Holly Ebel: There's a new, simpler way to can preserves
If you know someone who likes to preserve fruits, berries and vegetables, there's a new book that puts a new spin on the process.
"Savory Sweet: Simple Preserves from a Northern Kitchen," by Beth Dooley and Mette Nielsen, introduces us to another way of preserving, not at all the way your grandmother saved summer's bounty.
Forget about sterilized jars and lids, or adding pectin, no hot-water bath either. The authors describe it as "preserving the northern way."
They go step-by-step through how to turn fresh fruits and vegetables quickly into jams, jellies, pickles, relishes and conserves in a way unfamiliar to most of us who do this. The recipes are described as practical, easy and inspired by the New Nordic Food Manifesto, which emphasizes seasonal, healthy and sustainable ingredients.
They also use every last morsel to keep things from ending up in the garbage or compost pile. Recipes seem to be forgiving and flexible. It also is small-batch preserving with sizes of finished jars ranging from 2 to 4 pints. They also are not stored on a shelf but instead in the freezer or refrigerator.
Nielsen is of Danish heritage, and the recipes in the book reflect the influence of that northern cuisine, as well as that of Finland, Norway, Iceland, Greenland and the Faroe Islands. The recipes are accompanied by stunning color photographs taken by Nielsen, a well-known photographer.
It was interesting and educational for me to go through this book (several times, by the way) because I found the combinations fascinating. There is a recipe for eggplant chutney with cardamom and pomegranate molasses, another one for mushroom ketchup. Then there is parsnip and grapefruit relish, gooseberry chutney, elderberry and lemon thyme shrub. It all makes my bread and butter pickles look sort of boring.
Most of the required equipment you likely already have, including bowls, measuring cups and spoons, spatulas and foil, wax paper and parchment. And of course, jars and lids. What seems to be essential, however, is a 10-inch saute pan with a lid.
The book was published by the University of Minnesota Press, is a healthy (no pun intended) 194 pages long and sells for $24.95. With Mother's Day upon us, and if she is even just a little bit interested in preserving, this book would make a great addition to Mom's canning skills. The recipes are well written, easy to follow and certainly add a new dimension to how you will save the bounty of summer.