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.

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Tuesday
May142013

Thank You!

Thank you again to all the Martha Stewart Living readers! I've been so moved by the memories you've shared. Reading your emails made me think about something that I wrote in the Introduction to my book

The way I see it, recipes can tell you how to make something, but they don't tell you much about it. Recipes need stories. Anyone who has learned to cook by spending hours in the kitchen with an older relative or a close friend knows what I mean. You learn by watching but also listening, and the instruction imparted is not merely technical. In the kitchen and at the table, food and narrative go together. In Saving the Season, recipes are vehicles for the stories.

I think you know what I mean. Thank you for sharing your stories.

 

Monday
May132013

The First Glimpse of Summer

Can you believe it? We're at the start of stone fruit season. Yesterday at the Hollywood Farmers Market was a glimpse of summer.

The pick of the day included Brooks cherries, some of my favorite for preserving because of their firm texture. The word "apricot" comes from the Latin "praecox" for "early ripening," and these Poppycots certainly live up to billing. The little green fruits are immature plums, which are used in some cuisines as a crunchy, sour condiment. 

Also, thank you to everyone who read the backpage essay in Martha Stewart Living and took the time to send emails or post comments. It means so much to hear from you!

Friday
May032013

Spring!

I've been in the kitchen with strawberries.

Sunday
Mar242013

Rare Public Visit to the Citrus Hall of Fame

Calling all citrus geeks!

The UC Riverside Citrus Variety Collection, a so-called germplasm repository, holds one of the world's most comprehensive collections of citrus trees—over 1,300 varieties at last count. This place is a citrus museum of the first order, a Noah's Ark, a Citrus Hall of Fame. Its holdings span the entire history of citrus from the crude ancestors (shaddock, citron, Papedas and Trifoliates) to the sveltest next-wave mandarin hybrids ("Tango"). It's a weird and unique place.

It's also locked up like Fort Knox. I visited the collection while writing my book, but it wasn't easy to get in—I had a friend pull strings at the chancellor's office to pry open the door for me.

Your chance to visit comes on April 16 this year, when the collection opens to the public for one day only. My tip to you: seriously go.

Info here.

Thursday
Mar212013

Fritz Haeg, Band of Outsiders, Lemon Curd

Seriously folks: this is a good invitation.

On Saturday 3/23 from 11am-5pm, I'm joining my friend Fritz Haeg at the Hammer Museum in Westwood to participate in his artwork Domestic Integrities. It's sort of an arty sit-in.

Band of Outsiders and I have collaborated on a cookie (sneak peak: lemon curd on shortbread), and Bettina Korek of For Yor Art is programming a day of live broadcasts on KCHUNG.

My advice? Seriously go.

Details ABOVE.

Friday
Mar152013

Rhubarb means #spring

The Fruit Detective, aka David Karp of the Los Angeles Times, devotes his column this week to a spring crop that, depending on where you stand, may or may not be a fruit.

He begins (and I concur):

Rhubarb is one of the great joys of spring, with its rosy color, earthy tang and old-fashioned allure, and the story of its local rise and fall is as intriguing as its flavor. Just a generation or two ago, it was widely cultivated in Southern California, but now local rhubarb is available almost exclusively at farmers markets, and just from a handful of vendors.

Read the rest of the story, including where to buy local rhubarb, here.

Monday
Feb252013

Limoncello

My upcoming book has 220 recipes. What you'll read below is the 221st—the one that didn't make it in.

Why did I not include limoncello in Saving the Season: A Cook's Guide to Home Canning, Pickling, and Preserving? I'm not sure...deadlines? Exhaustion? Brain spasm? Hard to say. I kept thinking I would squeeze it in at the last minute, and then the last minute passed.

Which is a shame, because limoncello so easy to do—the quickest of the homemade cordials.

And every time I drink it, I think about the summer that I went to Capri with Samantha, and we hired a boat and swam off shore all day, and in the evening we dressed up in linen and nonchalance, and we went out to eat beneath the lemon arbor at Da Paolino, surely the most magical restaurant in the world, and when dinner was over, we lingered until the waiters brought frosted bottles of limoncello to pour into tiny glasses. The drink was chemically yellow and thick with cold and bright to the tongue, a reminder not to fall asleep yet, not when there's more pleasure in the night.  

 

Limoncello

Made with Italian femminello lemons, sometimes available locally from Mud Creek at the Santa Monica and Hollywood Farmers Markets, this limoncello is equal to anything in Italy. The more familiar Eureka lemon will also work, as will California's favorite Meyer lemon.

2 pounds lemons

1 750 ml bottle Everclear (151 proof grain spirits)

4 cups water

3 cups sugar

 

1) Wash the lemons in cold water, and if using store-bought fruit, scrub it in very hot water to remove the wax. Using a vegetable peeler, remove the outermost yellow zest as thinly as possible, leaving behind every bit of the bitter white pith, the albedo.

2) Put the zest in a one-gallon glass jar and cover with the Everclear. Close the jar and set aside for at least one week, or as much as a month. Once the alcohol has become intensely yellow, discard the zest—it will be pale and strangely brittle—and strain the alcohol through a fine-mesh sieve or a damp jelly bag.

3) Combine the water and sugar in a saucepan and heat just enough to dissolve the sugar completely. Allow the syrup to cool all the way to room temperature, then add it to the alcohol. Stir to combine. Funnel the cordial into bottles if you like, and age it in the cellar for a couple of months if you can wait. Or else just put it in the freezer and start drinking it as soon as it's cold.

Yields about 2 1/2 quarts