I’m hosting a giveaway for a copy of it — see the end of this post for details! Giveaway is closed. Thank you!
Beyond Canning, with its modern flavors and creative combinations, not only makes an excellent guide to further an existing canning and food preservation practice; it’s also an incredible resource for building a preserving foundation from the ground up. Autumn includes a wealth of wisdom through clear instruction and helpful advice, and her recipes really do go beyond what many of us might expect when we think of canning by speaking to modern palates and real, everyday kitchens.
Autumn has a refreshingly hip and practical style of approaching food and flavor. To give you an idea: Tomato-Vanilla Jam, Bergamot-Scented Meyer Lemon Marmalade, Salted Apple Caramel, “Just a Cup” Rosé Wine Jelly, Hibiscus Lime Jelly, Orange Rosewater Curd, Pear Cardamom Butter, Rhubarb Cardamom Chutney, Broiled Pickled Onions, Celery & Black Pepper Shrub, Maple-Plum Mostarda, Pickled Mandarinquarts with Ginger & Pink Peppercorns (a version of which is seen below, prepared by Amanda of Heartbeet Kitchen), Bloody Mary Pickled Eggs, Green Chile Jam, Old Bay Pickled Cauliflower, Five-Spice Apple Chutney, Pickled Figs with Port & Black Pepper, Raspberry & Burnt Honey Gastrique, Pizza-Pickled Brussels Sprouts, White Kimchi (no-spice, with asian pear), Fermented Jalapeño Hot Sauce, Rutabaga & Wakame Sauerruben, Chipotle Cauliflower Kraut, Chow-Chow Kraut Deviled Eggs, and Raddichio & Sunchoke Kraut with Thyme (and those are just the ones I couldn’t not write about).
The recipes in Beyond Canning are small-batch preserves that fall under one of three basic processes: Sweet Preserves, Pickling, and Fermentation. Each recipe has a beautiful photo by Grace Stufkosky and a couple paragraphs of text from Autumn concerning the recipe’s origins, incredibly useful tips, or Autumn’s own revelations, experiences, and ideas about preserving, food, and cooking. The prose is authoritative yet affable; friendly yet focused. Some of the recipe titles didn’t speak to me at first glance, but as I read through the accompanying texts, I consistently found myself nodding along — irrevocably charmed — swiping highlighter across title to save for later. I came away from reading each of her recipes feeling like I totally can (and totally want to) make it in my own kitchen.
Throughout Autumn’s writing, her recipes, and her philosophies, there’s a clear, recurring theme of balance. Preserve food, yes, but be sure to savor the fresh stuff, too. Put up excess food, of course, but do so in a way that speaks to your tastes and your enjoyment. Beyond the vast collection of inspiring recipes are ideas to be explored. I knew I wanted to do just that in this stop along Beyond Canning‘s blog book tour, so I asked Autumn a few questions that I’d like to share with you now.
Q: I had always thought of canning and even fermentation as methods distinctly separate from cooking. Beyond Canning has totally challenged that idea for me, encouraging me to see these processes with more curious, creative eyes — cooking eyes. In the book, you describe the process of making preserved lemons as “dead easy yet completely transformative”. Just that idea is one of the things I love most about good, simple cooking, and what really captivates me about the way you talk about preserving: we’re not just combining ingredients here; we’re elevating them. How did a preserving practice become such an integrated part of cooking (and eating) for you?
A: Yay! I’m so happy to hear that. I lived in NYC for 10 or so years, but was always a pretty reluctant city-dweller. Going to the Union Square Greenmarket every week became a really important way for me to feel connected to the world outside the city. It’s probably not a surprise that I love food and am a huge fruit-nerd. I started becoming interested in the kind of small-batch recipes that are in Beyond Canning during my years in NYC. I’d get way too excited about sour cherries or currants and buy too much, then look for ways to make something special out of them.
Q: I regarded canning, specifically, as a process that came about by the mundane necessity of having surplus harvest and an aversion to waste. For frequenters of today’s grocery stores and supermarkets, that scenario likely feels distant and irrelevant. But I think — even for folks who don’t have access to local farms or grower’s markets — preserving to transform a simple vegetable into a vibrant, unmistakable condiment can simply be pleasing enough to justify doing so (case in point: pickled onions for tacos). Your philosophy — “build and refine your preserving practice around [these] two cornerstones: pleasure and practicality” — is so well embodied among the creative, small-batch recipes you share in Beyond Canning. With ingenuity and a smart, modern sensibility, you make these processes practical for and relevant to us all. How often do you preserve food to keep it around longer, versus seeking out ingredients specifically to transform them by the process of preservation?
A: This is such a good question, Jaime! Thank you so much. I think the times when I have larger quantities of something are the times when I’m looking to preserve to make things last. For example, my friends have a number of apricot trees in their yard and last summer they had me over to pick as much as a wanted. Such a treat! In that case, I made preserves, infused bourbon, anything to make those apricots last. When I’m approaching something to transform it, it’s usually the more surly ingredients–I’m thinking radicchio and bergamot, for example. Cooking with radicchio had always been a challenge for me. I like bitter greens, but had never prepared radicchio in a way in which I felt like I really nailed. The Radicchio and Sunchoke Kraut with Thyme from the book was a surprise favorite of mine because it totally transforms the radicchio.
Q: In the book’s introduction, you also talk about the economics of preserving and how it empowers you to eat better for less. You make a case, too, for the social, communal aspects of food preservation as a tradition, and I think that’s an essential and often overlooked part of what makes food and cooking, and really, anything relevant to us and our lives. In what ways do you feel like you have adopted or become a part of an established tradition of food preservation, and in what ways have you created your own?
A: Honestly, one of the best parts about writing and promoting this book so far has been talking to other folks about what they and their families preserve. The opportunity to engage with others in that way does make me feel plugged into the tradition of food preservation in a really awesome way. Although I got started preserving in NYC, I now live in a rural area where most of the population is quite a bit older than me (I’m 31). I am so grateful for my many friends in their 60s and 70s! It has been really so amazing to connect with my immediate community around preserving as well.I feel a bit like I started over in terms of my own preserving traditions when I moved to the desert. Obviously the climate here is super different, so different stuff grows well here, but my life here is just vastly different as well. That has been really fun though! Word has gotten around that I’m the lady you call when your fruit trees are producing more than you can handle, which is a role I absolutely relish.
Q: In the text accompanying your Blackberry Plum Jam recipe — an intentionally simple formula — you write:
I went through a period early in my life as a preserver during which I wanted to add additional flavor to every single jar of jam I produced. Cinnamon here, cayenne there, and cardamom pretty much everywhere. I still love playing with flavor, but I’ve gotten better at realizing when something might be better without my stamp on it.
It wasn’t until I read The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook by Rachel Saunders that I truly started to appreciate the art of intentionally combining fruits and letting their simple, clean flavors shine through.
That resonates so much with me, as I often find myself resisting (or succumbing to) the urge to kitsch and clever up all sorts of stuff. In what other ways have your experiences preserving contributed to your growth as a cook or as a person who appreciates food?
A: Ahh! Another awesome question that I had never thought about before. I really love to learn and am happy to fall down rabbit holes in the kitchen. For example, once I became comfortable with fermenting veggies in small batches, I just had to learn more. So, I started experimenting with other types of fermentation, like small batch mead. So, my passion for preserving has definitely kept me growing in the kitchen.
Q: You share so many useful tips and thoughtful ideas and experiences about preserving food throughout the book; it’s really clear you want people to try this stuff in their own kitchens! Your recipes are beginner-friendly but not beginner-flavored, and I think you found a brilliant balance there. For folks who are not really new to navigating their kitchens, but who are new to preserving, what are some of the recipes or methods in particular that you find most approachable and rewarding?
A: For folks who love playing in the kitchen, but maybe aren’t ready to call themselves preservers yet, I think small batch fermentation can be a great place to start. It’s super flexible and really fun to experiment with. I provide a basic formula for dry salting (like sauerkraut) and brining (like sour cucumber pickles) in the book that can be used for a variety of veggies and other add-ins. I find it’s something that folks totally get hooked on and starting with small batches means that it’s easy to try new things and figure out what you like.
You can buy the book on Amazon
or enter to win a copy right here . Autumn’s publisher is generously furnishing a copy of Beyond Canning to give away to one lucky somebody! To enter, comment and tell me, in delicious detail, about your favorite preserved food. What’s it like? How’d you come to know it and love it? Do you make it? Are their any traditions involving that food that you feel connected to? Make sure to log your entry with the rafflecopter widget! Giveaway is now closed. Thanks all!
Update 3/24: Congrats, Bri! Thanks to all who entered the giveaway.
Check out all the other stops along the blog book tour (and follow along on Autumn’s blog)!