Pack Your Picnics and Escape


Could there be anything more tempting on a day like today than getting away from it all with a basket of goodies, enjoying the summer in the great outdoors? The summer picnic is a great British tradition, but forget soggy sandwiches and melted chocolate bars – you can make the most fantastic, sumptuous summer picnics that will feel like a luxury feast with very little effort.

Drinks for picnics

In this kind of heat you’re looking for something refreshing and easy to transport. Wares of Knutsford’s swing top bottles make it easy to store and transport cordials, punches and summer lemonades. They are practical and stylish, adding a touch of elegance to outdoor eating.

Raspberry cordial

  • 500g raspberries
  • 500g caster sugar
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Add all three ingredients to a large pan and heat gently, mashing the fruit until the mixture is syrupy and smooth. Push through a sieve to remove seeds and return to a clean saucepan. Scrape the pulp and seeds left behind in the sieve into a jug with 300ml of water, stir and pass through the sieve one more time, adding the liquid to the pan with the original mixture.

Stir well and bring to the boil for one minute. Pour the cordial into clean, sterilised swing top bottles and seal while still warm. Store in a cool, dark place for up to a few months and keep in the fridge once opened. Serve with still or sparkling water over plenty of ice.

Food for picnics

Grain based salads are the way to go for freshness and for health. They can be stored in lidded plastic boxes or in clip top jars if you are trying to set an upmarket style summer picnic.

Quinoa is the trendy grain of the moment and maintains its texture well under pressure. Fry some quinoa and onions lightly and gradually some chicken or vegetable stock. Stir in some broad beans, lemon juice, fresh tarragon and grated pecorino or, for really full flavour, some cherry tomatoes halves, chopped red peppers and red onion, then splash in some white wine vinegar and chopped, fresh basil.

Alternatively there’s the ever reliable couscous, easily flavoured with some feta cheese, avocado, red onion, cucumber, lime juice, olive oil and chopped fresh coriander. Add sweetness and crunch with a topping of pomegranate seeds.

Most grains soak up the juices from roast vegetables gratefully, so make sure you always have some tomatoes, red peppers and onions and some garlic available to add to grains to make an instant picnic favourite.

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What’s in Season: Apricots


Among the myriad delights of summer fruits is the apricot, so incredibly sensual with soft and fragrant flesh covered by a delicate velvet skin, and colours ranging from delicate primrose yellow through to the bold orange of a blazing sunset.

Apricots in Britain

Apricots really belong in warmer climates. Summer fruits come from the hotter parts of Europe while South Africa and Chile also have a short apricot season in winter. Here in the UK you can buy apricots from May to September.

When buying apricots, go for brighter colours and leave the very pale fruits to ripen up a bit. The flesh should feel firm but not hard and should give a little under gentle pressure. Go for smooth skinned fruit without wrinkles or blemishes. If not completely ripe yet, leave apricots out at room temperature, but ripe fruits should be stored in the fridge to avoid spoiling too quickly.

Of course you could also try picking apricots rather than buying them. Britain has a number of delightful ‘pick your own’ farms where you can enjoy picking apricots and a number of other home grown fruits and vegetables. It’s an extremely enjoyable and wholesome day out for adults and kids alike!

Using apricots

You can eat apricots raw, including the skin but not the central stone, or you can make jam. However the sweet but tangy flesh of an apricot lends itself to desserts beautifully, preventing sugary flavours from being too cloying. Chunks of apricot also add amazing depth and interest to salads, particularly with chicken or ham. While you can make a delicious apricot crumble or add chunks to sweet breads, go for an open tart for a fresher, lighter option. When baking you’ll find that apricot and almond is a popular combination, because the two flavours go together so well.

Apricot and almond tart

  • 370g pack puff pastry
  • 900g fresh, ripe apricots, halved and stoned
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 2 tablespoons icing sugar

Preheat the oven to 220C. Lightly dampen a baking sheet and then roll out the puff pastry on top. Scatter the ground almonds over the pastry sheet then lay out the apricot halves, nestled close together. Cover the pastry sheet right to the edge.

Dust the icing sugar over the top and cook in the oven for about 25 minutes, allowing the sugar to caramelise a little. Serve hot or cold, drizzled cream or maple syrup – or both!

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Ice Lolly Maker

ice lolly maker

If there is one product you need for your kitchen at the moment, it’s an ice lolly maker. Simply the easiest and most delicious way to keep your cool when the heat is on, you can make ice lollies with the most spectacular array of flavours and hardly any mess in your kitchen!

Wares of Knutsford’s ice lolly maker range

You can buy two different kinds of ice lolly maker at Wares of Knutsford. The first is a set of four in green and yellow dishwasher safe plastic. A particularly clever feature of this product is the sipper base, which avoids mess by catching the drops of juice which melt from the bottom of the lolly. The moulds can be fixed together and are flat based for stability in the freezer.

Alternatively you can go for a complete set of eight separate plastic moulds with an accompanying rack to stand them safely while freezing. This set is handwash only and comes with 16 traditional wooden lolly sticks.

As you’re likely to get through quite a few lollies this summer, we can also supply you with replacement wooden lolly sticks, in a pack of 24 sticks of 15cm.

Recipes for your ice lolly maker

Ice lolly makers aren’t just for coloured water – you can make ice lollies out of yoghurt too and fill them with lumps of fruit or other goodies. Ice lollies are an easy way to keep treats ready at all times – there’s no need for any preparation, just take them out of the freezer and enjoy!

Frozen berry cheesecake pops

  • 100g gingernut biscuits, mashed into fine crumbs
    405g light condensed milk can
  • 500g fresh mixed red berries – try raspberries, redcurrants, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and blackcurrants
  • 500g natural Greek yoghurt

Mix the ginger nut crumbs with two tablespoons of condensed milk and mix well so that the crubs form clumps. Add a dollop of the crumb mixture to the bottom of each ice lolly mould and use a wooden spoon to press down.

Add half the berries to a food processor with the rest of the condensed milk and the yoghurt and blend until smooth. Roughly chop the remaining berries and add to a large bowl with the smooth yoghurt mixture, stirring well to combine. Pour the fruit and yoghurt mixture into the ice lolly moulds, leaving a small gap at the top to allow for some expansion in freezing. Push a lolly stick into each and freeze for a minimum of four hours before serving.

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Box of Jam Jars

box of jam jars

There’s no great mystery about it: economies of scale mean that buying in bulk is a cheaper way to shop, on a unit by unit basis. The more of any item you buy, the cheaper it gets. At Wares of Knutsford we like to help our customers buy in the most efficient and economical way they can, so we are particularly proud of our bargain pack bulk buy jam jars. Our flat rate postage also applies to our bargain buys to keep your purchase even more economical.

Buying a box of jam jars for home preserving

Our bargain packs are ideal for those who want to bulk buy a box of jam jars because they have a lot of preserving to do or for commercial purposes. Each pack contains 192 jars with lids, with a huge variety of sizes and styles available. You can buy bargain packs of 30ml or 41ml miniature jam jars, ideal for giving away samples, up to 378ml standard size jam jars, in standard jam jar shape or more decorative Bonne Maman style, hexagonal and square shapes and with a choice of lid colours.

Keen preservers will also be happy to find chutney jars and verrine jars, which are ideal for pates and pastes, miniature whisky bottles and spice jars in our bargain pack department. You can also find special honey jars at bulk buy prices.

As well as screw tops, there are clip top jars included among our bulk buy bargains, plus cosmetics jars in clear and amber glass.

Sharing a box of jam jars with friends

192 jars means an awful lot of preserving so it should last you a good while, or you could club together with friends to make great savings on buying separately. All of our jars are good value but out bulk buy packs are easily the most economical way of making sure you can fulfil your full preserving potential.

Our bargain packs are also great for small businesses. Wholesale prices are available for trade customers and those who want to buy in pallet quantities, so please contact our friendly and helpful staff for conditions.

Once you have chosen your jars, don’t forget to pop along to our labels department so you can make sure everyone knows what the contents are, and business customers may want to consider visiting our new packaging category, with boxes and bags specially designed for presenting jars.

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Afternoon Tea Cake Tier

cake tier

If you’re struggling for ideas for a summer party or gathering apart from the obvious barbecue, have you thought about offering afternoon tea? It’s delicious, trendy and really easy as most of it can be made in advance. Afternoon tea also offers great decorating opportunities – you can set a gorgeous scene at the venue without spending too much money.

Using a cake tier to present food

One thing that all afternoon teas have in common is elegant presentation. Sandwiches immediately become more upmarket when cut into fingers and served on a cake stand. Ideally you will make some scones (and serve them with jam and clotted cream) and some delicate little cakes and a good Victoria sponge, and all of these things become more interesting when cleverly and prettily displayed on tiers of glass or white ceramic.


You will need to start with a base of a tablecloth and some real napkins, plus a selection of small plates, cake forks and of course, a teapot and cups and saucers. Bunting, pom poms, balloons and other decorations can be added to your taste. Fresh flowers will look amazing and you should also give some attention to your own appearance – smart and pretty is appropriate rather than all out glamour. It really depends how much you want to set the scene.

The menu

Afternoon tea sandwiches aren’t hearty doorstoppers of corned beef and pickle. They are typically dainty with fillings such as cucumber, smoked salmon and cream cheese, egg mayonnaise and cress or prawn mayonnaise. If you are worried about your guests going hungry you could consider also some miniature quiches and Scotch eggs, but really apart from sandwiches an afternoon tea is all about the sweet stuff. Scones with strawberries and cream are non-negotiable and you will need some miniature cakes – Battenburg, Bakewell tarts and miniature Victoria sponges are ideal.

Tea is another essential component but if it’s warm you should probably offer some cold drinks too – homemade lemonade and elderflower cordial would fit the theme perfectly.

Wares of Knutsford’s cake tier range

You can choose from a variety of cake tier at Wares of Knutsford, including wire, glass and ceramic versions. Some are domed to keep the contents fresh and some are two or even three tiered for extra capacity. The ceramic two tier cake stand features dishwasher safe stoneware plates connected by a polished, chrome plated handle. It comes in a gift box and is ideal for presenting small food items of any kind. For a larger cake, create some dramatic effect with a footed stand.

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Jam Jar Fruit Labels

fruit labels

Preserving season is in full swing, an essential part of a traditional British summer! Hopefully when organising your preserving supplies you didn’t forget to stock up on labels, but if you did, take a look at jam fruit labels by Wares of Knutsford.

Jar labelling is important from both a practical and cosmetic point of view. Labels should identify the contents of a jar and it can be useful to include a made on or use by date, storage instructions and even ingredients, particularly if you are giving jars of home made produce as gifts or if you are selling them. However labels shouldn’t only be functional. Use them to decorate jars at a basic level. You can go further by adding ribbons, jar covers or tags. For commercial purposes this will make your product stand out from the competitions, and it will make gifts look special.

Decorative fruit labels by Wares of Knutsford

You will find a wide range of plain and decorative jam labels carefully organised into a dedicated section on the Wares of Knutsford website. A number of designs feature motifs including fruit for jam labels but also vegetables, ideal for chutneys and pickles, honey, garden tools, flags and a number of modern and graphic labels which can be easily adapted to all sorts of jar contents. There are also spice jar labels for those who like a super organised kitchen.

Most of the labels are self adhesive and come in standard and mini sizes, sold in packs of 18.

Words of Art fruit labels

The Words of Art range of labels features original watercolour designs by mother and daughter artist team Rosemary and Caroline Wagstaff. For jams and marmalades, choose a design featuring the appropriate fruit from a choice of plums, citrus fruits, apple and blackberry, oranges, cherries, oranges and lemons, fruit salad, rainbow fruits, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries or lemon and lime. All feature a fruit border with a write on, white centre panel.

Words of Art also offer the Nature Range, featuring coloured borders in a variety of designs including polka dots, gingham, plain borders, butterflies, in colours including periwinkle, rose red, cornflower blue, ocean blue, forest green, sunshine yellow, olive green, coral and charcoal. These can serve a number of purposes and create a sense of cohesion between a range of different products. For example you could choose yellow as your signature colour, used in different designs to denote different products.

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The Best Jars for Jam

jars for jam

At Wares of Knutsford we take preserving very seriously, and we know that serious preservers put considerable care into choosing the best jam jars to present their goods. We have worked hard to select a range of what we consider to be the best jam jars, combining both form and function with economy. Our jam jars department includes all the jars we think make jam look great, in a variety of sizes and styles including miniature 30ml and large 725ml capacities. All the jars come with vinegar proof, heat sealable screw tops in a choice of colours.

Bulk buy jars for jam

We sell our jars in small pack sizes such as six, 12 or 24, which should suffice for most home preservers, However we also know that some preservers take their hobby very seriously and make jams, chutneys and other preserves in large quantity, and sometimes even turn their passion for preserving into a commercial enterprise. If you want to preserve on a larger scale, take a look at our bargain packs of 192 jars with lids. These offer great savings and of course are subject to our usual flat delivery charge. A number of our best jam jars are available in bargain packs, including miniature size jars which are great for giving out samples.

Bulk buy packs are also popular with small business or those buying for events to use as favours.

Choosing jars for jam

Our standard jars for jam are great for functionality, uniformity and economy. They are a clean and smart way to store large quantities of jams and preserves, with smooth sides for easy labelling and a choice of lid colours. They are also perfect for competition jam making.

However if you are giving away your produce as gifts you might want to consider a more decorative option. There are lots of elegant and pretty jars for this purpose including deluxe and bonta styles, hexagonal or octagonal shaped and faceted jars, plus Bonne Maman style jars for classic Gallic chic. Again these are suitable for personal or commercial use and can give an upmarket look to your home made preserves.

All the jars are made of high quality clear glass to best show off the jewel colours of your jams, marmalades and preserves. Remember to wash your jars in hot soapy water and sterilise before filling.

Before you check out, take a look at our jar labels, with a wide range of attractively decorated and plain labels to ensure you always know what’s what in your jars.

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Sample Jars Supplier

sample jars

Personal experience is arguably a better form of marketing than even word of mouth, which is why big businesses give away masses of sample versions of their products. While this may be financially challenging for smaller businesses, providing small sample jars of your products can encourage potential customers to come back for more.

Small sample jars from Wares of Knutsford

Wares of Knutsford has made it easy to find smaller jars and bottles be grouping them into their own sections. The small and mini jars section contains jars sized up to 120ml in a number of different formats. There are miniature versions of standard jam jars, clip top spice jars and shapes including cylindrical, square, globe and hexagonal. The smallest model in the range is the mini jam jar. Jars are available in various pack sizes and many can be bought in our great value 192 jar bargain packs, which offer excellent savings when you need to buy in bulk.

Using sample jars

We are always impressed by the creativity and ingenuity of our customers, who have used our miniature jars in a variety of ways. Apart from allowing potential customers to sample your goods, they have been often used for wedding favours, in hotels and guest rooms, for small gifts and for homemade cosmetics. You can use miniature jars for jams, marmalades, chutneys and all sorts of preserves, pates creams and flavoured butters. They are also suitable for body lotion and cleanser, bath salt mixes, body balms and lip balms, shampoos and conditioners and other indulgent goodies. Small jars allow you to look generous without using up all of your stock!

If you are putting food samples in small jars, it’s important to remember that you must label the product as you would a standard size jar. You need to say what the product is and include any storage or use by instructions. You must also include your contact details so that people impressed by your sample can contact you to buy some full size versions!

Small jars aren’t just for businesses either – they are also great in the kitchen to house food items used in small quantities, such as seeds, herbs and spices or cake decorations, for example.

As usual we are pleased to offer wholesale prices to business customers, so don’t hesitate to contact our friendly and helpful staff for more details.

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Jars and Bottles Posted Worldwide

bottles and jars worldwide

Wares of Knutsford loves to promote traditional British values and products but is happy to accept that preserving goes on outside the UK! Shopping at our online store is not limited to UK customers, as we post our jars and bottles worldwide. If you live abroad, you can then embark upon a preserving adventure with some more exotic fare – paraguayo or nispero jam in Spain, or Moroccan preserved lemons, for example!

Delivery costs to send bottles and jars worldwide

While Wares of Knutsford cannot apply the same flat rate postage charge when delivering bottles and jars worldwide as we do in the UK, we do our best to keep international delivery charges fair and affordable so that customers can enjoy our products all over the world. Products are dispatched using our Couriers DPD with the DPD Classic Service, with charges starting at £12.00 for large boxes weighing up to 20 kilos.

Delivery charges are separated into zones for European destinations, with zone 1 including Belgium, France and Germany, and zone 2 including Switzerland, Austria and Denmark for example. Zone 5 is the most expensive, including Greece and the Greek Islands, Latvia, Iceland, Romania and Norway. If your order contains more than one box or weighs more than 30 kilos, a shipping price will be calculated on an individual basis and you will be supplied with a quote before dispatch.

Delivery to other international destinations will be quoted for on an order by order basis and a quotation will be supplied prior to dispatch.

Customs charges on international delivery

We attempt to notify customers in advance if we are aware that a customs charge will be applied to any international delivery. However in certain destinations it is not possible to calculate tax in advance but we can ask our couriers to provide further information upon request.

Packaging for posting bottles and jars worldwide

We make every effort to package out products carefully so that they survive the delivery process intact. This is even more important for international postage, so thorough care is taken to protect all goods sent abroad. We also pride ourselves upon our customer service so if a breakage should occur, please contact us to arrange for replacements or a refund.

We cannot provide overnight delivery on international orders but we do aim to dispatch all orders within two days, stock permitting, so it shouldn’t be too long before you can begin your preserving adventure!

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Wholesale Bottles

wholesale bottles

At Wares of Knutsford we believe in making the shopping process as simple and stress free as possible, whether you are a private customer or are buying wholesale bottles and jars.

Who buys wholesale bottles?

We are happy to fill large orders for businesses, for people getting together in a group with friends to save money by placing a bulk order or for serious preservers who plan to fill a lot of jars or bottles.

We can supply wholesale bottles, jars and a range of other preserving and kitchen equipment to businesses dealing with food and drink, cosmetics and aromatherapy, hospitality, gifts or other retailers. We can supply miniature jars and bottles to be filled as samplers to give away right up to large storage jars. It doesn’t matter how small or large your enterprise is, as long as you meet the terms and conditions for bottles wholesalers.

If you can’t fill a pallet but still want to buy a large quantity, take a look at our bulk buy deals. These are bargain packs of 192 bottles or jars and offer genuine savings to smaller business, serious preservers or friends who want to buy as a group to get a better price.

We try to make our website as clear and easy to navigate as possible so products are organised into departments, but if you can’t find what you are looking for, or you are looking for something special which you would like us to source, please do contact us.

Wholesale bottles and jars terms and conditions

We are pleased to supply wholesale prices for those buying in by the pallet-load. To comply with bottles wholesalers conditions your order must reach a minimum value of £450.00, excluding VAT and shipping. Delivery prices for large orders will be calculated on an individual pallet basis.

While our wholesale prices are designed for businesses, they are equally available to anyone who wishes to order in larger quantities. Bulk orders come in boxes for easy packaging and delivery, and a pallet can be made up of any mixture of boxes – jars, bottles, enamelware or anything else that takes your fancy from our website.

When you have placed an order under wholesale terms we will supply you with a pro-forma invoice, which must be paid in full before the order is dispatched. Where possible and stock permitting, we try to arrange for delivery of all orders within seven days.

Please don’t hesitate to contact our helpful and friendly staff with any questions or if you’d like to be sent a wholesale price list.

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Cheshire Strawberry Picking

Cheshire strawberry picking

Could there be a better day out to enjoy the British summer than strawberry picking? Our regrettably short strawberry season is in full swing this month, along with Wimbledon, so find a local pick your own farm and experience a traditional British summer day out – just remember you’re supposed to put more strawberries in your punnets than in your mouth! You should always contact a farm before turning up to check what’s available.

Here at Wares of Knutsford, these are some of our favourite local sites to go strawberry picking in Cheshire.

Church Farm Organics for Cheshire strawberry picking

One of the best family days out in the Wirral area and a great site for Cheshire strawberry picking, Church Farm is a working farm growing Soil Association certified organic produce. Apart from strawberries there are raspberries, carrots, pumpkins, asparagus, potatoes and beetroot and plenty of other farm activities to delight children and adults alike. Find it at:
Church Lane, Thurstaston, Wirral, CH61 0HW
0151 648 7838

Kenyon Hall Farm for Cheshire strawberry picking

There are 35 acres of fields to pick from at Kenyon Farm, with a huge range or produce apart from strawberries and the opportunity to buy from the farm shop. The children will enjoy a variety of other farm activities and you can come back later in the year for a pumpkin festival! Find Kenyon Hall Farm at:
Winwick Lane, Croft, Warrington, WA3 7ED
01925 763646

Poynton Fruit Farm for Cheshire strawberry picking

Poynton is a pick your own site which focuses on clean growing practices, so minimal spraying and integrated pest management. Picking is available on Wednesday afternoons and weekends for strawberries but also raspberries, currants, gooseberries and rhubarb, among others. Contact the farm to check what’s available at:
Coppice Road, Poynton, Stockport, SK12 1SW
01625 850320

Woore Fruit Farm for Cheshire strawberry picking

A wide variety of pick your own fruit and vegetables including strawberries, broad beans, apples, currants, gooseberries, tayberries, raspberries and rhubarb, many of which are under cover and conveniently at table top height. Visit Woore Fruit Farm at:
Newcastle Road Woore, Crewe, CW3 9RE
07988 944006

Windmill Farm

At Windmill Farm you can pick your own strawberries, raspberries and blackcurrants or buy them ready picked, or get your Christmas tree and holly garlands in December!
Windmill Farm, Burwardsley Road, Tattenhall, Chester, Cheshire, CH3 9NS
01829 770228

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What to grow in July; an Allotment Guide

what to grow in July

What a glorious month to spend allotmenting! There may be less planting and sowing left to be done on the July allotment but you can’t just kick back with a cold homemade lemonade yet – you can still get some salad in and you can think about transplanting some brassicas, while there’s plenty of harvest to collect.

What to grow in July: salads and vegetables

Keep the fresh salads coming this summer with successive sowing of lettuces, rocket and other salad leaves. These are quick growing and will give you a continuous supply of salads until well into autumn.

Endive and chicory can still go in and if you et some fennel seeds into the ground you should be able to harvest them before the first hard frost hits in autumn. You should also take advantage of the last days for sowing and planting out peas and French beans. Leave it too late and the early frosts will probably get to them.

Leaf vegetables can keep going in as they can stand up to autumn weather – think Swiss chard, kale, mustard greens and mizuna.

You could take a chance on some broccoli for autumn but really you’re better off concentrating on cabbages, cauliflowers and Brussels sprouts. Cabbages sown now should be ready for the spring and you need to get leeks in the ground if they’ve been raised in pots or modules so far.

What to grow in July: harvesting

The July allotment is fruitful indeed, with beetroot, courgettes, cucumbers, fennel, French beans blackberries and blackcurrants, blueberries, broad beans, garlic, broccoli and globe artichokes among the fruits and veg rewarding the efforts of the previous months.

Early carrot are delicious and versatile, eaten raw in salads or with dips or lightly steamed and kohl rabi need to be pulled while small and neat – they shouldn’t exceed tennis ball size. You should be able to start lifting celery now – keep it crisp by watering before digging up.

Cherries and gooseberries are to be enjoyed at their freshest in July and some early plums, nectarines and peaches may be showing up if you have grown them in a sheltered spot. Strawberries are of course making an appearance for Wimbledon and should soon be followed by raspberries.

There should be a regular supply of fresh salad leaves if you have been diligently succession sowing and you should grab the runner beans before they get stringy. Peas and radishes should both be eaten small and sweet, while onions and shallots should also producing.

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Square Clip Top Jars

square clip top jars

At Wares of Knutsford we’re very proud of the size and variety of our range of jars and bottles, but we admit that so much choice can be bewildering, which is why we like to give you jar advice regularly.

Why use square clip top jars?

The majority of jars come in a round shape, but here today we want to extol the virtues of the square jar. It can be used for the same pickling, preserving and storage purposes as round jars but could, we argue be a more efficient use of space.

Square jars have one major advantage over round jars, which is that they use the space in corners which is wasted by round jars. If you are storing jars in a cupboard, square shapes will fill in where round jars leave gaps, making far better use of the available space.

Square jars can also be turned on their sides and stacked without slipping and falling the way round jar tend to.

Square clip top jars range

Our square clip top jars with lids range starts with 125g sizes which are often used as spice jars. Green, orange and red lid are available or you can buy a 20 jar set with a handy wooden storage rack. You can also buy versions with horizontally ribbed glass in 800ml, 1.3 litre, 1.8 litre and 2.2 litre sizes. Standard square jars with clip tops come in 350ml, 900ml and 2590ml sizes and and can be bought singly or in packs of six, 12 or 18.

Clip top jars over screw tops

Both clip and screw top jars are designed to seal efficiently to keep the contents fresh. In the case of preserves, they prevent bacteria from entering and spoiling the food and in the case of dried good they prevent air from staling the goods. As long as you can create a good seal, in theory both closures are as efficient as the other.

However clip tops are arguably easier to use than screw tops – it can be difficult to manoeuvre around a screw top if you only have one hand free, for example. While screw tops should be replaced every time you re-use a jar, clip top lids are more robust and can stand up to more intensive use. The only part that needs replacing is the red rubber sealing ring if it should degrade.

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Jam Making Handbook

jam making handbook

Following the death of its author last month, now seems the perfect time to introduce you to and celebrate possibly our favourite jam making handbook.

The basic basics jam making handbook by Marguerite Patten

Published in 2001, this jam making handbook also includes instructions for marmalades, curds, jellies, pickles, chutneys, relishes and ketchups. It isn’t heavily illustrated, preferring instead to rely on clearly described instructions and covering plenty of jam making theory as well as practice.

The book cover, equipment, basic techniques, storage and how to rescue the situation when problems arise. The range of recipes included ranges from store cupboard staples and family favourites to more exotic fare including hot pepper jelly and quince cheese.

There are also helpful variations on the basic recipes which can help beginners to develop the confidence to experiment and give new ideas to experienced cooks.

You will enjoy enormously testing out your skills on rose petal jam, ginger marmalade and picalilli, among more than 200 recipes in the book.

About the jam making handbook author

Marguerite Patten was born in 1915 and became one of the first of the ‘celebrity chefs’ – a title she abhorred, preferring to describe herself as a ‘home economist’. She began cooking for her family aged 12 and honed her career at the Ministry of Food, developing creative and healthy recipes out of household rations during WWII. After the war she began presenting cookery programmes for the BBC, focusing on the creative use of rationed food.

Her ‘Cookery in Colour’ book from 1961 changed the way cook books were written, with glossy pictures, practical and theoretical advice and easy to follow instructions. Over the years and 170 books, Marguerite Patten racked up sales of 17 million copies. Her career included 12 appearances at the London Palladium, a world tour and cookery demonstrations which helped to popularise pressure cooker in the UK.

In 1991 she received the ‘Officer of the Order of the British Empire’ (OBE) for ‘services to the Art of Cookery’, and then the ‘Commander of the Order of the British Empire’ (CBE) in 2010.

On Thursday 4 June 2015 she died, aged 99 years and seven months exactly after suffering stoically through illness. She had been working until her late nineties, when she was robbed of speech by a stroke. In her later years standing became difficult and finally Marguerite Patten had to give up cooking after an illustrious career during which she can be said to have greatly improved British cookery.

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Choosing the Right Jar for Your Product


Whether you are producing preserves for personal use, to give as a gift or commercially, you need to choose a jar which satisfy some very specific requirements. Use the shape, labelling and closure of the jars you choose to present a distinct and unique brand image when selling your produce, or choose a decorative jar to elevate a home made gift to something special with a personal touch.

The easy storage jar

If you are producing on a large scale for your own use, your main requirements probably focus around ease of use – storage and cleaning are two obvious points.

Unless you are lucky enough to have one of those huge, old fashioned walk in larders as seen in the likes of Downton Abbey, you need to think about how you can accommodate large numbers of jars. You may be happy to have them hanging around on your worktop for ages but really you need to be able to store jams, chutneys and sauces in a cool, dark place such as a cupboard. Larger jars can be an efficient use of space but are not suitable for products with a short shelf life once open. Square jars can fit neatly into most cupboards and you need to consider the potential for stacking jars on top of each other.

Jars for commercial use

The jar in which you present your produce will be what customers see before they get to taste what’s inside, therefore it’s important that the packaging accurately represents your brand image. If you are aiming for a traditional approach then the classic jam jar should fit the bill, but you will need to devote some thought to labelling and other packaging to make your product stand out from the crowd. Unusual shapes or decorative jars can give your product a premium look while funky shapes can lend a modern look to a classic product.

Jar toppings

The method of closure you select can hugely influence the overall image presented. Clip tops allow easy opening and present a traditional, even rustic appearance, while simply changing the colour of a screw top lid can dramatically alter the overall appearance of the product.

Jar sizes

Presenting produce in a wide range of jar sizes makes your operation look professional, but remember standard size jars tend to become that for a reason – which is usually that they are the most convenient and logical option for the function in question. Using miniature vessels to give away samples can be very clever marketing, convincing potential customers to buy.

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Medicine Bottles

medicine bottles

Wares of Knutsford’s Aromatherapy and Pharmacy Bottles department contains a number of suitable bottles for medicine. Whether you are making up essential oil mixes, soothing body lotions or home made hangover cures, presenting it in one of our bottles for medicine looks smart and professional.

Medicine bottles range

The range starts with tiny, 5ml bottles right up to one litre size medicine bottles, in clear, blue, green or amber glass and a wide variety of caps. Dropper bottles with pipettes, for example, are the easiest way to dispense small quantities.

Coloured glass is often used to protect the contents from degradation by UV rays and looks traditional, while there is a variety of shapes available in both modern or traditional styles. Clear plastic bottles with white PVC press caps or spray caps can also be useful if the safety of glass is an issue.

Medicine bottles for ginger brew hangover cure

Ginger is well known to help with nausea and can work wonders on a hangover, but at the time you may not feel able to stand upright long enough to prepare this brew! The solution is to keep a prepared bottle ready in your medicine cabinet when you have a big night planned.

Add 10 slices of fresh ginger root to a saucepan with four cups of water and boil for ten minutes. Strain the mixture and stir in the juice of one orange and half a lemon plus half a cup of honey. Decant into a medicine bottle and reheat gently before using.

There’s no real cure for a hangover apart from time, but this brew can help to relieve some of the common symptoms.

Homemade insect repellent

You don’t have to smother yourself in nasty chemical such as Deet to avoid becoming bug food, you can make your own insect repellent oil. Add a few drops of lavender, citronella and geranium essential oils to a bottle of carrier oil such as sweet almond or grapeseed oil and apply to ankles and other vulnerable areas at duck, when the mozzies most like to feed.

Soothing skin cream

You will need a quarter of a cup of oats, ground to a fine powder in a food processor, three quarters of a cup of coconut oil, a few drops of rosemary essential oil and a tablespoon of olive oil. Melt the coconut oil over a low heat until it turns to liquid then stir in the other ingredients. Pour into an aromatherapy jar and allow to set, then rub into dry patches of skin as needed.

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Jam Making Website

making jam

Wares of Knutsford began life selling preserve making equipment. We’ve come a long way since then and are very proud of our range, which includes both traditional and modern kitchen wares such as baking equipment, enamel ware and interesting household goods. However we still consider ourselves to be primarily a jam making website, and June marks the beginning of the preserving season!

Making jam at home

Jam making is one of those traditional hobbies which is undergoing a resurgence in popularity, with celebrity fans including supermodel Kate Moss and the Duchess of Cambridge publicly stating their love for making their own preserves. It’s an enjoyable, rewarding and therapeutic pastime, and the result is far more delicious than any preserve you can find in the shops.

You may only want to make a few jars to enjoy in private, but home made jam makes a fantastic gift and as it’s one of those things which is easier to make in bulk, it makes sense to spread the love! If your jam is really good and you demonstrate an entrepreneurial spirit, you may even find you can make a career out of a hobby.

Get started making jam

It’s not difficult to get started, even if you don’t have any experience. You can find all the equipment you need on a jam making website like Wares of Knutsford, including preserving pans, thermometers, funnels, straining kits, jars and labels. You will also find a helpful selection of recipe books.

However once you have mastered the basics of making jam, the fun is all in experimentation and coming up with your own delicious preserves. Jamming is an economical way of using up a glut of seasonal fruit and allows you to enjoy a fruity flavour all year round, but in fact there are plenty of free ingredients you can use – blackberries, elderberries, crab apples, cherries, damsons, sloes, rosehips and hawthorns for example can all be found growing wild in the UK, so take advantage of nature’s bounty to come up with some creative jam flavours! Just make sure you know what you are picking, that you are not trespassing and that you wash the fruit well before use.

The internet is your friend here, as you will find all sorts of useful advice, recipes and instructions online, including here on the Wares of Knutsford website. Check out our blog, Facebook page and recipe selection, which are regularly updated with preserving themed information.

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What to Grow in June

what to grow in June

There are few pleasanter months to spend in the garden than June, with the sun warming your back as you work the fresh smelling soil – it’s a good job too as there’s plenty to do before June ends!

What to grow in June indoors

Most of the work in June is outdoors but there are some seeds which still benefit from being undercover. Cucumber and gherkins can be started off in the greenhouse in individual modules or pots and now is a good time to start off your winter cabbage seeds, which need a long growing season. French beans and runner beans can be started off indoors in module trays but they can go straight outside if you trust the weather.

What to grow in June outdoors

There’s a huge list of vegetables which can be sown directly outdoors this month, starting with a thin sowing of beetroot and chicory. Broccoli and calabrese can go in a nursery bed for later transplantation or directly into a vegetable plot. Sow your carrots in rows and avoid coming under attack by carrot fly by protecting the seedlings with fleece or enviromesh.

You’ll be able to enjoy healthy, fresh salads this summer if you sow salad leaves in modules under glass and transplant them later or directly into the ground now but remember to plant little and often for regular cropping. Spring onions are a quick cropper sown in drills and radish seeds also offer swift rewards for tasty and interesting salads.

Courgettes and other squashes can be started in pots or sown directly outside and you can sow your swede and turnip seeds in rich soil for cropping later in the year.

Sweetcorn can be started off in the greenhouse or go directly into the ground. You should aim for about 12 plants to ensure pollination and sow in a grid formation rather than a line so that the wind can assist the pollination process.

What to grow in June on the herb front? Well parsley, coriander and dill grow like lightning either outside or indoors.

What to plant in June outdoors

Plenty of the crops you’ve been carefully nurturing from spring are ready to move outside now. Brassicas including Brussels sprouts, summer cabbages, cauliflowers, sprouting broccoli and Calabrese can all go in but will need plenty of space and moisture.

Peppers can be transplanted from modules into grow bags in a sheltered, sunny spot, along with cucumbers and tomatoes. Plant out squashes and pumpkins – hungry plants which appreciate a fertile, rich soil.

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Where to Buy Spare Jam Jar Lids

jam jar lids

At Wares of Knutsford we pride ourselves upon providing a complete service as a preserving website. This includes not only preserving equipment and a huge range of jars and bottles but also spare parts including lids for jars.

Re-using jam jar lids

The Food Standards Agency recommends against re-using jam jars for commercial purposes, but many people are happy to re-use glass jars if they are well washed and sterilised. However it’s not a good idea to re-use jam jar lids as even after thorough cleaning they could harbour bacteria which can not only spoil your food but also make you ill. There is also a risk that you won’t achieve a completely airtight seal with a re-used lid, which will again spoil the contents of the jar.

If you are using a clip top lid or something like a Kilner jar with a sealing disc, you should replace the rubber sealing ring or the disc, but otherwise wash, sterilise and re-use the jar in the usual way.

Jam jar lids at Wares of Knutsford

Here at Wares of Knutsford we like to make preserving easy, so we have a specific department where you will find spare lids and other spare parts for jars. Standard, heat sealable twist lids are available in 38mm, 43mm, 48mm, 53mm, 58mm, 63mm, 66mm, 70mm, 82mm and 100mm and in a choice of colours. They are sold in packs of 12.

Rubber sealing rings are available in packs of 10 in 85mm and 100mm sizes and you will also find spare sealing discs for Kilner, Mason, Leifheit and Familia Wiss jars.

If you need any help working out which lids you need, please do not hesitate to contact our friendly and helpful staff for advice. Our helpline number is 0845 612 1273 or you can click on the ‘Live Help’ tab at the bottom right of the screen.

Glass jars can be re-used almost countless times and in many different ways and by using new lids every time you preserve, you can be sure that you are creating a good seal and a bacteria free environment to keep your goods at their best.

Sterilising jars

To re-use glass jars you should wash them in hot soapy water and rinse well before sterilising. The easiest way to sterilise jars is to run them through the dishwasher on a hot cycle. Alternatively you can place them in the oven on a baking sheet at 140C for about 15 minutes, or boil the jars in a large pan of water for 5-10 minutes.

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Jam Jar Packaging

jam jar packaging

So many times Wares of Knutsford clients have contacted us looking for packaging items, so we decided to respond in the most appropriate way we can think of, which is with a new packaging department. Here you can find packaging for jam jars, hamper trays, gift boxes, shredded paper filling, ribbons and other wrapping items. These are a great way of making your homemade produce look smart to give as a gift but can also help jam sellers to present their goods in an attractive and professional way.

Boxed jam jar packaging

Jars can be awkward to wrap and transport so we think our selection of jar gift boxes offers an excellent solution to jam jar packaging. Boxes are made of high quality fluted card for a sturdy finish and delivered in flat pack form which is easy to make up yourself. There is a range of shapes and sizes to cover jars of different proportions and all feature display windows and integrated carrying handles. Boxes are available in small, medium and tall sizes for two or three jars and in natural or olive green colour – simply add a tag or ribbon.

Jute bags for jars

The jute bags range of packaging for jam jars offers a softer option than boxes but is also available in a useful range of sizes. Extra small, small, medium and tall bags come in two and three jar variations with clear plastic display windows and an integrated carrying handle. The environmentally friendly bags are made of biodegradable natural hessian from India and are an inexpensive way of making simple jars of jam, honey, chutneys or any preserves look amazing.

Hamper tray jam jar packaging

If you want to create a more dramatic look, create gift hampers with our cardboard trays range. Available in natural, olive green or burgundy and in small, medium or large sizes, the trays can easily be filled with shredded paper or other packaging material to present jars and other products decoratively. You can choose from square or rectangular shaped trays or even a wooden crate effect version for a rustic style. Once you have filled the tray, use jute ribbon in co-ordinating colours to decorate and hold everything in place.

Packaging with shredded paper

Fine cut shredded paper works as a base in boxes and bags both to protect jars, help position them and simply to look pretty. At Wares of Knutsford you will find fine cut shred in tea green, vanilla, red and brown to co-ordinate with the rest of our packaging range.

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