Category Archives: Inspiration

Homemade dandelion and burdock in a swing top bottle

Homemade dandelion and burdock in a swing top bottle

last drop of empty water bottle on white background

If you are a child of the seventies, you may well have fond memories of the ‘pop man’ – a home delivery service for fizzy drinks whereby a man in a van would bring weekly treats of lemonade, cherryade, ginger beer, cream soda and our personal favourite, dandelion and burdock. If you are a little younger, you have probably barely heard of dandelion and burdock, as it is a fizzy drink that has for some reason fallen out of fashion in more recent times. Fear not, as we have a recipe for creating your own dandelion and burdock drink so that you can taste it for yourselves. Read on to find out how to make this quirky drink.

First, grab a swing top bottle or two

As with all preserving and home cooking projects, the first step is to ensure you have the right equipment to hold the finished product. Swing top glass bottles are ideal for this project, as they keep the contents fresh and fizzy and add a vintage touch that matches the old-school dandelion and burdock flavours perfectly.

Always make sure that you sterilise your bottles properly before filling them, as failure to do this correctly can lead to spoiled results.

Ingredients

150g ground burdock root
75g ground dandelion root
½ tsp ground ginger
½ a vanilla pod
1 star anise, ground
Juice of 1 lemon
150g granulated sugar
1 litre of cold water

Method

– Add all the ingredients, except the sugar, to a large saucepan and cook over a low heat for about 45 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the liquid through a straining sieve or muslin cloth to remove any pieces. Whilst the liquid is still hot, stir in the granulated sugar, ensuring that it dissolves fully.

– Once cool, pour into sterilised glass bottles and place in the fridge.

– To serve, mix like a cordial with soda water and add ice.

Our swing top bottle range

When it comes to swing top glass bottles, our range is hard to beat. From small 250ml Costolata bottles to one-litre whoppers, the range covers all sorts of shapes and sizes. Our 250ml deluxe swing top bottles are one of our most popular bottles, along with the Kilner 250ml swing tops that come in pastel shades of green, pink and blue in addition to clear glass. For making individual drinks to take on a picnic, for example, we recommend the 250ml bottles; for making a large quantity of dandelion and burdock to dilute on an ad-hoc basis, the one-litre size is more appropriate.

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Ideas for Lunch on the Go

Ideas for Lunch on the Go using Glass Jars

food

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

Homemade salad in glass jar with quinoa and vegetables. Healthy food, diet, detox, clean eating and vegetarian concept with copy space.

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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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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Lemons in the home

Lemons in the home 

Bowl with fresh lemons on blue wooden background. Top view

Whilst few of us aspire to a fully self-sufficient lifestyle, more and more people in the UK are switching on to the joys of making their own pickles and preserves, baking their own bread, and preparing simple and nutritious meals by hand, rather than relying on processed food from the supermarket. Once you take the plunge with home cooking and home making, it can become quite addictive, as you realise that it’s not nearly so complicated or time-consuming as you first thought. One area that often gets overlooked, though, when switching from supermarket products to homemade, is that of household chores and cleaning. In today’s post, we take a look at how you can use lemons and other simple items in a variety of cleaning tasks, for a natural, chemical-free alternative to harsh shop-bought cleaning products.

Household tips using lemons

Lemons, or lemon juice, can be used in all sorts of clever ways to clean and disinfect around the home. If your kitchen bin is a little smelly, for example, try rubbing a lemon over the inside surface, or spraying it with lemon juice. If you’ve had a calamity with your microwave, and the sides are coated in food splatters and gunk, try this simple lemon trick to get it squeaky clean in no time. Pour about 150ml of water into a Pyrex jug, then squeeze the juice of a lemon into it, and then add the lemon peels. Place the jug in the microwave and heat for about three minutes. Leave the microwave door closed for another five minutes, to let the lemony steam work its magic on the microwave walls. Take the jug out, and wipe the walls, ceiling and floor of the microwave with a damp cloth. Hey presto, your microwave will be sparkling clean.

More household tips using other simple ingredients

Whilst a simple lemon can work wonders, sometimes it needs to be combined with another item, to really pack a punch, cleaning-wise. It’s easy to make a simple lemon-based cleaning spray, using lemon peels, white vinegar and herbs. Take a large mason jar and collect old lemon peels in it, until it’s about half full. Throw in some fresh herbs, and then top up the jar with white vinegar. Seal the jar, and allow it to stand for at least two weeks, but longer if possible. Over that time, the lemon and herbs will infuse into the vinegar, to give you a zingy, fresh liquid. After the two weeks, strain the liquid into a spray bottle, ready to use. You can use this spray just like any other household cleaning spray.

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Cosmetic Creations for Cosmetic Jars

Cosmetic Jars and creations to go in them.

fresh as spring flowers

If making your own jams, pickles and preserves and canning your own fruit and vegetables is part of a drive towards self-sufficiency and a back-to-basics yearning for less consumerism in your life, why not look into making your own cosmetics and toiletries? With a few simple and natural ingredients and some suitable jars, you could soon rustle up your own cleansing lotion, moisturiser, hand cream, foot lotion, body scrub and more. Today, we are going to focus on just one of these to show you how easy it is to make your own. Once you have tried this peppermint foot lotion recipe, you will never want to use a shop-bought alternative again and will find yourself inspired to fill more of our amber glass jars with your homemade creations.

 Choosing your cosmetic jars

 Whatever type of homemade cosmetics you plan to make, you will need a supply of jars. Here at Wares of Knutsford, we offer an extensive range of jars suitable for all types of homemade creams and potions. Our amber glass jars are especially popular for making your own cosmetics and come in a wide range of shapes and sizes to suit every application. For the peppermint foot lotion we are talking about today, we recommend the 120ml amber glass jar.

 Peppermint foot lotion

 For this recipe, you will need:

60ml shea butter

60ml coconut oil

2 tbsp olive oil

12-15 drops peppermint essential oil

 Here are the simple steps you need to take to make this lotion:

 –Put the butter and coconut oil in a glass bowl and melt the ingredients over a pan of water on a gentle heat.

– Once melted, add the olive oil and leave to cool slightly.

– Stir in the essential oil and then whisk vigorously until the mixture is creamy.

– Transfer the mixture into your amber glass jars and store in a warm place.

 Need more cosmetic jars?

 After a long day at work, or out in the garden, your feet can be in need of some TLC, with this foot lotion just the ticket. It will soothe tired feet and moisturise the skin beautifully, leaving your tootsies in tip-top condition. As this recipe is so simple, it is also perfect for showing beginners just how easy homemade cosmetics can be. Once you have had a go at this recipe, you will be keen to try something more adventurous; in no time at all, your bathroom cupboards will be stocked with gorgeous, natural products that you made yourself. Knowing you have made your cosmetics yourself is enough to make you feel better on its own!

 

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Wonderful Wedding Jars

Wonderful wedding jars

Old-fashioned, romantic wedding themes are very much on trend, as are country cottage and rustic themes. Pretty English native flowers, pastel colours and simple accessories all combine to give the romantic wedding theme a timeless charm that is hard to beat. In today’s post, we look at how our glass jars are being used by wedding couples across the country to help create their own unique and oh-so-romantic wedding theme.

 Romantic ideas for wedding jars

 For a simple, vintage-inspired look, many couples are choosing to make their own table centrepieces. If you would like to do this for your own wedding, try grouping several jars of different sizes together, with the largest jar containing a posy of traditional English flowers and the smaller jars holding scented tea lights. You can decorate the jars by sticking ivory lace to the outside, painting a design on them, or using a frosting lacquer to create an etched design that will allow the candle light to flicker through.

 If your wedding reception is outside or there is at least some outside element, consider hanging jars containing tea lights or fairy lights from the low branches of nearby trees. Tie the jars on using a traditional jute thread or simple twine. A group of these will look enchanting, bobbing around in a gentle breeze and providing a flickering and ephemeral light.

 Using wedding jars as favours

 Jars do not just work well as wedding centrepieces or vases; in addition, they make wonderfully simple containers for wedding favours. Fill small jars with old-fashioned sweets, such as candy Love Hearts or those delightful white chocolate buttons coated in hundreds and thousands. Screw on the lid, tie a pretty ribbon around the neck of the jar, and attach a label with a message for your guests. This idea is guaranteed to enchant everyone at your wedding, young and old.

 If sweet treats are not your thing, there are plenty of other ideas for wedding favours that would work brilliantly in jars. Shots of homemade infused spirits are always well received, so experiment with some different recipes to find the perfect tipple for your wedding. Rhubarb-infused vodka looks so pretty in pink and is ideal for serving in a small jar, while sloe gin is another firm wedding favourite and looks fabulous served in our smaller Kilner or Mason jars.

 

Whilst simple jars work best for the vintage-inspired wedding styles that are so popular these days, virtually any jar could be put to work to add a uniquely personal touch to your own wedding. Why not browse our range for some inspiration?
Lovely wedding table centrepiece, showing beautiful flowers in a unique wooden plinth and jars.

Lovely wedding table centrepiece, showing beautiful flowers in a unique wooden plinth and jars.

 

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Wedding Favour Jars

Wedding Favour Jars

 There used to be a TV game show during which the presenter would say to the contestants: ‘We asked 100 people to name …’. If we asked our customers to name things found in jars, most would surely answer ‘jam’, with perhaps some of them suggesting gherkins, chutney or even pickled eggs. Customers planning their own weddings, however, might answer very differently. Our customers come up with all manner of creative ideas for using our jars for weddings; for example, a great idea we see regularly is placing candles in jars for a pretty and romantic wedding display.

 Wedding jars and candles

 Brides and grooms often choose to create a centrepiece for each table at the wedding reception and sometimes have something similar inside the venue in which the ceremony is taking place. Jars with candles inside work brilliantly for this.

 Many wedding couples opt for simple jam jars, housing anything from tea lights to homemade beeswax candles for a charming, vintage-inspired theme for their wedding. Placed together in clusters of three or five, these can make gentle but uplifting focal points on wedding tables or along the walls of a church or wedding venue.

 Our globe jam jars are also perfect for holding tea light candles and look great with a thin pastel ribbon around the rim, chosen to tie in with the wedding theme.

 If you are planning a summer wedding with your reception in a marquee outside, it would be a delightful idea to hang jam jars from trees around the reception area with each containing a tealight. You could even paste crepe paper to the outside of the jars to make each a different colour. Twinkling in the summer evening, these jars would look oh-so romantic.

 For a larger centrepiece for a table, try a one-gallon pickling jar and place a thick white candle in the centre. For decoration, wrap a small amount of gypsophila around the lower part of the candle, well away from the flame. Place smaller jars around this for the best effect.

 Safety when using wedding jars and candles

 

Candles in jam jars make lovely wedding favours and decorations.

Candles in jam jars make lovely wedding favours and decorations.

Whenever you are using candles, some common-sense precautions are needed. Always ensure the flame of any candle will not touch the sides of the jar and never put a lid on a jar containing a candle. Tea lights are perfect in jars for weddings, as they come in their own small metal container that keeps things safe and free of candle wax. Always site your candles carefully where they cannot be accidentally knocked over, and ensure they are out of reach of children.

 

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Wedding Favour Jars

Lovely wedding table centrepiece, showing beautiful flowers in a unique wooden plinth and jars.

Lovely wedding table centrepiece using jars and wedding favours can be produced in jars to match when filled with jams or sweets.

Wedding favour jars

If you are planning a spring wedding for 2017 and still have some last-minute details to settle for the wedding reception, Wares of Knutsford could be the answer to your prayers. If you are struggling for inspiration for your wedding favours, read on to see how our extensive range of small jars and bottles could be just the thing to use for your wedding favours.

Which wedding favour jars to choose?

We have helped so many couples to find the perfect bottle or jar for their wedding favours that we decided to make an entire category on our website to showcase the most suitable jars and bottles. Some of our personal favourites include our vintage-inspired jars and bottles, such as the adorable 50ml Gladstone bottles with cork stoppers and the 100ml Nocturne glass bottles. These have an old-fashioned charm and will look fabulous on a country-inspired wedding reception table.

If you plan on giving alcoholic favours, our miniatures bottles are perfect. We have miniature whisky bottles, flask bottles and wine bottles, all of which will look stylish and professional when filled with a delicious tipple and decorated with ribbons and tags to match your wedding theme.

Speaking of ribbons and tags, these are just as important for your favours as the jars and bottles, or indeed the contents that you choose to fill them with. Again, we have some adorable tags and pretty ribbons to finish off your favours perfectly. Our white birdcage gift tag set is lovely and is just right for a romantic white wedding. Our heart-shaped tags are also popular for weddings, as are our pastel and hessian ribbons. These small details add up to make a unique and inspired wedding favour.

Ideas for wedding favour jars

The type of jar or bottle you choose for your favours will largely be determined by what you want to put in them. Traditional sugared almonds have largely fallen out of fashion nowadays, replaced by tastier treats such as homemade fudge, old-fashioned sweets and even little jars of honey. On the drinks front, miniature whisky bottles are very much on trend, along with infused vodkas and gins. Another lovely idea for the home preserves enthusiast is homemade elderflower champagne, with elderflower cordial for any children attending the wedding.

If your wedding date is drawing nearer and you are looking for some wedding favour inspiration, pop over to our dedicated wedding favours page to browse through our full collection of jars, bottles, tags and ribbons. In no time at all, you will be full of creative ideas for your own wedding.

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Maslin Pans for Christmas

Maslin Pans for Christmas

Cooked homemade cherry jam in the bowl and in the jar, organic meal and dessert concept

With just a month to go until Christmas Day, it is time to get those thinking caps on, to decide what gifts to give your friends and relatives this year. If there is someone in your life who you find it incredibly difficult to decide on a gift for, don’t worry – you are not alone. We at Wares can help you to find some fabulous gifts that will truly be appreciated by the recipient. In this post, we start off by looking at jam making equipment.

Maslin pans make great Christmas gifts

The beauty of giving a maslin pan as a gift, or any jam making equipment for that matter, is that it can bring so much pleasure for years to come. Jam making is such an easy thing to get into and requires no special knowledge or any real culinary flair. If the bug bites and you find you love making jam, you can let your imagination take over and experiment with more complex recipes; however, for the absolute beginner, it is perfectly easy to rustle up some delicious homemade jam at the first attempt. If the gift recipient is keen to get started with their home preserves straight after Christmas, they can always start by making a batch of marmalade, as Seville oranges are in season at that time of year.

What else, besides maslin pans?

Apart from a good maslin pan, there is very little other equipment that is essential for successful jam making. You need jars and lids to store your jam in, of course, and there are a number of optional extras that can make life easier for the jam maker. A jam thermometer is one good tool, and a jam spoon that can be hooked to the side of the maslin pan is also very handy. If you are on the messy side, you might find a jam funnel helpful when it comes to pouring the jam into the jars.

If you plan on giving an extra special gift, why not choose a jam making kit? Our kits have absolutely everything you need to get started in home preserves, including the maslin pan, thermometer, funnel, jam spoon, recipe book and, of course, jars, lids and labels. Our deluxe kit also includes the rather lovely Preserves book from the River Cottage Handbook Collection.

On the subject of books, a jam or preserves recipe book could be just the ticket if you need to buy for someone who has already started making jam. Check our website for our full range of jam making books.

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Festive fun with large glass jars

Festive fun with large glass jars

If you think our jars are only used for making jams and preserves, you would be very much mistaken. Crafters have long recognised the potential of glass jars as vessels for their imaginative creations. In today’s post, we look at a few festive ideas for using large jars, such as our one gallon pickle jar.

Creative ideas in large glass jars 

Edible gift Idea: oatmeal cookies mix in the glass jar on a rustic wooden table.Toned image.Selective focus

It is easy to create unique Christmas decorations using large pickle jars. Try filling a jar one-third full with fake snow, or cotton wool, and then add pine cones, holly or tiny Christmas tree decorations to create a wintry scene. Pop the lid on and finish off with a colourful festive ribbon for a clever and very individual decoration for a sideboard or windowsill.

Another brilliant idea is to pop some fairy lights into a jar to create a Christmas lamp. Try using a glitter pen on the outside of the jar to add stars or snowflakes. The only limit here is your imagination!

If you are handy with a paintbrush, why not have a go at painting the outside of the jar to create a Santa’s face, or perhaps a snowman? A jar decorated in this way would make a great container for Christmas sweets or nuts; alternatively, a snowy scene painted on the outside of the jar would make a great tea light holder. Leave some of the glass unpainted to allow the candle light to flicker through.

One idea we really love is to use a 1 gallon pickle jar as a piggy bank. Cut a slot in the lid to add your coins and decorate the outside of the jar. If you are saving for a holiday, for example, paint travel-related items on the jar. Don’t paint too much, as you will want to see how your savings are growing!

Christmas gifts in large glass jars 

Homemade Christmas gift - ingredients for making hot chocolate with marshmallows in a glass jar on a wooden surface

One idea that is trending right now is adding all the ingredients for a recipe into a 1 gallon pickle jar and giving it as a gift. Add a packet of upmarket cocoa to a jar, then fill the rest with marshmallows. Seal the lid and add a bottle of Irish cream liqueur on the side for a gift that is sure to be well received. For a non-alcoholic version, layer all the ingredients for making chocolate chip cookies and finish with a stylish contemporary label and some ribbon.

We have only touched on a few ideas here, but it just goes to show that even a humble glass jar can be transformed into something amazing with a little imagination.

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Drinks dispensers for party time

Infused water bottles in party tent orange and lemon water with small taps wine in background

Drinks dispensers for party time

‘Tis the season to be jolly, with big Christmas parties and smaller, more intimate gatherings taking place across the country from now until the New Year. No matter what style of party you are planning, one thing is for certain – someone always gets the unenviable task of making sure all the guests have a full glass at all times. There is a solution to this perennial problem, however, and it comes in the form of glass drinks dispensers.

What are glass drinks dispensers?

Drinks dispensers are a great idea for parties. These glass dispensers typically hold between five and eight litres and come with a wide top opening and a low tap for self-service drinks delivery. The wide opening at the top makes it easy to add ice or fruit, while the sealed lid means less mess and no spills.

Our range of glass drinks dispensers

We stock a variety of drinks dispensers from Kilner and other suppliers. The Kilner dispensers all have the iconic Kilner styling for a vintage chic look and have the trademark clip-top lid with the familiar orange rubber seal. The five-litre clear glass Kilner dispenser has the ‘Kilner Original’ logo moulded on the front of the dispenser, while the larger eight- litre dispenser has a slight outwards curve in its design and a ridged effect to the glass, giving it a distinctive retro look. If a clear glass dispenser is not your style, the Kilner five-litre dispensers are also available in green, blue and pink for some pastel fun.

Our range of drinks dispensers is complemented perfectly by a wide variety of glass drinking jars. Match the two for an all-round vintage party feel.

What to serve?

It is all well and good deciding on the type of drinks dispenser for your Christmas parties, but you also need to decide what to serve in them. Straight drinks are fine, but a party is not a party without a little homemade creation in the form of a cocktail or a festive punch. Warm punch with spices always goes down well at Christmas; however, don’t forget to allow your punch to cool slightly before pouring into the dispensers, as these items can hold liquids up to a maximum temperature of 80°C.

Prosecco cocktails are guaranteed to get the party swinging – add one part brandy to four parts prosecco, along with a splash of Angostura bitters and a little cane sugar. Alternatively, make a fruity prosecco cocktail by pouring the prosecco into the drinks dispenser and adding some clementine, pomegranate, lime, grapefruit and passion fruit juice.

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Storing end of season produce in preserving jars

Storing end of season produce in preserving jars

Winter stores, vegetables in jars

The first frosts have arrived, the nights have drawn in and the garden is looking tired. If you are lucky enough to still have a few late crops coming in, now is the time to gather up the produce remaining to preserve for use through the winter.

Using preserving jars to store end of season fruit

There are not many fruits that are still hanging on during November; however, if you have apple trees or pear trees in your garden, you might be surprised to find a few late fruits still available. Apples can be made into apple butter or apple jam, both of which are truly delicious. If you have vegetables left over in the veg patch, you could also put some apples into a batch of chutney.

Pears preserve well in Mason jars and are simple to do. You will need to add some lemon juice, but other than this you can follow a standard fruit preserving recipe, adding in spices such as star anise, cardamom and cinnamon. Don’t forget to sterilise your Mason jars before you start.

Using preserving jars to store end of season vegetables

Whilst end of season fruit might be a little thin on the ground, it is likely that most people will have a few vegetables that are still worth harvesting. Butternut squash, pumpkins, cabbage, kale, swede, beetroot and Jerusalem artichokes should all be available. The Christmas favourite, the Brussels sprout, is also well and truly in season right now. Chutney is the perfect way to use up all this end of season produce and the best thing about chutney is that you can more or less use what you have. Experimentation is the name of the game and you might just be surprised at the results.

If you fancy something different, why not try pickling some Brussels sprouts? Boil some vinegar and salt, and add peppercorns, mustard seeds, garlic and chilli flakes. Pack the halved Brussels sprouts into Mason jars, then pour over your pickling mixture. Seal tightly and heat the jars in a pan of boiling water or a pressure canner for 10 minutes. Once cool, your sprouts are ready to store.

If you want to preserve some vegetables straight, this is also possible, although your choices might be a little more limited. Don’t forget that you will need to pressure can vegetables, as they have a much lower acid content than fruit. Pumpkin and squashes both can well, but cabbage, cauliflower and kale are not really suitable for pressure canning.

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Homemade face creams in cosmetic jars

Jar of white body care cosmetic cream, herbal oil extract bottle, fresh calendula flowers.

Homemade face creams in cosmetic jars

It is hard to switch on the TV without coming across another advert for a face cream, making wild claims about the rejuvenating properties of the cream and glossing it with talk of miracle ingredients with unpronounceable names. Taking a closer look at the ingredients list and the price tag is a good incentive to think about making your own unique face creams to put you 100 per cent in control of the ingredients you add to that clear glass cosmetic jar. Here we take a look at a simple homemade face cream recipe to get you started.

Fill those cosmetic jars

Before you embark on creating your very first homemade face cream, don’t forget that you will need jars to store it in. We have a range of suitable jars, from our 15ml clear glass cosmetic jar up to a 500ml jar. Our Laurence frosted jars are every inch as stylish as shop-bought cosmetics; therefore, there is no need to compromise on looks.

Ingredients

¼ cup cocoa butter
7 tbsp almond oil
4 tbsp shea butter
1 tbsp beeswax
½ cup aloe vera gel
½ cup hydrosol (floral water) or distilled water ½ tsp vitamin E oil
6 drops essential oils to suit your own tastes

Method

– Sterilise the jars.

– Melt the cocoa butter, shea butter and beeswax in a bowl over a pan of boiling water.

– Separately, combine the aloe vera gel with the hydrosol. You can use distilled water rather than hydrosol if preferred.

– When the oils have melted, pour them into a bowl with the almond oil and blend well using a mixer or blender. Slowly pour in the aloe and water mix, continuing to blend thoroughly until the mixture becomes thick and creamy. Add the vitamin E oil and essential oils, ensuring they are mixed thoroughly.

– Pour the cream into the sterilised jars and seal with the lids. Any cream not likely to be used within one month should be stored in the fridge, where it will keep for up to six months.

The essential oils you use for this face cream can be varied to suit your own tastes. Orange and lemongrass give a fresh, zesty scent, whilst frankincense will add a deeper, more opulent note. Experiment to find what suits you best.

More ideas for cosmetic jars

Once the homemade cosmetics bug bites, it will be hard to stop; for example, you can also try homemade hand creams and body scrubs. Soon you will be ditching those expensive high street brands in favour of your own unique skincare range.

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Choosing and using food jars

Choosing and using food jars

It might sound strange, but the jar you use can be just as important as the recipe you follow when it comes to making the best impression in home preserves. From miniature jam jars for breakfast jams and marmalad

Jars of jam and basket with cherry on background.

es to chunky jars in iconic shapes, there really is a jar for every occasion. Whether you are making preserves to eat at home, creating homemade gifts or even entering competitions at the local village fair, choosing a quality food jar will really lift your finished product.

Food jars for gifts

Our deluxe range of food/jam jars includes jars in five different sizes. Combining stylish good looks with tough practicality, these jars are solid and reliable. In sizes from 110ml to 500ml, these jars can showcase all sorts of preserving delights. Use the small jars to create gift sets of mixed preserves, or fill a big 500ml jar with preserved lemons to create a fancy gift. Our vintage glass jam jars and Bonne Maman-style jars both exude a certain rustic charm and can turn a humble pot of jam into a chic gift when teamed with a cute gingham checked lid.

A quality food jar does not have to hold food. An elegant jar with a colourful red or blue checked lid can make an ideal container for a non-food gift. Making your own bath salts, for example, is a fun way to spend time doing something creative and the result makes a lovely, eco-friendly gift. Filling a jar with decorative stationery items, such as fun paper clips, erasers and other desk accessories, is a brilliant gift idea for anyone who loves old-fashioned stationery.

Food jars for specific preserves

For some reason, certain preserves seem to suit certain styles and shapes of jar more than others. Honey, for example, is very often put into hexagonal jars, perhaps because the hexagon shape mimics the honeycomb inside the bee’s hive. Our 106ml globe jam jars, on the other hand, are perfect for lemon curd. As lemon curd contains fresh eggs, it does not have such a long life as jam; therefore, a smaller jar size is a good idea. If you are creating an old-fashioned or traditional preserve, such as hedgerow jelly, you might want to use a very traditional-looking jam jar to continue the slightly vintage theme.

Whatever you want to put in your jars, we are sure to have the perfect jar for you here at Wares. Check out our extensive range today and get busy making those Christmas gifts.

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Getting creative with jam jar packaging

Getting creative with jam jar packaging hamper packing box

Whether you are making jam to give as gifts to friends and family or you are a small-scale food producer selling at farmers’ markets and food fairs, presentation is everything. Your jams, chutneys and preserves might taste divine; however, if you don’t think about your jam jar packaging, your jars will look unappealing and dull. Here we look at ways to package your home preserves to make them look just as professional as any shop-bought offering.

Jam jar packaging for Christmas gifts

If you are planning on giving your jams or chutneys as gifts this Christmas, think about presenting them in a three-jar presentation bag or box. These boxes really lift the gift to a new level, making it look very special indeed. If you are a jam producer, offering gift packs like this could increase sales, as customers will buy your produce to give as gifts themselves. For added festive cheer, we have a range of decorative Christmas ribbons to add a splash of colour and fun. Designs include colourful holly, a red deer and trees, and a stag and Christmas tree graphic.

Making hampers

If you make more than just jams and chutneys, another gift idea is to build up a small hamper of your homemade goods. Who could fail to be delighted by the gift of a hamper containing pickles, marmalade, raspberry vinegar, sloe gin, fudge and biscuits, for example? We have hamper trays and boxes in a variety of sizes, along with paper shred in which to nestle your homemade goodies. Again, if you sell at markets and Christmas fairs, gift trays could be a great way to boost takings during this busy season.

Gift tags – the finishing touch

In addition to presenting your produce in a lovely gift bag or box, there are lots of other small details that can make your jars stand out; for example, a carefully-chosen gift tag makes a world of difference to a gift. We have tags to suit all occasions, including a variety of charming, vintage-inspired Christmas tags and more contemporary designs including florals, animals and decorative luggage-style tags.
As you can see, it is easy to take a few simple jars of jam and turn them into a unique and thoughtful gift with a little time and creative inspiration. These gifts will delight the recipient and look just as sophisticated as the gift packs that line the shelves of department stores and gift shops. The difference is that your gift sets will be 100% homemade, 100% unique, 100% made with love, and given from the heart.

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Baking for a delicious Christmas

Baking for a delicious Christmas

Cropped image of hand removing cookie tray from oven in kitchen

Christmas is just a few short weeks away and soon the house will be full of friends and family, dropping in to exchange gifts and Christmas good wishes or perhaps even staying for a few days over the festive period. With all these extra visitors, it is wise to get organised with a few baking sessions so that you always have a tasty treat to offer around whenever someone calls to wish you a Merry Christmas. Here we look at a few ideas for festive baking success, with some old favourites and some ideas you may not have thought of.

Savoury baking ideas for Christmas

Sausage rolls are, of course, a firm favourite at Christmas-time and are so easy to make. Don’t feel you must make the puff pastry yourself, as shop-bought pastry is very good. For a luxury twist on the humble sausage roll, try pheasant sausage rolls, replacing two-thirds of the sausage meat with minced pheasant breast and adding a small amount of grated carrot and onion, some fresh thyme and a tiny pinch of chilli flakes.

When it comes to savoury treats, we don’t often think of muffins; however, mini muffins do make exceptional party nibbles. Try goat’s cheese and rosemary muffins, or cheddar cheese and bacon muffins. Our 12-hole mini muffin baking tins are the perfect size for canapé-style muffins.

Sweet baking ideas for Christmas

When it comes to sweet treats for Christmas, the mince pie has to top the list. If you really want to go all-out homemade, make your own mincemeat now and it will be ready to use in time for Christmas. Again, we have a range of non-stick baking pans, which are ideal for mince pies, in either traditional or deep-fill sizes.

Muffins also make brilliant sweet treats at Christmas. Try cranberry and orange muffins with a dash of cinnamon or allspice, sprinkled on top with demerara sugar. Make perfect chocolate and cranberry brownies in our 12-hole brownie pan, or go for a traditional Christmas fruit loaf with cherries, mincemeat, almonds, cranberries and just a small splash of rum for festive cheer. We have a wide range of loaf tins for this type of cake, including the latest silicone-based flexible baking tins.

As with everything in life, planning and preparation make everything go smoothly. By getting organised now, and perhaps trying out a few recipes in advance, you can be confident that you will be able to create some spectacular baking creations when Christmas comes around.

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Milk bottles are trending

Milk bottles are trending

Organic cold-pressed raw vegetable juices in glass bottlesOrganic cold-pressed raw vegetable juices in glass bottles

Everyone of a certain age feels a little nostalgia for those old-school milk bottles that were handed out every day in infant school. Some loved the daily drink of slightly warm milk, while others loathed it; however, thinking back to those days tends to stir up fond memories of childhood for everyone. The good news is that vintage-inspired milk bottles are in fashion right now and are being used for everything from crafts to chic drinking vessels. In today’s post, we take a look at some clever ideas for using these cute glass milk bottles.

Craft ideas using glass milk bottles

We have recently seen some very cute Christmas craft ideas using dinky glass milk bottles. Try painting the insides of the bottles white and adding sprigs of holly with berries to the bottles. Decorated with ribbons and grouped in threes, these make simple but effective Christmas decorations.

Another great idea is to again paint the insides of the vases but this time use decoupage to decorate the outside. Once complete, these bottles make gorgeous vases for a single flower stem or perhaps a small posy of wild flowers.

Small milk bottles also make lovely containers for gifts. Fill these bottles with sweets, homemade bath salts or dried herbs, such as lavender or rosemary, for a simple gift that looks right on trend.

Party serving ideas using glass milk bottles

These cute little bottles are not just for crafts. Just as Mason jars have become very popular as drinking jars, the humble milk bottle has also had a new lease of life as a drinking vessel. We have some great bottles with polka dot lids and colour-matched drinking straws that are perfect for parties – children and adults alike love them! These bottles are even available in a set of four, all neatly contained in a cute metal milk bottle holder just like in the old days.

Using these small milk bottles would work brilliantly at a wedding reception, either to hold wedding favours or to serve a toast of elderflower champagne, for example. If you are holding a grown-up party, they would also suit cocktails or liqueurs, especially if these drinks were milk or cream based.

Try a homemade milk liqueur using milk, vodka, oranges and a lemon for something quite out of the ordinary! A homemade Irish cream liqueur is also easy to make using whiskey, condensed milk, coffee, vanilla extract and almond extract. This could become a firm favourite at Christmas parties this year and it is a great excuse for ordering some of our cute milk bottles.

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Creative gift ideas using glass bottles with corks

Creative gift ideas using glass bottles with corksgladstone with sloe gin

The year is creeping on and whilst we don’t want to mention the Christmas word too soon, it really is time to start thinking about gift-giving – especially if you plan to give homemade gifts. This type of gift needs time to plan and create, so why not start right now?

Using glass bottles with corks

The brilliant thing about creating infused spirits such as sloe gin, rhubarb gin or plum vodka is that they take very little time to make; in fact, they must be one of the easiest home preserving things you can create. Just add your chosen fruit and sugar to the tipple of your choice and pop it into a dark cupboard for a couple of months, shaking occasionally. You need to follow a recipe, of course, to ensure that your end product is not too syrupy, but there really isn’t much more to it.

It can be a good idea to use a larger bottle for the infusing and then decant the finished spirit into smaller bottles for gift giving. Our 700ml Howarth glass bottle will make your creation look every inch as if it has come from a boutique distillery; alternatively, if you would like to give smaller bottles, the Howarth is also available in a 250ml size.

Crafty gifts in glass bottles with corks

It is not just drinks-based gifts that you can create using small bottles with cork stoppers. There are endless craft ideas that you can try out using our range of corked bottles; for example, our chunky Gladstone bottles would look fabulous filled with homemade bath salts.

Needle felting is so easy to get the hang of, with tiny needle felted scenes looking superb when set carefully in a glass bottle. We have seen gorgeous examples with needle felted sheep grazing on a lush green hillside as soft, wispy clouds roll overhead. Use long tweezers to glue your needle felted items into position. When you are happy, seal the bottle with the cork and you are good to go with a personal gift that shows you have really taken time over it.

Another great idea for small bottles with cork stoppers is to make a tiny snow globe. Check online for tutorials on how to do this and then let your imagination loose to decide what to add into your snow globe. The only problem with this idea is that you might find the finished item is just too cute to give away!

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Carving your pumpkin for Halloween

Halloween pumpkin head jack lantern on wooden background

Carving your Pumpkin for Halloween

It is October and that can mean only one thing – it is time to grab a pumpkin or two, a sharp knife and some imagination to create your Halloween pumpkin. To get your creative juices flowing, we have come up with a few ideas for pumpkin carving with a difference.

Pumpkin carving ideas

Nothing beats the traditional pumpkin scary face, with the flickering candle illuminating the creepy head; however, it can be fun to mix it up a little and try something different to really test your carving skills. The internet is full of templates, how-to videos and guides on pumpkin carving for skill levels from novice to expert. If you don’t want to go for the traditional face, why not carve a moon and stars instead, or perhaps a cat’s silhouette? Some people go all-out artistic and carve a phrase or even an entire graveyard scene in their pumpkins!

Whatever design you choose, make sure you draw the outline on your pumpkin first. Take your time scooping out the flesh, cutting slowly and accurately to get the best results.

Using up the pumpkin flesh

It is easy to get carried away with the fun of pumpkin carving without thinking what to do with all the tasty flesh you will scoop out. Pumpkin soup is one answer and makes a tasty reward after you have finished carving. Alternatively, you could pop the pumpkin flesh in the fridge to use the next day in a pumpkin pie, a vegetarian curry, or even pumpkin and orange cupcakes! Pumpkin flapjacks are a firm favourite here at Wares – they make a great mid-morning coffee break treat!

Kitchen knives to the rescue

It is all well and good coming up with a brilliant carving idea, but creating a pumpkin masterpiece requires a sharp knife. If your own kitchen knives are not up to the job, take a look at our extensive range of professional-grade knives and kitchenwares to find the ideal replacements. The Master Class Precis range of knives will last a lifetime and come with a 25-year guarantee; therefore, you can be sure of their quality and performance. The Precis utility knife would be a good choice for pumpkin carving, with the range including knives for every application.

Take care with kitchen knives

If you are using sharp knives or other kitchenwares, it is important to take care and use them safely, especially when children are helping to carve the pumpkin. Whilst the annual pumpkin carving should be a fun affair, there should be no messing about where knives are concerned.

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