benefits of the Topsy Turvy Tomato Planter
Easy to set up and use Grow your own ORGANIC tomatoes Mix and match different tomatoes Works for growing fresh herbs or other vegetables Grow three plants in each planter (up to 30 lbs) Hangs on a deck or balcony for patio gardening

Use of pesticides you don't get any normal garden pests Caging and staking like for normal tomato plants Digging, weeding and other hard garden work

Topsy Turvy Tomato Planter - Final thoughts
For me, this is the easiest way to garden. My Topsy Turvy tomatoes are growing faster and fuller than my other potted plants. I love the fact that I don't have to worry about pesticides or weeding. Since this can work for other vegetables and herbs, I can't wait to try some more kinds of plants. I have grand plans for having a whole garden full of Topsy Turvy planters. I think they even have a strawberry planter. I'm very happy that it has turned out this well, I'll have enough cherry tomatoes for ALL my summer salads, salsa, and pasta sauces. I might even try some canning so I can have my own home grown tomatoes all year long.

Diane English
Article Source

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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Easy Ways to Eat Green

Recent concerns over environmental destruction, agricultural chemicals and pesticides and food safety issues have made more and more people consider changing their diets. Films like Food Inc., have turned more than a few carnivores into vegans. But just how can we change our habits and ensure the safety of ourselves, our families and our planet? If you're wondering how to begin to make small green changes to your life without too much work then keep reading to find out.

Going green doesn't have to involve radical transformations overnight. Making small changes to your life can have a big impact on your health and on the environment. The more consumers demand healthy alternatives and safe food practices, the more and more these will become available. Furthermore, it is a well documented fact that as more people buy organic and local, the cheaper these products will become.

First things first. If you want to save money and the planet cut down on your meat consumption. You do not have to give up your favourite roast entirely, or even cut out the occasional sausage, but you will have to think more carefully about where you buy your meat and how much you really need. Opting for vegetarian options more frequently is a great way to go. So try out a vegetarian cookbook and see how you can use beans, soy products, tofu, and other filling protein to replace the meat portions in your favourite chillies or stews.
Because you've reduced your meat consumption, you should be able to afford to buy more quality meat rather than quantity. Buying locally raised, antibiotic free, free range, organic meats (or whatever is most important depending on the meat involved) will give you better tasting healthier meat and will help to ensure your own safety. Eating less but better quality meat, fish and poultry is a great way to go green and lower your carbon footprint.

Seasonal Indulgence. Trying to buy fruits and vegetables that are in season is also a good way to eat greener. Transportation of foods across long distances not only lowers their quality and freshness, but also wreaks havoc on the planet. If you can, try to plan meals around what is in season in your local area. In this way you can buy more products that are locally grown. Seasonal fruits and veggies are also fresher and generally less expensive.

Grow It Yourself. If you are fortunate enough to have a backyard or small plot in which you can grow your own vegetables and herbs than by all means do so. Growing your own does take a little time and know-how, but this will more than pay off in the end. Not only will you know exactly what you're getting and be saving money, but the food will not doubt taste better knowing it comes from the sweat of your own brow. Freezing, canning and storing foods for the winter will make your garden last through the changing of the seasons.

The Green Coffee Beans - Secret to the Freshest Coffee

When the canning industry was just in its infancy during the middle 19th century, eating canned food was viewed classy by many middle-class families who see the preserved delights as some sort of a novelty. Well, that was eons ago. Times have changed and people these days, regardless of socio-economic status, would rather prefer to eat fresh food.
This hype concerning freshness is certainly not unfounded. As the scientific community have become more aware of the serious health repercussions that can be incurred from devouring preservative-laced foods, it is not surprising why people nowadays want all of their food served fresh as much as possible. So deep is this I-want-it-fresh thing in Americans' psyche that we just do not stop at fresh veggies, fruits, and sea foods. We want all things fresh, including our coffee.
But enjoying a fresh cup of coffee is not an instant one-step process. You can't just go to a supermarket and pick farm fresh coffee. Well, you may argue that you there's a "fresh" label printed on the packed coffee beans languishing on the supermarket shelf. That is a sure way to a fresh cup of Joe, right? Well, it is really not. That "fresh" tag is certainly misleading. There is only one way to get a 100 percent fresh cup of coffee-and that comes with roasting your own green coffee beans.
The Green coffee is the term used to designate untasted coffee beans. How is it different from roasted ones? Well, roasting changes coffee a lot. Unroasted beans are bitter and very acidic. Roasting takes out such unwanted properties and renders coffee drinkable. It also catalyzes chemical reactions that forces enzymes inside the beans to produce characteristic coffee flavors and aroma. The negative side is that these distinctive properties of coffee do not last long once the beans were roasted. For you to enjoy coffee with fresh flavors and aroma, you would need to buy green coffee beans and roast them by yourself.
The Roasting at your home is not really a complex process. It is an art that you can learn. You do not need to buy an expensive high-end roaster. It would not make any difference at all. When it comes to proper roasting of coffee, you just need to follow basic rules: heat the beans between 370 to 540 degrees Fahrenheit; do not let the beans stay in one spot to prevent uneven roasting; and once maximum temperature is achieved, cool the beans quickly to avoid over-roasting. It may be tricky at first, but once you get the hang of home roasting, you will certainly reap the benefits of your labors every time you take a sip of coffee full of fresh flavors and aroma.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Growing Your Best Beans

For those gardeners who have never tried growing beans, you're missing out on a wonderful vegetable that's easy to grow and highly productive. They come in about as many colors, shapes and sizes as you can imagine, and no matter how big or small your garden is, chances are, there's a bean that will meet your needs. Even for gardeners who are a little behind on this year's planting, never fear. Beans can still be planted as late as June for a decent late-summer harvest. With a few easy steps, you'll be well on your way to growing your best bean plants ever.

Beans are a member of the legume family, a group of nitrogen fixing plants. This means that they have the unique ability to pull nitrogen from the air and put it into the soil. For this reason, nitrogen-loving plants like tomatoes will usually thrive in spots where bean plants resided the year prior. For extra healthy, vigorous plants, dampen the seeds and coat with nitrogen inoculant before planting. Nitrogen inoculant is a black, grainy substance that aids the plants in their early growth stages. It's very inexpensive and can be found at most specialty gardening stores. If you have leftover nitrogen inoculant at the end of the season, throw it away. You won't want to use it the next year, because most of the bacteria will have died by then. Nitrogen inoculant is only good for one planting season.

Bean plants generally fall into one of two categories: bush and pole. Bush beans are low, bushy plants that usually grow to about knee high. They are known to be highly productive, usually providing several pickings over a two to three week period. Successive plantings of bush beans will provide a continuous harvest throughout the summer. Pick pods daily to keep the plants as productive as possible. Once the plants are done producing, it's usually best to go ahead and remove them from the garden all together. Be sure to avoid handling the plants or picking pods in wet weather, as this will spread disease.
Pole beans come in as many sizes and varieties as bush beans; however, they are a climbing plant that grows on a trellis or other structure. Pole bean plants are known to be vigorous growers and heavy producers. When planting, it's a good idea to go ahead and install your trellis or other support structure at the same time, because the plants will grow so rapidly. Pole beans will generally produce for a longer period than bush bean plants, provided that the pods are picked while they're very young.

Aside from the two primary categories of bush and pole, bean plants can also be broken down into two other categories: snap and shell. Snap beans are those whose pods are edible. When harvesting them, you'll usually want to use the produce as quickly as possible, while they are still fresh. Use them the same day they're picked, if possible. Snap beans are wonderful steamed, baked, stir fried, or even eaten raw, and are also a good choice if you want to can some of your fresh vegetables.

Shell beans, on the other hand, are surrounded by tough, inedible pods that must be removed prior to consumption. Pinto, black, red, and kidney beans are all examples of shell beans. Harvesting these plants is a somewhat different process. Shell beans should be allowed to ripen and dry while still on the plant before harvesting. Wait until the pods turn brown and the plant begins to die. Then pull the entire plant up from the ground and put it in a hot place so it can dry out for about a week or so. At that point, you can open the pods and remove the individual beans. Spread them out on cookie sheets and place in a 175 degree oven for about 15 to 20 minutes. This will kill off any potential pests. Finally, the dried beans can be stored in airtight containers. When you're ready to use, reconstitute in water overnight and cook as usual.

Beans make a wonderful addition to any home vegetable garden. If you've never grown them before, give them a try! A packet of seed will cost you only a few dollars at most, and you'll yield pounds of fresh produce for eating, canning, or drying. Anyone who has ever tasted homegrown beans knows that the result is definitely worth the effort.

Homemade Canning - Increasing and Canning Your Individual Food

For a extensive time, this posed a dilemma for hydro growers who wished to opt for organic rising approaches. But today organic and natural hydroponic fertilizers are extensively accessible, which make it doable to deliver a plant with the excellent mineral resolution, with out having to resort to non-natural and organic means. Reduced-acid veggies have to have to be canned a lot more cautiously to prevent spoilage. Even so, like fruits, the ideal garden can develop anything to can weekly or bi-weekly all 12 months-prolonged.

When setting up a residence-grown garden for canning, decide on vegetables for individual seasons:

Winter months Garden Create:


Brussels sprouts (in coastal locations)


Spring Garden Generate:



Dark leafy greens like spinach

Summertime by Drop Garden Make:

Green Beans or Lengthy Beans




Onions and Garlic



Dark Leafy Greens like Kale and Swiss Chard


Even a modest family members garden, or container garden, can create adequate to stockpile canned develop. Many of these meals can well with minimal or no earlier cooking. Simply just scrub them, chop them up, things them into a jar, pour boiling h2o over them, screw on a lid, and place them into the pressure canner. Each vegetable, vegetable mix, or relish has a specific time and recipe that wants to be followed to the letter when canning it. Failure to adhere to a recipe for the distinct meals can end result in an inedible products, or even worse, spoilage.

Other food items not described in this document are not suggested for homemade canning since the time and hard work in increasing and/or planning them tends to make it not really worth it, in particular for a starter. The fruits and veggies detailed are inclined to grow massive harvests with tiny area. And, when picked and canned appropriate away, also previous more time in the shelves and retain their flavor.

House grown generate not only tastes better, but might be much better for you considering that keep-purchased canned or new vegetables tend to shed significant nutrients the more time they sit. Furthermore, it will help save income. With the appropriate soil disorders and treatment, residence gardens can ordinarily create much more foods with significantly less expense around the same sum of food bought contemporary or canned from a grocery retailer.

Quite a few men and women are discouraged from escalating their individual food mainly because of all the time and hard work it takes to improve a garden. And most individuals do not have a plot of fertile land readily available. For most, doing work the soil, fertilizing, pulling weeds and all the get the job done just doesn't in shape into their hectic lives. But there is a way to grow food that eliminates all of this.

Aquaponics is a way of rising foods that is starting to catch on by several commercial growers, and people today who just want to mature their private foods. This system is swiftly increasing in attractiveness because it is basic, can take pretty very little time and energy, and can make a lot of meals in a extremely little room. And the fish do the perform while you are doing your unique issue.

Container Garden Vegetables For Newcomers - Vegetable Gardening in Containers

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Get A Healthier, Leaner Body With Fruits and Vegetables

The unmistakable health benefits of vegetables and fruits have been documented in research studies.

For this reason, health institutes across the globe are in agreement that consumption of a minimum of five to nine servings of vegetables and fruits should be included in your daily dietary intake.

Well-known National Institutes of Health such as the USDA Food Guide Pyramid, Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Cancer Institute have all instituted this piece of advice for those who want a healthier lifestyle.

Consuming specific vegetables and fruits help the body in building a resistance to and protection from the world's two most frightening and debilitating ailments - cancer and heart ailments.

However, certain vegetables and fruits provide more health benefits and nutrition than others. So, in order for you to reach your pinnacle, improve your appearance and feel as good as possible, eating additional fruits and vegetables is certainly a start, but eating specific varieties obtained through reliable suppliers will provide the highest level of nutrition and that will give you a jump start in boosting your immune system.

Which Selections Provide The Highest Nutrition?

Bananas, corn, iceberg lettuce, and potatoes rank among the more favored foods consumed today; however, while highly popular, they do not provide the body with a substantial amount of fiber and little to no antioxidant phytonutrients such as cruciferous, flavonoid and carotenoid.
Overall, these entrees are not considered particularly unhealthy, except when eaten overloaded with fat, fried or as a chip, but they are not nutritious enough to be included among the recommended five to nine servings. Nature has provided a number of varieties for you to choose from that are full of the nutrients the body needs.

To get the highest amounts of fiber, phytonutrients, minerals and vitamins make your selection from nature's most powerful vegetables, leafy varieties that are dark green in color. Chard, spinach, tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, romaine lettuce, red pepper and romaine lettuce would be included in this grouping.

While virtually all fruits are good for you, peaches, oranges, red grapes, plums and berries rank highest in their body building potential.

Where Can The Ultimate Healthful Sources Be Found?

Organic produce straight from your local outlet is your best source. Getting produce from organic farms takes it straight from their gardens to your table without the use of toxic chemicals, which is not only better for you and is more flavorful, but is better for the atmosphere as well.

Enthusiasm in organic foods has steadily been on the rise and today, it is possible to purchase high quality produce from neighborhood co-ops, farmers markets as well as a number of the larger chain markets. If a co-op is not available in your neighborhood, creating one might be a consideration.

If you are unable to locate high-quality fresh organic produce, frozen produce is generally available at a number of the larger natural food markets or grocery store chains.

As a general rule, frozen outweighs canned in quality and benefits. The canning methods often utilized successful destroy the beneficial nutrients and tend to contain high levels of sugar and salt. Frozen follows the simple process of picking, washing and freezing all within a 24 hour timeframe which helps in locking in, not only the flavor, but the health benefits as well.

What Does It All Mean?

When it's all said and done, the primary goal is to consume five to nine on a daily basis.

Doing this one simple thing each and every day will not only help ward off diseases such as heart disease and cancer, but is also beneficial in weight and blood sugar control and lowers cholesterol levels.

Once you get started, the five to nine will only be the beginning, soon you will begin to crave the sweet flavor and filling feeling the right fruits and vegetables provide.

Growing Tomatoes in Your Home Garden

Shapes vary from globe or round to slightly flattened, pear-like
or cherry-sized. Often consumers complain tomatoes purchased in
grocery stores are lacking in flavor or have tough skin. In a home
garden, you can grow the tomatoes you prefer, including a wide
selection of fruit colors, flavors, textures and sizes. Although
rumored, there is no direct link between fruit acidity and color.
Preference for one fruit over another is due more to cultivar
differences in flavor and texture. Each plant typically will produce 10
to 15 pounds of fruit.
Cultivars may have a determinate plant structure, growing only to a
given height; while others show indeterminate or continuous growth
until killed by frost. Generally, the earlier maturing cultivars are determinate. Certain tomato cultivars have been developed for
special uses such as stuffing or longer storage. Greenhouse
production requires specific cultivars adapted to the lower light and
higher humidity levels characteristic of greenhouses. Cherry-type
tomatoes are productive and have small fruit. Very dwarf cultivars
adapted for growth in pots or other containers are also available.
Most of these "patio" cultivars have cherry-sized fruit, although a few
produce regular-sized fruit.
Tomatoes developed for commercial field production generally ripen
over four to six weeks. Many of the earlier maturing cultivars have a
determinate plant type combined with a concentrated fruit set. These
will not produce tomatoes continuously but are grown for early
production. Most home gardeners will want to plant both determinate
and indeterminate tomato cultivars for a long season of fresh
tomatoes. Determinate tomatoes are ideal for canning or freezing.
Most newer cultivars are resistant to or tolerant of certain diseases.
This is usually indicated by a letter following the name, such as "N"
for nematodes, "F" for fusarium, "T" for tobacco mosaic virus and "V"
for verticillium wilt. Although open-pollinated "heirloom" cultivars are
now popular, many have little genetic resistance to common diseases. These older cultivars should be planted in ground that has
not had any solanaceous crops (tomato, pepper, eggplant or potato)
for at least three years and in a place with good air circulation to
reduce the opportunity for fungal infection.
Tomatillos ("husk tomatoes") and ground cherries are sometimes
confused with tomatoes. These plants belong to the genus Physalis
rather than the tomato genus Lycopersicum.

7 Homemade Spa Treatment options from Vacation Leftovers

From turkey enchiladas, to mashed potato fritters, we're constantly seeking for methods to place our holiday leftovers to excellent use. But what if we stopped shoveling it in and started off shoveling it on? Why not nurture your dry, winter skin with seasonal eats? And don't be concerned, we're not speaking a gravy mask or mashed potato soak, these spa treatment options are so indulgent you'll neglect their former glory fully.

If you want to glow even when it's gray outdoors, antioxidant-laden meals are a need to. Clear away on your own from the rush of the holiday season and program a DIY spa day with foods leftover from a holiday of indulgent eats. You'll really feel refreshed and prepared to get on the New Year.

1. Pumpkin Enzyme Masque
You built way too a lot pumpkin pur??e for that joyous pumpkin pie, homemade pumpkin pasta, or creamy pumpkin bisque but don't fret due to the fact it's the major ingredient to this soothing Pumpkin Enzyme Masque. Also, pumpkin helps battle the dry winter air with Nutritional vitamins A and C, as nicely as zinc and helpful alpha-hydroxy acids. I would go with homemade pumpkin pur??e so that you know that your pur??e didn't shed any important enzymes for the duration of the canning course of action.

Pumpkin Enzyme Masque
? cup pumpkin pur??e
1 tbsp plain yogurt
1 tsp grated fresh new ginger
3 tsp honey
Juice of 1/2 a lemon

Combine all the elements collectively in a blender or with a wooden spoon. Use a thick layer all more than your encounter, getting mindful to stay clear of the eyes and mouth. Keep it on your deal with for about 10 minutes and then gently eliminate with a wash cloth and warm soapy h2o.

2. Homemade Cranberry Lip Gloss Place aside some refreshing cranberries from this year's cranberry sauce or cranberry salsa and make this antioxidant-prosperous lip gloss. Cranberries add a hint of vacation colour and they moisturize your lips all the way down to the mobile stage. You'll be licking your lips all holiday extended.

Homemade Cranberry Lip Gloss
1 tbsp almond oil
1 tsp plain yogurt
1 tsp honey
1 tsp petroleum jelly
10 clean cranberries

1. Warmth in a h2o bath until the mixture starts to boil.
2. Stir gently to mash berries and let sit for 5 minutes.
3. Strain the combination by way of a great sieve.
Recipe: Cosmetic Diary

3. DIY Pomegranate Physique Scrub
I enjoy dropping pomegranate seeds into the bottom of champagne flutes, adding them to uncomplicated salads, or seasonal salsas. Pomegranate seeds are most definitely the jewels of the season and not just simply because they're lovely. The rough seeds and potent dose of antioxidants are also excellent for exfoliating dry winter skin and bringing smooth, more youthful seeking skin to the surface. Start off with an oil base, add raw sugar, and honey for added exfoliation and moisture. Add fragrance with orange peel and of program, a great dose of pomegranate seeds.

Pomegranate Entire body Scrub
2 tbsp avocado oil
2 tbsp raw sugar
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp orange peel
1 tbsp pomegranate seeds

Mix mixture entirely. Apply to your skin with a wash cloth or loofah. Gently scrub your encounter and then rinse with warm h2o.

4. Cinnamon and Nutmeg Acne Mask
Nutmeg has anti-inflammatory characteristics so it assists to calm flare-ups as nicely as decrease redness of acne scars. Cinnamon is a organic exfoliant as nicely and it's also identified for its antiseptic characteristics. Mixed with moisturizing honey, it serves to calm your screaming skin.

Cinnamon and Nutmeg Acne Masque
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp floor nutmeg
1 tsp honey

Mix into a thick paste. Apply to your encounter for fifty percent an hour and then rinse off with warm water. Moisturize as per common afterwards.
Recipe: Viva Females

5. DIY Pumpkin Foot Scrub
Sheila wrote about this pumpkin foot scrub which is a welcomed deal with in the course of the winter when our feet are frequently abused. Stuffed into confining boots, dried out, and lacking a pedicure, we usually neglect our poor feet when it's cold outside. Right after several months of neglect, my feet sure looked scary, but this pumpkin foot scrub soothed them down to the core.

6. Potato Beneath Eye Soothers
Received a number of leftover potato slices from these tasty mashed potatoes? Related to cucumbers, you can soothe dark, below-eye circles, by wrapping a slice of potato in sterilized gauze or a thin cloth and placing it on dark circles for a number of minutes a day.

7. Mulled-Cider Sachets
Aromatherapy is useful for strain reduction, which is critical to seeking fresh, even when it appears you don't have a moment to oneself. You could give these mulled cider sachets away as presents like Actual Straightforward suggests, or you could indulge in some really serious scent remedy by yourself prior to hitting the road to grandma's property. Pack them in your bag, underneath your pillow, or just hold them close by for instant calm.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

How to Organize Your Favorite Recipes

Recipes: Most of us have a collection of family recipes we like to use and some we would like to try. Getting those recipes organized can be a challenge. Try creating your own family recipe book. Take an ordinary binder and add page protectors for full page ones and photo album inserts that will fit other sizes. These will help protect them from splattered ingredients and is a great way to hold them in place.

Another way to add recipes to your binder is to use ordinary loose leaf paper so you can tape each one to the papers inside the binder. Use whatever works to keep them in place. You can also insert dividers to separate each one into categories. Some category suggestions are... Appetizers & Snacks, Beverages, Breads, Cakes & Frostings, Candy & Ice Creams, Cookies, Desserts, Eggs, Cheese, Legumes/Casseroles, Fish & Shell Fish, Freezing & Canning, Meat & Lasagnas, Pasta, Rice & Grains, Pies & Pizza, Poultry & Chicken Entrees, Salads & Dressings, Sauces, Relishes, Salsas & Dips, Soups, Stews & Stir Fry, Vegetables, Special Helps and Miscellaneous. Binders can be very useful because they can easily be updated by adding or removing recipes at any time.

It also helps to write comments on or next to the recipes that you have tried (who liked them and how good it was on a scale of 1 - 10). Toss out the ones that no one liked; why keep them? Try to set aside one night each week to try a new recipe and see how fast you go through all those recipes you've always wanted to try. After you have tried each new recipe, immediately choose another recipe to try, that way you will have time to shop for the ingredients before you try out the next one the following week.

Check the Nutrition Value of Canned Food

Canned is a method of preserving food in which the food is processed and sealed in an airtight container. The packing prevents microorganisms from entering and proliferating. To prevent the food from being spoiled before and during containment, quite a number of methods are used such as pasteurization, boiling, freezing, refrigeration, drying, vacuum, antimicrobial agents, treatment that are natural to the recipe of the foodstuff being preserved, a sufficient dose of ionizing radiation, submersion in a strongly saline, base, acid, osmotically extreme or other microbe-challenging atmosphere.

No such method is perfectly dependable as a preservative. Foods that must be pressure canned include most vegetable, tomato products, meats, seafood, and diary products. The only food that might be safely canned in an ordinary boiling water bath are highly acidic one with a pH below 4.6 include fruits, pickled vegetables, or other foods to which acidic additives have been added. Most common canned food which is most demanded in the market are:
Canned tomato products - Canned tomato soup is the most demanded product in the market. It can be made from chunks of tomato or with only a puree. The canned condensed version of the soup is one of the leading styles in U.S. Many toppings can also be used, such as sour cream, crackers, shredded cheese, or salsa.

Canned vegetables - Canned vegetable, another most demanded product among canned products. People in U.S. and U.K. usually ask for canned vegetables as they are easy to prepare and considered as quick meal. Canned vegetables are cheap to make and buy.

Nutrition Values of Canned Food

Canning is a way of food processing to extend the shelf life of some food products. The idea is to make food available and edible considerable long after the processing time. Although canned foods are most likely assumed as low nutrition food due to some heating process and addition to preservatives, some canned foods are in fact better in nutritive value in comparison to natural food. For instance, canned tomato products have better lycopene that is more readily available upon digestion.

Viele and Sons, a well known name associated with California restaurant supply, offering broad range of canned products like canned tomato products, canned vegetables, canned soup, etc., as per your needs.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Homemade Christmas Gift Ideas

With many of us facing greater financial challenges this year than last, Christmas gift shopping poses a real threat to our budget and wallets. We still want the holidays to be memorable for our families, yet how do we strike that critical balance between giving the perfect gift and still staying within your budget? The answer might be easier than you think; homemade Christmas gifts are a way for you to give the best of yourself and your talents to those you love. Homemade gifts are often more treasured by the recipient than a purchased item because they show you put in a lot of thought and effort, and thus they hold more sentimental value.

If you'd like to try your hand at making some homemade Christmas gifts this year, but aren't sure where to start, let your hobbies and talents be your guide. What things are you good at? We've got a list of ideas to get you started.

If you are a gardener, you have a talent that many people envy. The holidays are a great time for you to share the fruits of your labor with those you love. If you grow produce, consider canning some of it at the end of the summer to give as Christmas gifts. Homemade tomato sauces, ketchup, or salsa are all good options. For the flower gardener, dried or pressed flower blossoms make wonderful crafts for use in bookmarks, wreaths, and arrangements. You could also give pots of bulbs that will bloom in late winter or early spring.

Cooks or Bakers:
Baked goods are always a great gift and are fun to present in a tin, basket, or on a pretty gift plate. Another fun option is a homemade food basket with recipes and some pre-made mixes that will allow the recipient to make a meal. For the elderly or new parents, pre-made frozen dinners and casseroles are also greatly appreciated.

Homemade gift ideas from someone who enjoys woodworking are almost endless. Toys make beautiful heirlooms that can be passed down from generation to generation. Cutting boards are a nice gift for families, as are coaster sets and keepsake wooden boxes.

If you know your way around a needle and thread, you can really get a lot of bang for your buck when it comes to Christmas gifts. For a mother and daughter, consider matching aprons. Unique and fashionable homemade purses or bags also made a great fit for the women on your list. Children enjoy stuffed animals, personalized placemats, or special quilts.

Scrapbooks or memory books for loved ones make treasured gifts, especially if they record a special event, such as the birth of a baby or a wedding in the family. Other gift ideas might include homemade gift cards featuring photos of loved ones.

Computer Whiz:
For those of us who aren't crafty with our hands, but who are very techno-savvy, consider making family calendars on the computer to give away as gifts. The calendars can feature family photos and notations for birthdays, anniversaries, and other important family events. Another idea, if you have the equipment, would be to take old family movies that are on VHS and transfer them to DVD. A gift set of all the family's home movies can be made and given to each family member.

We all have a talent or the ability to create special gift items that others will appreciate. All we have to do is pull on our own unique talents and hobbies, add a little imagination, and anyone can create lasting memories for both the giver and recipient!

The Two Types of Tasty Tomatoes

The tomato is the most popular plant in gardens around the world. Originally a tropical fruit, they can now be grown by nearly everyone, just about anywhere. Store-bought tomatoes can only dream of having the fresh, sweet taste of a ripe tomato from your own garden. There are two major types of tomato plants determinate and indeterminate. Which one is better for you depends on your growing conditions and what kinds of tomatoes you want from your garden.

Determinate tomato plants are sometimes called "bush" tomatoes. The typically grow to approximately four feet in height and don't necessarily require caging or staking, though it can help. The plants stop growing with the fruit sets on the top or terminal bud and the tomatoes will ripen at approximately the same time, usually within a two week period, then they will die off.

Since all the fruits ripen around the same time, determinate tomatoes are popular for those making and canning tomato sauce, salsa and other tomato-based foods. It's much easier to cook up all your tomatoes at once rather than spread the process out over the entire season.

Determinate tomato plants should not be pruned as it severely reduces the crop. Some popular varieties are Roma, Rutgers and Marglobe. Because of their relatively compact size they are recommended for containers, and do best in containers at least five or six gallons in size. Many people use five gallon plastic buckets, which are cheap and readily available.

Indeterminate tomato plants are also called "vining" tomatoes. They will keep growing and making tomatoes until they die off from frost or other external reasons. They can reach heights of over ten feet and need cages, stakes or other forms of support. Unlike determinate tomatoes, the plants will bloom, create fruit and ripen fruit all at the same time.
Pruning and removal of suckers is usually recommended thought not mandatory. Experiment and see which works for you. One method might work better or worse depending on growing conditions. Popular varieties of indeterminate tomatoes include Big Boy, Beef Master, Early Girl and most heirloom varieties.

Because of their size and need for sturdy support, indeterminate type tomatoes are best in a regular garden. Remember that they will grow quite high and block the sun. Many people plant them along a fence and tie the plants to the fence to support them.

Now that you know the difference between determinate and indeterminate tomatoes you can scour your gardening catalogs or your local nursery and find varieties that will work best for your garden and your taste buds!

Homemade Canning - Best Foods To Can When Just Getting Started With Home Canning

Home canning is the best way to capture the fresh taste, flavor and nutrients of the local foods. Food preservation is not a complicated affair. It has a simple procedure, which is easy, and you also need not worry about the food being spoiled if stored for a long time. The advantage of enjoying the preserved foods is that you can even have it off-season and it is not expensive if canned at home.

It will help you save a lot of your money and also you will feed your family a healthy food compared to the market canned which has preservatives added to it. Home canning also makes you more self reliant in terms of any short supply in the market or bad weather conditions when you cannot drive to the store. You also retain the nutritional values of the canned products. Being a very economical and healthier option, thousands of people have picked up home preserving procedures.

If you are a beginner and doing the canning for the first time, than it is very important that you do it correctly and should know the recipes and procedures for preserving. For home canning of foods, canning tomato sauce and canning beans are great starters. Tomato sauce is used as a taste and flavor adder therefore; it is used throughout the year. Home canned tomato sauce is cheaper and as healthier as that available in the market. Most of the tomato sauce at grocery stores has lot of sugars and additives and which is why many people prefer home food preservation.

Applesauce is also a good choice especially for the beginners as it is easy to can and do not require any specific skills to get started. When canning applesauce, do not make the mistake of peeling the skin off as it contains lots of nutritional value.

Canning is the best way for preserving fruits and vegetables. Boling water method is best when preserving peaches at home. Follow the right home canning recipe and enjoy the peaches even during the off seasons. Beginners can also try canning beets. It is a simple recipe and can be easily done. Depending on your personal choice, for beet preserving you can either use the water bath method or pressure canning methods. A good surprise is that a canned beet tastes even better than the actual fresh beets. The canned beets retain their nutritional value for two years.

Jelly is the fruit spread, which contains sweetened fruits or vegetable juices. The home canned jellies are the best way of enjoying a wholesome, chemical free food throughout the year. The recipe and procedure of canning jelly at home makes it totally healthy and hygienic. Jellies can be canned and stored for many years adding good taste to your meals. During winters, soups are the most liked and popular dish.

Soup is also a very good idea, which saves you time and money in winters. It is always better to can clear soups and ingredients like thickeners, oils, noodles should be avoided. Soups should be kept in pressure containers and do not require any refrigeration for several months.

Today homemade canning has become the most essential part of our kitchen duties. It helps us stay self-reliance and is a good way of eating healthy food. Home canning of fruits and vegetables will allow us to have a chemical free healthy meal at a very low price.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Did You Know? Facts About Tomatoes

Tomatoes have been grown and used in the world throughout the ages. They can be used raw in salads and garnishing, they can be processed into pastes, ketchups, and sauces. Green unripe tomatoes can also be fried, pickled, or used to make salsa.

Tomatoes can also be squeezed into juices, and used in alcoholic drinks like the bloody mary. Botanically, a tomato is a berry which is a subset of fruit but it has often, for culinary reasons, been called a vegetable, due to its savory flavor. I hope that settles the argument.

Tomatoes form a large part of Euro Mediterranean cuisine. This is most visible in Middle Eastern and Italian food. Pizza is incomplete without a shred of tomato while pasta sauces are predominantly made from this heavenly fruit. Both Spanish and Catalan cuisine have been noted for their love of tomatoes in their food.

Tomatoes have a high level of acidity and this makes them ideal for preservation by canning. They can be canned either wholly, in parts or even as pastes or sauces. The tomato fruit can also be preserved by sun drying. It is often sold in bags or soaked in jars of specifically olive oil.

Modern hybrids of tomatoes concentrate on bettering their resistance to diseases. A common disease that affects tomatoes is the tobacco mosaic virus. This is the reason why smoking and using of tobacco near tomatoes is discouraged. The jury is still out on whether the virus can indeed survive burning and the conversion to smoke.

Tomato blight, as the name suggests, is a disease that affects tomatoes. Mildew is another disease common to tomatoes. These diseases have led to tomato cultivars being marked with letters that signify the exact disease resistance that they have.

The letters that are common are T, for tobacco mosaic virus, FF, for fusarium wilt strain and so on.

More deadly tomato diseases include curly top. This disease cuts short the lifecycle of the plant by causing the top most leaves to wrinkle and grow in a deformed manner hence the name. This disease is usually passed from one plant to another by the beet leafhopper.

Pests are the bane of the plant kingdom and the tomato is not spared here. A very common tomato pest is the stink bug. This stink bug as the name suggests is a foul smelling insect that latches onto the tomato and proceeds to devour it.

Other common pests are tomato hornworms, cabbage loopers, tomato fruitworms, red spider mite, tobacco hornworms, flea red beetles, whiteflies and even slugs. When these bugs attack the tomato plants, they secrete the plant hormone systemin.

This hormone sets off a defense mechanism like the production of protease which inhibits or slows the growth of the attacking insects. This defensive hormone was first encountered and identified in tomatoes but has since been seen in other plant species.

Vegetable Juice Detox: Tips and Recipe Ideas

For juice fasting, it is not just fruits that you can juice. You can also consider juicing vegetables. A vegetable juice detox can help your body remove its toxic waste and its cleansing process.

Vegetables also contain an abundant sources of vitamins and minerals not found in other foods. In fact, if you find that you are not eating enough vegetables on a daily basis, you can also think about consuming vegetable drinks. In this manner, you will ensure that you do not give up on including phytochemicals for a balanced nutrition.

A vegetable juice detox allows your body to absorb quickly what you consume without activating your digestive system as it would if you eat the more fibrous vegetables. Your digestive system can then get to work on all the toxic waste that has been accumulating in your body.

Do bear in mind that a vegetable juice detox should not be carried out as an ongoing exercise. At best, you can only fast for up to a week. Surviving on a vegetable juice diet would not be able to give you all the nutrients you need for energy and health if you extend such a diet for more than it should.
Contrary to what you may assume, vegetable drinks can also taste delicious and are therefore very drinkable. Here are some vegetable juice detox recipes that are easy to prepare:

1. You can mix carrots, kale and wheat grass. Carrots are wonderful sources of beta-carotene and vitamin C.

2. Wheatgrass is an excellent vegetable drink. Another variety of a vegetable drink is to add spinach instead of wheat grass. Spinach is very good for your juicing diet because it is rich in folate, iron and Vitamin B.

3. Blend tomato, celery, parsley, broccoli and cucumber. Be sure that you get only the freshest tomato that is ripe by the time they are picked from the plant. If they are taken at this state, they contain twice the amount of Vitamin C.

4. You can also choose to season your carrot vegetable juice with some garlic, ginger and onion. This combination is something different for your taste buds but is still healthy and nutritious.

5. Add cucumber and celery in your carrot vegetable mix. Cucumber is another good source of Vitamin C that aids in the detoxification process of your body.

6. You can also consider mixing vegetables and fruits together to make delicious juice combinations. Simply add in an apple or a pear to any of the above recipes.

For juicing purposes, it is best to choose vegetables that are organic and free of pesticides. Also, discard all vegetables that do not look their best. Before juicing, wash and rinse the vegetables in filtered water.

You should drink your vegetable juices fresh every time. This means it is best that you juice just before consuming your drink. Alternatively, you can consider buy canning jars with perfect sealing lids for keeping in your refrigerator. Still, you must not keep your juices beyond three days. Do not forget to keep your lid jars tightly closed because air exposure can kill the beneficial enzymes in your vegetable drink.

Preparing vegetable drinks is one of the best ways that you can take them in their raw state. A vegetable juice detox need not be a bland affair. You can come up with some creative recipe ideas for juicing vegetables.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

How To Make Homemade Relish For Canning

When I first started making relish, I thought it would be a hard and tedious task. Once I made my first batch, I realized that it was a lot easier than what I thought it would be.

Relishes make a great accompaniment for hot dogs, hamburgers, poultry and fish. You can also use it on crackers or your favorite party bread.

To get started, you will need a few supplies:

water bath canner
canning jars, rings and seals (I used pint-sized jars)
ladle (for spooning the hot mixture into the jars)
jar lifter (to lift the jars out of the hot water)
2 oven mitts (I like using mitts to prevent any accidental burns to my hands)
clean cotton drying cloth or kitchen towel

You will want to follow the instructions that came with your water bath canner for sterilizing and processing your jars. Always inspect your jars for defects before using them.
Honey Raisin-berry Relish

5 cups raisins
5 cups water
1 1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup lemon juice
6 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
2 tablespoon grated lemon peel
1 cup walnuts, chopped

In a large saucepan, combine raisins, water, honey and lemon juice. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly until honey melts and ingredients are blended. Lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in cranberries and lemon peel, return to a boil and then lower heat to simmer for an additional 10 minutes or until liquid barely covers raisins and cranberries. Remove from heat. Stir in chopped walnuts. Ladle into hot jars leaving 1/2" head space, wipe rims clean, seal and process in a water bath canner for 15 minutes. Makes 8 cups.

Green Tomato Relish

2 quarts green tomatoes
3 red sweet peppers
3 green sweet peppers
3 large onions
3 tablespoons salt
3 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups vinegar
1 cup water
2 tablespoons celery seed
2 tablespoons turmeric seed

Finely chop the tomatoes, peppers and onions and add to a large bowl with salt. Let stand for 30 minutes, then drain and rinse. In a large stockpot combine vegetable mixture with the remaining ingredients. Boil mixture for 5-7 minutes. Ladle into hot jars leaving 1/2" head space, wipe rims clean, seal and process in a water bath canner for 15 minutes.

How To Make Herbal Mustards, Pickles And Sauces


Mustards are delicious and give a lift to all sorts of savory foods. We all know the English, French and German varieties, but these recipes give them an extra lift and would make marvelous gifts for a mustard lover.

Minty Mustards

1 8oz jar wholegrain coarse mustard
4 tsp dry mint leaves, finely crumbled

Mix these two ingredients well and either return the mixture to the original jar or put it in smaller jars to give as part of a set of small mustards.

Tarragon Mustard with Vermouth

large handful fresh tarragon leaves
4 oz chopped spring onions
2 8 oz jars Dijon mustard
1 tbsp dry vermouth

Chop the tarragon leaves well and add the spring onions, mustard and vermouth. Mix together very thoroughly. Pour into a clean jar and seal with a tight-fitting lid. This mustard can be stored in the refrigerator for about one month.


Pickles can add their own special zing to a meal and are particularly good with cold cuts of meat or poultry. Most vegetables will pickle, so here are some recipes that are especially good.

Dilly Cucumbers

24 small ridge cucumbers
5 pints water
1/2 pint vinegar
4 oz sea salt
1 large handful fresh dill heads
1 large or several small chili peppers

Soak the cucumbers overnight in a solution of salt and water, using 8 oz of sea salt to every pint of water. Then boil together the water, vinegar and sea salt and allow to cool. Drain the cucumbers and arrange in clean canning jars interspersed with layers of dill heads. The cucumbers can be left whole or cut into slices. Add a small chili pepper or pieces of a larger one to each jar. Cover with the vinegar solution and secure the lids.

Sweet Pickled Onions

2 lb pickling onions
1 bunch tarragon
1 bunch mint
1 bunch sweet chervil
4 oz sea salt
1 pint cider vinegar
6 oz granulated sugar

Peel the onions then arrange them on a tray, sprinkle with the sea salt and leave overnight. Carefully wipe all the salt and moisture off the onions and place in clean jars. Put a couple of sprigs of each herb in every jar. Heat the vinegar and sugar until the sugar is completely dissolved, then leave to cool. Pour the vinegar over the onions, leaving a very small amount of room in the top of each jar. Secure the lids of the jars. The onions will be ready in about two to three weeks but are a lot tastier after about six to eight weeks, if you can wait that long!

Mint and Tomato Chow Chow

6 average tomatoes
1 onion
1 green pepper, chopped
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp salt
1/2 pint cider vinegar
2 tbsp finely chopped mint

Peel the tomatoes by placing them in boiling water for a few seconds and then carefully removing the skins. Peel the onion and chop the tomatoes and onion finely. Put all the ingredients in a lidded casserole dish and cook at 300F until the onion is quite tender (about one to two hours). Remove from the oven and leave to cool. Pour into wide-mouthed jars and cover each jar with a circle of waxed paper, then cover with cellophane and add a label.

Mint Relish

1 pint mint leaves
1 lb onions, peeled and chopped
1 lb apples, peeled and chopped
1/2 lb green tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 lb sultanas (gold raisins)
2 tsp salt
2 tsp French mustard
1 pint white wine vinegar
1 lb granulated sugar

Heat 1/4 pint of vinegar with the sugar until the sugar has completely dissolved. Leave to cool. Place the remaining vinegar in a saucepan with the salt and mustard. Put the green tomatoes in a food processor for a few seconds until they are mushy, then add to the saucepan. Repeat the process with the mint leaves, apples, onions and sultanas, adding them all to the saucepan. Then simmer all the ingredients until soft. Pour in the vinegar and sugar mixture. Boil the mixture for a couple of minutes and then leave to cool a little. Pour the relish into warm clean jars and cover with waxed paper circles. When completely cool, add cellophane lids and labels.


Sauces make a very unusual gift. Although you must provide clear labeling to indicate whether they need to be refrigerated or not, a basket containing a selection of sauces could be very welcome, especially at Christmas. At a time when plenty of ingenuity is needed to use up the inevitable leftovers, a Christmas gift of delicious and unusual sauces could be a real winner!


This very Italian sauce is delicious with many foods, as well as pasta. Mixed with mayonnaise it makes a lovely sauce for cold turkey, or you could use it when stuffing some tiny tomatoes or mushrooms. Although you need fresh basil for this recipe, once it has been made, the sauce lasts in the fridge for at least a month or freezes indefinitely.

1 lb fresh sweet basil leaves
4 oz parsley
8 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
8 oz pine nuts
3/4 pint virgin olive oil
8 oz Parmesan cheese
sea salt and pepper

Combine the basil, parsley, garlic and pine nuts in a food processor. Process until the mixture resembles a coarse paste. Slowly add the olive oil in a steady stream, with the processor switched on, until all the oil is used up. Add the cheese, sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper and process again for a couple of seconds. Depending on how you plan to package your gift, scrape the mixture into plastic or glass containers. Pour a thin layer of olive oil over the pesto to prevent discoloration, then seal.

Hot Tomato and Coriander Sauce

4 large tomatoes, weighing approximately 1 lb
8 tbsp fresh coriander leaves (cilantro)
2 small hot chili peppers, fresh or canned
2 large onions, weighing approximately 8 oz
2 tbsp garlic vinegar

Put all the ingredients into a food processor and process finely for a few seconds. Alternatively, you can mince all the ingredients well and combine them in a bowl. Taste and add salt if required. Allow to cool, then pour into clean bottles and label. This sauce is delicious served chilled with vegetable or meat dishes.

Tomato Sauce with Olives and Oregano

1 lb peeled tomatoes
3 tbsp green pepper, chopped
1/2 large onion
1 to 2 cloves garlic
3 tbsp olive oil
10 green olives, stoned and chopped finely
1 tsp fresh oregano, chopped

Chop the onion and garlic finely and cook in the olive oil until softened and transparent. Add all the other ingredients, seasoning with salt and black pepper to taste. If you would like a smoother sauce, you can combine all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and then return to the pan. Simmer gently for 5 to 10 minutes. Allow to cool, then pour into bottles, seal and label them. This sauce is ideal with cheese dishes, pasta or pork.

Alcoholic Herbal Sauce

1 pint vegetable or chicken stock
8 fl oz white wine, preferably medium-sweet German
1 tbsp fresh rosemary
1 tbsp fresh dill
1/2 tbsp fresh tarragon
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
1/2 tbsp lemon peel, finely chopped

Mix the stock, wine and herbs together and simmer until reduced by 10 to 20 percent. Melt the butter in a pan and add the flour, stirring vigorously, then cook for 5 to 10 minutes. Add the stock and wine mixture to the fat and flour by whisking it in with a small balloon whisk. Add the lemon peel and some salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for another 10 minutes. Strain the sauce to remove the herbs, allow to cool, then pour into bottles, seal and label. This sauce is delicious served hot with vegetables or poultry.

Mango and Coriander Sauce

1 medium mango
4 spring onions (shallots)
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger root
1/2 tsp garam masala (recipe follows)
2 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp fresh coriander leaves (cilantro)
1 tbsp sunflower or grapeseed oil

Heat the oil and gently cook the chopped spring onions (shallots) and ginger for about 5 minutes. Add the garam masala and cook for another couple of minutes.

Chop the mango flesh finely, then add it and all the remaining ingredients to the pan. Stir well, then chill overnight in a covered container in the fridge. The sauce can then be served as it is or processed in a blender to make it a little smoother. Allow to cool, then pour into bottles, seal and label them. This sauce is delicious with cold seafood, fish or chicken.

Garam Masala

This is the most aromatic and fragrant of all Indian spice blends. Used throughout North India in all types of dishes - from appetizers and soups to yogurt salad and main courses - this blend is indispensable to Moghul and North Indian cooking. It is widely available, but my homemade version is more fragrant and, of course, fresher.

2 tablespoons cumin seeds
2 tablespoons coriander seeds
2 tablespoons cardamom seeds
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
1 (3-inch) stick cinnamon, broken up
1 teaspoon whole cloves
1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon saffron (optional)

Put the cumin, coriander, cardamom, peppercorns, cinnamon, and cloves in a dry heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Toast the spices, stirring occasionally, until they turn several shades darker and give off a sweet smoky aroma, about 10 minutes. Do not raise the heat to quicken the process, or the spices will brown prematurely, leaving the insides undercooked. Cool completely.

Working in batches if necessary, transfer the mixture to a spice mill or coffee grinder and grind to a powder. Stir in the nutmeg and saffron. Use immediately or store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

Garam Masala keeps for 3 months.

Yield: Makes about 1/2 cup

Coriander Barbeque Sauce

12 oz finely chopped onions
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 oz butter
12 fl oz tomato ketchup
1/4 pint cheap brandy or sherry
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 pint cider vinegar
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
4 fl oz water
1 tbsp fresh coriander leaves

Soften the onions and garlic in the butter but do not let them brown. Add all the remaining ingredients and bring to the boil, stirring well. Simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Allow to cool for a short while and then pour into jars. Cover tightly and label.

Packaging Your Goodies

When making mustards, savory sauces and pickles, you can cover the lids in the same way as for sweet jams and jellies, but it can also look attractive to use hessian or calico. Plain calico is very inexpensive and could be stenciled to decorate the tops of sauces or pickles.

Packing a whole meal is an unusual idea with the barbeque sauces you could package a bottle of the sauce with a pair of oven mitts, a packet of dried herbs to throw on to the barbeque and a pair of tongs. Gift-wrap all these together and you have something different for Father's Day! The pickles could be given with a decorated ham or just included in a hamper presentation.