These days, it takes a lot for a canning book to delight me. After all, I’ve spent the better part of the last decade totally immersed in jamming, pickling, and preserving. I sometimes even begin to think that perhaps I’ve seen every trick and flavor combination there is. And then a book like The Modern Preserver drops out of the sky and into my mailbox, and I am charmed.
Written by Kylee Newton, an artisan jam maker from New Zealand and now based in London, The Modern Preserver offers up a familiar and fresh array of jams, pickles, compotes, jellies, cordials, and more. The design is clean, the photography is gorgeous, and the voice of the book is reliable and welcoming.
It opens with a short introduction that details Kylee’s background, and then offers a bit of information about her ethos as a preserver. From there, she talks about the rules of preserving. Do know that this section is far briefer than it would be in an American book. I’ll dig a little more into that in a moment.
Following the intro, we get into the recipes. The first section contains Relishes, Chutneys, and Sauces. Next up is Pickles, Fermentations, and Vinegars; followed by Jams, Jellies, and Compotes; and Curds, Candies, and Fruit Cheeses. Bringing up the rear of the book are the Syrups, Cordials, and Alcohol.
I have bookmarked a goodly number of recipes in this book, and every time I open it, I find something else that I’d like to make, or at the very least, use as inspiration for a related preserve (Blackberry Relish! How had I never thought to make that?!)
My only quibble with this book is that there’s no acknowledgement that best practices for preserving vary depending on where you are in the world. Here in the US, it’s standard practice that we use jars designed for canning (not recycled jars from store-bought preserves). We use two piece lids and we make sure that the flat lids are new each time we can. And finally, we run everything we make through a boiling water bath. None of this is in the book (I’m a little bit surprised that the US publisher didn’t make them at least add an appendix referencing the different standards).
All that said, I will still be preserving from this book. I’m just going to make sure that I bring along my food science knowledge and general understanding of canning. Everything will be packed into appropriate jars and will get a trip through the canning pot (to determine timing, I’ll reference recipes with similar ingredients and densities).
Disclosure: The Countryman Press sent me the copy you see pictured above for photography and review purposes at no cost to me. All opinions expressed here are entirely my own.