Cookbooks: Asian Pickles by Karen Solomon

Asian Pickles cover

I have been looking forward to the release of Karen Solomon’s new book, Asian Pickles for at least two years now. Karen is a friend and I stayed with her when I came through San Francisco during my first book tour back in 2012.

During my brief visit, we spent a goodly amount of time talking about our upcoming projects. I told her about Preserving by the Pint (which at that point was nothing more than an idea and a list of possible recipes) and she talked about Asian Pickles.

Asian Pickles spine

At that point, the book was actually mostly finished, because her publisher was trying something new with it. Instead of simply publishing the physical version, they were going to periodically release smaller ebooks, featuring approximately half of the recipes from the five main chapters.

Asian Pickles intro

I saw each of the ebooks as they came out. They were gorgeously designed, bursting with useful recipes, and made me ridiculously excited to get into the kitchen and start pickling. I made her Pickled Asian Pears with Lemon for the blog and tried a couple other things that were wonderful but just never made it into post form (it happens).

Asian Pickles water kimchi

Back in early January, I spent a solid two days reading through a xeroxed manuscript of the book, dog earring pages and trying to craft a quote for the back cover. It’s was nearly impossible to squeeze every complimentary thing I wanted to say into two sentences, but I think I managed. Happily, this blog post gives me the opportunity to gush just a little bit more.

Asian Pickles cucumber kimchi

What I find so delightful about this book is that it gives me the chance to dive into a world of pickles that had previously been veiled and mysterious. Karen starts each section (Japan, Korea, China, India, and Southeast Asia) which an introduction to each region’s unique pickle culture (truly, it makes the North American pickle tradition look puny).

Asian Pickles chutney

Once the stage is set for the flavors and techniques you’ll encounter, she leads you into the recipes. The headnotes are both entertaining and full of useful information, and the recipes themselves are clearly written but not so deeply technical that you have to read and reread to unpack the instructions.

Asian Pickles glossary

One adjustment that most North American preservers will have to make with these pickles is that for the most part, they are not safe for boiling water bath canning. Many of the pickles are ferments, which will lose both their texture and happy bacteria when heat processed. While there are others that are made with vinegar, the concentration of acid is typically not high enough to make them safe as a preserved pickle.

I do think you’ll find that the recipes make pickles delicious enough that you won’t begrudge the refrigerator space necessary to keep them.

Asian Pickles back

The final word is that I recommend this book for anyone who loves pickled things and wants to move beyond the array traditionally found in western cultures. I have a long list of things I plan on making from it and love that it has both recipes that can be made quickly and longer term projects. If you think of yourself as a homemade pickle aficionado, this book should be on your shelf.

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A Handy Way to Store Your Canning Rings and Lids

bag of canning gear

Here in Portland, it is raspberry season. I couldn’t resist picking up a half flat of gorgeous berries on Saturday at the Beaverton Farmers Market. When I got home, I asked my mom to pull out her canning stuff so that I could make a quick batch of jam. She ducked into the garage and came back in with her shiny stainless steel stock pot and a plastic comforter bag filled with canning jar rings (as well as couple boxes of new lids).

canning rings close up

Using a stock pot and blossom trivet as a canning pot is a trick I taught her, but using an old blanket or comforter bag to corral canning gear was entirely new to me and I was stunned by the simple brilliance of it. At home, I use a pair of two gallon zip top bags to keep my rings in check. However, they’ve always been an imperfect solution because the zippers eventually fail and they’re just not quite big enough. The comforter bag has a real zipper, the plastic is sturdier, it holds a ton, and it does a good job of keeping the dust and dirt out.

If you have one of these bags floating around your house, consider doing like my mom and using it to store your gear.

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Giveaway: $100 in Jar Credit From Fillmore Container

down a warehouse aisle

Everyone’s path to canning is a little bit different. Some start doing it because they want to make the most of a produce glut. Others preserve because it helps them feel close to their mother, aunt, or grandmother. And then there are those for whom the jars themselves were the gateway to total canning preoccupation.

four ounce comparison

That’s how it was for me. While I did grow up with a mother who canned, I was acquiring jars long before I began filling them up and processing them. Truly, I am something of a jar junkie.

Over the last few years, one of my favorite sources for canning jars beyond the narrow range you can get at the grocery store has been Fillmore Container (I liked their jars so much that I talked them into becoming a site sponsor!). While they offer all the Ball jars you could possibly want, they also have a deliciously wide array of other options.

solo four ounce jar

And so, for this week’s giveaway, the lovely folks at Fillmore Container and I thought we’d do something a little different. Instead of picking out a particular style of jar to feature and then giving some of that size and shape away, I’m going to feature a few of my favorite jars from their catalog and let the winner choose their perfect jar.

solo four ounce jar

One jar that they carry that I love is the straight, smooth-sided four ounce jar. They don’t have any of that quilted nonsense and they’re perfect for preserves meant for gifting. I wrote about them nearly two years ago and still adore them.

various half pint shapes

Another jar that makes me happy is their eight ounce regular mouth jar. It’s a bit squatter than the the conventional half pint jar, but that just makes it feel extra sturdy in the hand. A few more pictures of that particular style can be found here.

four sizes of hex jars

For those of you who can’t bear for your holiday gifts to look just the same as everyone else’s, then the hex jar is for you. Fillmore Container keeps four sizes in stock. The 1.5 ounce is perfect for samples and variety gift baskets, the 4 ounce option is the same size at the smallest quilted jelly jars that Ball makes, 6 ounces is a nice in-between size that you can’t get with a mason jar, and 9 ounces is simply a generous half pint jar. 

six hex jars filled with peach and tomato jam

And just so you know, Fillmore Container doesn’t just carry jars and closures. They also have a number of fun jar accessories. You can get everything from lids with holes in them for straws to the stripy paper straws to pair with those lids.

Here’s how to enter this giveaway:

  1. Leave a comment on this post and tell me how you’d spent $100 at Fillmore Container. Would you get yourself some new jars? Buy a few cookbooks? Or would you go crazy with the accessories and candle making gear?
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm on Saturday, June 28, 2014. Winners will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog on Sunday, June 29, 2014
  3. Giveaway open to United States residents only.
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left via the comment form on the blog at the bottom of this post.

P.S. I got to go behind the scenes at Fillmore Container a few years ago. The photos from that tour can be found here.

Disclosure: Fillmore Container has sent me lots of jars over the years to test and try. They’re a site sponsor. And they’re providing the prize for this giveaway at no cost to me. However, my opinions remain entirely unbiased and my own. 

Book Tour: Eugene, Seattle, San Francisco, and LA

This is my second palmful of raspberries today. Portland May well be paradise.

Raspberries that I picked from my parents’ back yard. Having access to their garden is such a treat.

Friends! I am still on the west coast and have a number of book events still to go. I thought I’d do a quick reminder about the demos and classes I’ve got on the books over the next week or so.

Monday, June 23 (Eugene)
I’ll be at Down to Earth in Eugene (532 Olive Street) from 2-4 pm. There will be a demo. There will be books. There may even be cake, as this event is in conjunction with the store’s 37th anniversary celebration. It’s a free event and fun will be had by all.

Wednesday, June 25 (Seattle)
I’ll be at the Book Larder (4252 Fremont Ave. N) in Seattle from 6:30-8 pm demonstrating a recipe from the book and signing as many copies as I can. The event is free, but they ask that you RSVP using this form.

Thursday, June 26 (Seattle)
I’m teaching a four preserve class at The Pantry at Delancey. I believe that the class is currently sold out, but it never hurts to get on the waiting list.

Saturday, June 28 (San Francisco)
From 12 noon to 1 pm, I’ll be doing a book signing at the CUESA classroom at the Ferry Building (you’ll find me under the white tent at the front of the building). Books will be on hand for sale! More details can be found here.

Sunday, June 29 (San Francisco)
I’ll be at Omnivore Books from 3-4 pm, demoing a tiny batch of honey sweetened strawberry jam, and signing books. There will be samples and they will be delicious. Please come!

Tuesday, July 1 (Los Angeles)
My very last stop on this tour will be at The Gourmandise School of Sweets and Savories in Santa Monica. I’ll be teaching a free demo-style class from 2-5 pm and will have books on hand to sign. Click here for more details and to sign up!

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Links: Strawberries, Dill Pesto, and a Winner

Open faced sandwiches and my current cookbook obsession.

I landed in Portland on Thursday night and have spent the last few days hanging out with my parents and doing a handful of book events (here’s the segment I did on the local morning show, if you want to watch!). This week, I’m continuing my mad dash up and down the west coast. Eugene tomorrow, Seattle Wednesday and Thursday, and San Francisco Friday through Sunday. Now, links!

pint and a half products

Last week’s giveaway of goodies from The Pint and a Half was lots of fun and the winner is #124/Melissa. She said that her favorite way to cool down this summer is, “Iced jasmine tea, with a slice of lemon or lime!” Sounds like a lovely sip to me! 

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Preserving by the Pint Typos

pizza sauce picture

One of the inevitable things about writing a book is that no matter how hard you work at making it perfect, there will still be a mistake or two in it when the manuscript goes to print. It happened with Food in Jars (you can find the errata page for FiJ here) and it has happened again with Preserving by the Pint.

At my book events I’ve been hand-correcting every book I sign, but I realize that not all of you are going to make it out to a class or demo. So in order to make the corrections accessible to everyone, I’ve created an errata page so that all the errors and fixes are in a central place.

If you’ve spotted an error or typo in the book that you don’t see listed here, please drop me a line so that I can add it to the list and make sure that it gets corrected in a future printing.

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