Nothing shows your love better than a hug and the gift of something homemade. Here are some great holiday gift ideas that you can pack in a mason jar, including this delicious ruby red quince jam.
Since November is here, I think I can officially think about what the heck I’m going to give to friends and family for the holidays. If you are more organized than me, you might have all of your gifts figured out!
One of my favorite gifts I give every year to friends, neighbors, teachers or family are homemade gifts – especially food gifts. And today, I am going to share with you some great fall recipes and ideas, all wrapped up in a beautiful canning jar.
Jam recipes for canning
As you know, I love jam. It’s a hug in a jar! And some of you have already canned your summer harvest to give away as gifts. From strawberry balsamic, plum, peach, kumquat or blueberry, summer jams bring a smile to faces that are shivering in the winter months.
Didn’t can anything during the summer? No problem! Fall fruits make wonderful jams, too! You can make jams with figs, pomegranate and my personal favorite, quince. You can also use your autumn apples and make apple butter or apple sauce. Look out for an apple recipe perfect for canning next week!
Intimidated with canning? Check out my step-by-step instructions on hot water canning here!
Sweet mason jar gifts
Need a unique way of gifting your holiday cookies? Make mini-sized treats and pack them in a mason jar. They are adorable, practical and downright unique. This works great for toffees, fudge and candies, as well.
Of course, you don’t have to bake. You can always layer the dry ingredients of your favorite cookie recipe in a mason jar and attach the recipe to it. Here’s the recipe for Dark Chocolate Roll-Out Cookies featured above.
Savory mason jar gifts
Got a health nut on your hands? I love roasting nuts and sprinkling them with my favorite spices and herbs. From cashews to walnuts, almonds to pecans, make them spicy or sweet. Anything goes! You can find the recipe here for Rosemary Roasted Cashews.
Other great uses for mason jars? I ended up with a boat-load of herbs this past summer, so I dried them and packed them away in mason jars. Make a spice collection using your home-dried herbs and give them away as gifts.
You can also bake in mason jars and make mini cakes or brownies. Once cooled, you screw on the top and presto! Your gift is ready to giveaway!
Making infused sugars is also a great gift! I love adding orange zest to sugar to make orange sugar. It adds so much flavor when you sprinkle over scones, muffins or cookies. Try it with lemon zest and vanilla bean, too!
The recipe I am sharing today is for one of my favorite jams, quince jam. It is an unusual jam, but if you are of middle eastern decent. Quince, as a fruit, looks like a cross between an apple and a pear. It has been revered in the middle east and ancient Greece and Rome.
When you first look at it, you see a knobby looking ugly fruit. It is hard as a rock and very bitter if you eat it raw. Don’t eat it raw. Why bother with this fruit at all? Well, the magic happens when you cook it.
Quince is high in carbohydrates and is a great source of vitamin C and potassium. It is also high in fiber. Quince contains a lot of natural pectin, making it perfect for jamming.
Once cooked, it’s fruity floral tones come out. Quince turns a rose color when cooked in a stainless steel or copper pot. The color deepens the longer it cooks. Quince requires more cooking time because it is such a tough fruit when raw.
How to make quince jam
When you cook quince, it remains soft, but firm. And its tremendous aroma that makes it quite unique. Remember, to get this ruby red color, you have to cook it in a stainless or copper pot. It does not turn red in a nonstick pot. I am speaking from experience!
To start the quince jam making process, you start with cut pieces of quince, water, sugar and lemon juice. Just like apples and other fruits, quince immediately begins to oxidize once cut so don’t be alarmed. Bring the mixture to boil and reduce the temperature and start simmering.
The transformation of your quince when making jam is quite fun and beautiful. Stir the quince every 30 minutes and watch the color transform from pale fruit and clear liquid, to a soft orangey pink concoction. Don’t stop, but keep on cooking until the liquid is thick and syrupy and the color is a deep red.
Your jam is done when quince is fork tender and the color is a deep crimson color you see below. Again, this color change only happens when you cook your jam in a stainless or copper pot.
You can cut your quince fruit into any size chunks you like. My mom likes to eat a bite of jammed quince at a time, so she likes them in big chunks like this. But you can easily cut them into smaller pieces and mash it up once it is done cooking.
This quince jam makes a very stunning and unique gift. And since quince is fall-winter fruit, it is perfect for gift giving during the holidays!
Quince is often paired with other fruits, like apples and pairs. If you want to try another quince recipe, you should try my Apple Quince Crisp with Cardamom and Rosewater.
- 2 lb quince
- 1 cup water
- 2 cup granulated sugar
- 3 TBS lemon juice
- Wash, core and cut quince into chunks.
- In a stainless or copper pot whisk together water, sugar and lemon juice.
- Stir in the chopped quince.
- Place pot over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.
- Cover the lid of the pot with a towel (to catch the steam), reduce heat to low and simmer until quince changes to a dark, ruby red color, approximately 2-3 hours.
- Stir quince every 30 minutes to keep from burning. If low on water, stir in more as needed.
- When jam is fork tender and ruby red in color, remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
- Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Or, if you are canning your jam, click here for hot water canning instructions.
You can also add a stick of cinnamon, 4 cardamon pods or a star of anise for added flavor. Just remove after quince jam is done cooking.
The key to your quince jam to changing into a ruby red color is to use a stainless or copper pot. The towel around the lid of the pot is also crucial.
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Serving Size:1 TBS
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 130 Total Fat: 0g Saturated Fat: 0g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 0g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 4mg Carbohydrates: 34g Fiber: 1g Sugar: 25g Protein: 0g
And speaking of giveaways, do I have a gift for you! Freund Container and Supply is kind enough to get you started on your fall canning projects with a $100 gift certificate for any of the products you find here on their website. Now if that doesn’t get you motivated, I don’t know what else will!
And you don’t have to wait to win to get started your holiday projects. Freund Container and Supply is also offering a 10% discount off orders of $100 or more. Just enter in the code WOW10OFF when you check out.
Rules of the Contest:
THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED.
There are several ways you can enter to win this $100 gift certificate: Leave a comment below on your favorite canning recipe, craft project or your favorite way to use a mason jar. Like Freund Container and Supply on Facebook and leave a comment below that you did so. Follow Freund Container and Supply on Twitter and leave a comment below that you did so. Tweet about the giveaway: Win $100 gift certificate from @freundcontainer & ideas for homemade holiday gifts in a jar from @familyspice http://su.pr/2nci96
Only U.S. and Canadian residents can enter.
Must enter by November 12, 2012. The winner of this contest was Andy from Isabel and Andy Cook.
Disclosure: Freund Container and Supply sent me a box of Legacy Mason Jars to review. I was not compensated in any other way for this post. All opinions are completely and totally mine!