Have You Heard About... Food in Jars

… all the benefits of preserving your own food? If you’re like me, you’ve heard about the better flavor, the lower price, the more natural ingredients, the satisfaction of eating something you made yourself, and all of the other advantages. However, you wondered when you would have the time, where to get the fancy equipment and tons of fresh produce, and where to store umpteen jars of pickled beets (not to mention what to do when you discover that you hate pickled beets, even if you did make them yourself). Marisa McClellan’s Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-round takes care of many of those concerns. Most of her recipes make just two to five pints and use fewer than ten ingredients, so you can try them without investing a lot in supplies or time. Ms McClellan gives clear, concise instructions on how to do everything from preparing the jars to cooling and storing the finished products, even suggestions for how to use some of the less common ones. She also explains why the steps are important, particularly when doing long-term storage.

The recipes have a sample of almost anything food-related that you could store in jars — jam, jellies, chutneys, pickles, whole fruit, granola, nut butters, soup stock, and mixes to make later. Most of the recipes use boiling water bath canning for long-term preservation, but some are designed for dry storage or freezing. Each section has a variety of familiar and exotic options. For example, the jams range from raspberry and blueberry to vanilla rhubarb jam with Earl Grey (yes, the tea), honey lemon apple jam, and even tomato jam, which sounds bizarre, but the recipe and description are tempting.

If you have fond memories of home-made jam, or want to store the extra tomatoes from your garden, or would like to make a unique gift for a few close friends, check out Food in Jars. With its variety of treats, you’re sure to find something you want to try (even if you hate pickled beets).


Reviewed by Fran (staff)