DIY kitchen projects are perfect for preserving the flavor of the season, putting up stores for winter and making gifts that can be presented to friends, co-workers and hosts for months to come. Last Saturday's National Can-It-Forward Day kicked off a weeklong schedule of home canning parties nationwide for Can-O-Rama, that will no doubt result in larders packed with jars of pickles and preserves.
For many home cooks, the task of home preserving can be a daunting one. It's part cooking and part chemistry. But home preserving isn't all about pectin, water baths and brine. In Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It, author Karen Solomon shares recipes for tamales, candied citrus peel and granola--projects that don't require jars--but do result in a surplus of food that can be stored in airtight containers or the freezer for months.
Each recipe in Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It includes an estimated time commitment and tips for storage. Things like roasted spiced nuts aren't meant to be "put up," but as Solomon suggests, are a great way to freshen up stale nuts or make a tasty treat to bring to a cocktail party host. Recipe headnotes and chapter introductions throughout the book include hilarious little notes and asides like "These lentils are not the mushy, bland vegetarian pabulum that has poisoned America;" and "Snackmasters, prepare to feed your food hole." Together, this makes the book as fun to read, as it is informative and inspiring.
That being said, Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It is not a canning encyclopedia or reference book like the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. There are solid instructions for processing jars in a water bath, but not the endless trouble-shooting advice you may be looking for (or in need of) if this is your first foray into home preservation. Thankfully, only a handful of the 75 or so recipes in the book even require canning.
There's a recipe for quince paste that just needs to be wrapped tight in wax paper before it's ready to store in the fridge for up to a year. The plum catsup recipe is also good in the fridge for a year, and things like hot dogs, pizza dough, and rice and almond milks can be stored in the freezer for several months. Other recipes, like miso-pickled daikon, sweet pepper and corn relish, apple cider, and blueberry lemon syrup however, may inspire you to take the canning plunge.