From Our Kitchen: Marvelous Mason Jars

Get great tips on using mason jars, grilling, kosher salt, and blueberries.

Of course you can transport iced tea or other beverages to an outdoor gathering in an insulated cooler, but what fun would that be? Use Mason jars as sealed individual servings. But don't fill them all the way to the top; make sure you leave plenty of room for ice. Your guests will be charmed by the rustic containers. The jars can also serve as low-tech cocktail shakers, for those times when you'd rather shake than stir.

Heck, don't limit yourself to drinks. These old-fashioned wonders are great for sauces, condiments, grape tomatoes, berries, lemon wedges, even croutons for salads. They're a fine way to contain anything that might spill or be crushed. You could even serve individual layered salads in them for a festive presentation. The possibilities are nearly limitless for these reusable and reliable containers.

Great Grilling Tip
Try this method to get a piece of fish off the grill without breaking it up. Slide a two-prong serving fork between the fish and the grill grate, and lift the fish enough to slide a spatula underneath

Why We Love Kosher Salt
Though kosher salt and table salt are both sodium chloride, some table salt contains iodine and an anticaking agent, which lends a bitter flavor. Because of its coarse texture, kosher salt also has less sodium per teaspoon. It works well as a "finishing salt"; just sprinkle it on a dish right before serving. It is also great in rubs--it adds visual appeal, and the large grains distribute more evenly than fine ones.

Blueberry Everything
Now is the perfect time to enjoy the juicy splendor of these amazingly good-for-you berries. Though you can buy blueberries shipped from other parts of the world much of the year, the flavor just doesn't compare to those harvested locally in season. I usually eat them in salads, on cereal, and in baked goods as often as possible. I also buy a couple of quarts to freeze for future use in recipes. Freeze them in a single layer in a baking pan; then store the frozen blueberries in plastic containers or zip-top plastic freezer bags for up to two months.

If you're baking with these beauties and the coffee cake or muffins start with a thick batter, tossing the berries in flour will help prevent them from sinking to the bottom. It will also keep them from releasing their vibrant color into the batter. But even flour won't help them stay evenly distributed in a thin batter.

 

Test Kitchen's Recipe Box

The Best Blueberries
Besides being wonderfully delicious and versatile, blueberries have incredible health benefits. They contain compounds called anthocyanins that help prevent heart disease and certain cancers. Fortunately, they work well in a large variety of dishes, so you can enjoy their sweet flavor while doing good things for your body. Try them in these highly rated recipes.


Sweet Tea
Nothing says summer in the South like a tall glass of sweet iced tea. Here's our best version along with a few variations to keep you cool.


"From Our Kitchen: Marvelous Mason Jars" is from the June 2007 issue of Southern Living.