pickled pink

Posted on Posted in book reviews/events, food and garden, projects


the fact that we’d have no kitchen this summer led us to forego planting the garden as well—it was a good choice considering how busy we are and how much added work there is when undergoing a major home renovation. we are very relieved not to be worrying about watering and weeding or where the heck we are going to wash whole baskets of produce.

we still however, crave the sparkling flavors of fresh summer veggies and have been lucky to rely on the kindness of friends and neighbors who are sharing the overflow from their gardens. in particular, our dear friend beckie not only lends her kitchen weekly for me to prepare foods for freezing, but never sends me home without a basket of greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, or even eggs for our table.


throughout the season, we’ve been getting together at her house to bag up berries, peaches, tomatoes—all those fruits that are too sticky to deal with when one doesn’t have a sink big enough to wash them.


in a corner of the porch we are using for our main living space right now, i eked out a little square to lay down a cotton rug for ripening peaches under newspaper. most of these will be for the table, but if they all ripen at once, i may end up freezing some.

yes, it’s that time of summer when the harvest is an unstoppable tide and it’s all we can do to keep up with it. that said, it’s important to make sure you know what you’re doing; preserving food has wonderful benefits but only if you use best practices. as an ever-evolving science, the rules of food preservation change and so should our knowledge about the topic, if for no other reason than that food itself is constantly evolving too.

it never hurts to know more about preserving food safely and efficiently, while retaining the best flavor and texture possible. everyone can use a little help in this regard and a good book on the subject can be a valuable friend.

enter a new release from the culinary institute of america, preserving: putting up the season’s bounty


i’m sure there are many more comprehensive volumes out there on canning and preserving—big thick books that cover every eventuality. but this book has something those books don’t—it’s small size, weight, and attractive layout make it so easy to digest that i’m actually reading and using it.

why, i can pop this baby in my tote bag and take it along to beckie’s house to read to her if i want—i like that.


inside, it’s filled with all sorts of useful information that we want to know. but what i like is that it gets you thinking about the endgame before you even start gardening or buying produce.


very smart advice since the end result is only as good as the quality of the produce you have to work with.


the preparatory chapters also discuss the concept of the pantry, how much you really need to put by, and how to store preserved goods properly. all good advice for laying a good foundation.


because let’s face it—putting up food is a labor intensive job, often hot and messy and somewhat pricey; maybe even more costly than average store-bought brands. the big payoff is a healthier, better tasting product of known origin; important enough for many of us to pursue despite the cost. the least we can do to pay ourselves back by treating the final results  like the treasured goods they are.


the middle chapters of the book focus on various preservation methods, each having its own pages in the spotlight. for each, the authors discuss tools and terminology, introducing basic methodology and defining the terms you need to know.


this is where, as a beginner or someone who has limited space to work,  you can choose the tools and strategies that will work best for you. for instance, one of the reasons i have yet to pursue canning, is that for so many years i lived in city apartments with no space to store big pots and boxes of jars that i would use but one month per year—or to store rows of finished canned goods either. i took to freezing because it was quick and easy after a long day of work and ziploc bags took up much less space when not in use.


however, freezing is not the best method for every food and it does require quite a bit of freezer space. i know i should explore canning for certain types of food and one of these summers, i will. i’ll probably get beckie to walk me through canning at some point; just not right now.


still, i love to read about it and doing so may spur me to try it on some level, sooner rather than later.


of course there is a chapter on pickling, along with drying, smoking, and freezing.


you’ll probably find it amusing that even though we don’t cook meat here, i still think it would be awesome to make my own bacon if i did include that in my diet.


i mean, it’s GOTTA be a far cry from what you’d buy in the cooler at the supermarket, right?


even as we work away at freezing fruits and vegetables, beckie and i come up with questions we need answered. it’s always nice to read more about a method i use all the time—why not? one thing i do know is that i don’t know everything about anything.


safe food storage is a topic that totally deserves to be revisited on a regular basis—scientists are finding out new information all the time and updating old, long-held beliefs about the “right way” to handle food.


finally, the book ends with a chapter on homemade pantry staples such as ketchup and other condiments, with advice on filling up that pantry you prepared at the start of the season. it’s nice that they circled back to the beginning i think; it makes me feel that it’s in keeping with the growing cycle of the garden.


here the authors discuss how to clean and assess your jars and equipment as you empty and put them away during the winter—when to get rid of pieces that won’t be useful in the future, how to keep an eye on the shelf life of preserved goods, and how to keep the pantry clean and free of pests. a lot of information for such a small volume.

doesn’t that sound like a terrific little book? wouldn’t you like to own one? well as luck would have it, our friend nathalie who is the director of publications at CIA (and an awesome knitter), has very generously offered us two giveaway copies of preserving!

here’s how it’s going to work: we’re going to give away one copy here on the blog and one copy on our knitspot facebook page. erica will mastermind how the FB giveaway will work and announce it there. the cool thing is that you can throw your name in  the hat in both places for two chances to win (though we will award only ONE book per winner).

to be included in the blog giveaway, leave a comment at the end of this post by 9 pm ESDT on sunday august 24th, telling us what favorite summer food you are  preserving (or wish you could). we’ll pick a winner and announce it early next week.

a big thank you to nathalie for giving us an advance peek inside the preserving book and providing giveaway copies for a late summer treat.

195 thoughts on “pickled pink

  1. My sister and I made chutney and it was a great success! Would love to do more, with peaches and pears! That book looks sensational!

  2. Two of my girlfriends and I get together every Tuesday night to can and process food during this season.

    I think my favorite food is more like candy but it’s a bit of a process to get it to that point. To start, we can peaches in a dark syrup made with brown sugar and flavored with Rum extract and our favorite pie seasonings. These really need to soak in the jars for several weeks. They are incredible then, when you open the jar, but I often take the next step and stick them on the dehydrator to make easy to eat snacks for work. It’s divine!

    This book looks wonderful. I rely mostly on my Ball Blue book and my imagination.

  3. I have my best friend’s mother in law polish garlic dill pickle recipe that I rediscovered after many years. I’ve made one 20-lb batch, with another coming next weekend.

  4. Ooo I’m a California girl who relocated to the midwest about 5 years ago. Suddenly we can plant a vegetable garden and harvest and I know nothing about canning/preserving, so this would be a welcome addition in my house!

  5. Oh my goodness, pickles.

    My paternal grandmother (Mimi) made watermelon rind pickles. They were one of only three things that she enjoyed making: potato salad, Thanksgiving stuffing, and watermelon rind pickles. They were so good. I remember the flavor of them even after all these years.

    My maternal grandmother (Grandmom) made all kinds of pickles: dills in jars so filled with dill seed that you had to wipe them off before eating; less salty dills with feathers of the actual dill weed in each jar; bread-and-butter pickles (cuke and onion), with mustard seeds, sweet and tangy; and plain old afternoon pickles – cucumber slices that she would salt, then set in a bowl of vinegar from lunchtime to dinner. After dinner, she, my aunts, my mother, and I would sit around the table, spooning out the vinegar while we talked. Those were good days.

  6. Last night I put up 7 pints of peaches. The night before 7 pints of peach butter. Tonight? Frozen peaches I think! However, by far the best preserve of the summer is old-fashioned pectin-free strawberry jam. My husband, who doesn’t like jam LOVES it and was lamenting that he finished another jar.

  7. Oh! Love this giveaway! I received a canner/pressure cooker for my B-day and need to add this to my very small library. I don’t have a garden, but we have farmers markets almost every weekend where we can pick up Alaskan grown produce.
    Thanks, Anne!

  8. Well, that’s what I get for not reading the rules! (see my other comment) I’m not preserving yet .. but when I do, it’ll be Pickled Beets! hopefully just like my Grandmother’s.

  9. Summer/early fall is my time for putting up jams and jellies that I give away for Christmas. Just finished a batch of peach jelly with cinnamon, and am planning pear jam with ginger and creme de cacao in September.

  10. I love putting up sour cherries & blueberries. There’s nothing like having a ‘fresh’ pie in Dec or Jan when the snow is blowing.

  11. cherries. cherries are the thing that I MISSED out on this year (lots of traveling for during during the peak cherry season), and I am sooooo sad not to have a freezer full of them.

  12. I love preserving food, for all the same reasons as you do. My freezer is starting to fill up, this week alone I have put in 4 quarts of tomatoes (my first year freezing some, I have always just canned them) 4 quarts of peaches, 4 bags of corn (parboiled and cut off the cob) and 2 quarts of honeyed applesauce, made from apples picked up off the ground from a friends lonely neglected tree.

    I too prefer freezing because you can whittle away at it. I like to collect things as they ripen from the garden, eat our fill that day, and quickly freeze the rest. Canning is better for some foods, but you need to have a LOT of peaches or tomatoes or beans and it can be an all day job. Freezing is much easier.

  13. Peaches – – pull them off the shelf in the middle of the Pacific Northwest’s cool winter and make some nice peach crepes – – LOVE the sun that’s canned in them!!

  14. Love the fruits of course….but it is our homemade ketchup from homegrown tomatoes that is the fave all around. Friends love it…so holiday gifts in progress as well!

  15. This sounds like the perfect book to compliment my garden. Right now we have several variety of apples and pears that we are try to eat (cornmeal pizza dough, a little pesto, sliced pears, some nuts, and a little cheese on top), and then there are tomatoes to eat, dry, can, or freeze. I usually take a huge batch of pears and mash them up with a pastry blender so it is chunky and then freeze this in 1-2 cup sizes. We love ginger pear muffins with our own pears. Sadly, our peach trees are done for the year.

  16. Just dusted off my canning supplies after several years of not canning. It was great making chutney and green beans. These will be enjoyed all winter and until the next canning season. Tis book would be so handy for me to do even more in the future. Thanks for the give away

  17. My 10 year old put up green beans this summer and will be doing apple sauce soon. She would love to have it!

  18. My favorite is cascade berries, but those are done. I am now interested in possibly freezing some of the multitudes of apples I have starting with my August ripening William’s Prides.

  19. I keep thinking I’ll try my hand a preserves, jams, jellys, chutneys, chow-chow, all those things that make life a little more interesting. And then, I remember stories I heard as a kid about the pressure cooker blowing up, and someone getting ill and so ‘next year’. This book might give me the confidence to know I’m doing it right. I am a stickler for food safety.

  20. My husband and quickly froze our blueberry crop (which I picked off 6 bushes) by spreading them on parchment lined cookie sheets. When they were frozen they were easy to slide into freezer bags via the parchment and easy to pull out just a few at a time.

  21. Applesauce! Every year I have to put up several jars of applesauce. I put cinnamon sticks in with the apples as they boil down. It smells so good!

  22. I would like to say that I want yarn the exact color of the crabapple jelly we just made. There is nothing more lovely than crabapple jelly.

  23. Wishing our weather were better this summer… it’s too wet this year, I’m afraid there won’t be enough good tomatoes to put up. I did make some wonderful red raspberry jam though before the rains began.

  24. It would be great to get some applesauce canned. I managed to freeze some good strawberries as well as make some terrific jam.

  25. This book looks wonderful! Thanks for the info as well as the opportunity to win one. Director of Publications at CIA…sounds like a fun job!
    I love making jam with blueberry and strawberry-rhubarb as two favorites.
    Thanks Anne!

  26. I would love to get a copy of this book! I put up jam, pickles, sauce and tomatoes every year and would like some new pointers..

    Thanks Anne for telling us about this!

  27. This is the first year I’ve ever canned, and it was surprisingly easy. Although I’ve made freezer jam and apple butter for many years, I’ve always been afraid of the water bath method. This week, my husband and I successfully put up 28 quarts of peaches. This book seems like the natural next step for us! Thanks for the great giveaway opportunity!

  28. I haven’t canned for years and have been wanting to get back to it. This sounds like a great refresher and way to get caught up with the latest!

  29. When I had my own big garden & house (in the process of moving now) I canned and dried tomatoes every year and used them all year long. This year, in the middle of packing up, I picked 2 quarts of cherries from my young sour cherry trees and made a couple pints of jam to take with me. I’m looking forward to getting started on the next big garden and pantry and root cellar and all the things I’ll put in it.

  30. Crab apple jelly and crab apple butter is my favourite home made preserve! So good and something that you just can’t easily go out and buy.

  31. I grew watermelon radishes this year. When you cut them open, they are pink, green and white inside and look like a watermelon. No one eats them. 🙁 So, I found an online recipe for radish relish and plan to make it this weekend. The family will eat spicy relish!

    I canned a pectin-free cherry jam this summer using an online tutorial. It came out perfectly, however, it is so horribly sweet that I don’t think it will get eaten. sigh

    Thanks for the chance to enter your giveaway! The book sounds great.

  32. Just moved into a house with more than enough land for an awesome garden. I can still remember my grandmother’s glass jars on the steps to the basement and do so want o ave a row if my own.

  33. Apples! We have an old apple tree that was here when we moved in and it’s giving us awesome apples for applesauce! Which I am so happy with since I have a 4 month old who will be eating it all winter!

  34. Tomatoes are my favorite. I do make bread and butter pickles from cucumbers. The book looks like it is full of good information.

  35. I flash froze 3 gallons of blackberries from our vacation in NC. I love them in my green smoothies! Now that we’re more and more whole foods it would be nice to have a book on how to keep them safely.

  36. I freeze most items in the late summer: okra, green beans, corn. I have canned jellies and jam in the past and need to take that up again! The book looks wonderful – thanks for the chance to win.

  37. Well I’ve done tomatoes in the past…just a simple red sauce to make anything out of it. This year I made plum jam, rhubarb sauce & today peach salsa & I also got a dehydrator! So I made Anne’s favorite tomatoes dried (yum! They’re almost gone! ) and now fresh peaches! We shall see how they turn out. This book sounds just lovely! I just may have to purchase a few for Xmas presents 🙂

  38. Maybe the book would break me out of my strawberry jam jam. It is good, but I think variety is the spice of life. I’d love to try other things!

  39. I wish I could preserve tomatoes for sandwiches! Haha. But since I can’t, I would absolutely love to own this book and learn how to make my farmers market buys last into the winter!

Comments are closed.