We have a lot of preserving cookbooks. Truth be told, we have a lot of cookbooks period.
2016 was the year that our bookshelf hit a critical mass – piles of books were cluttering our lives and we knew it was time to either move to another place (I’m not that obsessive) or that we would have to make some tough choices and start to cull our shelf. We chose the culling option and now have a “one-in-one-out” policy on our shelf which means I adore every book in our house. Eliminating books was so much easier than I thought – though it’s getting more and more difficult as the shelf looks like a list of my all-time faves.
We’ve put together a round-up of some of our favourite (mostly) preserving books that were (mostly) published or came into our life in the last year. The links are affiliate links (we earn a small commission) but we’re just as happy if you support your local independent store as well.
Every one of these books are in our personal collection and are books that have a special place in our kitchen. Stay tuned for more of our favourites..
|The Canning Kitchen – Amy Bronee
Amy’s book was released in 2015 and it’s a lovely canning book with a bunch of great waterbath preserving recipes. Her book is bright and full of great canning ideas from jam, jelly, pickles, and treats that are savoury and sweet. I really like that the photos of most of her preserves are presented as part of assembled meals (to inspire their use) and that each recipe comes with a tip which will help you learn more about her approach to preserving and allow you to grow your own knowledge with more perspective. Although we’ve never met in person, we are glad to consider her a friend and a co-conspirator from the other side of Canada and think the world of her.
|Fermentation & Home Brewing – Jessica & Eric Childs
Dana and I were driving into Woodstock, New York in July and we saw the sign at the same time – “Fermentation Supplies! Kombucha!” The car, as if on autopilot, drifted into the parking lot of KBBK (Kombucha Brooklyn) where we met Eric Childs. Eric was a fellow mad-scientist of fermentation and we instantly hit it off with him. In a matter of minutes we agreed to trade a copy of our book for a copy of this gem. This book is a great primer for those new to fermenting and has some great recipes for those with more experience. I love the drawings and the way that Jessica and Eric make fermentation accessible and fun.
|Naturally Sweet Food in Jars – Marisa McClellan
We are as geeked to be a fan of Marisa’s as we are to be a friend of hers. This is her 3rd book and is a lovely addition to her trilogy. This waterbath canning book is unique in that it replaces sugar with other sweeteners including coconut, maple, honey and more. Her raspberry jam, made with agave is awesome.
|Preserving Italy – Domenica Marchetti
If there is a country that embraces preserving more than any other it might just be Italy. Domenica approaches preserving through a variety of approaches – food preserved in oil, pickles and vinegar preserves, sweet waterbath treats, tomatoes, cured vegetables, cheese, meat, alcohol-based preserves and more – each through the red-white-and-green filter of Italian Cuisine. Her book makes me realize just how diverse preserving when you consider the subject is studying a relatively small (yet incredibly vibrant) geography. I love the intros to the recipe which provide many ideas to use each preserve and make me feel like I am learning about a way of life and tradition as much as I am learning a single preserve.
|Pickled – Freddie Janssen
The cutest preserving book in the world. Freddie Janssen has the ability to make the cutest little sketches that bring vegetables (amongst other things) to life in her book. This has all the whimsy of a childrens book written for adults while also providing the reader with a whackload of great recipes across multiple preserving techniques and meals that use the preserves as star ingredients (I’ll have a double helping of pickle friend chicken wings please). This book was published in London and is a charmer of a preserving book written by one of the most imaginative pop-up Chefs and pickle-lover in the city). I really love her use of spicy ingredients (there are plenty of milder dishes if you’re shy) as well as – did I mention this before? – her awesome use of sketches that add lightness and fun through this charmer.
|Nordic Bakery Cookbook – Miisa Mink
One of two cookbooks we purchased blindly when visiting New York’s Kitchen Arts and Letters. I asked Matt for recommendations and he marched me directly to this cozy little number. Every recipe in this book looks as though it would make your house smell delightful as it cooks. I plan to cook a lot from it over the colder months ahead. I’m particularly excited about the savory pastries section although I must also admit that this is the type of book that I find dangerous – each time I turn the page I find something new that I want to make and am overwhelmed (in the best possible way) by the amount of options it lays before me.
|Mr. Wilkinson’s Well-Dressed Salads – Matt Wilkinson
Dana will tell you that the second worst thing I ever made for her was a salad (the worst was an omelette featuring apples, jalapenos and 10 other things)… When it comes to salad I am mostly lost – I either add too many flavours, overcompensate with too much dressing or end up with something that is bland. And bland is not best! Mr. Wilkinson’s book is BEAUTIFUL and full of imaginative ideas for delicious salads and helped me with some of the basics of delicious salads that are fit for meals. This book is teaching me to make salads that leave me feeling pleasantly full while also smacking me with full flavor.
|Foolproof Preserving – America’s Test Kitchen
I’m a geek when it comes to America’s Test Kitchen. I love what they do and love their scientific approach to recipes that are true-to-promise: foolproof. The photos are pretty and the topics are diverse. I really like that the book wasn’t afraid to explain some recipes on a single page while other techniques (such as sauerkraut) are explained in photos and text over as-many-pages-as-it-takes-to-show-you-clearly! There are lots of great meal ideas to incorporate with the preserves and I love the articles-within-a-book that pop out to explain ingredients or fundamental theory and used as an introduction or refresher.
|Whole Bowls – Allison Day
Allison’s book is another beautiful cookbook. We had the chance to quickly meet her this summer (and she’s just shared that her next book is with our publisher as well!) and she made an instant impression with both of us. This was her first book and features bowls full of veg and grains and has shown me many ways to add different textures to bowls of veggies. The recipes are simple, beautiful and are relatively easy to visually replicate which can make you look like a kitchen artist!
|The Modern Preserver – Kylee Newton
Simple brilliance. Some of the photos in this book (such as the picture of pickled daikon with lemon thyme) elevate food preservation as an actual art. There is something magical about the feeling of this book – I feel like I am sitting at Kylee’s table and am comforted by the warm rays of a spring morning while gazing on jar after jar of food that is instantly welcoming and exciting. It’s a book that just makes me feel warm inside and one that makes me feel nurtured. I’m also learning about fruit cheeses (they aren’t dairy) from reading her book and can’t wait to experiment in the kitchen armed with new knowledge that I haven’t seen anywhere else.
|Samarkand– Caroline Eden & Eleanor Ford
This was the other book (along with the Nordic Bakery Cookbook) that we purchased from Kitchen Arts & Letters. I had to idea what to expect – for that matter I also had no idea that Samarkand is in Uzbekistan and is an incredibly unique food culture which is influenced by many who travelled through it from near and far (the food is often seen as a combination of Tajik, Turk, Russian, Korean and more). Roasted meals rich with flavour are often contrasted with dishes of rice, nuts or savoury pastries. Chicken baked with a walnut sauce (it includes a cup or cilantro, coriander, turmeric, lemon and more) and preservers will find a few traditional ferments (such as kvass) and infusions.
|Koreatown – Deuki Hong and Matt Rodbard
Oh. My. Bowls of soup, flaming red stews and many meals served with fermented and pickled vegetables of all sorts. This book has me itching for a snowy day. I really dig some of the quick pickle recipes (including 5 quick kimchi recipes to keep in your fridge at all times). This book is a small immersion in Korean cooking and culture and introduces the reader to ingredients, dishes, chefs and examines Korean American neighborhoods and their cuisine across the USA. It’s delightfully urban and I will continue to cook from this cook all through the winter.
|Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees – Kian Lam Kho and Jody Horton
One of the most stunning books of the year for me. I simply adore the knowledge, culture, tradition and technique of this book. The most amazing thing about this book is how technique-driven the recipes are. When I cook a recipe from this book I often learn a technique, tip or trick that permeates into other cooking through our house. It’s a book that I read in small chunks which allows me to absorb the information before moving to the next recipe or section. It is making me a better cook.
|Taste of Persia– Naomi Duguld
Another absolutely delightful addition to our library this year. This GORGEOUS book is full of stories, history, culture and tradition as it walks you through approachable recipes and is opening my eyes to new worlds of flavours and cooking. Like Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees, Persia is a book that I take to bed at night and read as a bedtime story to myself. Just reading the book makes me excited to try so many new ideas and flavor combinations that burst from its pages (imagine: eggplant rollups with fenugreek, mint, walnuts and coriander!)
|Brown Eggs and Jam Jars – Aimée Wimbush-Bourque
Aimée is the author I most want to be. Her writing is wonderful, clear and simple and her recipes are just the same. Aimée is a homesteader who is passionate about cooking from scratch and features great meals, stories and preserving recipes in this 2015 staple of our kitchen. If there’s one thing that I think makes this book outstanding it’s the diversity of it’s content. It’s the kind of book that you would bring to a secluded cabin if you could only bring 1 book with you! It’s organized by the seasons, shares stories on how she (and you) can integrate kids into the kitchen and shares knowledge on gardening and chickens as easily as she shares recipes for snacks, meals, soups, drinks, preserving… You get the idea – it’s the swiss army knife of Canadian cooking.
|Lick Your Plate – Julie Albert & Lisa Gnat
Dana and I had the chance to meet Julie and Lisa at a book signing this summer and quickly crowned them as the funniest sisters we’ve ever met. They are delightful! Their personalities shine through the pages of their book through vibrant photos that demand your attention. Their meals are approachable and family friendly. The photos in their book are often shot over shockingly bright backgrounds which gives this book an incredibly unique look that’s as fun as it is delicious. I like that their meals can easily be prepared on a weeknight and have made their maple-roasted brussels sprouts as well as sweet and spicy beef and found both to be great weeknight (or any night) meals!
|The UnDiet Cookbook – Meghan Telpner
Meghan is awesome! We’ve had the pleasure of knowing her and seeing her success as an author and “Nutritionista” explode over the last few years (she would delightfully tell you that Joel expected to dislike her when they first met and he would tell you how she instantly won him over). Joel tends to be a little heavy-handed in the kitchen and The Undiet Cookbook is brining fresh ideas on how to have a meal that’s as filling as it is healthy (there was a time in his life he didn’t think that was possible). Meghan also incorporates dehydrating and fermenting into her recipes so it’s a natural fit for us preservers!
|Flapper Pie and a Blue Prairie Sky – Karlynn Johnston
Dana jumped on this book when it came in the door. It’s full of modern renditions of recipes from her childhood. On a recent vacation with friends Dana prepared 3 of the desserts from Flapper Pie to have her own “bake sale” (we didn’t charge) after a communal dinner. The entire group turned into a hoard of 9-year-old children filled with excitement and sugar – a combination that couldn’t possibly go bad…could it?
|The Love & Lemons Cookbook – Jeanine Donofrio
Janine is another friend from afar; we’ve never met but we feel like we have! Janine was kind enough to provide a blurb for our book and we were excited to get a copy of hers when it came out. Love & Lemons is a vegetarian book featuring flavor-forward meals described as ‘impromptu cooking.’ I interpret that to mean that the recipes are easy and flexible and we’ve found them to be both. I really like that the book is alphabetically organized by ingredient which makes it ideal for those who subscribe to a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) or food box program. Janine’s photography is striking and makes each meal look like it’s easily – which it is!
|Hot Thai Kitchen – Pailin Chongchitnant
Although I’m comfortable ordering Thai food from a takeout menu, I didn’t know a lot about how it was prepared or what ingredients are used in it’s cuisine. Pailin offers a super-friendly primer in many aspects of Thai cuisine (including explaining the ingredients and how to purchase them) and led me to discovering sweet pickled daikon (it can look like a massive worm when sold in stores but is actually delightful to eat or cook with). Her writing is warm and her passion for the food is matched by her ease of instructions in how to prepare it. I’ve found the meals to be as good or better than those I’ve had in restaurants and found her ample exploration of ingredients and related topics to be just as rewarding as the actual recipes that accompany them.
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