One of the best ways to eat locally year round is to preserve the bounty when it's in season. Once upon a time these skills were common knowledge for every homemaker, but for most people the last several decades have been more about store-bought convenience than pickle barrels and salt cures.
Like knitting and sewing, canning and preserving food is a grandmotherly art that's making a big come back with the not-so-gramma set, and I for one couldn't be happier. Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It is one of many new books to help us regain these skills and rediscover the joys of making your own.
Title & Publisher: Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It and Other Cooking Projects by Karen Solomon. Published by 10 Speed Press, 2009.
First impressions: Hardback book with a matte satin slipcover. Dozens of full-color photographs throughout.
Number of recipes: 75, organized into 12 chapters: Munch It, for crackers and dips; Bottle It for condiments; Brine It, for pickles and olives; Noodle It for pasta; Hook It for preserving and curing fish; Hunt It for meat including bacon and beef jerky; Milk It for butter and cheese; Jam It for preserves; Sugar It for things like marshmallows and fruit leather; Freeze It for pops; Unwrap It for candies and Drink It for hard and soft beverages.
The other stuff: Every recipe starts with an introductory paragraph. Yield and time commitment numbers are given and the main recipe is divided into Prep Ahead and Instruction sections, ending with How to Store It, Variations and, if appropriate, How to Can It. There is a several page section on how to can preserves and pickles using the basic water-bath method. There are no instructions on presser cooker canning.
The angle: This is by no means a comprehensive preserver's bible--there's a recipe for making yogurt cheese but no recipe for making yogurt, for example--but it does give a nice introduction to several preserving methods. Each chapter contains a handful of popular recipes and Solomon is very successful in taking the mystique out of things like brining olives and making salt cod.
Recipes for right now: Butter, Orange Marmalade and (soon!) Strawberry Jam. Several of the infused liqueurs could be started now and tucked away in a dark cupboard to cure for holiday gifts.
Recommended? Yes. Overall this is a sweet, encouraging book to get someone started on preserving foods. I could imagine giving this as a gift, along with a case of pretty canning jars and some 'from the kitchen of...' labels.
Buy the book: Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It, $16.47 at Amazon
More Canning and Preserving from The Kitchn:
- How To: Make DIY Sauerkraut
- Putting Up Tomatoes: An Encouragement
- Preserving Gear: Maslin Pan from Lee Valley Tools
- DIY Recipe: Plum Cinnamon Jam
More Information: The Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It blog
(Image: 10 Speed Press)