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The 2015 Class of Preserving and DIY Books

2015 Preserving Books - Food in Jars

Most people post this kind of cookbook round-up at the end of December or at the very beginning of January. Makes a whole lot of sense doing it then, too. It’s a nice way to recall a year’s worth of books and set the slate clean for the new year. Sadly, I didn’t get to it at the end of December, or even the beginning of January. I could have given up, but I really wanted to revisit these titles. So here we are. A 2015 list at the start of February. Better than not at all.

Before I get to the books, I want to take a moment to talk about a trend I’m seeing. It used to be that a preserving book was just a preserving book. But as canning and fermenting begin to play a larger and larger role in our culture, I’m seeing a number of books out there that aren’t preserving books, but do contain a strong thread of jamming, pickling, or from-scratch condiment making. So much so that I struggled a little with the books to include in this stack. So consider this an imperfect, slightly subjective collection.

2015 Books One - Food in Jars

The Canning Kitchen – Written by Canadian blogger Amy Bronee, this lovely little book contains both classic preserves and really nice twists on traditional recipes. The chutney section is particularly inspired.

My Pantry – Alice Waters petite compendium of her favorite extracts, chutneys, whole grain items, sweet preserves, dairy items, and simple cured meats. I have her Salt-Preserved Kumquats on my to-do list for this month.

Preserving – Originally published in France in 1948 under the title, Je Sais Faire les Conserves (I Know How to Make Preserves), by famed French food author Ginette Mathiot. The book has been updated and translated by author and food blogger Clothilde Dusoulier and has plenty to offer a new generation.

Brew Better Beer – I’ve never brewed beer, but this book by Emma Christensen make me want to. Easy-to-follow recipes, gorgeous photography, and lots of useful advice, this is such a useful book for people looking to explore this hobby.

The Homemade Vegan Pantry – A plant-based approach to building a from-scratch pantry by Miyoko Schinner. If you were intrigued by my soup base last week, this volume has even more to offer with easy concentrates for tomato, mushroom, and cream of broccoli.

2015 Books Two - Food in Jars

DIY Canning – This is one of those strange author-less books we’ve been seeing lately and some of the recipes are eerily similar to those that I and other authors have published over the years. Despite that, the soups and stews section towards the back of the book is useful and worthy.

Wild Drinks and Cocktails – This book is Emily Han’s love letter to crafting infusions, syrups, squashes, and tonics out of foraged plants and pantry ingredients. I adore her Classic Switchel.

The Hands-On Home – This epic volume by Erica Strauss is far more than just a canning book. It’s a seasonal guide to home care, cooking, gardening, and preserving. It’s the perfect volume for the minimalist DIY-er.

Ferment Your Vegetables – Fermented foods have never been more accessible than in this book by Phickle blogger Amanda Fiefer. The small batch section is ideal for apartment dwellers such as myself!

2015 Books Three - Food in Jars

Food Gift Love – As we all know, giving the gift of food is one of the best ways to make someone feel welcomed, comforted, or appreciated. Maggie Battista captured that sense of giving with this book and it’s many recipes for preserves, baked goods, flavored salts, and more.

Preservation Society Home Preserves – Written by Preservation Society founder and head preserver Camilla Wynne, this book pushes well beyond the traditional array of flavor combinations and offers recipes that are unconventional and endlessly appealing.

Preserving the Japanese Way – Written by Nancy Singleton Hachisu, a native Californian who married a Japanese farmer, this hefty book is gorgeous and comprehensive. In it, Nancy shares the traditional making and preserving skills that she’s garnered over 25 years of living in rural Japan. It’s a book that I plan to spend years exploring.

Brown Eggs and Jam Jars – This approachable book by Aimée Wimbush-Bourque bursts with delicious words, recipes, and images. The book is organized by season, and is then broken down further by the special activities that time of year contains. Lots of preserves in this one, along with other staples of a family kitchen.

New German Cooking – Penned by Jeremy and Jessica Nolen, the husband and wife team behind the Philadelphia restaurant Brauhaus Schmidt, this book is on this list for it’s practical collection of pickles, breads, condiments, and spreads. I’ve been meaning to make its beer mustard for ages now.

So that’s the list for 2015 (let me know if I forgot any!). Just for comparison’s sake, here’s the 2014 edition of this post. It’s interested to see the differences.

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Pre-Order Naturally Sweet Food in Jars

Naturally Sweet Food in Jars cover

Nine weeks from today, Naturally Sweet Food in Jars hits bookstore shelves. I have had a single physical copy in my hands for a little over a week now and I could not be more pleased with how beautifully this book has turned out. I think you’ll find it’s pretty useful as well.

Sized to match my first two books, this new volume contains 100 recipes that are sweetened with honey, maple, agave, coconut sugar, dried fruits, and fruit juice concentrates. The recipes are a combination of old favorites (like a honey sweetened version of my beloved pear vanilla jam) and brand new things (like a strawberry cocoa jam sweetened with coconut sugar).

stack of three books

I feel extraordinarily proud of this book. It was some of the hardest work I’ve ever done. There’s not a lot of existing information out there in the area of preserving with natural sweeteners and so at times, I felt like I was breaking a very small area of new ground. That’s both exciting and just a little bit scary.

If you think that this book is going to be something you want to add to your library and your budget can handle it, I would so appreciate that you pre-order a copy. Pre-orders help my publisher get an idea of demand and whether they need to order another printing.

Amazon | Powell’s | Barnes and Noble | Indigo | Books-a-MillionIndiebound

Thanks friends!

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Cookbooks: Food Gift Love by Maggie Battista

Food Gift Love - Food in Jars

With the holiday gifting season upon us, there is no better time than now to share a few pages from Maggie Battista‘s lovely new book, Food Gift Love. Maggie is the founder and owner of Eat Boutique, and this book has the same beauty and generosity of spirit for which her work has long been known.

Food Gift Love interior - Food in Jars

Maggie and I have been friends for a long time now. She opened up her home for a celebratory potluck when my first book came out, and has often fed me and put me up in her cozy guest room when my travels have taken me to the Boston area.

A cornerstone of our friendship is the time we’ve spent talking about making, writing, and being businesspeople (she’s better at it than I am). Even when this book was just a wee spark of an idea, I remember thinking that it was going to be a grand addition to my bookshelf. Little did I know just how gorgeous and useful it would be!

Food Gift Love flowchart - Food in Jars

Food Gift Love is far more than just a cookbook. It is the guide to gifting that so many of us have often needed. There is advice on how to stock your pantry for easy gift making. Suggestions abound for simple items that will allow you to present your gifts beautifully (as someone who has long hated to bother with fussy wrappings, I’ve found this guidance infinitely helpful, because it has helped me elevate my game while managing to avoid the fuss). And, Maggie offers plenty of help in choosing just the right food gift.

Food Gift Love vinegar sauce - Food in Jars

As a canner, I often fall into the trap of thinking that ever food gift I give needs to be a pickle or preserve of some kind. Even just a quick flip through this book helps rid me of that notion. Not everyone wants a jar of jam, but I am certain that I know half a dozen people who might like the Vinegar Sauce that’s pictured above, or the Jam-Swirled Marshmallows in the picture below (and what a brilliant way to show off your homemade spread in a new way!).

Food Gift Love marshmallows - Food in Jars

Other things you’ll find in this book include a handful of infused sea salts (orange-fennel! vanilla! saffron!), extracts and infused oils, chocolate-dipped spoons, pizza rolls (I’ve had these straight from Maggie’s oven – ridiculous!), a lovely selection of fruit preserves, limoncello, and rompopo (a Latin-style eggnog that is beloved in Maggie’s family).

Food Gift Love spine - Food in Jars

Just one more thing! If you’re in the Boston area, make sure to get yourself over the Eat Boutique Market. It’s popping up at 267 Western Ave, North Allston, MA (near the Harvard Business School), Wedneday through Sunday, with the last day being December 20. Having been to an earlier incarnation of Maggie’s holiday market, I can promise that it is well worth the trip!

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Cookbooks: The Hands On Home & Ferment Your Vegetables

Hands on Home and Ferment Your Vegetables - Food in Jars

These are two books that have been sitting on the top of my desk-side stack for a while now and I’m so happy to be sharing them with you. Both would make excellent holiday gifts and are going to be in my library for years to come. Let’s dig in.

Hands on Home cover - Food in Jars

First up is The Hands-On Home by Erica Strauss (she blogs over at Northwest Edible Life). Organized by season, this hefty, beautiful book touches on all aspects of maintaining a thoughtful home. You’ll find a wide spectrum of recipes in this book, starting with basic fermenting projects and running straight through to homemade cleaning products (my favorite “recipe” page is one entitled An Old-Fashioned Mattress Airing For a Sunny Day).

This is an all-purpose book in an age where most books have a more narrow focus, and I love that about it. It would be a great gift for a friend or sibling who is just starting a homesteading journey, or someone who’s simply looking to bringing a greener, more seasonal awareness to their days.

Ferment Your Vegetables - Food in Jars

Amanda Feifer is a fellow Philadelphian and has long been my go-to resource for all my fermentation questions. Truth be told, I learned more about fermenting sitting through one of her demos a few years ago than I’d had in all the reading and research I’d done up to that point.

Happily, now she can be your fermentation resource as well, because her book Ferment Your Vegetables has arrived and it is spectacular. As the title suggests, it focuses on vegetable ferments and includes a wide assortment of recipes for kraut, kimchi, kvass, sauces, and pickles. She also digs into fermenting in crocks (a departure from the small batch approaches earlier in the book), ferments made without additional salt, and other ways to culture your veg.

Amanda is currently giving away five copies of her book. Get in on the action here.


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Cookbooks: Making Dough by Russell Van Kraayenburg

Making Dough Cover - Food in Jars

For the first time in a very long time, I’m cooking a Thanksgiving meal this year. Scott’s family is celebrating the Saturday before the actual day, and my family has a long-standing tradition of gathering the Saturday after. And so, without any plans for the actual holiday, we decided to stay home and make our own.

Making Dough Pie Dough - Food in Jars

I’ve been keeping a running list of tasks that need to be done before November 26 arrives, and making pie crusts is up near the top. It’s something that can be done well in advance and eases the workload in those last days before you heft the turkey into the oven.

Making Dough Maple Danish - Food in Jars

I’ve always been a serviceable pie crust maker, but in all the years I’ve been doing it, my skills have never progressed beyond adequate. So, when I was approached about trying and writing about the pie dough recipe from Russell Van Kraayenburg’s new book, Making Dough, I was happy to embrace the challenge if it helped me improve my technique.

Making Dough Apple Crostata Prep - Food in Jars

The book features twelve different master dough ratios/recipes, includes options to make by hand or using machines, and then offers a generous handful of recipes (both sweet and savory) that utilize the different doughs. I’ve bookmarked a number of different recipes, and have already announced to my family that I’m making the Maple Braided Danish (pictured above) for Christmas morning.

Making Dough Apple Crostata Unbaked - Food in Jars

I didn’t manage to try out Russell’s pie dough recipe before I left Philly last week, so I commandeered my parents’ kitchen earlier today to make a batch of pie dough. The recipe uses both bread flour (for elasticity) and cake flour (for tenderness), along with butter, salt, and water. I opted to unearth my mother’s food processor and it whizzed the dough together in about a minute. I turned it out onto a length of plastic wrap, gently pressed it into a disc, and popped it into the fridge.

Making Dough Finished Apple Crostata - Food in Jars

A few hours later, it was time to turn the dough into something delicious. I went with a free-form apple crostata, because there were apples to use in the fridge, and it seemed like a good thing to eat on a rainy Portland evening. The dough rolled out beautifully, was easy to crimp and fold around the apples, and with a quick brush of milk, turned a lovely golden brown during baking.

Making Dough Back - Food in Jars

My parents’ cat reluctantly shared her spot by the sliding glass door with me.

When I get home, I’ll be using this same recipe to stock my freezer with pie crusts for the upcoming holidays (though I may introduce a bit of whole wheat pastry flour) and I can’t wait to try out some of the other master dough recipes in the future.

For a few tips on rolling out and moving pie crust, make sure to watch Russell’s video, below.

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Cookbooks: Wild Drinks and Cocktails by Emily Han

Wild Drinks and Cocktails - Food in Jars

When I was very young, my family lived in Los Angeles. There weren’t any kids my age on our block, and so I spent a lot of time on my own, exploring our multi-leveled backyard. I’d gather twigs, unripe plums, leaves from the jade plants, and a bark from the towering eucalyptus, heap them in a little plastic bucket, and steep them in water from the hose. I’d offer my “tea” to my mom, claiming it could cure whatever ailed her.

Wild Drinks Rose Water - Food in Jars

Fast-forward 30 years, and Emily Han and her new book, Wild Drinks and Cocktails, are here to teach us all that with a little bit of knowledge, there is much to be found in the natural world (both in LA and elsewhere) to be turned into a vast array of infusions, syrups, squashes (her creations are superior to my childhood concoctions in every way).

Wild Drinks Citrus Squash - Food in Jars

The book is divided into seven chapters. It starts with an introduction to wildcrafting, and offers insight into being a responsible and safe collector of roots, berries, seeds, nuts, and flowers. That section also includes useful information on how to process, preserve, and protect the things you gather.

Wild Drinks Claret Cup - Food in Jars

From there, the book proceeds into the recipes. In Chapter 2, you’ll find the Teas, Juices, and Lemonades (I’ve got Emily’s recipe for Meyer Lemon and Bay Leaf Syrup marked for my annual meyer lemon extravaganza). Chapter 3 is devoted to Syrups, Squash, and Cordials (Rose Hip Whiskey Smash on page 65!).

In Chapter 4, Emily digs into Oxymels, Shrubs, and Switchels. The unifying force of this section is the balance of sweet and tart, and these recipes are for everyone who wants to start using their collection of exotic vinegars.

Grapefruit and Sage Water Kefir - Food in Jars

All of the Infusions, Bitters, and Liqueurs are in Chapter 5. There’s so much in this section that I want to make, but I think I’m going to start with the Winter Gin on page 115 (the thought occurs that it would make a mighty fine holiday gift for a certain subset of my friends and family).

Chapter 6 is all about Wines and Punches. As the weather cools, there’s nothing like a fortifying mug of Mulled Wine (page 157). And finally arrives Chapter 7, with it’s Fizzy Fermentations (yes, please!). Once my travel schedule quiets down again, I’m going to try to start my own Ginger Bug Soda Starter (page 162).

Wild Drinks and Cocktails Back - Food in Jars

Emily has kindly allowed me to reprint her recipe for Classic Switchel and you’ll find it after the jump. It combines molasses, apple cider vinegar, ginger, and water for a bracing tonic. I like to dilute a little in a mug of hot water when I feel under the weather, but it can also be combined with cold water, fizzy water, or used in a cocktail. It’s a most versatile creation.

Oh, and one last thing. I’ve got one copy of this book to give away. Here’s how to enter.

  1. Leave a comment on this post and share a favorite homemade drink.
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm eastern time on Saturday, November 14, 2015. Winners will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog on Sunday, November 15, 2015.
  3. Giveaway open to United States residents only. Void where prohibited.
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left via the comment form on the blog at the bottom of this post.

Disclosure: Fair Winds Press sent me a copy of this book for review purposes, and is also providing the giveaway unit, both at no cost to me. All opinions remain my own. It’s a good book.  

For more about Wild Drinks and Cocktails, as well as her classes, follow Emily Han on social media.

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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