The joys of preserving

Posted by Anita on 04.22.06 1:44 PM

I started out canning just to see how it was done, mostly dill pickles and pickled beets, and the occasional fruit preserve. Then I started pickling and preserving a few batches of produce from my friends’ gardens, as a way of helping them cope with overabundance — 2 years ago, in Seattle, it was a huge batch of brandied plums, and a batch of pickled serranos and carrots.

Last year was a tough year, as we were moving long distance from Seattle to SF, and living in a furnished apartment without access to our own kitchen gear. I did manage a very small batch of tomato-bourbon jam, and my first batch of nocino (green walnut liqueur).

Now I’m hooked: I preserve at home now mostly to get flavors I can’t get from retail products. And a lot of what I preserve ends up being holiday presents and hostess gifts.

I just took a marmalade class this past weekend with June Taylor, a local preserving maven — unfortunately, the citrus season is almost spent, but I may put up a batch of something simple, just so I don’t forget what I learned.

And we’re about to plant a bunch of fruit-bearing trees and plants with the express intention of preserving and infusing. It was fun coming up with all kinds of different plants, from trees to shrubs to vines to groundcover, that will give us something to eat. Most of our yard will be edible in one form or another.

As far as books go, I like Georgeanne Brennan’s The Glass Pantry, which you can get used online for about $2, and Linda Amendt’s Blue Ribbon Preserves. I just recently purchased Putting Food By, which many consider the bible of preserving, but I found the authors’ writing style horrifically pedantic… it set my teeth on edge and I slogged my way through it wondering what people see in this book. It is remarkably complete, so if you need a recipe for somethings really specific and unusual, it may be the only way to go (as ad-libbing in preserving is a definite no-no — you really want an expert to have sussed out all the biohazard stuff, and changing from one fruit or vegetable to another can throw that all out of whack).

cookbooks, drinks, preserving & infusing, recipes, Seattle
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