P.I.Y. (preserve it yourself)
John Landis Mason first patented his hermetically sealable preserving jars in 1858. Could he ever have imagined the variations on his theme that would lead to The Onion's hilarious take on how far they might extend their ubiquity? Likely not. But he most certainly lived to see his idea adopted in markets around the world (though he himself died in poverty in a New York tenement in 1902): the Kerr jars and famous blue Ball jars in the U.S., Bernardin jars in Canada (using metric volumes), the distinctive clip-seal Weck jars from Germany (which we carry at the Mercantile) and the hybrid Fowler's Vacola jars of Australia. Most of these companies have come up with variations to the glass or lids - some practical and some that have invited the derision of The Onion: devices to turn these simple jars into everything from travel mugs and cocktail shakers to toothbrush holders and patio lanterns.
While the Kilner jar lost its 1842 Yorkshire roots long ago to a faceless corporation, we have to admit that their most recent variations to the utility of the Mason jar are actually genuinely useful and we're now offering two of them in store:
1. The Spiralizer
We love our stand-alone spiralizer and have added more carrot and zucchini to our diet as a direct result but it has two distinct flaws:
a) It's a uni-tasker. Until you actually need it - which is certainly not every day - it sits there taking up a considerable amount of precious shelf space. Frankly, we keep ours in a storage room rather than the kitchen where counter space is at a premium;
b) While the process of loading up the vegetables and cranking the handle to make courgetti or beet ribbons is fun, the design is....inelegant. The height of the output and the extension of the business end of the thing never seems to accommodate the right kind of vessel in which to collect the finished product. There is inevitably overspill and the messy business of transferring it into whatever bowl or pan your stuff is destined for.
The Kilner spiralizer attachment solves both of these issues simply and economically. The blade-lid and protection ring take up minimal space in the drawer and the crank mechanism is replaced by your own wrist! Just twist your carrot (so to speak) into the lid and perfectly spiral cut ribbons fall into the jar you're going to store them in or where you can work with them right away. No messy transfer!
2. The Fermenter
We make our own pickles in a giant crock. I admit I make more pickles than we want or need because I'm making use of the volume of the crock. And to make the crock work for fermenting I needed to custom cut a platter of silicone and sacrifice a few plates to weight the whole assembly down so gas can escape but mold can't grow. The Kilner Fermenter kit includes cut ceramic weights that fit perfectly into the Mason jar and the lid-bung-valve assembly moderates all of the gas exchange which is such an important part of the home fermenting process. With one simple attachment you've taken out all the guesswork and your pickles or sauerkraut or kimchi will already be in the jar you'll put in the fridge when the ferment is done - just replace the fermenter attachment with a regular lid.
These are truly useful tools. And if they're a success in the store, we'll consider bringing in the butter-churning attachment!