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The 2017 Class of Canning, Preserving, and Culinary DIY Books

It is time for my annual round-up of all the canning, pickling, and preserving (or preserving-adjacent) books that came out last year (I typically try to get this post up before the holidays, but I could not make it happen this time). Not all of these are traditional canning books, but all have a high enough number of jams, pickles, infusions, decoctions, and condiments that they deserve placement on the list.

Please forgive me if I missed a book! I do my best to keep track of the category, but occasionally a preserving book or two slips by me. If you feel like something was overlooked, please do let me know!

Artisanal Preserves – This is a beautifully packaged reissue of a classic preserving book by storied cooking teacher Madelaine Bullwinkel. It features traditional jams, jams without added sugar, jellies, marmalades, preserves, breads and muffins, and desserts. Amazon | Powell’s

Can It & Ferment It – Written by long-time canner Stephanie Thurow, this book is organized by season and offers recipes for both canned and fermented items. It focuses primarily on pickles, salsa, and relishes, so it’s a good one for folks who prefer the salty and tangy side of things. Amazon | Powell’s

Fermentation on Wheels – Part cookbook and part travelogue, this is the story of Tara Whitsitt’s years spent traveling in a school bus, sharing her love and knowledge of fermentation. It’s a delightful tale and the recipes can’t be beat.   Amazon | Powell’s

The Wildcrafted Cocktail – Written by foraging expert Ellen Zachos, this book offers up a wide array of garnishes, syrups, infusions, juices, and bitters made from ingredients you can often find in your own backyard. There’s a whole lot of inspiration here for anyone looking to take their home bar program from good to great. Amazon | Powell’s

Composing the Cheese Plate – The thing I always love about cheese plate books is that they’re often preserving books in disguise. This one, written by cheese evangelist Brian Keyser and pastry chef and condiment maker Leigh Friend, is bursting with an array of bright, creative, and unusual things to spread, smear, and dollop. Amazon | Powell’s

Preservation – For canners who like a goodly dose of science with their jams and pickles, there is no better book than Christina Ward’s comprehensive volume. She is a master food preserver who digs into the hows and whys of water activity, pectin, and the boiling water bath process. Amazon | Powell’s

Traditionally Fermented Foods – By Shannon Stonger, this book focuses on a wide spectrum of classic fermented foods. Shannon writes the blog Nourishing Days from her family’s small Texas farm and her book feels very much like an extension of her site. It’s friendly, helpful, and comes from a place of deep experience and expertise. Amazon | Powell’s

Fiery Ferments – The second book from seasoned pickle makers Kristen and Christopher Shockey, this one focuses on building pickles, sauces, and condiments that walk on the spicy side. You’ll find an in-depth sections on the ingredients that bring the heat like ginger, galangal, turmeric, peppercorns, and chiles. It’s so good for anyone longing to bring some serious zip to their fermentation. Amazon | Powell’s

Artisan Sourdough Made Simple – I’ve been an on and off sourdough baker for years now and this book by Emilie Raffa (she blogs at The Clever Carrot) is one of the best introductory books on the subject that I’ve seen. It also features a short but mighty section of dips, spreads, and jams towards the back that are good whether you’ve baked your own loaf or you’re picking one up at the market. Amazon | Powell’s

Ball Canning Back to Basics – This book was written by the Ball Canning test kitchen team and offers all the reliability of Ball recipes, with gorgeous step-by-step photography. If someone asked me to recommend an introductory canning book for a visual learner, this would be the very first volume I would suggest. Amazon | Powell’s

Modern Cider – With this book, Emma Christensen claims her crown as undisputed queen of small batch home brewing. It’s the perfect guide for anyone who has been intrigued by boozy fermentation but doesn’t drink beer. Amazon | Powell’s

Toast & Jam – Looking for a book that will get you stirring up tasty preserves AND help you discover a world of naturally leavened breads on which to spread them? Look no further than this gorgeous book by Sarah Owens (she also posts really amazing Instagram stories about her various ferments, preserves, and bakes). Amazon | Powell’s

Savory Sweet – This book, by Beth Dooley and Mette Nielsen, focuses on simple, approachable preserving with a northern sensibility. Organized by ingredient, all the recipes are small batch preserves that are low in sugar, are bright and zippy on the tongue, and can be stashed in the fridge or freezer rather than needing to be processed in a water bath canner. Amazon | Powell’s

The Essential Book of Homesteading – This hefty book gathers up all four of the books that Ashley English wrote for her Homemade Living series and tucks them into a single volume. It contains detailed info on canning, home dairy, keeping chickens, and raising bees. Amazon | Powell’s

The Joys of Jewish Preserving – Written by Food Swap! author Emily Paster, this lovely book celebrates the many aspects of traditional Jewish jams, pickles, fruit butters, and spreads. From your classic fermented deli pickle to lemon curd designed to use up extra egg yolks (common around Passover!), there’s a wealth of goodness here. Amazon | Powell’s

Preservation Pantry – Written by Sarah Marshall, the kitchen genius behind Marshall’s Haute Sauces, this is like an encyclopedia for canners. Organized by ingredient (much like Savory Sweet), this book goes well beyond the sauces that Sarah makes and sells. She digs into 24 different fruits and vegetables, and shows you how to preserve all that goodness without a smidgen of waste. Amazon | Powell’s

Kombucha, Kefir, and Beyond -This book, written by Alex Lewin and Raquel Guajardo, offers an array of approaches to fermented drinks. In 13 wide-ranging chapters, they hit on everything from kombucha to fermented cocktails. There are sodas, vegetable drinks, and even traditional Mexican fermented drinks that date back to the pre-Hispanic era. The recipes are relatively simple, intriguing, and entirely approachable. Amazon | Powell’s

Ferment – Written by Australian chef Holly Davis, this book offers up some serious fermentation knowledge (Sandor Katz wrote the introduction). For those who are looking to deepen their fermentation practice, I highly recommend it. Amazon

Homegrown Pantry -So often, people ask me if I grow what I can and if I could give them gardening advice. I always disappoint them when I confess that I’m not a gardener. Happily, this book by Barbara Pleasant, is designed to help you choose the best varieties to plant, determine how much you’ll need to grow, and the best ways to preserve the fruits, vegetables, and herbs that are the result of your hard work. Amazon | Powell’s

The Preservatory -This gorgeous, hard cover book by Lee Murphy contains 80 sophisticated, unusual, and intriguing recipes. They’re broken down so half are preserves and the balance is a collection of dishes, drinks, and baked goods that you can make with the contents of those glowing jars. Amazon | Powell’s

That wraps up this year’s class of preserving books. You can find previous years here: 2016 | 2015 | 2014

Disclosure: Some of the books pictured here were received as review copies. Others I bought. The Amazon links are affiliate (so I make a few pennies if you click over and buy). The Powell’s links are not. 

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A Trio of Cookbooks – Smorgasbord, The Simple Bites Cookbook, and Bravetart

I have a big round-up of this year’s canning cookbooks coming next week, but I have a few favorite cookbooks from this year that I wanted to call out before the holiday shopping season wraps up. These three are worthy of gifting or getting for yourself and would each bring fresh inspiration to your December table.

First up is Smorgasbord by Johanna Kindvall. I was a huge fan of Fika, Johanna’s first book (co-written with Anna Brones) I am just as delighted with this one. Much like the first book, it unpacks a beloved Swedish culinary tradition. We in the US think of a smorgasbord as a giant buffet, but it translates more specifically to open sandwich table.

If you’re looking to liven up your holiday gatherings this year, make sure to open Smorgasbord up to the celebrations chapter. Bake up a loaf of Christmas Malt Bread (page 40), set a batch of Gravlax with Fennel (page 124) to cure, and cook up some Creamed Kale (page 154).

Readers of the blog Simple Bites will know that no one sets a more appealing table or makes cooking with the whole family seem more delightful than Aimee Wimbush-Bourque. Her new book, The Simple Bites Kitchen, packages up all that I love about her site and lets me carry it right up to the stove.

There’s a lot about this book that makes it worth the price of admission, but a few recipes you should not miss are the Spelt Date Scones (page 35), the Overnight Spiced Stollen Swirl Buns (page 37 and pictured above), the Roast Chicken with Bay Leaf and Barley (page 199), and the Fig, Rosemary, and Pistachio Crisps (page 239).

Last up is Stella Parks’ Bravetart. I have long been a fan of Stella’s work on Serious Eats and am so happy to have her wisdom gathered up in a book because she is truly a baking genius. This book serves up classic American treats, from cookies and cakes, to pies and ice creams.

This whole book is a worthy investment, but the pie section is the one I find myself turning to most often. I’ve been using Stella’s pie crust recipe since she shared it on SE last year and love it for its flexibility, durability, and crazy flakiness. I have a feeling you will too.

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Traditionally Fermented Foods and Kombucha, Kefir, and Beyond

Over the last couple of months I’ve done a poor job staying on top of the precarious stack of review copies teetering on my desk. In order to give these books the love they deserve, I’m planning on grouping them in sets of two or three (always trying to remain thematic) and blogging about those little collections throughout the next several weeks.

The first book in today’s pair is Traditionally Fermented Foods by Shannon Stonger. As you might guess from the title, the book focuses on a wide spectrum of classic fermented foods. It is divided into chapters that delve into the process of fermenting vegetables, grains, dairy, beverage, and condiments. As someone who recently revived a sourdough starter, I’m spending a lot of time with the grain section.

Shannon writes the blog Nourishing Days from her family’s small Texas farm and her book feels very much like an extension of her site. It’s friendly, helpful, and comes from a place of deep experience and expertise.

The second book in today’s short stack is Kombucha, Kefir, and Beyond from Alex Lewin & Raquel Guajardo. Alex is the author of Real Food Fermentation and Raquel has a school in Monterray, Mexico where she teaches fermentation classes (among other things).

This book offers an array of approaches to fermented drinks. In 13 wide-ranging chapters, they hit on everything from kombucha to fermented cocktails. There are sodas, vegetable drinks, and even traditional Mexican fermented drinks that date back to the pre-Hispanic era. The recipes are relatively simple, intriguing, and entirely approachable.

I plan on starting with the salty lemonade on page 73, as it starts with salt-preserved lemons. I’ve got plenty of those in the back of the fridge!

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Cookbooks: Modern Cider

We’re nearing the end of September, but it’s still blazingly hot and swampy here in Philadelphia. One way that I’m coping with the unseasonable weather is by pretending that it’s more like autumn outside than it actually is. To that end, I’ve been making pots of soup (though I’m choosing ones that can be eaten at room temperature for the sake of our sanity), knitting hats and hand warmers (while the air conditioning chugs), and diving into books that put me in the proper state of mind no matter how it actually feels outside.

One such book that I’ve been glancing at when the mercury soars is Emma Christensen’s new one, called Modern Cider. Emma is the queen of small batch home brewing and is also the author of True Brews and Brew Better Beer. You may know her work from her years as recipe editor at The Kitchn or her current gig as managing editor of Simply Recipes.

Emma is incredibly good at taking an intimidating concept or technique and making it feel approachable and appealing. I was still a novice home brewer (though my brews are still mostly confined to regular batches of kombucha), when I took a couple of the recipes from True Brews out for a test drive for Table Matters back in 2013. and she made it seem entirely doable.

If True Brews was Emma’s survey course, and Brew Better Beer was designed for the beer lover, Modern Cider is the book for anyone who has been intrigued by boozy fermentation but doesn’t consider themselves a big beer drinker. It’s for someone who wants a home brewing starting place that speaks to a wide range of experience levels. And it’s for anyone who wants to learn the science behind home brewing from a friendly, knowledgeable voice.

The first 60+ pages of the book feature cider lessons. In this initial section, you’ll learn about variations in ciders, choosing apples, crushing and sourcing (she gives you permission to use bottled juice from the store if that’s all you can manage), acidity, and the gear you’ll need to get started.

From there, the chapters are as follows: Beginner Ciders, The Cider Family, Modern Ciders, Ciders for Beer Lovers, Soft Ciders (some entirely free of alcohol!), Apple Wines, and Traditional Ciders. There’s also troubleshooting and resources sections, in case you need more guidance.

While it’s probably too early to start thinking about the holidays, if you have someone on your gift list who loves cider and has expressed interest in learning how to make it at home, this is the perfect book for them!

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Giveaway: Slow Cook Modern by Liana Krissoff

These days, electric pressure cookers are the hot culinary appliance. And while I love the ability to cook and braise quickly, slow cookers will forever be at the top of my kitchen helper hit parade (as I type this, I have two running in my kitchen).

Happily Liana Krissoff, one of my favorite cookbook authors, is also a devoted slow cooker fan. Her brand new book, Slow Cook Modern, is the most useful and practical take on making dinner in the slow cooker that I’ve ever seen. It’s also a ridiculously beautiful book.

There are a lot of things that are brilliant about this book. First is the fact that all the slow cooker recipes are designed to cook for 8 hours. That means, you can set up your slow cooker in the morning, go to work, and actually come home to a meal (if you have a long commute time, make sure to use a slow cooker that will switch to ‘Keep Warm’ after a pre-programmed amount of time). So many slow cooker recipes are written to cook for 3-4 hours, which is not at all useful for people who work outside their homes.

The second thing that’s really inspired about this book is that every soup, stew, braise, and roast comes paired with a side recipe, as well as suggestions for other sides in the book that would go nicely with that dish. These sides are worth the price of admission alone.

All the recipes are organized by what you need to do the in the morning and what you’ll do just before serving. There are pages with ideas for what to do with leftovers. There are a handful of recipes for slow cooker stock. There’s a chili base that I want to make this week. There’s even a recipe for slow cooker quark that I’ll be sharing on Friday! So much goodness!

I feel like this is a book that I could spend the next couple years work through and exploring. I can’t wait to dig in (and the two eggplants in my fridge mean that the Eggplant Tian on page 28 will be happening this week).

Thanks to the lovely folks at Abrams, I have a copy of this brilliant book to giveaway this week. Let’s do this one the old school method.

  1. Leave a comment on this post and share your favorite slow cooker dish.
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm eastern time on Sunday, September 17, 2017. Winners will be chosen at random and this post will be updated with the winner.
  3. Giveaway open to United States and Canadian residents.
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left via the comment form on the blog at the bottom of this post.

This giveaway is now closed. The winner is #66/MaryKay Lawrence. Congratulations MaryKay!

Disclosure: Abrams provided both review and giveaway copies at no cost to me. No additional compensation was provided. 

Cookbooks: Artisanal Preserves

In the last ten years or so, we (the cookbook consuming population) have become accustomed to cookbooks that burst with juicy images. However, there’s much to be said for quieter books that put the focus on the words and recipes rather than the art.

One such book that landed on my desk recently is Madelaine Bullwinkel‘s Artisanal Preserves. It’s a revised reissue of her Gourmet Preserves that was first published in 1987 and is unassumingly charming.

The book features traditional jams, jams without added sugar, jellies, marmalades, preserves, breads and muffins, and desserts. As you can see from that list, it’s a volume that focuses on the sweet side of preserving rather than trying to cover the entire spectrum.

There’s much in this book that intrigues me. Ones that are particularly triggering my interest are Tomato and Prune Jam (page 50), Rosemary Red Onion Jelly (page 103), Lime Zucchini Marmalade (126), Pear and Grape Preserves (page 158), and Marmalade Muffins (page 172).

If you like vintage cookbooks that burst with voice and personality, then the reissue of this canning classic is very much for you. If you can’t abide books without pictures, you should probably give this one a pass.

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