Canning and preserving aren’t what they used to be. It’s a lost art for many, only some of whom have memories of parents or grandparents putting up dilly beans or pickled beets, strawberry freezer jam or orange marmalade. Those recipes seemed preserved in amber themselves, passed down from one generation to the next without variation.
Not that that’s a bad thing – I love the taste of old fashioned pickles, jams, and preserves. But now, there’s been a a revival of the preservation arts and it’s come with a lot of experimentation. I may love those old school tastes, but it’s the modern flavours that inspire me to get into the kitchen and fire up the canner.
If you feel the same way, Camilla Wynne’s Preservation Society Home Preserves is the book for you.
Her whimsically heart-shaped pickled beets have a juniper berry and peppercorn kick. Her strawberries mingle with currants and rose petals or tequila and triple sec. And her marmalades travel the road from purity to downright decadence.
Many of her recipes are inspired by cocktails and she brings the same kind of attention to flavour and inventiveness that you’d see in a bar that specializes in handcrafted drinks. The range of recipes is nice, too, including syrups, refrigerator preserves, and dishes that use some of the products of the earlier recipes in the book.
This book isn’t a comprehensive guide to canning, though. There is a chapter up front that covers canning basics clearly, but if you’re new to it you might want to have a canning reference guide (or even better, an experienced canner) by your side.
I made Wynne’s Piña Colada Jam yesterday and it filled the kitchen with the most wonderful tropical aromas. I tasted it today and it was delicious. Wynne recommends using it as a cake filling, an ice cream topping, or swirled into mascarpone. I could also see it as a surprise at the bottom of a crème brûlée or a tart like this one. To be perfectly honest, it’s great on its own. I sort of ate a small…ish quantity of it with a spoon while I was supposed to be photographing it.
Robert Rose Inc. has been kind enough to allow me to share the recipe with you. If you make it, promise me you’ll follow safe canning guidelines (you could start here, for instance) and read up about how to determine the setting point for jam.
Piña Colada Jam
Makes about five jars (8 oz/250 mL each)
2.9 lbs (1.3 kg) pineapple flesh (from 2 pineapples)
2-1/2 cups (500 g) jam (gelling) sugar
1-2/3 cups (100 g) unsweetened flaked coconut
Grated zest and juice of 2 limes
6 tbsp (90 mL) dark rum, divided
- Chop the pineapple into fairly small dice.
- In a large pot or preserving pan, combine the pineapple, sugar, coconut, lime zest and juice and about half the rum. Cover and let stand to macerate for 30 minutes.
- In the meantime, prepare the jars and lids.
- Bring the pineapple mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring often. Boil hard, stirring often, until the setting point is reached. Remove from heat and let rest for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the remaining rum.
- Ladle jam into the hot jars to within 1/4 inch (0.5 cm) of the rim. Remove any air bubbles and wipe rims. Place the lids on the jars and screw the bands on until fingertip-tight. Process in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes.
For me, the best cookbooks are ones that send me in directions I’d never imagined, whether it’s techniques, cuisines, or ingredients. In this case, it’s combinations and juxtapositions of flavours. Having a pantry full of these homemade ingredients will lead to a more delicious life.
Come back next Thursday for the last book in this season’s review series. You’ll be dreaming of Paris and you’ll also have a chance to win one of two copies of Jill Colonna‘s latest book.