Ever since the idea of starting this blog entered my mind (many months before I actually committed pixel to template), I’ve been acquiring books about canning, pickling and preserving at a steady clip. Since my collection of cookbooks is already stored in every room of the apartment (this in large part thanks to the tide of preview copies I got for Slashfood’s Cookbook of the Day feature), I need to put the kibosh on this habit quickly (it’s also getting painfully expensive).
I haven’t been buying these books for general canning information, as I’ve found that any comprehensive cookbook written in the last 75 years has a more-than-ample section on canning (and I’ve got plenty of those from every era as well). I’m particularly fond of the no-nonsense language found in the 1942 edition of the The Good Housekeeping Cook Book, as the instructions don’t coddle or baby the reader, but instead assume that any cook worth their pickling spices has some working knowledge of homemade preserves.
No, I buy these glossy new cookbooks for their ideas and images, as well as for the sense of comradeship they lend (there just aren’t that many people out there interested in investing the bulk of their disposable income in canning jars, vinegar and pectin, especially in Center City Philadelphia), so I need all the community I can muster.
One such inspiration book that I picked up just today (I need to learn to stay away from the cookbook stall at Reading Terminal Market) is called Fruits of the Earth and was written by Gloria Nicol. Ms. Nicol lives in the UK, runs a company that trades in vintage homewares and writes a charming blog (unfortunately, it hasn’t been updated since the end of 2008).
It contains 100 recipes for jams, jellies, curds, marmalades and compotes. Since I’ve been on a marmalade kick of late, I found that section particularly inspiring, as she suggests a series of unconventional pairings that set my brain spinning (Apple and Black Currant Marmalade, for instance). I’m also intrigued by her recipe for Rhubarb and Lime Jam, particularly since I nearly squeeze lime instead of lemon into my last batch of rhubarb.
The pictures in this book are also breathtakingly lovely, full of gem-like jellies lovingly preserved in vintage jars and breakfast tables I long to join.
I haven’t made anything from this book yet, but I’ll be certain to share it here as soon as I do!
I’d really love to see some vegetable pickling ideas, even if it’s just for some awesome cucumber pickles. We have a CSA box coming, and pickles are the only way my husband will eat cucumbers!
If you find any wonderful vegetable relishes though, I’m very interested in hearing about those too.
Nicole, I am definitely planning on doing some vegetable pickling. I’ve been longing to do pickled asparagus, but I can’t bring myself to do it quite yet, because the only asparagus I’ve been able to find so far is imported from Mexico. I feel like if I’m going to pickle something, it should be fresh and from my general region. I also have grand plans for kirby cucumbers, as my father is hopeful that I’ll be able to recreate his favorite polish-style sour pickles.
The flood of jam and marmalade recipes should be coming to an end soon!
How lovely to find you recommending my book. Also thanks for the reminder regarding my blog. I will be updating it and getting back into the swing of things in the next few days. I haven’t been sat on my behind staring into thin air, however. That isn’t the reason my blogging has come to a halt – I have been opening a shop – a real shop, where I can sell jam making things as well as my own ‘Glut Kitchen’ line. I love the title of your blog and will be keeping up with you from now on.I also have a vast collection of vintage cookery books particularly from the 70’s, so I feel very honoured that my book should be part of your own collection and hope that you enjoy making and adapting my recipes.
thanks so much for this book recommendation. it looks great, i’ve just ordered it from amazon. i, like you, have a bit of a cookbook addiction, and in particular those on canning and preserving. gloria’s blog looks amazing too – and she’s back!
Tigress, you’re so welcome. I’m glad to hear I inspired you to buy that book. It’s really beautiful, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. -Marisa
Hi Marisa, Im in Western Australia and have a garden overflowing with citrus right now, so I have been looking for some variations on recipes and I cam across your excellent site. I have made Seville Orange Marmalade every year or at least every other year for twenty years now, but the last three with fruit from my own tree.
I also have a Ruby Grapefruit tree, that is sadly unloved as we don’t eat much of it fresh so I’m having to be creative as it is laden this year, as is my Tahitian Lime (also known as Persian or Bearss Lime) and my Eureka Lemon. The Navel and Blood Oranges and the Mandarin we eat fresh. I have at last count some 32 different varieties of citrus, (many dwarf varieties in pots) and another assorted fruit trees, many of which are only just old enough to come into fruit this summer. Amongst the established trees the next due to fruit is a White Genoa fig that I share with the local bird population, and then the White Nectarine, Satsuma and Cherry Plum. Add to that a pretty decent sized vegetable garden in raised beds to counteract our sandy soil, and you can see I really need to get into preserving in a bigger way than just the odd dozen marmalade or jam jars!!
Anyway, just wanted to let you know I have found some great inspiration here and followed your links to some other great blogs as well. I recently purchased myself a pressure canner too, and plan to start bottling and pressure canning my future harvest, starting this spring!!
Also as a side note, Gloria Nicol’s blog that you have linked to from this post is very much alive and active, in case you weren’t aware.
Keep up the great work.
(And like you I also have a massive stash of cookbooks, both modern and vintage. You can never ever ever ever have too many books. 😉 )