11 Essential Gifts to Keep Their Cooking Bright and Fresh Through Winter

Quality cooking gear for all their kitchen experiments.

Design: Rebecca Hoskins
Design: Rebecca Hoskins

As the seasons change, we slowly see the Saturday farmers market selection dwindle from sweet corn and bright berries to root veggies and hearty greens. Regardless of the bounty, there are a few ways to keep food bright and fresh through winter. From fermenting gear to indoor gardening kits, we found the essential gifts to help inspire that home chef in your life. Scroll through to see our picks.

Weck Canning Jars, $5 - $6

Jars are the most important tool for fermentation and pickling, so why not give ones that will last a lifetime? These canning jars have rubber lids with steel clips for that air-tight seal, ensuring that no precious bubbles escape. Plus, they can double as storage containers for packaging beautiful and homemade hosting gifts.

The Noma Guide to Fermentation, $40

If they’re looking to expand their fermentation repertoire past the standard pickling experiment, why not learn from the pros? The Noma Guide to Fermentation will give them tips and tricks straight from the world’s top-rated restaurant. From seasonal roasted corn covered in a fermented blueberry compote to spicy celery vinegar, these recipes are an eye-opener into the funky world of fermentation.

New York Shuk Preserved Lemon Paste, $16

If there’s one thing missing from their pantry, it’s preserved lemon paste. The culinary possibilities are endless: add it to a cocktail for a zesty surprise, mix with olive oil for a tangy salad dressing, or toss with Parmesan and pasta for a quick dinner. Whatever they choose to do with the paste, it’s bound to bring some brightness to any dish.

AeroGarden Harvest Countertop Garden, $100

If they’ve always dreamed of having a bountiful garden in their backyard, but lack a green thumb (or if they have one in summer, but want fresh herbs all winter long!) the AeroGarden Harvest is the perfect gift. This beginner-friendly countertop garden lets anyone grow herbs and fresh veggies. There’s no soil or complicated setup, all they need to do is drop in the seed pods, add water and the plant food when the reminder lights up, and they’ll always have fresh lettuce, cherry tomatoes, and microgreens on hand year-round.

Organic Kombucha Home Brew Starter Kit, $35

Long gone are the days of buying kombucha for $10 a bottle. Let them BYOK (brew your kombucha) with a starter kit. This one has three flavors to choose from — lemon, dragonfruit, and orange — and comes with a starter scoby, the thick membrane that aids fermentation, so they can make endless batches of ‘buch.

Burlap & Barrel Taste Trio, $24

These aren’t your average store-bought spices. Burlap & Barrel uses transparent and equitable practices to source its products, so people can feel good about sprinkling them in their pickling liquids. This trio has three different types of chili flakes that range from savory to sweet. It also comes packaged in a beautiful gift box — win!

FoodSaver Compact Vacuum Sealing Machine, $90

For home cooks lacking in cabinet space, opt for a vacuum sealer instead. The bags lie flat and can be easily stacked — perfect for those small-batch experiments like savory miso and black garlic. Aside from fermentation, they can use the vacuum sealer with a sous vide for a delicate, perfectly-seared steak, or to store fresh veggies in the freezer through the winter.

Fredericks & Mae Rainbow Cutting Board, $120

Give them the (subtle) hint that it’s time to toss that turmeric-stained plastic cutting board to the side. This Fredericks & Mae rainbow cutting board is super versatile, not to mention gorgeous. They can use it to chop onions or garlic (the smell won’t seep into the professional-grade plastic) or to put their prettiest charcuterie board on display.

TART Sour Cherry Vinegar, $24

We all have those bottles of who-knows-how-old balsamic and distilled white vinegar sitting in the back of our pantries, but it’s time to bring this condiment center stage. Enter: Tart Vinegar. The small-batched raw vinegar comes in a unique range of flavors, with everything from kombu to rose and sour cherry. A few drops of this stuff will instantly transform any plain salad dressing and make it the star of the dish.

José Gourmet Canned Portuguese Seafood, $24 - $40

Tinned fish is finally getting the rebrand it deserves. José Gourmet’s canned seafood selection goes way beyond what you’ll find at the grocery store. The company uses traditional, sustainable practices to up the average canned fish fare. Plus, the packaging is so pretty, they won’t want to keep it hidden in their pantry.

Rancho Gordo Royal Corona Beans, $7

There are dried beans, then there are Racho Gordo beans made from native, heirloom legumes. If they’re not in the Rancho Gordo fan club, now’s the perfect time to join. (In fact, they actually have a coveted bean club with an 8,000-person-long waiting list.) These chef-favorite beans are immensely flavorful and delectably creamy. Use them in everything from stews to salads and dips, and they’ll inspire anyone to whip up new and exciting recipes through the winter.