6. Chocolate Hazelnut Spread
- 1 and 1/2 cups raw hazelnuts with skins removed, roasted or toasted (to roast, bake in an oven at 350F for about 10 minutes, stirring often. To toast, roll them around in a pan on the stovetop at medium-high heat until browned and fragrant on all sides)
- 1/2 cup organic cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup almond milk or coconut cream
- 1/2 cup sugar or agave syrup (If using agave, use slightly less milk so your mixture doesn’t get too liquidy.)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch of pink salt (optional)
Process hazelnuts in a blender or food processor until they’re smooth and creamy. You’ll need to stop occasionally to scrape down the sides, but continue the process until all have been pureed.
Add the coconut or almond milk, sugar, and vanilla to the nut mixture, and blend until well combined. Feel free to adjust the sugar content to attain the sweetness you desire. I like to add a tiny pinch of salt to enhance the chocolate flavor, but feel free to omit.
Scoop your choco-nutty spread into glass jars, and lick all spoons and spatulas clean. This will stay fresh for a week if refrigerated, but do you really think it’ll last that long?
7. Spiced Carrot Cake “Marmalade”
Marmalade is traditionally made with citrus rinds, but this one is like a gooey slice of carrot cake in a jar. It still has citrus notes, but also SO much more.
- 4 medium carrots, peeled and grated finely
- 1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled and grated
- 1 can crushed pineapple with juice
- 2 tablespoons orange juice
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 3 cups cane sugar
- 1 tablespoon molasses
- 1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
- 1 packet (approximately 1 3/4 oz) powdered pectin
- 1/3 cup raisins, rehydrated (I rehydrate mine in hot rum, but hot water, juice, or apple cider work too)
Pour all ingredients except for the pectin, coconut, and raisins into a large pot and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently. Bring heat down to medium-low, pop the cover on it, and let that simmer down for 15 – 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove from heat, and stir in the powdered pectin. Place back on the heat and keep stirring for a couple of minutes until everything has combined well, then remove and set aside.
Add the coconut and raisins and stir to combine thoroughly. Spoon into your decorative jars and allow to cool before sealing. Since this hasn’t been water bath canned, it’s known as a “fridge jam”, and will stay fresh in the fridge for 2-3 weeks, if it lasts that long.
Hide in a closet with the spoons, ladles, and saucepan so no-one else will bug you to let them lick them clean.
8. Pickled Pepper Relish
This goes spectacularly well with baked vegan almond feta “cheese” spread, especially on crisp crackers.
- 4 sweet red peppers, seeded and chopped
- 1 yellow pepper, seeded and chopped
- 1 orange pepper, seeded and chopped chopped
- 1 mild poblano pepper, seeded and chopped
- 1 green pepper, seeded and chopped
- 3 medium vidalia onions, chopped
- 1/3 cup water
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
Put all peppers and onion through a food processor until ground quite finely.
Scoop pepper-onion mixture into a saucepan with the 1/3 cup water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, then drain. Keep in the saucepan, but set aside.
In a separate saucepan, dissolve your sugar in the vinegar on medium heat until the sugar is dissolved, then add the salt. Stir to make sure that everything has dissolved evenly, and then pour that over the pepper-onion mixture.
Put that saucepan full of peppery deliciousness over med-high heat and bring back up to a boil, then reduce to low heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes until the liquid has reduced. Set aside to cool, and then transfer to your jars.
9. Caramelized Onion and Roasted Garlic Jam
- 1 head of garlic, roasted (Here’s a good how-to guide for roasting garlic.)
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 3 large Vidalia (or other sweet) onions, diced or slivered
- 2 parsley sprigs
- 1 rosemary sprig
- 1 thyme sprig
- 1 cup sugar (I use turbinado, but coconut sugar, or refined sugar would work well for this. If you prefer to use agave syrup or honey, just reduce the mixture on low heat for a bit longer during the last step so the extra liquid evaporates.)
- 3/4 cup balsamic vinegar (dark or light)
- Sea salt
Heat the olive oil in a large pot until it starts to dance. Add the onions and turn the heat down to medium, and stir occasionally until the onions turn a lovely golden brown. This can take a while, but be patient! Properly caramelized onions are things of beauty.
Pop the roasted garlic cloves out of their skins, and mash them into a fine paste. I do this with a mortar and pestle, but you can do so with a fork or food processor as well.
Tie the herbs together with some kitchen twine or cotton string to make a bouquet garni, and add that to the onion mixture and stir it around until they release their fragrance. Sprinkle the sugar evenly all over the onions, but don’t stir! Allow the sugar to dissolve, and slowly increase the heat until a rich brown caramel begins to form. This should take approximately 10 minutes, but judge by appearance, rather than the clock.
Pull out the herb bouquet and set it aside to be composted. Add the balsamic vinegar and mashed garlic puree, and stir gently and regularly over low heat until the jam thickens, then remove from heat, season it with salt to taste, and set aside to cool. Once it’s cooled to room temperature, scoop it into clean glass jars, and refrigerate. Lick any spoons or other utensils that may still have remnants of jam on them.
This is best served at room temperature, but you might like to experiment with different temperatures just to make sure which you like best.
10. White Bean Spread with Sumac
Similar to hummus, only a bit thicker and without the tahini, this gets a great lemony kick from the ground sumac. If you can’t get your hands on sumac (it’s normally found in Middle Eastern grocery stores), you can substitute a bit of grated lemon rind and a pinch of smoked paprika.
- 1 1/4 cups canned white cannelini beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice (or to taste)
- Pinch of powdered cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground sumac (or substitute)
- Salt to taste
Puree all ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth. Adjust lemon and salt to taste, and transfer into your decorative jars. If desired, top with a sprig of parsley and a sprinkle of sumac or paprika before fastening the lid.
*Note: If you’d like to make a bean-free version of this, just use 1 1/4 cups of pureed roasted cauliflower instead.
How to Decorate Your Jars
Now that you’ve determined which comely comestible(s) you’ll be filling them with, it’s time to pay a bit of attention to the containers themselves. Jars with interesting shapes or textures are fun to use, so whenever you buy fancy jams, artichoke hearts, etc., be sure to keep that jar once you’ve finished with its contents.
One of the easiest ways to “pretty up” a jar is to decorate the lid. Some people like to paint theirs, but my favorite technique is to just cover it with a lovely piece of fabric and tie that in place with jute or other twine. You can find pre-cut squares of cotton quilting fabric at just about any craft or fabric shop, or you can recycle fabrics that you already have at home. If you have pinking shears, use those to create an interesting texture around the cut edge, if you like. Just cut the fabric so its diameter is about 2 inches greater than your lid, so you can tie it into place without worrying about slippage.
For the labels, you can buy some adhesive labels (or even full sheets of adhesive paper) at any place that sells office supplies, and then download some decorative templates online. You can find many free ones to play with, but there are also some gorgeous ones on Etsy and such that only cost a few dollars to download. Then, just write down the contents on the front label, and if you like, add another label with the “use by” date on the bottom of the jar, as mentioned earlier.
All images via Shutterstock