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The Preservation Kitchen - The craft of making and cooking with pickles, preserves and aigre-doux
(Ten Speed Press) ISBN 978-1607741008 1607741008

Canning pickles, vegetables, jams and fruits is easy with this cookbook about food preservation. Paul Virant and co-author, Kate Leahy, explain how to can food at home and how to use the preserved foods to make seasonal menus.

In addition to preserve recipes illustrated with gorgeous photos, he describes safe canning practices, e.g., water bath processing versus processing jars in the oven. Half of Paul Virant's cookbook features drinks, appetizers, main courses and desserts for everyday meals, barbecue suppers and company dinner dishes made with preserves.

Pickle juice

The 297-page cookbook about canning food is divided into two parts. The first section contains recipes for preserves. The second part has recipes for seasonal meals made with preserved ingredients.

Chapter and recipe introductions provide cooking tips, such as how to use pickle juice to spice up soups, sauces and cooked vegetables. The recipes for jams, jellies and preserves list ingredients by volume, ounces, grams and percentages.

How to make pectin

Paul Virant's recipes range from basic (e.g., how to make homemade pectin) to elegant (e.g., vanilla melon jam) and unusual (e.g., milk jam, which is sweetened condensed milk).

Besides instructions on making jams, pickles and conserves, Paul Virant provides information on how to preserve meats, such as beef bacon and coppa (an Italian cured meat). He also gives information about fermenting foods, such as turnip sauerkraut.

Beer jam

Chef Virant uses canned relishes, jams and jellies from the first section of the cookbook to make seasonal dishes in the second half. For example, he serves caramel apple jam on a plate of cheese and crackers, and uses his pickled and spiced zucchini recipe to make beef chile.

The Preservation Kitchen uses his beer jam recipe in a Manhattan cocktail, his tomato jam recipe to make roasted potatoes and fruit preserves to enhance goat cheese mousse.

Mostarda recipes

Preserving food, according to the canning cookbook, includes making aigre-doux (French sweet-and-sour preserves) and mostarda (fruits preserved with mustard and vinegar). Both of these bittersweet preserves mix fruit or vegetables with wine, vinegar and spices.

The Preservation Kitchen recipes include blueberry aigre-doux and currant mostarda. These homemade preserves can be served with cheese and roasts, or made into vinaigrettes and glazes.

Vibrant photos by Jeff Kauck illustrate pickle, jam, jelly and relish recipes, as well as the fruits and vegetables used to make them.

The Preservation Kitchen by Paul Virant with Kate Leahy


Introduction: Capturing the Year in a Jar
Principles of Safe Preservation
Part One: In the Jar
  • Pickles, Relishes and Other Acidified Preserves
  • Jams, Marmalades, Conserves and Butters
  • Bittersweet Preserves: Aigre-Doux and Mostarda
  • Fermenting and Curing Sauerkraut, Salted Produce and Cured Meat
  • Pressure-Canned Preserves
Part Two: At the Table
  • Early Signs
  • Spring Supper
  • An Earth Day Gesture
  • At Last, Al Fresco
  • Lazier Days
  • Grill Out
  • A Midsummer Meal
  • On the Farm
Happy Hour Interlude

  • A Day of Canning
  • First Frost
  • Autumn Chicken Dinner
  • Thanksgiving
  • Winter Weekdays
  • Chili Night
  • A Beer Celebration
  • A Midwinter Feast


Paul Virant is a Michelin-star chef who is owner and co-owner of two Chicago restaurants, Vie and Perennial Virant. Kate Leahy is co-author.

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