We asked the L.A. County branch of the California Master Food Preservers program what gifts they think are perfect for the aspiring home canning and jarring enthusiast. Erik Knutzen, Jake Mumm, Joseph Shuldiner, Ernest Miller, Meg Glasser, and Emily Ho all responded -- and they all like the same products! Here are the selections that received more than one recommendation from our esteemed panel. If you buy these gifts for your loved ones, it'll probably result in better eating for you, too!
Saving the Season: This guide to all things food preservation came out this year, and is already an indispensable reference guide. Says Emily, "Kevin West is a gifted teacher and his book is both practical and inspiring for both new and experienced food preservers."
The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving: Another book, this one has already been a classic for quite some time. It doesn't have quite as much flair as Saving the Season, but the information is excellent.
The Art of Fermentation: Sandor Katz is well-known in the food community for his ideas, which range from obviously excellent to a little bit out there. Either way, he definitely knows his stuff, and this book is not only a good instruction manual, but a good overview of the history and uses of fermentation, too.
Canning set: There are plenty of home canning kits out there. Whatever you choose for your favorite food preserver, pick one that includes a jar lifter and a funnel in addition to the actual cans.
Institute of Domestic Technology: The upscale Institute offers courses in jam making, pickling, coffee roasting, cocktail crafting, cheese making, etc., with classes held at two different historic mansions: Zane Grey Estate in Altadena, and the Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills. Gift certificates are available, too.
Mason Jar Drinking Glass: This stylish glass travel cup comes with a Pyrex straw, and best of all, fits in the cup holder of most cars.
Lactofermentation Kit: Homemade sauerkraut? Kimchi? Pickles? Yes! Lactofermentation is a subcategory of cooking that most people don't even attempt, but its adherents are passionate and dedicated.
Stainless Steel Dehydrator with Clear Door: The Excalibur brand was specifically mentioned over and over -- "the Cadillac of home dehydrators," even -- so it's clearly the one to get. It's certainly not cheap, but the idea is you'll be able to use it forever.
Good Eggs: This grocery service is very specialized: they hand-pick their vendors, so everyone's using sustainable practices and high-quality ingredients. Products range from vegetables to fully-prepared meals.
Thermapen: "A $96 thermometer is by no means essential, but if you're looking to spoil your favorite cook or food preserver, this is a wonderful way to do it. The Thermapen gives an accurate, near-instant read of temperatures when making jam, cheese, bread, and more, plus it's really durable" says Emily.
Headspace Measuring Card: "At the other end of the price spectrum is a stainless steel headspace measuring card designed by food preservation guru Ernest Miller/Rancho La Merced Provisions. It's inexpensive, yet indispensable. I use mine for nearly every canning project I do."