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“Food in Jars” Cookbook Author, Marisa McClellan, Rhubarb Jam on Brie

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Baked Brie with Rhubarb Jam

“Food in Jars” Cookbook Author, Marisa McClellan, Rhubarb Jam on Brie

 Do you have memories of ‘Canning’ tomatoes, fruits, or vegetables from the bounty of the late summer harvest?

The annual ‘Putting- Up’ of foods prepared in clear clean jars, boiled the exact amount of time, then later, bright colored flavored contents lined shelves of “cubbards” (an interesting word of past, used in my Grandmother’s era) or pantries to be enjoyed over the cold winter months. 



I first observed the technique of canning watching my Aunt Betty busied with a Pressure Cooker in her own kitchen. It seemed a lot of serious work, but one that held within a certain pleasure, a respect, something to be treasured.

Every year my Aunt Kay and Uncle Vince spent at least a weekend canning tomato sauce from among bushels of tomatoes, and years later, my brother in law Joe, used to provide the annual treasured gift of his own homemade canned barbecue sauce labeled with a hilarious sticker photo of his face that appeared almost as a caricature.

Each of these varying foods in jars offered benefits of practical sustainability as well as delight savoring a homemade preserved creation.

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 Today, Canning or Preserving one’s own foods seems to have evolved once again as a treasured past time and a means of capturing the goodness in foods, many of those now purchased through local Farmers Markets, perhaps even as a means of gaining seasonal control over our nutritionally desired farm to table products.

It is also as easy as ever to begin this long held tradition of Putting Up Food in Jars, you can do it year round, and without a big kitchen or a lot of large size specialty equipment, especially if you take to learning from Marisa McClellan, a specialized educator and cookbook author of: Food in Jars, Preserving in Small Batches Year Round.

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 I recently had the opportunity to have tea with Marisa and talk about her current cookbook (another of her Running Press books is on the way next year on Urban Preserving.)

McClellan, with previous food writing experience including Table Matters and Food AOL whose job at the time in 2009 was coming to an end. Marisa decided she wanted to begin a food blog with a specific niche.  “It was a process” said McClellan. “One summer I went blueberry picking and made some jam and loved it and from there it just evolved, eventually, it became a passion.” The initial result for Marisa was the creation of Food in Jars- A Canning Blog.

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 McClellan began to prepare foods and test recipes in jars in her small kitchen of only 80 square feet which she still utilizes today showing that no matter where you live you can enjoy preserving batches of food during the year, even using weekly purchases of fresh items at the local Farmer’s Markets.  

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 Food in Jars, Preserving in Small Batches Year Round is an instructional how to cookbook that includes a broad variety of recipes. Most of the recipes involve Boiling Water Bath Canning, The Process and Techniques including; boiling the jars, filling them, applying the lids, a step by step toward finishing the batches. Recipes span the broad range from Jams, Chutneys, Granolas, and Nut Butters to Pickles.  

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 Marissa does not plan to sell any specialty food products in jars in the future but instead plans to continue developing her current business along with her blog and cookbooks as an Educator on preparing Food in Jars. “One thing I learned along this journey” said Marisa who comes from a creative and professional family of musicians and artists “is when people don’t pay, they don’t value.” It is this concept that has assisted McClellan launching into the main portion of her career now providing Canning Classes throughout the country and among organizations, businesses, and markets such as Whole Foods where she offers single topic focused classes as well as series instructions.

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 Marissa also provides Demos at her Cookbook Signings and is a frequent writing contributor on The Food Network, Saveur’s website, Table Matters, and Food 52’s Small Batch Series. 

Learning to be an expert in this field over the years has earned Marissa the platform in which she earns most of her living and one that has also provided a tremendous amount of satisfaction, including enabling continuing ties to old and new friendships up and down corridors throughout the country.

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To some, it may seem that the last days of summer and early fall are the only times of the year for canning.  According to Marisa “With the exception of late March, which is really the only time of the year with slim pickings, there is always something that can be canned, and stored in jars for a later time.”

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Whether you are a beginner looking to learn the process of canning, or recalling back to a time and memory of relatives putting up special seasonal foods, learning the technique of preparing Food in Jars is a valuable trade for preserving the nutritional and flavorful treasures the seasons provide, all while having fun and creating your own special memories with family and friends. 

Marisa McClellan’s classes for the remainder of the summer are listed online through Eventbrite where you can register for upcoming programs in Pennsylvania, Oregon, and California. Meanwhile hope you enjoy some Rhubarb Jam on Brie. 

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