There is a cool chick bringing preserves back in style, and it's not me. Canning jams, jellies, sauces and chutneys has regained some popularity with a lot more people, young and old, trying out traditional preservation methods. That is not to say that preserving is boring. There are tried and tested recipes out there, and then there are ways to add a little more style, personality and pizzaz to home preserves. That is where the Preservation Society Home Preserves: 100 Modern Recipes comes in to play. The cookbook is written by Camilla Wynne, a former indie rock musician and founder of the Preservation Society based out of Montreal.
The Preservation Society is all about using good quality local ingredients for small batch preserves. As they like to say, "these are not your grandmother's preserves, but we're certain she would approve!" Camilla's recipes are easy to make for beginner canners and she uses interesting flavour combinations,such as "Bananas Foster" jam, "Miso Mixed Pickle" and "White Grapefruit Marmalade with Vanilla." that stand out from every other canning book. I mean, there are only so many times I can flip through a canning cookbook and find plain old recipes for strawberry jam, pickles and marmalade even if those are classics every canner should learn. For something a little edgier and modern, I would go for something in this cookbook.
Surprisingly, something I didn't even know before getting the book, is that her recipes don't use pectin. Pectin is used in canning sometimes as something you can add to thicken jam and make it a little more "jelly" like. Some fruits are high in pectin and this process occurs naturally, however some people still prefer adding some pectin for better results. Her recipes aim to highlight the fruit itself and not overload the recipe with sugar and pectin. Although the sugar content seems high at first (this recipe used 1 1/4 cups) most of her recipes have less sugar content than some canning recipes I have seen and definitely less sugar than store bough preserves. The only downside to this cookbook is that some of the ingredients are a little obscure and may be hard to find depending on the season.
A neat aspect of the book is that many of the recipes are inspired by cocktails, like "Pina Colada Jam," and "Bitters Blood Orange Marmalade." While it's a neat idea, I didn't have bourbon and didn't want to buy a whole bottle of bourbon for one recipe, so I substituted vanilla. If you want to do this also, make sure to substitute one part vanilla and two parts water for one tablespoon of bourbon. So I didn't get the experience the full bourbon taste. I still liked the addition of honey that made it a little less tart. I always want to do something to preserve those amazing fresh summer peaches that drip down your arm when you bite into them.
Peach Jam with Bourbon and Honey2.4 lbs peaches (about 8 medium)
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
9 oz honey
3 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp bourbon
Directions:1. Chop the peaches into small pieces. In a large pot, combine the peaches, sugar, honey and lemon juice. Cover and let stand to macerate for anywhere from 30 minutes to overnight.
2. Prepare the jars and lids.
3. Bring the peach mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring often. Boil hard, stirring often, until the setting point is reached.
4. Remove from the heat and let rest for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the bourbon.
5. Ladle jam into the hot jars to within 1/4 inch of the rim. Remove any air bubbles and wipe rims. Place the lids on the jars and screw the bands on until tight.
6. Process in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes.
You may have noticed that another difference in her recipes is that she has eliminated a few steps to make the directions even simpler. Instead of boiling the mixture at the start, you let it macerate to let the lemon juice and sugars combine naturally. This jam would go well on toast, as well as scones, desserts and even cheese. I only wish the recipe would have made more jars. The recipe stated it makes about 5 and I only ended up with three, which can happen sometimes. Canning is a lot like baking in that once you know the science, it is easy to have fun, experiment and try new things while still having good results. Check out the Preservation Society Home Preserves: 100 Modern Recipes by Camilla Wynne to do just that.