One of the joys of being someone who cans and preserves regularly is that I’m nearly always prepared when the need arises for a gift. During December’s gift giving season, I keep a box of summer jams and butters near the front door, ready to be distributed. I build couple-specific baskets for bridal showers and weddings.
Last summer, when I was scurrying around on book tour, I even kept a couple extra jars in my car at all times, for those moments when verbal thank yous just weren’t enough and I wanted to offer a physical representation of my appreciation.
Sometimes, even I run out of preserves good for giving (there are a number of trial batches in recipe development that, while good enough for home use, aren’t great for bestowing upon others). Other times, I just find myself out of fresh ideas. That’s when I turn to books and blogs authored by other creative folk, hoping that their various perspectives will gyrate me free from my regularly-trod paths.
The latest book to cross my transom that I’m turning to for kitchen inspiration is Lucy Baker’s Edible DIY. Initially based on the work she’s done on Serious Eats, this book is filled with candies, infused spirits, crackers, pickles, and sweet spreads that will send you hopping for the kitchen.
Recipes are arranged by type. You’ll find nibbly bits like crackers, spiced nuts, and popcorn in the Crunchy section. Boozy should be plenty self-explanatory (and goodness, do I want to try the Spiced Pear Gin pictured below). Sweet includes biscotti, marshmallows, truffles, and toffee.
The last two sections the most preserve-heavy of the book. On the savory side, there’s a strong assortment of Spicy Condiments, Pickles, and Snacks (flavored salts! pickled fennel! ginger sriracha!). Rounding out the book are the Jams, Jellies, and Other Preserves. Lucy has made tweaks to a series of reliable favorites (blueberry port jam and strawberry balsamic thyme jam, for example) which are all worthy of canning pot consideration. One recipe that I’m planning on making soon is the one for Cranberry-Champagne Jam with Crystallized Ginger (I still have a couple bags of cranberries stashed away).
One of the things I like most about this book is that it’s accessible. Not a single recipe goes on for pages (or days), making it approachable for all levels of canners, candy makers, and cracker bakers. As someone who rarely has the patience for recipes that require multiple days of fussing, I’m appreciative. That said, if you’re an expert baker/canner/sugarcrafter who is looking for a book to push your skillset to a new level, this one is probably not for you.