This is a blog about home canning—or "putting up" as one might say where I'm from—and it will cover jams and other fruit preserves, pickles and briny things, canned vegetables (above all tomatoes) and the complement of condiments that includes relishes, sauces, salsas and those related preparations that result when you chunk bits of seasonal produce and preserve them in a syrup either piquant or sweet.

Join My Mailing List

Sign up here for recipes, discounts on my line of artisanal jams (launching soon) and updates on my book, coming from Knopf in spring 2013.


A Spate of Preserving Articles in the NYT

In case you missed them, below are links to three relevant stories from The New York Times, suggestions for your morning read.

Here is the wonderful Tamar Adler on "The Miracle of Preserves."


Recipes for preserving the usual suspects — ripe tomatoes, beans, corn, strawberries — are so many and so intuitive that my own practical interest has alighted elsewhere, on strange preserves. 

Adler's "strange" preserves include: grapefruit marmalade (a favorite from my book), green-tomato jam (ditto), pickled mussels or clams (who knew?), and vegetables à la grecque (with Adler's receipe).

Here is a business section article on the "Uncertain Trade Path for South Korea's Kimchi, with video.

The fate of South Korea's kimchi industry rests on whether China considers it pickled or not.

And here is an Opinion Page video on "Sandorkraut: A Pickle Maker."

Since the beginning of time, humans have been fermenting our food. Sauerkraut, chocolate, beer, cheese: Because of fermentation these foods not only last longer — they are delicious. But although nearly every region of the world has cultivated its own unique fermentation traditions — and devoted eaters — the practice has all but disappeared from many modern households. This Op-Doc video profiles the man at the forefront of reviving the art of fermentation, a New Yorker turned homesteader named Sandor Katz (or “Sandorkraut,” as he is often known).


Get In It to Win It

This Sunday. I'll be a judge.


A Brine Romance

Brined pickles, aka fermented pickles, aka lacto-fermented pickles: a whole class of pickles made by harnessing the creative power of beneficial lactobacillus bacteria.

Fermented pickles are a live, raw, probiotic food and all that kind of thing, but I make them every summer because they are also delicious. I've done a step-by-step recipe that can be used to pickle a whole garden's worth of sturdy summer vegetables, including cucumbers, of course, but also zucchini, green beans, baby turnips, green tomatoes, onions, purslane, chard stems, and more.

Click here for my Universal Fermented-Pickle Recipe at the Mother Earth News website.

What's more, after you eat your pickles, the brine itself is an elixir that can be used to season martinis, bloody Marys, and other cocktails. Or just pour yourself a pickleback: a shot of whiskey followed by a shot of picklng brine. Sound strange? Perhaps, but it tastes great.

Also, the Mexican food guru Bill Esparza reports on a snack from Oaxaca called piedrazos, which is stale bread dipped in pickling brine and topped with a dash of hot sauce. ¡Qué rico!


Marinated Artichoke Hearts

Here's another recipe from my ongoing collaboration with Simi Winery in Sonoma County.

The artichoke plant is a thistle, which explains why you have to battle through armored scales to find its heart. The part we eat is actually a bud, and gardeners may have seen one that's gone to bloom. To study the flower at close range—purple, dry, bristly as a sea urchin—is to wonder how anyone ever had the idea to eat the thing.

This recipe for artichoke hearts marinated in wine and seasoned with fresh herbs is easy to make—once you’ve trimmed the prickly buds down to their tender hearts. By the third one you’ll have the knack. Store this short-lived preserve in the refrigerator, and use within 10 days.

Marinated artichoke hearts meet all the summer requirements for food that is flavorful, quick to prepare, and light on the stomach. Eat them as an hors d’oeuvre or a pizza topping. I also like them on a sandwich. But maybe my favorite way to eat them is off the end of a toothpick, washed down with a glass of wine.

This recipe is not intended for canning.

Artichoke Hearts Marinated in SIMI Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc
Yields 2 pints

3 lemons, halved
8 cups water
3 cups SIMI Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ teaspoon fine sea salt (or nearly twice as much flakier kosher salt)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 bay leaf, torn in half
freshly ground black pepper
8 globe artichokes (or twice as many baby artichokes)
2 small dried red peppers or several pinches of red pepper flakes
2 inch-long strips of lemon zest
2 whole garlic cloves, lightly crushed
4 fresh thyme springs
2 fresh parsley sprigs
2 small fresh rosemary springs
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1  Squeeze four lemon halves into a medium mixing bowl, and add the water.  (Reserve the remaining lemon for juice.)

 2  Trim the artichokes by snapping off the tough outer leaves and scraping out the fuzzy choke with the edge of a spoon. With a sharp knife, trim the stem and pare all the tough green peel. Immediately plunge the artichoke hearts in the acidulated water to prevent browning. (To trim baby artichokes, remove the tough outer leaves only and snip the prickly tip off the pale inner leaves.)

 3  Place the trimmed hearts in a lidded pot. Add the wine, juice from the remaining lemon, salt, oregano, dried thyme, and bay leaf. Season generously with black pepper—about six twists of a pepper mill. Bring to a boil, and cover tightly. Adjust the heat to maintain a lively simmer for 10 minutes, or until the artichokes are tender but not mushy. (Smaller artichokes will cook faster). Remove from the stove. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the artichoke hearts to a platter. When cool enough to handle, cut into quarters. (Cut baby artichokes in half.)

4  Divide the red pepper, lemon zest, garlic, and fresh herbs between two pint jars. (I like wide-mouth jars with wire-bail closures.) Snugly pack the artichoke hearts into the jars. Ladle in cooking liquid to cover, leaving ½” headspace. Add two tablespoons of olive oil to each jar, and, if you like, an extra pinch of dried oregano and more freshly ground black pepper. Seal the jars, and store in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.


Steam Canners

This post is for hardcore wonks only. 

According to the USDA and Ball, steam canners are not recommend for processing high-acid foods. They tell you to stick with the boiling-water bath.

However, the use of steam canners (aka "flowing steam") is shown to be as effective as hot-water bath canners in a peer-reviewed article published in Food Protection Trends (March 2005) by authors from the University of California Cooperative Extension Food Preservers San Bernadino County and the Food Microbiology, Food Science, and Technology department of UC Davis.

I received a copy of the article while doing my MFP coursework at the UCCE/SBDO. Because I haven't been able to find it online, I'm posting the article below as a resource for anyone curious about the safety and effectiveness of steam canners.

Now feel free to get wonky.

PDFs of the article appear after the jump.

Click to read more ...


Cherry Chew

Here's another one for It's one of my favorite recipes from Saving the Season—my version of a fruit roll-up. Adding a big handful of dried sour cherries isn't essential, but they do enhance the flavor.

Cherry Chew
Yields about 2 pounds

3 pounds fresh cherries
Optional: 8 ounces of dried sour cherries
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 Pit the cherries, and place them in a large pot with the sour cherries, if using, and the water. Bring to a boil, partially cover, and reduce the heat to maintain a steady simmer for 15 minutes, or until the cherries are very soft. Grind the cherries through the coarse blade of a food mill, or pulse them in a food processor until smooth.

2 Combine the cherry puree, sugar, and lemon juice in a preserving pan. Bring to a boil, and reduce over moderate heat, stirring constantly, for 25 minutes or until very thick. To finish reducing, transfer the preserving pan to a 250-degree oven, and cook until nearly dry, stirring every 15 minutes.

3 Remove the preserving pan from the oven, stir thoroughly, and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Turn the paste onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, and spread to an even 3/8-inch thickness. Allow to dry, uncovered, in a warm spot for two days, until the surface is barely tacky, then flip over the slab and dry the second side. Once the paste is fully cured, cut it into strips, and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.


Cherry Olives

The folks at the Washington State Fruit Commission, who run a website called, sent me a bunch of cherries to play with. Maybe because I've been in a pickling mood, I decided to make Cherry Olives. The inspiration for my recipe—and the snappy Jet-Age name—come from Helen Brown's wonderful West Coast Cookbook, a classic from 1952 that was popular in its day but has been sadly forgotten.

I've Frenchified Brown's recipe with red wine vinegar (instead of white vinegar—blech!) and a sprig of tarragon, but kept the spirit of what is, basically, a lightly sweet pickled cherry. This simple technique doesn't require canning. Just put the cherries in the fridge and pull them out to serve with things like charcuterie platters, cheese boards, or a picnic spread with ham and deviled eggs.

Cherry Olives
Yields 1 pint (or scale up to match your quantities)

1/2 pound firm, dark cherries
2 four-inch sprigs of fresh tarragon
1/2 cup red-wine vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2-3 tablespoons sugar

1  Rinse the cherries, and trim their stems to 3/4-inch. Pack them snugly in a pint jar and tuck in the tarragon.

2  Combine the vinegar, water, salt, and sugar in a small saucepan, and heat just enough to dissolve the solids. Ladle the syrup over the cherries to cover. Seal, and cure for at least a week before using. The cherries will keep for several months in the refrigerator.