Category Archives: Play with your food

From the archives: Sweet or Savory Specimen Jars

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From the archives comes one of our favorite food projects: Halloween Cuisine: Sweet or Savory Specimen Jars.

 What good is a specimen jar if you can’t serve it at dinner? The contents of the jars should be genuinely edible, made out of real food. Plastic snakes and spiders are right out.

More Halloween edibles can be found  in the food category of our Halloween Project Archive.

Halloween Project Archives

Array of Halloween Projects

Halloween is one of our favorite holidays, and our collection of Halloween projects continues to grow. Every fall we update it to include our latest projects for the season. In the list … we’ve organized dozens of our Halloween projects into categories: costumespumpkinsdecor and food.

Head over to the Halloween Project Archives for the full list of projects.

Lemon Plum Jam

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The plums on our tree ripened all at once this year! Making this sweet and tart Lemon Plum Jam took care of some of the excess fruit in a tasty way.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups plum pieces (pits removed, skin still on)
  • 2 whole lemons—large meyers if you can get them—cut into pieces (seeds removed, peel still on)
  • Juice of 2 more lemons
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 cups sugar

Heat the plum and lemon pieces, lemon juice and water in a pot on medium, stirring occasionally. After about 15-20 minutes, the fruit should be softening. Macerate the fruit in the pot—a potato masher works well for this. Add the sugar. Stir regularly and cook to the desired consistency. To test consistency, put a spoonful on a plate in the fridge. If it’s too runny after cooling for a few minutes, keep simmering and test again after a few minutes.

Makes about 2-3 pints.

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If you want to can it for longer storage, Ball has a nice introduction to canning (pdf), and additional resources on their website.


Other fruit preserves from the Play with your food archives:

Orange Spice Marmalade

Orange Spice Marmalade

It’s citrus season around here, and that means marmalade. Whole cloves, cardamom seeds and cinnamon sticks decorate this sweet orange preserve and give it an aroma reminiscent of holiday desserts and spiced cider.

Orange Spice Marmalade

Ingredients:
15 navel oranges
2 cups water
6 cups sugar
1 tablespoon whole cloves
1 tablespoon cardamom seeds
1 stick of cinnamon per container

The procedure is from our Marmalade Redux: peel the oranges and cut the peel into strips. Juice the oranges and put the strips of peel, juice and water in a pot to cook. Take the pithy pulpy parts leftover from juicing three or four of the oranges. Cut into smaller chunks and tie into several layers of cheesecloth or a cloth jelly bag (like this one) to cook in the pot with everything else.

After cooking for about 20-30 minutes, the pieces of peel should be softened. Remove the pith bag and put it in the cold equivalent of a double boiler: a bowl on top of a layer of ice that’s in a larger bowl. Turn the bag over every so often to help it cool down more quickly. When it is cool enough to handle, squeeze out a few tablespoons of the cooked pulp and pith through the cloth–this will provide the pectin that will help the marmalade to gel.

Put the pectin goo into the pot (which you conveniently left simmering on the stove) and add the sugar, cloves and cardamom. Stir regularly and cook to the desired consistency. To test consistency, put a spoonful on a plate in the fridge. If it’s too runny after cooling for a few minutes, keep simmering and test again after a few minutes. Put one cinnamon stick in each storage container you’ll be using and pour the finished marmalade over it. Makes about four and a half pints.

If you want to can it for longer storage, Ball has a nice introduction to canning (pdf), and additional resources on their website.


Other fruit preserves from the Play with your food archives:

DIY Snowflake Chocolate Molds with the Othermill

Our friends at Other Machine Co. have put out a mold making kit for the Othermill and posted an instructable for making snowflake chocolates using the online Snowflake Generator that Paul Kaplan of Inventables ported from our Vector Snowflake Application.

The process involves milling a wax positive for making a silicone mold. The beautiful two-tone chocolates are made by putting white couverture chocolate into the details of the mold, and then filling the rest of the mold with dark.

One more technique we could have used for Operation: CNC Snowflake!

Soldering Tip Tinning with Sal Ammoniac


If you solder, you’ve likely come across an “untinned” tip at some point— that’s when the tip of your soldering iron loses its shine, and doesn’t easily wet to solder any more.

Once your tip gets this way, it doesn’t make nearly as good of a thermal contact to whatever you are trying to solder, and it simply doesn’t work well. Soldering can take 2-10 times as long, and that isn’t good for your circuit board, components, or mental health.

You can sometimes re-tin the tip by melting fresh solder onto it, but that can be challenging, because the whole problem is that the tip isn’t melting solder. It’s particularly hard to keep tips tinned with modern lead-free solder, because it needs to get even hotter to begin melting.  If you get to this point, you might think about even replacing the tip.

But before you throw that tip away, instead consider using one of the “old standard” solutions, which is to refurbish the tip with a tip-tinning compound. And we came across the most classic of them in one of the most unexpected locations.  Continue reading Soldering Tip Tinning with Sal Ammoniac

From the archives: Pumpkin Spice Truffles

Truffles

With all the pumpkin spice jokes flowing around the internet recently, it’s time to remind everyone how easy it is to make your own pumpkin spice flavored things. Way back in 2007, we published a recipe for making your own pumpkin spice chocolate truffles (hint: no pumpkin involved) and you can use the spice blend on anything at all. (Pumpkin spice Raspberry Pi, anyone?)