Category Archives: Glass Jars

Creams for cosmetic jars

Creams for cosmetic jars 

fresh as spring flowers

With the weather turning decidedly autumnal and temperatures dropping, it is inevitable that our skin starts to suffer. Chill winds outdoors combine with the drying effects of central heating at home to really put our skin through its paces at this time of year. Now, more than ever, it is time to take care of our skin with nourishing and hydrating skin care products. As with most things in life, homemade can be far, far better than something bought in a shop, with skincare products no exception. We have talked in previous posts about homemade moisturisers for women; today, we thought we would take a look at how to make a couple of skin care products for men.

Filling your own glass cosmetic jars

The basic principles for homemade cosmetics are, of course, the same for men’s products as for women’s, but the difference lies in the essential oils you choose to scent the products. Most oils that are suitable for women are too floral or delicate to appeal to men, so some experimentation is needed to find a combination that feels masculine without being overpowering. Essential oils that work well for men include sandalwood, bergamot, lemon balm, neroli, sage, eucalyptus, lemon, and juniper berry.

To make an aftershave lotion that will really appeal to men, start with a cup of witch hazel (available from your local pharmacy). Add a teaspoon of glycerin, along with eight drops of lemon oil and four drops of sandalwood oil. Mix the ingredients thoroughly and pour into a spray bottle, ready to spray after shaving. If you prefer, you can pour into a regular cosmetic bottle and simply splash into your hands before applying to your face.

If you prefer a cream rather than a splash-on aftershave, this is also simple to make. Take 25ml of coconut oil, 50ml of shea butter and four drops of essential oils from our suggestions above. Mix well and spoon into cosmetic jars. This cream needs to be stored in the fridge between uses.

Our range of glass cosmetic jars

We have a fantastic range of cosmetic jars and bottles in our online store. From traditional amber cosmetic jars to fancy frosted luxury jars, there is a jar suitable for every lotion and potion. Whilst women generally prefer the Laurence luxury cosmetic jars, our range of amber jars might well appeal more to men, as they have a slightly more functional look that gives them a masculine edge. Take a look at the range today to see which takes your fancy.

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Our new range of oval labels

Our new range of oval labels grandma pantry 1

Autumn is the time for pickles and preserves. An afternoon spent bottling onions, making chutney, experimenting with jams and jellies and starting some sloe gin in a dark cupboard is heaven indeed for many of us. This means it is also the ideal time to launch a gorgeous new range of jam jar labels. Today’s post is dedicated to this new line, as we want to share with you the details of these great items.

Grandma’s Pantry oval labels grandma pantry 2

Exclusive to Wares of Knutsford, the Grandma’s Pantry range uses original acrylic artwork by artist Anne Ogden. The designs in the range really get to the heart of home preserving, with just a hint of nostalgia for the good old days when our grandmas really did have pantries filled with sweet and spicy pickles and preserves.

These oval labels are 75mm x 55mm in size, with ten labels per sheet and two sheets per pack, giving you plenty of labels for each preserving project you tackle. Cleverly, the labels are peelable. This means it is a breeze to get them off once you have used the contents of the jar, making it easy to reuse your jars for other projects.

There are quite a number of different designs in the Grandma’s Pantry range of jar labels to suit a range of different preserving possibilities. For jams and jellies, there are labels featuring traditional fruits such as apples, plums and strawberries; a label set with berries; and another set with citrus fruit. For chutneys and pickles, there are labels with delicious-looking marrows, onions, tomatoes and turnips and an ‘allotment’ design featuring wellies and a trug overflowing with homegrown produce.

For those who like to create infusions, cordials and liqueurs, there are label sets that depict long, slender bottles filled with appetising liquids; for beekeepers, there is even a label for honey.

In addition to the various ‘still life’ depictions of fruit and vegetables, these gorgeous jar labels include several designs with a colourful fruity border. Again, there are options for citrus fruit, berry fruit and traditional summer garden fruit, and these labels will really add a touch of zingy colour to your jam jars.

Alternatives to our oval labels

Whilst we are more than happy to wax lyrical about our new oval jar labels, don’t forget that we have an extensive range of other label designs from which to choose. From gingham checks to spotty dots, in all sorts of fabulous colours, our range is hard to beat.

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Bulk preserving in large glass jars

Bulk preserving in large glass jars 

Winter stores, vegetables in jars

Whilst the WI may insist on standard 1lb jam jars when running its home preserves competitions, it is a fact that some projects call for much larger jars. We would not suggest making strawberry jam in a half-gallon jar, of course, but there are plenty of preserving projects that do need this type of jar. In today’s post, we plan to cover some of these, with suggestions for the most suitable jar for each project.

Projects for large glass jars

At this time of the year, it is impossible to visit the local greengrocers without noticing the appealing sacks of pickling onions and the containers of pickling vinegar sitting on the shelves, waiting for you to be tempted. There is something very satisfying about rustling up a batch of homemade pickled onions on a blustery autumn day, knowing that they will be ready to eat around Christmas-time. Why not prepare one batch with a slightly sweeter taste and another with a spicy pickling mix for a little more heat in the finished product? If you can get hold of some gherkins, you could also try your hand at pickling these, ready to add to salads or burgers throughout the year. Again, because you want to make plenty of them and because they take up a lot of space in the jar, it is good to use larger glass jars for pickled gherkins. Gallon or half-gallon jars are ideal, but any jar over 500ml in size will be suitable.

Other pickling projects that suit larger jars are pickled eggs and preserved lemons. Pickled eggs have something of a reputation, with most people instantly thinking of slightly rubbery eggs sitting forlornly on the counter of the local fish and chip shop. When done well, however, pickled eggs can be a really tasty treat and are an excellent way to use up a glut of eggs if you keep your own chickens. If your greengrocer has an offer on lemons, grab a bagful and make preserved lemons, using them to flavour Moroccan tagines and salads.

Our range of large glass jars

We carry quite a range of larger jars for those super-sized pickling projects. Our biggest pickling jars come in half-gallon and gallon sizes, and we also stock 660ml pickle jars, 2lb standard jars and 580ml Gourmet jam jars. Whether you want a giant jar or just something a little larger than an everyday jam jar, there is bound to be a jar in our store to suit your requirements.

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Recipes for Kilner jars

Recipes for Kilner jars Kilner photo food in jars

Trusted the world over as the king of home preserving jars, the iconic Kilner jar has been used for making jams, pickles and preserves for decades. Whilst it is true that this is the season for making all sorts of jams and chutneys, there is so much more that you can do with a Kilner jar. In today’s blog post we highlight a few tempting recipe ideas that look amazing when prepared in one of these screw top preserving jars.

Savoury recipe ideas for Kilner jars

We have talked in previous posts about how great these jars are for layered salads. These are quick and easy to prepare and are great for an on-the-go lunch or sophisticated picnic, keeping all the ingredients separate whilst looking fabulous through the glass jar. Salads are not the only option, however, and today we thought we would showcase a few ideas for some savoury treats that work brilliantly in a Kilner jar.

Macaroni cheese is a firm favourite comfort food for many people and works brilliantly in a jar. Prepare your macaroni and cheese sauce in the usual way, then combine and spoon into the jars. Top with breadcrumbs, grated parmesan and chopped walnuts, then bake in the oven for about 25 minutes.

We admit that we were a little sceptical when we read about making mini pizzas in a jar, but it really works. Layer your mozzarella, tomato sauce and additional ingredients in the jar before adding a knob of pizza dough on the very top. Stand your pizza-filled jars in a deep tray filled with water, then bake in the oven for 15 minutes or so.

Puddings in Kilner jars

With a couple of ideas for main courses under our belts, it is time to think about dessert. One of the easiest Kilner jar dessert ideas is Eton mess. Whip double cream until it is thick and creamy, then add chopped strawberries and crushed meringues. Spoon into jars and chill in the fridge for at least an hour before serving.

Chocolate banana pudding is another mouth-watering dessert that will have your dinner guests begging for second helpings. Layer crushed chocolate cookies in the jars, followed by whipped cream or creme fraiche, then bananas and a spoonful of good-quality honey. Repeat until the jar is full, ending with a layer of cream. Sprinkle with cookie crumbs and chill in the fridge.

Have you tried any Kilner jar recipes of your own? We would love to see your ideas, so be sure to share them with us on Facebook or Twitter.

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Chutney jars for red onion chutney

Chutney jars for red onion chutney 

Onion jam in jar, goat's cheese and fresh bread

If you have already had a go at making chutney and your shelves are filled with plum chutney, green tomato chutney and courgette chutney, now might be the time to try a different kind to broaden your preserving horizons. Red onion chutney is quick and easy to make and goes brilliantly with cheese and crackers and ploughman’s lunches, and tastes heavenly on bacon sandwiches and burgers. It also makes a fantastic edible gift. With Christmas coming up, rustling up a batch to give as gifts to friends and family is a great idea.

Chutney looks better in chutney jars!

As with all preserves, you can make red onion chutney in any jars you have to hand; however, chutney really does look best when presented in specially shaped jars. Chutney jars tend to be slimmer and taller than conventional jam jars and we have a wide range to choose from in our online store.

The recipe we are sharing with you today will make one large jar of chutney, but you can always scale the quantities up if you would like to make a bigger batch.

A recipe for red onion chutney

Ingredients

4 large red onions
175ml red wine
50ml balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp virgin olive oil
1 tbsp light brown sugar

Method

– Chop the onions into fairly small pieces. Add to a pan with the olive oil and a pinch of salt. Cover the pan with a lid and simmer for about 15 minutes until the onion is soft and translucent.

– Add all the other ingredients, along with a pinch of ground black pepper, and simmer gently for a further 15 minutes, still with the saucepan lid on.

– Remove the lid and turn up the heat, cooking for another 10-15 minutes until the chutney is sticky and thickened.

– Pour into warm, sterilised jars and seal. Once the chutney is cool, label the jars and store in a cool, dry cupboard.

More recipe ideas for chutney jars

If today’s recipe has whetted your appetite for chutney and you would like to make some more, why not give some more unusual ideas a try? Blueberry chutney is a delight, while fig chutney has a rich and distinctive taste. If you love Indian or Asian food, spiced carrot and ginger chutney might appeal, or even a coconut chutney or a tangy aubergine chutney. Chutney is so versatile that you can usually find an inspiring recipe to fit any fruit or vegetables you have available. Grab some jars and have a go at making chutney today.

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Homemade pasta sauce in Kilner Jars

Homemade pasta sauce in Kilner Jars

Composition of ingredients for the preparation of tomato sauce in the Italian manner

From lasagne, spaghetti bolognese and pasta bakes to shepherd’s pies, chilli and even soups, a good pasta sauce is a versatile staple that adds a special something to so many dishes. Whilst it is simple enough to rustle up on an ad-hoc basis, many of us resort to a shop-bought jar of pasta sauce all too often, as we think we do not have the time, or the ingredients to hand, to prepare a fresh pasta sauce. In fact, homemade pasta sauce is quick and simple to make. If you prepare a large batch in one go and store it in large screw top jars, you will always have some to hand and can wave goodbye to inferior sauces from the supermarket.

Kilner jars are perfect for pasta sauce

If you are making a large batch of pasta sauce, you need to ensure you have enough screw top jars ready for the project. Our 500ml Kilner screw top jars are perfect for this project; alternatively, if you have a large family, you may prefer to use the one-litre jars.

Ingredients

4kg ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
A handful of fresh herbs (rosemary, basil, thyme), finely chopped 60ml lemon juice
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper

Method

– Wash and sterilise the jars in advance.

– Heat the oil and fry the onion and garlic until soft and translucent. Add the tomatoes and bring to the boil. Once boiling, simmer for 25 minutes, stirring from time to time.

– Use a blender to puree the tomato mixture, then sieve it to get rid of the peel and seeds. Put the mixture back in the pan, add the herbs and seasoning, and bring to the boil again. Simmer for about 45 minutes until the sauce reaches the consistency you would like.

– Stir in the lemon juice and pour into your sterilised jars. Seal the jars tightly and place them in a boiling water bath for at least 30 minutes. Once cooled, label the jars and store in a cool, dark place.

Kilner jars

If you have more jars available and would like to make some more pour-on sauces to store in the pantry for future use, why not consider a Thai sweet chilli sauce or your own versions of some favourite stir-fry sauces, such as a sweet and sour stir fry sauce, a teriyaki sauce or a szechuan stir fry sauce? These can all be stored in screw top jars so they are to hand whenever you need them.

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Jars of chilli jam!

Jars of chilli jam!

Tomato and chili sauce, jam, confiture in a glass jar on a grey stone background.

If you are looking for some fresh inspiration for your home preserves projects this autumn, now might be the time to try your hand at chilli jam. Whilst it is called a jam, it is not really the kind of thing you would spread on toast or put in the middle of a Victoria sandwich; instead, it is a really delicious jelly that is perfect with cold meats and cheeses. It also makes a delicious and eye-catching gift. Today, we thought we would share our recipe for chilli jam with you and hope you fall in love with it as much as we have.

Small jars are best

As this is a jelly that is used a little like a relish, you do not need large jars. Small glass jam jars are much better, as a little goes a long way when it comes to chilli jam. Our small hexagonal or square jam jars are ideal for the job. Let’s take a look at the recipe.

Chilli jam recipe

Ingredients

140g fresh red chilli peppers
160g red peppers
1kg jam sugar
580ml cider vinegar

Method

– Cut the chilli peppers into quarters and remove the seeds and tops. Chop these in a food processor until they are very fine, then add the red peppers and chop again.

– Pour the vinegar into a pan and add the jam sugar. Dissolve the sugar over a low heat, then add the chilli and pepper mixture. Bring the pan to the boil and keep it on a rolling boil for 10 minutes.

– Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool. After about 45 minutes, the mixture should have become more jelly-like and is ready to spoon into sterilised jars. There should be small flecks of pepper visible in the jelly. Seal the jars and label when completely cool.

More chilli ideas for small jars

If you still have some glass jam jars sitting empty and want to make more chilli jam, you can always use normal sugar and source the required pectin by adding three whole cooking apples, pierced across their skins, during the boil stage. You can also make a green chilli version by using green chilli peppers and green peppers, which creates a really vibrant jelly.

For a richer chilli jam, use tomatoes, red onions, red chilli peppers, star anise, ginger and brown sugar, along with white wine vinegar or cider vinegar.

Whatever recipe you decide to try, be sure to share your experience with us on Facebook or Twitter. We really love hearing about your preserving projects!

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Craft Ideas for Large Jam Jars

Craft Ideas for Large Jam Jars

Custom and eco candle holders with jars and paper labels printed for a Christmas dinner

For some reason, people who enjoy home preserves or spending time in the kitchen rustling up delicious dinners or home-baked cakes also seem to enjoy craft activities. With craft allowing us to express our creativity, it is another way of relaxing and doing something enjoyable – with a tangible item at the end to feel satisfied with. As luck would have it for the home preserves enthusiast, glass jars make a great base for lots of craft projects and today we take a look at some inspiring ideas for jam jar projects to tackle at home.

Large jam jars make great craft projects

Whilst there is undoubtedly a craft project perfect for every conceivable size of jar, we are concentrating today on larger jars. One of our favourite ideas for glass jars is candle holders. Whether you want to create a candle holder for a single tealight or a much larger pillar candle, a glass jar will work brilliantly. In its simplest form, all you need to do is pop the candle in the jar and position it somewhere safe, then light the candle and enjoy the atmosphere it creates. If you want a little more creativity in the project, try painting a design on the outside of the jar. Abstract swirls work well; alternatively, if you have a talent for painting, why not paint a silhouette scene of a forest glade, with a deer passing through the trees and the moon shining down from above? With Christmas just around the corner, some candle holder jars like these could make excellent gifts.

More craft ideas for large jam jars

Another fun idea for Christmas is to make seasonal ornaments with larger jars. Collect some fir cones and pine sprigs and glue them in position on the inside of the jar lid, then break up some polystyrene foam into individual beads to use as snow. Place the foam beads in the jar and carefully screw on the lid, taking care not to knock the items you have glued in place. Stand the jar upside down and you have your very own snow scene.

If you enjoy having plants and flowers in your home, you might like the idea of growing hyacinths in glass jars. Take a glass jar and add some sand or grit at the bottom, followed by a little soil. Position the hyacinth bulb on top, gently pressing it down to secure it in place. Its roots will push down into the soil, giving a fascinating insight through the glass into what goes on beneath the surface when a plant grows.

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Preserving ideas for plums

Preserving ideas for plums- using jam jars

A delicious homemade jam made of freshly harvested organic plums

If you have a plum tree in your garden, you are no doubt enjoying plenty of plum puddings with custard, stocking your freezer with plums, and giving away bags of plums to anyone who shows a passing interest. If you have two or more plum trees, you are possibly wondering what on earth you are going to do with them all, as plum trees can produce a huge amount of fruit and sometime even cause branches of the tree to break off under the sheer weight. Whether you have your own plum trees or you have snagged a seasonal bargain at the greengrocers, read on for some great ideas for how to preserve your plums.

Preserved plums in large jam jars

One of the tastiest and most decadent things to do with all those plums is to preserve them whole. Choose large glass jars for this project and preserve your plums in red wine, port, or even brandy. If you want a spiced preserving syrup, add cinnamon and star anise – along with plenty of sugar, of course. For a tangier taste, try pickling your plums in cider vinegar, adding allspice, cloves, powdered ginger and cinnamon to the mix along with the sugar.

Quirky plum jam ideas

Traditional plum jam is a staple in many homes and it always delivers on taste and the feel-good factor. If you are ready to take your plum jam to another level, how about chocolate plum jam? You do not actually add chocolate to the recipe, just cocoa powder, but it will give a rich, sumptuous chocolate flavour to your jam that will have friends clamouring for your secret recipe!

Another unusual idea for jazzing up your plum jam is to add rum and raisins for a plum, rum and raisin jam. The seasonal flavours in this recipe make it the ideal jam to give as a Christmas gift to friends and family.

More plums? You will need more jam jars

If you have frozen, pickled and preserved a mountain of plums and you still have lots to use up, you will need more glass jars. Check out our range to see what takes your fancy and then hunt online for more plum preserves recipes. Right now, you might feel that you never want to see another plum; however, in a month or two – when the weather is cold and the days are short – those delicious plum jams and jars of preserved plums will offer a delicious dollop of comfort food that will cheer you up through the winter months.

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Ideas for Homemade Yoghurts

Ideas for Homemade Yoghurts in Kilner Jars

Healthy kiwi, banana, coconut parfaits in mason jars on a rustic wood background

Do you find yourself at the yoghurt counter in the supermarket, wincing at the cost of all the yoghurts you buy and fretting about all that single-use plastic that your family’s yoghurt habit demands? If so, it might be worth considering an alternative – making your very own homemade yoghurts. It’s simple and fuss-free, and you can experiment with whatever flavours you like, all at very low cost and without all of that throwaway plastic. In today’s blog post, we guide you through the process of making yoghurt at home, and show you how clip top jars are ideal for storing your homemade creations.

Making Yoghurt in Kilner Jars

Before you get started on your yoghurt making, it’s important to ensure you have the right jars for the project. Clip top jars are perfect, as they’re easy to sterilise and they fit neatly in the fridge. You can choose to put your yoghurt in a larger jar, or pour it into smaller, portion sized jars, if you prefer.

Let’s Fill Those Kilner Jars!

Making yoghurt couldn’t be simpler. Here’s our foolproof recipe:

Ingredients

1.2 litres whole milk
3 tablespoons live yoghurt

Method

Successful yoghurt making relies on perfectly sterilised equipment, so make sure you take time to sterilise your pan, thermometer, bowls, spoon and your clip top jars. You’ll also need a container to act as an incubator for your yoghurt, such as a thermos flask, a slow cooker, or a lidded pan placed on a hot water bottle. Make sure your incubator is also sterilised.

Fill a large bowl with ice, and set aside.

Pour the milk into a large saucepan, and heat the milk until it reaches 80°C (180F), but don’t let it boil. Stir gently during this time, to prevent a skin forming.

Remove from the heat and place the pan in the ice bath you prepared, stirring from time to time. Let the milk cool down to 45°C (110F). Take a cup of warm milk from the pan and place in a small bowl, then add the live yoghurt to it, stirring it gently to mix it well. Once mixed, add this mixture back to the pan of milk, and stir to combine fully.

Pour the mixture into your incubator container. If you’re using a slow cooker, heat it beforehand, but then turn it off when you pour in the mixture. Leave it for at least 5 hours to incubate, and then decant into your clip top jars and store in the fridge. Add fruits, nuts, honey or jam to flavour the yoghurt when serving.

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How to store food in glass jars

How to store food in glass jars

Collection of grain products, lentils, peas, soybeans and red beans in storage jars over on kitchen rural table. Vegetarian products.

Not a week goes by without the media telling us about how much plastic there is in the world, most of which seems to be heading straight to landfill and ultimately polluting our rivers and seas. If you are conscious of your own plastic consumption and would like to reduce the amount you use, why not make the decision to switch to glass jars for storing food at home? In today’s blog post, we take a look at the best jars to use for general-purpose food storage.

Ditch those plastic jars – swap them for glass jars!

If your fridge and larder are full of plastic jars with lids of every colour and you would like to switch to a more sustainable alternative, glass jars are the answer. Start by storing leftover food in clip top jars, ready to take to work for lunch the next day. If you despair at the number of yoghurt pots your family gets through every week, why not try making your own natural yoghurt, storing it in individual glass jars ready to serve at breakfast or to take to work with you? Once you’ve got the hang of making your own yoghurt, you will be thinking up exciting new flavours in no time at all and will see your plastic use plummet at the same time.

Another great eco-friendly tip is to keep a close eye on all your fresh produce. If it appears that anything might go off before you get a chance to use it, make something with it and store it in a glass jar. Turn tomatoes into chutney, cauliflower into piccalilli, and use up your mushrooms by pickling them with garlic and herbs. The same goes for fruit – you can easily preserve apples, lemons, oranges and pineapples; in fact, you can preserve pretty much any fruit.

Plastic jars still have their uses

Whilst switching to glass jars is a great idea, plastic jars with lids still have their uses, especially in situations in which breakages are likely. If you want to make yoghurts, granola or potted salads for your children to take to school as a packed lunch, for example, plastic jars might be a better option than glass ones. If you are heading to the beach for an end-of-summer picnic, plastic containers may well be better suited, as the chances are high that at least one will be dropped as you make your way over that shingle beach!

If you have some great storage tips using glass jars, be sure to let us know via Twitter or Facebook and we will share the best suggestions.

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Creating a terrarium using a glass jar

Creating a terrarium using a glass jar 

Amazing jar with piece of forest as new life concept

The word ‘terrarium’ conjures up images of giant glass globes sitting unloved in the corner of many a 1970s living room; however, terrariums have made something of a comeback and are proving quite a hit with people of all ages who want to bring a little greenery and gardening into their busy lives. Today’s terrariums do not have to be huge monstrosities cluttering up your space; instead, you can get creative with all sorts of jars and a wide range of plants to make your own unique micro-garden. Read on to learn how to build your own terrarium.

First, pick a large glass jar

It does not really matter what size or shape of glass jar you decide to use for your terrarium, so long as it has an opening at the top that is big enough for you to put in the various components and plants and to position them carefully. If you have the space, a big one-gallon pickle jar would look amazing used as a terrarium; alternatively, if you only have a small windowsill or shelf, you could easily use a smaller jar.

Next, fill that large glass jar

The first thing to put in your new terrarium is something to act as a drainage layer. This could be aquarium gravel from your local pet store, or you could find tiny grit and pebbles in the garden. Next, pour a layer of sand onto the gravel and add a good-quality compost. Take time building up these layers neatly, as you will be able to see them in the finished terrarium. The gravel, sand and compost layers should take up no more than one-third of the jar’s height.

Make a small hole in the compost for your first plant. Carefully lift the plant from its pot and lower it into position, gently firming up the soil around the stem. Less is very definitely more when it comes to terrariums, so don’t be tempted to put too many plants in. It can be fun to create a small scene; for example, you could use tiny toy people or animals or make a miniature park bench.

Once you have added everything, give the terrarium a light mist with a water spray and place in indirect light. A windowsill in full sunshine may well be too much, so think carefully where to put it. Mist gently every day and prune your plants occasionally, if required.

If you have a go at this project, be sure to let us know via Facebook or Twitter.

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IDEAS FOR LUNCH ON THE GO IN GLASS JARS

Ideas for lunch on the go in glass jars

 If you go out to work every day, the chances are that over time you’ve tried just about every sandwich shop and takeaway outlet within a one mile radius of your office or workplace. That means you’ve probably tried all manner of sandwiches, wraps, paninis and other lunchtime treats, as you try desperately hard not to get bored of the same old thing every day. If you’re fed up of dull old sandwiches from your local haunt and you’ve had enough of paying a small fortune each week for your lunch, it’s time to look again at taking a packed lunch.

 Packed lunches these days don’t have to involve a Tupperware box with a limp ham sandwich and an apple, as things have got a whole lot more creative recently. In today’s blog post, we take a look at some fresh and mouthwatering ideas for lunch on the go.

 Salads in Glass Jars

food

Salad in a glass jam jar

 Using screw top jars to store fresh salads for your lunch is a brilliant idea. Each day, you can mix things up a little and take a new and exciting lunch to work, using whatever ingredients you have to hand. With your screw top jars at the ready, lunch need never be boring again, and you can even choose a healthier option by avoiding bread and processed meats.

 The key to creating a delicious salad in a jar is to think in terms of layers. Throw all of your ingredients in willy-nilly and you will undoubtedly end up with a soggy and unappetising mess. Layer the ingredients carefully, though, and your salad will still be perfectly fresh and crunchy when it’s time to eat it.

 The first layer to add should be your dressing of choice. Then add crunchy vegetables like onions, peppers, tomatoes, celery and carrots. After this layer, add ingredients that you’d like not to get soaked in dressing, but that won’t go mushy if they do get a little dressing on them. These ingredients might include mushrooms, courgettes, sweetcorn, kidney beans and lentils. Next up are the more delicate ingredients, such as boiled egg or feta cheese, followed by something like rice, couscous or pasta. The very last layer should be any leaf vegetables such as lettuce or spinach, microgreens or alfalfa.

 Choosing Suitable Glass Jars

 Screw top jars are perfect for this kind of salad in a jar lunch, as they will keep everything safe and sound inside the jar, with no leaks or spills. Check out our range of Kilner jars and Mason jars, to find the perfect size for your packed lunch.

 

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Ideas for Yoghurt Pots

Healthy breakfast with Fresh greek yogurt, muesli and berries

Healthy breakfast with Fresh greek yogurt, muesli and berries

Using yoghurt pots in the home.

 Do you find yourself at the yoghurt counter in the supermarket, wincing at the cost of all the yoghurts you buy and fretting about all that single-use plastic that your family’s yoghurt habit demands? If so, it might be worth considering an alternative – making your very own homemade yoghurts. It’s simple and fuss-free, and you can experiment with whatever flavours you like, all at very low cost and without all of that throwaway plastic. In today’s blog post, we guide you through the process of making yoghurt at home, and show you how clip top jars are ideal for storing your homemade creations.

 Making Yoghurt in Kilner Jars

 Before you get started on your yoghurt making, it’s important to ensure you have the right jars for the project. Clip top jars are perfect, as they’re easy to sterilise and they fit neatly in the fridge. You can choose to put your yoghurt in a larger jar, or pour it into smaller, portion sized jars, if you prefer.

 Let’s Fill Those Kilner Jars!

 Making yoghurt couldn’t be simpler. Here’s our foolproof recipe:

 Ingredients

 1.2 litres whole milk

3 tablespoons live yoghurt

 Method

 Successful yoghurt making relies on perfectly sterilised equipment, so make sure you take time to sterilise your pan, thermometer, bowls, spoon and your clip top jars. You’ll also need a container to act as an incubator for your yoghurt, such as a thermos flask, a slow cooker, or a lidded pan placed on a hot water bottle. Make sure your incubator is also sterilised.

 Fill a large bowl with ice, and set aside.

Pour the milk into a large saucepan, and heat the milk until it reaches 80°C (180F), but don’t let it boil. Stir gently during this time, to prevent a skin forming.

 Remove from the heat and place the pan in the ice bath you prepared, stirring from time to time. Let the milk cool down to 45°C (110F). Take a cup of warm milk from the pan and place in a small bowl, then add the live yoghurt to it, stirring it gently to mix it well. Once mixed, add this mixture back to the pan of milk, and stir to combine fully.

 Pour the mixture into your incubator container. If you’re using a slow cooker, heat it beforehand, but then turn it off when you pour in the mixture. Leave it for at least 5 hours to incubate, and then decant into your clip top jars and store in the fridge. Add fruits, nuts, honey or jam to flavour the yoghurt when serving.

 

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Strainers for jam

Strainers for jam

Strawberry jam cooking encore of sugar.

When it comes to jams and jellies, we all have our own personal favourites, both in terms of flavour and consistency. Some like a traditional strawberry jam with big chunks of fruit, while others prefer a raspberry jam full of seeds or a blackcurrant jam that is perfectly smooth and almost translucent. No matter what fruit you use to make your jam or jelly, it is possible to get a different texture simply by straining the fruit. In today’s post, we take a look at the pros and cons of straining and at the various ways in which you can strain your fruit mixture.

Using a strainer for jam making

Most people decide to strain a jam because they want it to be totally smooth and free of bits of fruit. Whether a super smooth jam is technically a jelly is a question for the purists among us, but there is no denying that this type of preserve makes a very nice change sometimes. Certain fruits, such as blackcurrants and redcurrants, suit this approach much better, while some people prefer to strain fruits that are full of seeds, such as raspberries, so that there are no ‘pips’ in the finished product.

Over in our online store, we have several different options for straining jam. The good, old-fashioned way, as practised by our mothers and grandmothers, is either muslin or cheesecloth. These are both 100 per cent cotton and serve exactly the same purpose when it comes to straining jam.

The tricky part of straining jam is suspending the straining cloth over a bowl or pan for long enough to allow all the juices to flow through. Luckily, there is no need to stand around holding the cloth yourself or to rig up some kind of precarious contraption to try to hang the cloth over the bowl, as we offer three different types of straining kit to make life simple. The first is a straining bag, which has straps that are attached to a hook at the top. This makes it easy to hook the bag up, perhaps on a wall cupboard door handle, to allow the contents of the bag to drip through into a bowl below. The other two kits both work on a different principle – a frame that clips onto the bowl or saucepan and holds the straining bag in place.

Other jam making equipment

In addition to straining equipment, we offer a number of other jam making extras, such as jar lifting tongs, thermometers, funnels and jam spoons.

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Mason jar solar lights

Mason jar solar lights  

A Rustic Mason Jar Chandelier in an old barn.

When we think of Mason jars, we tend to imagine them filled with all manner of tasty delights from scrumptious strawberry jam to preserved lemons and pickled gherkins. These iconic jars are ideal for so much more than home preserving, however, and there are so many fabulous and creative ideas for how to use them for craft and home decor projects. Today, we are going to look at one such Mason jar project: how to make solar lights for the garden or porch using these jars.

Solar lights for Mason jars

In past blog posts, we have talked about making Mason jar lights using tealights placed inside the jars. These look fantastic and are great for an occasional outdoor party or evening spent on the patio; however, if you want your lights to work every evening, it makes sense to use solar lights instead.

If you do not already have a Mason jar or two to use for this project, check out our online store – we have a huge range in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Whilst we can’t find a way to make your own mini solar panel to go on the lid of the jars, Mason jar solar lids are readily available on the internet from places such as Amazon, eBay and Etsy. Just make sure you buy the right size solar lids for the jars you intend to use.

These solar lid packs tend to come with a string of LED fairy lights attached. You simply place the string of lights inside the Mason jar and clip the solar panel piece into place before screwing on the original Mason jar outer band. Put the Mason jar in position, ensuring that it gets plenty of sunlight, and wait for nightfall. At dusk, your jar will turn into a pretty light display. Positioned along a wall or suspended from low branches in a tree, these jars will look magical.

Decorating your Mason jars

The LED light strings that are attached to the solar lid pieces for these jars are super-pretty as they are, but you can go one step further by decorating the jar itself. One cool idea is to tape stencil shapes to the sides of the jar and spray frosting paint all over the jar before removing the stencils to leave clear silhouettes to let the light shine through. If stencils sound too difficult, just place paper tape around the jar and spray to give a fun, stripy finish.

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Pickling strawberries in jam jars

Pickling strawberries in jam jars 

Preserve. Jar with strawberry jam, pickled tomatoes and capers on wooden background

Strawberries are something of an institution in the UK. As a nation that enjoys a brief and rather unpredictable summer, strawberries epitomise our hopes for the season and our joy when the sun comes out to play. Sadly, the British strawberry season is all too brief and we often find ourselves with a huge glut of strawberries in a short time, followed by months of wanting to eat strawberries or use them in cooking but trying to avoid buying imported fruit out of season. As ever, home preserving is the answer. Once you have made a sensible batch of jam, it is time to think about other ways to use up your strawberry crop. In today’s post, we take a look at how to pickle strawberries to make the most of this great summer classic.

Jam jars to the rescue

The first thing you need to do before getting on with the pickling is to select your jars. Most jars for jam making will be suitable, provided they are sterilised and have airtight lids. For a charming vintage look, why not opt for some of our clip top jars or our Mason screw top jars? These jars for jam will look just as good filled with pickled strawberries or other fruit.

Filling your jam jars

Preserving strawberries by pickling could not be easier. Here is a simple recipe:

Ingredients

1kg ripe strawberries
500ml white balsamic vinegar
350ml water
110g sugar
4 tbsp salt

Method

Wash and hull the strawberries, then chop them. Pack them into sterilised jars, leaving a little space at the top of each jar. Add the vinegar, water, sugar and salt to a pan and bring to the boil. When the sugar and salt have fully dissolved, pour the liquid over the strawberries. Allow to cool and seal the jars carefully.

How to use pickled strawberries

Once you have pickled your strawberries, there are all sorts of creative ways you can use them. If you have never thought of using strawberries in a salad before, try them tossed over a mixed green leaf salad with a little of the pickle syrup used as a dressing. You can also drop them in a glass of Pimm’s or a homemade cocktail or mocktail, or add them to ice cream for a fabulous dessert. Alternatively, try them as a sweet and sour relish to accompany cheese and biscuits, a ploughman’s lunch, or fish such as mackerel or sardines. Don’t forget that you can also use the preserve syrup once all the strawberries have been eaten.

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The history of jam making

The history of jam making 

various jars of fruit jam on wooden table

Around the world, people have loved jam for a very long time indeed. From the fabulous British traditions of scones with jam and cream to the American peanut butter and ‘jelly’, as they call it, and the exotic coconut jams of south-east Asia, we simply can’t get enough of this sweet treat. In today’s post, we look back at some early jams and their uses to see just how far home preserving has come.

The origins of jam making

Back in Roman times, making jam largely involved preserving fruits in honey rather than sugar. These preserved fruits were often served at the end of a meal as something of a delicacy. It was not until the Crusades, during the 11th century, that sugar was brought back to western Europe; from this point, making jam became much more like the activity we know and love today. It also became much more popular. It is said that Joan of Arc ate quince jam to give her courage before heading off into battle. During the great era of seafaring exploration and trade, sailors would take huge supplies of jam with them on voyages, as they had made the link between vitamin C deficiency and scurvy.

Using jam to prevent scurvy was not the only instance of the sticky stuff being viewed as a kind of medicine in earlier times. Mary, Queen of Scots, for example, ate jam as a cure for seasickness and a variety of assorted ailments.

It is hard to believe that Marie Curie had much spare time during her pioneering research into radioactivity; however, it is said that she was an avid jam maker when she did take time out.

The Women’s Institute, of course, has a long tradition of making jam; in fact, the WI was even awarded a government grant of £1,400 to purchase sugar for making jam to help with food shortages during the second world war. Literally thousands of tonnes of fruit were used to make jam, which could then be used over a longer period than if the fruit was not preserved.

Jam making in the 21st century

Towards the end of the 20th century, home preserving had, to some extent, waned a little in popularity, with people won over by the choice and ease offered by supermarket shopping. This has changed in recent years and jam making is now more popular than ever, with cooks and foodies once again discovering the simple pleasures of creating their own jams and preserves.

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Recipe for strawberry balsamic and black pepper jam

Recipe for strawberry balsamic and black pepper jam 

Fresh juicy strawberries on vintage enamelware on rustic background

Wimbledon is in full swing and the sun is shining, which can only mean one thing: it is strawberry season. If you have a strawberry patch at home or you love going to the pick-your-own farm to gather a huge basket or two of fresh, juicy strawberries, you will no doubt be wondering what to do with them all. A bowl of fresh strawberries and ice cream is all very delicious, but sometimes you need a few extra ideas for how to use them, especially if you have a glut. Strawberry jam is a perennial favourite, but it is sometimes fun to freshen up the traditional recipe and try something a little different. Read on to find out how balsamic vinegar and pepper can add a great twist to your next batch of jam.

Strawberry jam with balsamic vinegar and black pepper 

You might think that this recipe sounds a little peculiar, but you really do have to try it to discover just how good it is. Here is the recipe:

Ingredients

400g fresh strawberries
300g sugar
4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
4 tbsp water
1 tsp crushed black pepper

Method

Remove the green tops from the strawberries and chop roughly. Put all the ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Continue to simmer for 20 minutes, skimming any jam scum from the top. Test the jam for setting point using a jam thermometer or the chilled saucer method – it should be thick and slightly clear. Pour into sterilised jars and seal.

This jam works just as brilliantly with savoury things as it does in sweet dishes. Try it with cheese and crackers, or spread on goat’s cheese on toast. Add it to natural yoghurt, ice cream or crème fraîche for a tasty dessert, or try it as a sauce to go with fresh fish, such as mackerel.

More strawberry jam with a twist

If this recipe has piqued your interest for jazzing up your strawberry jam making, take a look online for more quirky recipes. Try strawberry chilli jam for another variation with a spicy kick, or have a go at strawberry and basil jam, strawberry and mint jam, or even strawberry and almond jam. It is definitely worth looking around your plot to see what you have a glut of and then searching online to see whether there is a recipe available for the combination. Even if there is not a recipe already, there is no harm in experimenting and trying out some unusual combinations. If Heston Blumenthal can do it, so can you!

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Sterilising glass jars and lids

Sterilising glass jars and lids New EMBOSSED JARS 2

If you are a seasoned home preserves enthusiast, you will already be aware of the importance of properly sterilising all your glass jars and lids before filling the jars with your delicious jams, pickles and preserves. If you are a beginner to the world of preserving, you may wonder what all the fuss is about or you may be unfamiliar with how to properly sterilise your equipment. In today’s post, we explain why sterilising your jars and lids is so vital and offer some handy hints on how to do it with the minimum of fuss.

Why sterilising jars is so important

To the naked eye, a jam jar might look perfectly clean and the lid might appear spotless. This does not mean that it is sterile, however, as germs and bacteria could be lurking inside the jar or on the lid. If you use jars or lids that have not been sterilised properly, there is a good chance that your preserves will spoil or go off, leaving you with nothing to show for your efforts. There is nothing more disheartening than having to throw away jam or chutney because it has grown mouldy or turned rancid, so take this step seriously whenever you make some homemade preserves.

Top tips for sterilising jars

Sterilising glass jars and lids is simple and quick to do, so there is no excuse for skimping on it and just hoping that your jams or pickles don’t perish. Heat the oven to 140°C. Wash your jars in hot, soapy water, then rinse them thoroughly to remove any soapy residue. Stand each jar on a baking tray and place the tray in the middle of the oven until the jars are completely dry.

Sterilising jar lids cannot generally be done the same way, so you may prefer to use the water bath method for both jars and lids. Set the lids and any rubber seals – if using Kilner jars – to one side and place your jars in a large pan with enough water to cover the jars completely. Bring to the boil and keep at this heat for 10 minutes. In a separate pan of water, add the lids and rubber seals and heat to around 82° for 10 minutes. Higher temperatures could damage the lids or rubber seals, so be careful.

Sterilising jar lids is just as important as sterilising the jars themselves, so don’t be tempted to concentrate only on the jars. If you sterilise your jars but not your lids, your preserves will still be at risk of perishing.

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