Cookbooks: Desserts in Jars, Ripe, Jam On & The Preservation Kitchen

October 20, 2012(updated on February 3, 2023)
favorite books from this summer

It has been FAR too long since I’ve done one of these cookbook round-up posts. Amazing books have been stacking up all around my apartment (quite literally, there are piles nearly everywhere you look) and there are so many I want to share with you. So I’m going to get back into the business of featuring the best of the food-focused books that are crossing my threshold. Today’s post features four such books that came out in the last three or four months and would all make great additions to your culinary library.

Desserts in Jars

This summer was a really good time for jar-focused cookbooks (including mine!). One such book is Shaina Olmanson’s first, called Desserts in Jars. You might know her from her blog, Food For My Family. Shaina did all the writing, recipe development, food styling and photography for this book. My hat is off to her and the beautiful, accessible book that she created.

interior from Desserts in Jars

Desserts in Jars features all manner of cakes, pies, custards, puddings, fruit desserts and frozen desserts. There’s also a section in the very back filled with mixes for giving. There are a number of people on my holiday list who will be receiving jars of her Spiced Hot Chocolate Mix in their gift baskets this year.


Many words of praise have been heaped on Nigel Slater’s Ripe since it was published (it’s been out since 2010 in the UK, but has only been available in the US since late spring). It deserves every ounce of adulation too. It is beautifully written and photographed. The recipes are creative and allow you the space to adapt and explore the featured main ingredients.

interior from Ripe

The recipes in Ripe are named things like “A sharp damson pickle for cold meats” and  “A high-summer jam to serve warm.” How could you not want to make things with such romantic and descriptive handles? One dish that I’m hoping to make in the very near future is his “Apples and quince baked in cream.” Just saying the name makes me feeling like I’ve been transported to a small village in the English countryside.

Jam On

Written by the founder of Brooklyn-based Anarchy in Jam, Laena McCarthy’s Jam On is a really masterful preserving book because it doesn’t just contain a series of recipes. Laena has included the how and why of jams that she has learned throughout her career as a professionals fruit preserver. For instance, there’s a chart that breaks down which fruits are high in pectin, which have moderate amounts and which are quite low in pectin. That’s the kind of knowledge that makes it possible for cookbook users to explore fruit and put together their own jams, butters and marmalades.

interior from Jam On

Jam On has sections devoted to jams and jellies; preserves, marmalades and chutneys; sugar-free jams and fruit butters (I get lots of questions about sugar-free canning, those of you interested in this topic should definitely check out this book!); pickled fruits, syrups and shrubs; and pairings. I’m most enamored of the last two sections, as they have given me so many great ideas.

The Preservation Kitchen

Written by Chef Paul Virant of Chicago’s Vie and co-authored by Kate Leahy, The Preservation Kitchen is an incredible book for canners who want to expand their preservation habit beyond their traditional jams and pickles. One of the best things about this book is that it takes a very scientific approach to the formatting of the recipes, listing the ingredients in volume, ounces, grams and percentages. This makes it easier to scale the recipes up or down, which is so useful when you need to work with the produce you have and not an exact, recipe-prescribed amount.

interior from Preservation Kitchen

Particular gems in this book include chapters on Bittersweet Preserves (this includes aigre-doux and mostardas – both incredible with cheeses) and Pressure Canning. The pressure canning section is only three recipes deep, but all are winners, particularly the garlic conserva (detailed here by Hank Shaw) which allows you to have shelf stable, oil-packed, tender garlic.

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297 thoughts on "Cookbooks: Desserts in Jars, Ripe, Jam On & The Preservation Kitchen"

  • Ashley English has a recipe for spiced peaches in Canning and Preserving that is probably my most requested preserve.

  • I’m still very new to canning, so I haven’t tried a lot of recipes, but so far my favorite thing I’ve made has been your pickled beets. I cracked open a jar a couple weeks ago to brighten up a salad and they were gone within two days.

  • My favorite preserve recipe is my method for Beautyberry Jelly – not only is it a lovely preserve made from fruit of a native plant, but I’ve taken the same steeping method it starts with and made vanilla lemongrass, bignay, and plan to make lemon balm jelly later this winter!

    1. oh please oh please oh please share your beautyberry jelly recipe! We have acres of them and i desperately want to make something hot pink and awesome from them!!

  • I use a hot pepper jelly recipe I found on the internet and altered it to my liking. I am just getting into canning and am loving it.

  • Since I just started canning this summer, I always use the blue ball book. I’m still learning, and get too nervous to follow any other directions.

  • I’m currently loving the Pear & Cinnamon jam from your site, and the Caramelized Pear & Vanilla jam from Local Kitchen.

  • Laena McCarthyโ€™s “Jam On” is actually the source of my latest obsession: figalicious jam! I can’t stop buying gorgeous organic figs from my co-op and making “just one more batch.” I also made the Sungold tomato jam from that book with the last of my summer’s crop & it’s pretty darn delicious!

  • My favorite is one I made up, with my aunt’s suggestions for using apple juice concentrate and the ingredients I had on hand (namely, rosehips and oranges). It was a very tasty marmalade!

  • Your blueberry butter, via Simple Bites, is my favorite preserve this year! Opened my eyes to a work of added-pectin-free deliciousness where the fruit flavor shines!

  • My favorite is an “accident”–plum-grape! I had half enough each of plum and grape puree for a batch of jam, mixed the two together, and there you have it!

  • This summer had 2 big winners. The first was salsa verde from Canning forย a New Generation, because it involves no chopping. I managed to put up 40lbs of tomatillos during naps! The other was your tomato jam, which we’ve discovered is wonderful with smoked cheddar…

  • I love the Peach Bourbon Jam that appeared in Serious Eats’ Preserved column. I can never make enough to satisfy demand for it!

  • My Romanian grandmother has a special recipe for alcohol infused cherry. The syrup it creates is out of this world.

  • Love the radish relish I made as a joke for my sister in law. Tried it and now I don’t want to give it her.

  • Lemon Curd, I think from Sunset Magazine. I made it during one of my first canning classes I took a few years ago and fell in love with it, as has anyone else who’s tried it.

  • Hello Marisa,
    I just love your blog and every time the mail comes into my account “food in jars has written something” a big smile crosses my face.
    Well, what have i been searching for? A cake stand. Probably boring for you, but that was one of the items I never owned. The funny thing is, I didn’t find one, but it found ME! One of my friends gave it to me as a birthday present, although she didn’t know, i am looking for one!
    Please let me be the winner, maybe this great book finds me too ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Sooooo warm greetings from Germany,B.

  • I don’t have one source. This blog, of course, is where I am getting ideas, but I have yet to actually start preserving. That’s gonna take buying some equipment which will happen in the near future.

    There are my grandmother’s recipes for plum preserves and strawberry jam which I will be trying.

  • The first jam I ever made was Kumquat Marmelade from this blog Food in Jars. It’s the easiest jam to make, so great for beginners, and tasty too

  • The only thing I had canned before I got your book was my mother’s green tomato relish, which I love. Recently, I’ve canned your cantaloupe jam and peach salsa, which are both delicious!

  • My favorite preserve recipe is my own cherry berry spoon fruit, based on a technique I gleaned from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving

  • My favorite jam is my families recipe for Blackcap & Red Currant! Another favorite is my grandmother’s recipe for Icicle Pickles. Kudos also to your Tomato jam recipe which I made this summer with my booming cherry tomato crop and that is fabulous, a real treat and I plan on using it this Christmas in place of store bought tomato relish for my baked brie!

  • The “source” of my favourite preserves recipe is definitely my Aunt Linda, who died suddenly and too young a few years ago. She always made a “Christmas Jam” which, though quite sweet, was amazing – a combination of strawberries and cranberries.

    I also love the Tomato Jam recipe from this site, since it introduced me to the very notion of tomato jam, and I have made many a delicious thing from Liana Krissoff’s book “Canning for a New Generation”.

  • My favorite hands down is dilly beans (using your recipe)- though i’m looking forward to trying some new things during pear season

  • My favorite (and the recipe I’ve gotten the most requests and compliments on) is Amy’s Tomato Jam from your blog/book.

  • I’m new to your site and love it. I love to preserve food by canning. My favorite preserve is Gingered Pineapple from the book Perfect Preserves by M. Dalton King.
    I already have my favorite cooking vessel, a black cast iron fry pan. Love it!

  • I’m on the lookout for a kitchen cleaning fairy!!!! (or living room or bathroom for that matter!)….if you see one, send her my way! That counts as cookware, right? He/she would make sure that all of my cookware stays spotless!

  • Cookwear dreams: A large saute pan for all of our delicious one pan meals.
    Cookbook standard: For preserving all kinds of things and other homesteady tips I’m in love with “Stocking Up”. This book, the first edition of which my mom got for her wedding, has recipes for preserves AND how to pick fruit, build a root cellar, butcher meat, make cheese, winnow wheat… basically this is the book I want with me if I am ever stranded on an island. I read my cookbooks like novels and would love another!!

  • either lottie + doof apple jellies or another year without groceries’ apple peel jelly. Both are very fun, and very seasonal right now.

  • My favorite source wouldhave to be the Ball books. I have their giude and bigger book. Their guide to preserving was my first canning cookbook so it’ll always hold a special place in my library! I also enjoy our local extension service website. It’s very informative and has creative recipes and tips.

  • What a great giveaway!

    One of my favorite recipes is a peach butter recipe that was passed to me by my hubby’s grandmother. It has been in the family for generations.

    I am currently on a quest to put my kitchen back together. After a devastating tornado in our community this past spring…our home was a total loss. Cookbooks, cookware…canning supplies…you don’t realize how much you use all of that stuff…and rely on it until you don’t have it.

  • Pretty much all of my favorite preserving recipes/methods come from “Putting Food By.” It is my old standard, and continuing favorite. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • The old standards are always solid reference guides. However, I just like love the abundance of blog resources for new and unique recipes. That search via the Internet brought me to Food in Jars. My new favorite recipes book. More pages than not stuffed with scrap paper to mark the next recipe to try.

  • my favorite preserve recipe is probably the rhubarb orange butter from this site, it was one of the first things i canned all by myself and i make it every year.

  • I’ve had Preservation Kitchen on my wish list since it came out! So sophisticated and delicious looking!

  • I have yet to make preserves but when I do it will be blackberries. I LOVE blackberries! My husband doesn’t like the seeds in blackberries and raspberries but I realized something recently…it’s not just about him. Bless his heart, it’s about what I like too. Blackberries it is!
    You’re the best, Marisa!

  • I haven’t done much canning but my favorite so far has been plain canned tomatoes. I can use them for so much!

  • My current favorite thing to can is cherry jam – for some reason, I find cherry jam so much more decadent than other jams. I haven’t gotten to exploratory in canning, but hope to do so over the next couple of years. I really do need to get a few cookbooks for some good inspiration.

  • Most of my first preserving recipes came from my trusty Ball Blue Book and I still refer to it. In addition I love to look for interesting canning recipes on the Internet.

  • My sister-in-law gave me Edon Wyacott’s Preserving the Taste a few years ago. I like the recipes for various pickled vegetables, & for tomato jam, but the book sadly lacks photos. I have to say that recipes in your blog for small batch canning have become my source for preserving inspiration. Thanks!

  • My favorite book recipe is for the Strawberry Amaretto Jam from Independence Days, by Sharon Astyk. I use raspberries instead of straw, but the amaretto makes a lovely difference. I’ve also done raspberry vanilla jam using the same ideas, plus a ton of vanilla scraped from the beans.

  • My favorite thing to can is my grandparents’ awesome pears–as pear preserves, pear butter, and slices in syrup. My main source for canning wisdom is the Ball Blue Book I got in junior high ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I would have a terrible time picking a favorite recipe, so here’s a breakdown of where my favorite recipes come from: 50% blogs, 20% cookbooks, 10% family pass-downs.

  • I like the Small Batch Preserving book a lot as I only have a two burner cook top! Plus I can try out more kinds that way.

  • My favourite recipe.. well, I’ve been canning for barely 2 months and have only tried out a handful of recipe’s at this point. So far, I’d have to say my favourite is a Pear Vanilla Bean Butter that was inspired by your Pear Vanilla Bean Jam!

    I picked up “The Complete Preserving Book” from the Canadian Living Test Kitchen a couple days ago, and am planning on making their Apple Chutney shortly.. that one could quickly become my favourite!

  • Loving my applesauce, but hating the time with a food mill, this year I got a Roma food mill and whoa, it is an entirely new world. Love it (and just bought another 80# of apples!)

  • My favorite source for great preserves is my stepmother–she is bringing me the recipe for her delicious apple marmalade when she comes to visit at Thanksgiving. My other favorite source is my friend, Kathy, who makes a killer onion jam.

  • Interestingly enough, I ended a cookware quest a few weeks ago. I had been hunting for a non-vintage, cheap, used, not made in the USA or Canada, cast iron skillet to abuse as a steam tray in the oven while baking bread. I ended up finding one for $4!

    wait… Am I supposed to tell about my favourite recipe or a recent cookware quest, maybe both? My favourite recipe, since I was a child, is probably simple blackberry jam, with some seeds removed. Blackberry jam means summer & holidays.

    Anyway, The Preservation Kitchen looks awesome. I’d love to check it out.

  • I haven’t made any preserves yet. I just canned for the first time last Thursday – pickled okra from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving.

  • I really loved Blueberry Lemonade Jam from and a caramelized onion jam from Canning Homemade. I have a couple books, haven’t found one that speaks to me. Yet.

  • If we’re talking fruit preserves, plain old raspberry freezer jam a la the standard fruit pectin box is hard to beat. My favorite “canning” recipe comes from my friend’s grandmother, Ginny- pickled asparagus. Sweet and dilly, it’s the best pickled asparagus I’ve ever tasted!

  • Not to earn extra points or anything, but I do really enjoy your cantaloupe jam recipe. Which brings me to my second favorite preserving: dried watermelon! I bought a honeydew with every intention of trying a honeydew jam, but ended up drying it, too. Whoops. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I’ve been searching and finally found a two burner cast iron skillet for making family batches of pancakes and grill cheese, no more short order cooking in this family!

  • This is a horrible question to ask a preserver. This time I’m going with Lime Curd from So Easy to Preserve. It. Is. Amazing.

  • My favorite preserve this year was one featured on Food In Jars, but came from My Berlin Kitchen. The recipe was for spiced plum sauce, but I tweaked it a bit. I used less sugar, and added 1/2 cup cointreau. The kicker was after opening a jar, I put a vanilla bean in the jar and let it sit in the fridge for several days. The vanilla flavor, along with the original spices, made this sauce super tasty.
    As for my cookware quest, I’m looking for a new canner! I stopped using my big old traditional canner with the rusty rack in the bottom, and have used my pressure canner as a water bath canner instead. I’d like to find something a little more manageable, instead of pulling out the heavy pressure canner whenever I want to put something up.

  • My current preserving obsession is jalapenos. I had a bumper crop this year, and I just love the simplicity of your recipe for pickling them. It allows the flavor of the jalapeno to shine. We have been using them on everything! My next adventure is your pear butter recipe. I have so thoroughly enjoyed your book….the recipes, the stories, the pictures. Thank you!!

  • Oy, how do I chose my favorite preserving book? Canning for a New Generation introduced me to canning. Then there’s Well Preserved by Eugenia Bone that is just so, so delicious. I use the Ball books and Small-Batch Preserving as references and Small-Batch Preserving has *the best* tomato sauces. Cook books to me are like potato chips: you can never have just one ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I have yet to actually preserve anything, just bought my pot and some accessories, just need to get my jars ๐Ÿ™‚ But I have some recipes of yours and some over at Simple Bites to start getting my feet wet with.

  • I’m new to canning – started just a few weeks ago – but I started out with an old Ball Blue Book from my Grandma. I made the raspberry jam in there, with some berries I picked at a friend’s place, and it was wonderful. I found this site just last week and I’m dying to try some of the fancy new recipes.

  • The preserve I get the most request to make again and again is the Apple Chutney recipe posted on the blog Panini Happy. It goes wonderfully with white cheddar and brie.

  • Put Em Up is my go to these days- I just made the Chinese Plum Sauce and it’s fantastic- complex flavors and a great texture- I’m using it as ketchup with sweet potato fries.

  • My favorite recipe is for slow cooker pear butter in Marissa’s Food in Jars cookbook. I use lime zest and juice rather than lemon (though I know the lemon would be delicious) and it is incredibly easy for such deliciousness.

  • My favorite recipe comes from a classic book: Ball’s Home Preserving. It’s Habanero Gold and it is mighty delicious!