Tag Archives | Karen Solomon

Giveaway: Preserving Book Bundle

preserving books

Friends, so many good preserving books came out in the last year. Truly, I feel like we’re in a golden age for jams, pickles, chutneys, ferments, and even low acid home canning. For this week’s giveaway, I have a short stack of recent preserving releases that would be a fantastic addition to any DIY library.

Now, just to be clear, this is not my definitive list of the best preserving books to hit the shelves this year. I just happen to have extra copies of all three of these books (thanks to the publishers who helped bring these works into the world) and thought it would be nice to bundle them up and give them away to one of my readers.

Asian Pickles cover

First up in the giveaway stack is Karen Solomon’s excellent book, Asian Pickles. I wrote a bit about this book last June and the longer I have it in my collection, the more I love it. Truly, anyone who wants to expand their understanding of home picking should pick up a copy post haste.

Fermented Vegetables cover

Next is Fermented Vegetables, which has been out just over a month now. Written by Kirsten and Christopher Shockey, this book is one of the most comprehensive and user-friendly books on fermentation that I’ve seen recently. The pictures are beautiful and lend additional clarity to step-by-step recipes that might otherwise be troublesome.

Last month, I used their recipe for brined dilly beans and I was so pleased by the results that I started entertaining the idea of getting myself a mini-fridge so that I could make more.

Mrs. Wheelbarrow's cover

Last in the stack is Cathy Barrow’s much-anticipated book, Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry. This is such an amazing book for home cooks who want to start building up a pantry filled with homemade staples. Sure, it has plenty of boiling water bath recipes, but it also deals with pressure canning, charcuterie, basic home dairy, and smoking. Anyone who likes a food project should have this one on their shelf.

There will be just one winner in this giveaway, who will receive a box with these three books in them. Here’s how to enter the giveaway.

  1. Leave a comment on this post and share your favorite food preservation resource. It can be a website, book, online video, or person. Share the love so that we can all expand our knowledge.
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm east coast time on Saturday, November 29, 2014. The winner will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog by Sunday, November 30, 2014.
  3. Giveaway is open to all.
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left on the blog, I cannot accept submissions via email.

The winner of this giveaway is #380/Tina! Congratulations Tina!

Disclosure: All three of these books were received as review copies. No one paid me to say nice things about them. Additionally, Karen and Cathy are both friends of mine. However, they did not ask me to run this giveaway or say these things. I do it because I like to share the good stuff with you guys.  

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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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Karen Solomon’s Pickled Asian Pears with Lemon

asian pears

Asian pears are a tough ingredient for preservers. So much of their charm is in their clean flavor and snappy texture and those are qualities that don’t translate well in a jam or butter. They’re also really quite low in acid and so have be to acidified aggressively in order to be safe for canning. Sometime ago, I determined to save myself the heartache of wasted asian pears and simply kept them far away from my jars.

lemon zest strips

But then, I got a copy of Karen Solomon’s new e-book, called Asian Pickles: Japan. Her publisher is doing this brilliant thing, in which they’re releasing sections of the book electronically in advance of the physical publication. These e-versions include audio enhancements and give you a chance to preview some of the content that the print edition will include (coming in Spring 2014).

brine

Included in this lovely little e-book was a recipe for Pickled Asian Pear with Lemon. You lightly poach asian pear wedges and then float them in a brine made from white wine vinegar, sugar, and lemon juice. Strips of lemon zest and slivers of ginger add flavor (the recipe calls for pickled ginger, but not having any in my kitchen, I substituted a few peeled slices of fresh).

pears in brine

This recipe neatly dealt with all my asian pear preserving issues. It handles the acid issue with a generous application of undiluted vinegar. You do lose the crunch of the raw pear, but in its place is a silky, tender portion of fruit. I’ve taken to eating bits of these pickles pears with blue cheese over torn Bibb lettuce. With persimmons slowly fading from the seasonal fruit array, I’m happy to have a different fruit to heap onto my lunchtime salads.

finished pears

You should know that Karen’s e-book isn’t simply easy little pickles like this one (though there are others that can be made with relative quickness). She goes into a great, useful depth about traditional Japanese pickling and offers details about the various techniques (including how to start and maintain a pickling bed), carefully explains the steps required to pull off the trickier ferments, and offers lots of helpful suggestions about how to incorporate these new-to-you pickles into your meals. For $2.99, it’s a serious score.
Continue Reading →

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Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It Winner

Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It

And the winner of Karen Solmon’s fantastic new book Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It is commenter #681, JJ. She said, “I’ve made quick refrigerator pickles many times, and want to tackle fermented sour pickles this summer. Waiting semi-patiently for our cucumber vines to really get going…”

Congratulations JJ!

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Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It + Giveaway

Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It

It is stunning to me how much the world of information around canning, preserving and  DIY food arts has expanded in the last couple of years. When I first started this blog in early 2009, it was so easy to be familiar with the canon of books on the topic. I had them all and they took up about 18 inches of space on the bookshelf.

Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It

Then suddenly, a new wave of books started to flow onto the market. One of the best of this first round was Karen Solomon’s Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It. It offered instruction on canning, easy home dairy items and a variety of other projects that were universally welcomed by home cooks who wanted slightly more control over their food.

Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It

Karen recently published a follow-up volume called Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It that is just as delightful as her first book. It includes a handful traditional preserves, as well as instructions for homemade cereals (cornflakes! puffed rice!), miso, rice milk, smoked nuts  and so much more.

Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It

For those of you who were intrigued but overwhelmed by Charcutepalooza and its many meaty challenges, you’re going to want to take a peek at the Hunt It section of the book. Karen has included a series of accessible, easy to follow recipes for corned beef, pastrami and hot dogs (as well as instructions for how to transform those hot dogs into corn dogs.

Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It

Every time I sit down with this book for more than a few minutes, I start to itch for the kitchen. The urge to cook become irresistible. My apartment has seen her Sesame Rosemary Granola, the Basic Barbecue Sauce and the Pickled Grapes (so good).

Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It

Last fall when I was in San Francisco, I got to meet Karen. We were both judges at the Good Food Awards and during a break in the tasting, she bought me a cup of coffee and we shared tales of obsessive preserving and cookbook writing. Somehow, that led to a request that I write a blurb for the book’s back cover. Entirely flattered, I was thrilled to do it.

All that said, here’s the point I really want to make. Even if I’d never known the first book, never met Karen and never spent hours pouring over a xeroxed galley copy trying to concisely say why I thought it was so good, I would still like this book. The recipes are super solid. The head notes are full of personality. And the pictures are pretty. It’s definitely a buy it, use it, love it book.

So, all that said, let’s get to the good part. I have a copy of Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It to give away to a Food in Jars reader. Here are the details…

  1. To enter the giveaway, leave a comment on this post and share a kitchen project that you’ve been wanting to tackle.
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm eastern time on Tuesday, August 9.
  3. Giveaway is open to U.S. residents only (apologies to my more far-flung readers).
  4. One entry per person, please.

Disclosure: I received two copies of this book for free. I’m keeping one in the hopes that I can get Karen to sign it for me someday. The other I’m offering up here. However, despite the copies, that cup of coffee and my unconcealed admiration for Karen and her writing, my opinions are still all my own.

Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It by Karen Solomon

Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It

One of the things that I’ve found most delightful about the growing hand-made, do-it-yourself trend has been the number of downright lovely books that have accompanied it. My favorite, which hit stores about this time last year, is Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It by Karen Solomon.

Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It

This is a fantastic book for the folks who really want to begin to break away from the grocery store, but need a little bit of help making the transition. I’m particularly partial to the Rosemary and Olive Oil cracker recipe Karen included (Erin blogged about it here, if you want to see pictures and peek at the recipe).

Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It

Karen’s instructions are crystal clear and the book is full of great projects for anyone who wants to expand their kitchen ambitions.

Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It

This post was originally a giveaway, but I’ve edited it to remove the giveaway language because I wanted to simply have a page dedicated to Karen’s lovely book.