Crafty Kitchen: Creative Toppers for Homemade Preserves

While I appreciate a row of simple, unadorned jars of home preserves, sometimes I enjoy fancying it up a little, especially if I'm giving away a jar or two as a gift. Read on for some great ideas on covering your jam and pickle and kraut jars. And tell us what you've done to make your jars look special.

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Equipment: The only thing you need are a sharp pair of scissors for cutting and trimming your materials and some two-sided tape. If you want to get extra-fancy (and who doesn't want to get extra-fancy!) you can invest in a few pairs of shears that have scalloped or other decorative edges.

Cloth: There are many ways to source cloth: old clothes, remnants, old tablecloths. You can also buy a favorite pattern or color you know will go well with your preserves, but there is a nice recycling vibe to using what normally might be discarded cloth. Vintage cloth makes especially nice toppers. Oil cloth, too.

Objects: Vintage napkins and handkerchiefs are also a good source, especially if you can keep them whole. That way, you'll be giving two gifts! Also, doilies (crocheted or paper) and vintage crocheted hot pads are fun.

Paper: Leftover wallpaper, catalogs (Anthropology is a great source), hand printed decorative papers from the art store, newspaper, magazines, a photocopy of an image you like, craft paper, old greeting cards, pages from an old, discarded recipe book.

Fasteners: String, embroidery floss, yarn, colorful rubber bands, twine, wire, coated wire, twist-ties from lettuce (that say 'organic' if applicable), raffia, long stem of a sturdy herb (like rosemary).

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How to:

  • Write the name and date of your preserves on the lid so that if the label is lost, the information is still easy to find.

  • Place a bit of two-sided tape on the lid to hold the cloth/paper in place.

  • Cut a circle or square of your cloth or paper. You'll want to extend about two inches beyond the size of the lid. A bowl or other round object is a good template.

  • Center the paper/cloth on the jar, press to adhere the tape and then using the palms from both of your hands, gently but firmly run your hands down the sides of the jar, smoothing the paper/cloth and creating flat pleats (pleats are more likely with paper.)

  • Cut a piece of your fastener that's larger than the circumference of your lid and tie it over the cloth/paper. Trim ends. Note: If you are using paper and your pleats are especially tight, you may not need a fastener.


  • Additional Ideas:
  • Chose a luscious, close up photo of the fruit or veg that's in the jar for your paper topper.

  • For kimchi, cut a topper from a Korean newspaper; for chutney, use a Hindi newspaper; for salsa a Spanish newspaper. You get the point. Just be sure you know what the paper says to avoid giving your decorated jar as a gift only to discover it's covered with a gruesome headline (true story!)

  • Slightly shred the edges of your cloth for a fringe look or cut a fringe in your paper with a sissors.
  • We'll look at fun label ideas in a future post. What have you used to gussy up your preserves?

    Related: Pantry Style: Weck Canning Jars and a White Pen

    (Images: Dana Velden)

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    Dana Velden is a freelance food writer. She lives, eats, plays, and gets lost in Oakland, California where she is in the throes of raising her first tomato plant.

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