50 Gift Jars

Whip up a tasty homemade gift for all the food lovers in your life. 
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Photo by: Ralph Smith

Ralph Smith

1. Vanilla Spiced Nuts Toss 3 cups mixed nuts with 1/2 cup each pepitas and sunflower seeds. Whisk 1 egg white with 1/3 cup maple syrup, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 1/2 teaspoons each pumpkin pie spice, kosher salt and vanilla extract, the seeds from 1 vanilla bean and 1/2 teaspoon cayenne. Pour over the nut mixture; toss. Spread on a silicone mat–lined baking sheet; bake at 325 degrees F, stirring once, until golden, 40 minutes. Let cool. Makes 4 cups.

2. Za'atar Pistachios Toss 2 cups pistachios (in shells) with 2 teaspoons each olive oil and za'atar (Middle Eastern spice blend), a pinch of cayenne and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Spread on a baking sheet; bake at 300 degrees F until toasted, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool. Makes 2 cups.

3. Rosemary–Olive Oil Crackers Whisk 1 1/2 cups flour, 1 tablespoon each chopped rosemary, chives and sesame seeds and 1 teaspoon each baking powder, kosher salt and cracked pepper. Stir in 1/2 cup water and 1/4 cup olive oil. Knead until smooth on a floured surface; halve. Roll out until very thin (1/16 inch). Cut into 2-inch squares. Bake on parchment-lined baking sheets at 400 degrees F until golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool. Makes 48.

4. Truffle Crackers Make Rosemary–Olive Oil Crackers (No. 3), using only 1/2 teaspoon salt and omitting the pepper. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon truffle salt before baking.

5. Spicy Roasted Peppers Halve and seed 6 bell peppers (assorted colors); toss with 6 smashed garlic cloves, 3 tablespoons olive oil, 3 oregano sprigs and 1/4 teaspoon each red pepper flakes and kosher salt on a baking sheet. Roast at 425 degrees F until charred, 35 minutes. Let cool, then peel. Slice and layer in jars; cover with olive oil. Refrigerate up to 2 weeks. Makes 3 cups.

6. Spicy Marinated Olives Combine 1 pound pitted mixed olives, 1/2 cup olive oil, the zest of 1 lemon (in wide strips), 4 crumbled dried chiles de arbol, 4 bay leaves, 4 thyme sprigs, 1 teaspoon crushed coriander seeds and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Refrigerate at least 4 hours and up to 1 week. Makes 4 cups.

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Pickled Winter Vegetables (No. 7)

Photo by: Ralph Smith

Ralph Smith

7. Pickled Winter Vegetables Bring 1 cup each cider vinegar and water, 1/4 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons kosher salt, 1 teaspoon each peppercorns, coriander seeds and mustard seeds and 1/4 teaspoon turmeric to a boil. Pour over 3 cups sliced winter vegetables (such as beets and turnips). Let cool. Refrigerate at least 1 day and up to 2 weeks. Makes 4 cups.

8. Pickled Fennel Make Pickled Winter Vegetables (No. 7), omitting the turmeric and replacing the vegetables with sliced fennel; add 1/2 cup chopped dill and 1 sliced red jalapeno.

9. Marinated Feta Cube 4 ounces good-quality feta and place in a small jar. Top with 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon each red pepper flakes and dried mint, 3 wide strips lemon zest and 1 mint sprig. Refrigerate up to 5 days. Makes 1 cup.

10. Blue Cheese Spread Beat 8 ounces each Cambozola cheese (rind removed) and cream cheese, 1/2 cup each sour cream and chopped walnuts, 1 tablespoon honey and a pinch each of cayenne and salt with a mixer. Transfer to jars and top with more walnuts. Refrigerate up to 5 days. Makes 2 cups.

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Photo by: Ralph Smith

Ralph Smith

11. Pimiento Cheese Spread Pulse 8 ounces cream cheese with 2 cups shredded cheddar, 1/2 cup each mayonnaise and chopped pimientos and a pinch each of cayenne and salt in a food processor. Refrigerate up to 5 days. Makes 2 cups.

12. Smoked Salmon Pâté Beat 8 ounces cream cheese, 1/2 cup sour cream, 1 pound chopped smoked salmon, 1 minced red onion, the juice of 1 lemon and 2 teaspoons each brandy and hot sauce with a mixer until smooth. Refrigerate up to 3 days. Makes 2 cups.

13. Caviar Dip Beat 6 ounces cream cheese, 1/2 cup sour cream, 2 tablespoons each chopped dill, chives and lemon juice and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt with a mixer until smooth. Gently stir in 1 ounce rinsed lumpfish caviar. Transfer to jars; top with more caviar. Refrigerate up to 3 days. Makes 1 1/2 cups.

14. Chinese Chile Vinegar Bring 1 cup rice vinegar, 8 each dried chiles de arbol and star anise pods, one 2-inch piece ginger (sliced) and 1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns to a boil. Let cool. Refrigerate at least 2 days and up to 2 weeks. Makes 1 cup.

15. Fig-Balsamic Vinegar Bring 1 1/4 cups balsamic vinegar, 6 thyme sprigs, 1/2 cup chopped dried figs and 1 teaspoon black peppercorns to a simmer. Cook until the liquid is syrupy, 10 minutes. Let cool; strain. Refrigerate up to 2 weeks. Makes 3/4 cup.

16. Spicy Sesame Salsa Toast 1 cup sesame seeds and 1/2 cup pepitas in a dry skillet over medium heat, 3 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl; let cool. Heat 1/3 cup olive oil in the skillet. Add 8 crushed dried chiles de arbol and 4 minced garlic cloves; fry 30 seconds. Add to the bowl along with 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar and 2 tablespoons brown sugar; stir until smooth. Season with salt. Let cool. Refrigerate up to 2 weeks. Makes 2 cups.

17. Ancho Barbecue Sauce Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add 1/4 cup each grated onion and ancho chile powder and 1 tablespoon minced garlic. Cook, stirring, until browned, 5 minutes. Add 2 cups tomato puree, 1/3 cup each dark brown sugar and cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon each Worcestershire sauce and Dijon mustard and 1 teaspoon smoked sea salt; season with pepper. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 15 minutes. Let cool. Refrigerate up to 1 month. Makes 1 1/2 cups.

18. Caribbean Ketchup Saute 1 chopped shallot and 1 pickled jalapeno in vegetable oil over medium heat until softened. Add 2 sliced bananas and one 6-ounce can tomato paste; cook until slightly browned, 5 minutes. Add 1 cup water, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup cider vinegar and 1 tablespoon each rum and Worcestershire sauce. Simmer until thickened, 20 minutes. Let cool, then puree until smooth. Season to taste. Refrigerate up to 2 weeks. Makes 2 cups.

19. Marinara Sauce Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a pot over medium heat. Add 4 sliced garlic cloves; cook until softened, 1 minute. Crush two 28-ounce cans San Marzano tomatoes by hand; add to the pot along with 2 cups water and 3 bay leaves. Bring to a boil; reduce the heat and simmer until thickened, 40 minutes. Season to taste. Let cool. Refrigerate up to 1 week. Makes 6 cups.

20. Spicy Puttanesca Sauce Make Marinara Sauce (No. 19), adding 1/2 cup roughly chopped black olives, 4 chopped anchovies, 2 tablespoons capers and 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes with the tomatoes. Stir 2 tablespoons chopped parsley into the finished sauce. Makes 7 cups. 

21. Spicy Rosemary Honey Bring 1 cup honey, 1 tablespoon jarred chopped Calabrian chiles and 1 rosemary sprig to a simmer, stirring. Let cool. Refrigerate up to 2 weeks. Makes 1 cup.

22. Herbed Croutons Toss 8 cups cubed white bread with 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon each chopped rosemary and thyme, 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest and 1/4 teaspoon each red pepper flakes, kosher salt and pepper on a baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees F until golden, 12 minutes. Let cool. Makes 8 cups.

23. Truffle-Herb Popcorn Seasoning Combine 1/2 cup grated truffle pecorino cheese, 2 teaspoons each chopped rosemary and thyme, and 1 teaspoon cracked pepper. Refrigerate up to 5 days. Makes 1/2 cup. (To use: Toss with 10 cups hot salted popcorn and 2 tablespoons olive oil.)

24. Roast Chicken Rub Combine 1/4 cup paprika, 2 tablespoons kosher salt, 2 teaspoons each garlic powder, dried oregano and ground thyme, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Makes 1/2 cup.

25. Moroccan Seasoning Blend Combine 2 tablespoons kosher salt, 1 tablespoon each ground cumin, coriander, cinnamon and paprika, 2 teaspoons each ground ginger and turmeric and 1 teaspoon cayenne. Makes 1/2 cup.

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Roasted Red Pepper Butter (No. 30) and Peppercorn Salt Rub (No. 26)

Photo by: Ralph Smith

Ralph Smith

Roasted Red Pepper Butter (No. 30) and Peppercorn Salt Rub (No. 26)

26. Peppercorn Salt Rub Combine 3/4 cup kosher salt, 1/4 cup each flaky sea salt and crushed mixed peppercorns and 1 teaspoon each granulated garlic, onion powder and paprika. Makes 1 1/2 cups.

27. Rosemary Salt Pulse 1/2 cup kosher salt and 1/4 cup fresh rosemary in a food processor until the rosemary is finely chopped. Transfer to a bowl and stir in 1/2 cup coarse sea salt, 1 1/2 tablespoons crushed pink peppercorns and 8 dried chiles de arbol. Makes 1 cup.

28. Indian Rice Sachets Wrap 1 cinnamon stick, 2 cardamom pods, 1 teaspoon turmeric, 2 dried chiles de arbol, 2 cloves and 1/2 teaspoon each coriander seeds, cumin seeds and mustard seeds in each of 6 squares of cheesecloth to make 6 sachets; tie with kitchen twine. (To use: Add 1 sachet to the water for every 1 to 2 cups uncooked rice.)

29. Italian Herb Butter Pulse 2 sticks softened unsalted butter, 1/2 cup chopped parsley, 1/4 cup grated parmesan, 4 anchovies, 1 garlic clove, the grated zest of 1 lemon, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes in a food processor. Refrigerate up to 1 week. Makes 1 cup.

30. Roasted Red Pepper Butter Pulse 1/2 cup jarred roasted red peppers with 1 tablespoon fresh thyme and 3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika in a food processor until almost smooth. Add 2 sticks softened unsalted butter; pulse until combined. Season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate up to 1 week. Makes 1 cup.

31. Layered Herb–Roasted Pepper Butter Make Italian Herb Butter (No. 29) and Roasted Red Pepper Butter (No. 30); layer in jars. Refrigerate up to 1 week. Makes 2 cups.

32. Chocolate-Spice Cookie Butter Pulse 1 sleeve chocolate graham crackers and 20 gingersnaps in a food processor until finely ground. Add 1 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk and 1 teaspoon each pumpkin pie spice and vanilla; pulse until smooth. Refrigerate up to 2 weeks. Makes 1 1/2 cups.

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Red Velvet Cookie Butter (No. 33)

Photo by: Ralph Smith

Ralph Smith

33. Red Velvet Cookie Butter Finely grind 1 cup crushed shortbread cookies in a food processor. Add 4 crumbled store-bought frosted red velvet cupcakes; pulse until smooth. Beat 8 ounces softened cream cheese, 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, 3 tablespoons milk, 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 1 teaspoon vanilla with a mixer until smooth. Layer the cupcake mixture and cream cheese frosting in jars. Refrigerate up to 1 week. Makes 1 1/2 cups.

34. Candy Cane Cookie Dough Whisk 1 1/4 cups flour with 1/2 teaspoon each baking soda and salt. Beat 1 stick softened butter and 1/2 cup each brown sugar and granulated sugar with a mixer until fluffy. Beat in 2 eggs and 2 teaspoons vanilla. Beat in the dry ingredients on low, then stir in 2 cups chocolate chips and 1 cup crushed candy canes. Refrigerate up to 3 days. (To bake: Scoop 1-inch balls onto parchment-lined baking sheets; bake at 350 degrees F until golden, 15 to 18 minutes. Makes 36.)

35. White Chocolate–Cranberry Cookie Dough Make Candy Cane Cookie Dough (No. 34), replacing the chocolate chips with white chocolate chips and the candy canes with 1 cup each dried cranberries and chopped macadamia nuts. Refrigerate up to 3 days. (To bake: Scoop 1-inch balls onto parchment-lined baking sheets; bake at 350 degrees F until golden, 15 to 18 minutes. Makes 36.)

36. Espresso Hot Fudge Bring 1 cup heavy cream, 4 tablespoons butter, 1/3 cup each brown sugar and corn syrup and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt to a simmer. Whisk in 8 ounces chopped bittersweet chocolate and 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, then 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder and 1 tablespoon vanilla. Let cool. Refrigerate up to 5 days. Makes 2 cups.

37. Vanilla-Cardamom Sugar Toast 1 tablespoon cardamom pods in a dry skillet; let cool. Combine with 1 cup sugar and 1 split vanilla bean (seeds and pod). Rub the vanilla pod into the sugar. Let infuse at least 2 days or up to 1 month. Makes 1 cup.

38. Mini Lemon Scones Pulse 2 cups flour, 3 tablespoons sugar, 2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a food processor. Add 6 tablespoons diced cold butter; pulse to combine. Add 1 beaten egg, 1 cup heavy cream, 1/2 cup dried currants and 1 teaspoon lemon zest; pulse to combine. Pat until 1/2 inch thick on a floured surface. Cut out 1-inch rounds; sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet at 425 degrees F until golden, 12 minutes. Makes 36.

39. Lime Macaroons Whisk 3 egg whites with 1/2 cup sugar, the grated zest and juice of 1 lime, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and a pinch of salt; fold in one 14-ounce bag sweetened shredded coconut. Drop tablespoonfuls onto an oiled baking sheet; pinch to form triangles. Bake at 325 degrees F until golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Makes 30.

40. Cherry-Pistachio Granola Toss 2 1/2 cups rolled oats with 1 cup pistachios, 1/2 cup each sunflower seeds and unsweetened flaked coconut, 1/4 cup each brown sugar, vegetable oil and maple syrup, 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Spread on a baking sheet; bake at 275 degrees F, stirring occasionally, until toasted, about 1 hour. Let cool. Stir in 3/4 cup each chocolate chips and dried cherries. Makes 6 cups.

41. Granola Bar Bites Make Cherry-Pistachio Granola (No. 40). Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a large pot with 4 cups mini marshmallows and 1 teaspoon vanilla, stirring, until smooth. Stir in the granola until well coated. Press into an 8-inch square baking dish. Let cool until firm. Cut into 1-inch squares. Makes 64.

42. Fruity Oatmeal Topping Combine 1/2 cup turbinado sugar, 1/4 cup each granulated sugar, raisins, dried blueberries and dried cranberries, 1 cinnamon stick, 1 tablespoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, the seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean and a pinch of salt. Makes 2 cups.

43. Power Oatmeal Topping Make Fruity Oatmeal Topping (No. 42), adding 1/2 cup chopped almonds and 1/4 cup each chia seeds and sunflower seeds. Makes 3 cups.

44. Cran-Apple Sauce Bring 2 pounds chopped peeled apples, 1 cup cranberries, 1/2 cup water, 3 tablespoons each brown sugar and granulated sugar, 1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest and 1/4 teaspoon each ground cardamom and cinnamon to a simmer over medium heat. Cover; cook until thickened, 20 minutes. Puree. Refrigerate up to 1 week. Makes 2 cups.

45. Rum Raisins Combine 1 cup raisins with 3/4 cup dark rum, 1/2 cup water, 1 split vanilla bean (seeds and pod), 1 broken cinnamon stick and 2 wide strips orange zest. Refrigerate at least 1 day and up to 1 week. Makes 2 cups.

46. Brandied Prunes Bring 1 cup each sugar, water and brandy and the zest of 1 lemon (in wide strips) to a simmer. Add 2 cups prunes; cook 10 minutes. Add a pinch of nutmeg. Let cool. Refrigerate up to 2 weeks. Makes 4 cups.

47. Lemon-Lavender Cocktail Syrup Simmer 2 cups water, 1 1/4 cups fresh Meyer lemon juice, 1 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon dried lavender until the sugar dissolves. Let cool, then strain. Refrigerate up to 1 week. Makes 3 cups. (To use: Mix with vodka or seltzer to taste.)

48. Pom Royal Cocktail Syrup Combine 1 1/2 cups pomegranate juice with 1/2 cup creme de cassis and 6 wide strips orange zest. Refrigerate up to 1 month. Makes 2 cups. (To use: Add 2 tablespoons to a glass of champagne.)

49. Cranberry Shrub Bring 8 cups water and one 10-ounce bag cranberries to a boil. Let cool; strain. Whisk 3/4 cup sugar with 1/2 cup lemon juice and 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar until dissolved; stir into the cranberry mixture. Refrigerate at least 2 days and up to 1 month. Makes 8 cups. (To use: Mix with equal parts seltzer.)

50. Hot Toddy Sachets Wrap 1 cinnamon stick, 1 dried orange slice, 2 wide strips lemon zest, 2 pieces crystallized ginger and 1 whole clove in each of 6 squares of cheesecloth to make 6 sachets; tie with kitchen twine. (To use: Steep 1 sachet in 1 cup hot tea; add bourbon.)

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