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Review: The Canning Kitchen: 101 Simple Small Batch Recipes by Amy Bronee

canningA modern take on a beloved tradition The Canning Kitchen blends the traditions of home preserving with the tastes of the modern home cook with 101 simple, small batch recipes and vivid photography. Fill jars with canning classics such as Strawberry Rhubarb Jam and Crunchy Dill Pickles, and discover new classics like Salted Caramel Pear Butter, Bing Cherry Barbecue Sauce, and Sweet Thai Chili Chutney. With fresh ideas for every season, you’ll want to keep your canning pot handy year-round to make delicious jams, jellies, marmalades, pickles, relishes, chutneys, sweet and savory sauces, and jars of homemade pantry favourites.

In addition to year-round recipes, The Canning Kitchen includes all the basics you’ll need to get started. Boost your canning confidence with straight-forward answers to common preserving questions and find out about the canning tools you need, many of which you may already have in your kitchen. Get tips on choosing seasonal ingredients and fresh ideas on how to enjoy your beautiful preserves. Use the step-by-step checklist to safely preserve each delicious batch, leaving you with just enough jars to enjoy at home plus a little extra for sharing.

The 'fruits' of my labour - rhubarb jam on the left, raspberry lemon jam on the right.

The ‘fruits’ of my labour – rhubarb jam on the left, raspberry lemon jam on the right.

My parents always made jam together. It was one of their things, much like wallpapering a room, where they worked as a team. They knew each other’s movements so well that they could predict what was needed next before the other person even mentioned it aloud. Growing up, I have vivid memories of jam-making sessions in our family kitchen, with my mother at the stove and my father bustling around behind her. He was in charge of prepping the jars and the fruit, and she was in charge of measurements and the actual jam-making. It would be an entire afternoon’s worth of work, but at the end of it we would have a variety of oddly shaped jars, relics of jams past, filled with jewelled tones and sweet smells and ready to be stored downstairs for the coming winter.

Growing up, my father worked at the canning factories in Bloomfield, so he was borderline obsessive about  ensuring that each jar was sealed properly (hence his method of jar sterilization, paraffin seals AND the water bath method). The few times I’ve tried to make jam, I’ve attempted to follow his process and found it laborious and time-consuming. I have to say, the whole concept of small batch and a simpler – yet still fully effective and safe – method of preserving and canning was the initial attraction to this book. After I opened it? Then things got interesting.

image3The appeal of Amy’s cookbook is varied – beautiful photos, a great introduction, easy-to-follow instructions and a sense of confidence that you can do this. I’ll admit to being a little hesitant – so much so that I waited until the night before her visit before I attempted my first batch of jam. Talk about pressure! What I found, however, is that her instructions are very calming and reassuring, and that each stage of the process is clearly defined. For my first attempt, I made rhubarb jam (because it was in season) and raspberry lemon (because I wanted a little taste variety). I loved that each recipe consisted of a short list of ingredients – the fruit, the sugar and the pectin.

These are old-fashioned recipes in many ways, as Amy goes back to basics for the cleanest and freshest taste possible. When I compared her recipes to the traditional ones in the pectin boxes, I realized that hers often has less sugar, and her fruit is measured by weight rather than by cup measurements. There are lots of great tidbits of advice on when to make your jam (did you know that strawberry jam is best when first made, and you can freeze the berries to make fresh jam later on without affecting the taste?), and suggestions on how you might use it beyond the breakfast table.


Blending fresh strawberries and balsamic vinegar together – delicious on a sharp cheese!

I was surprised at just how quickly I could make a batch of jam. Within two hours, I had cleaned and prepped all the fruit, made two full batches of jam, processed all the jars and had everything tidied up. Best of all for someone who doesn’t have a huge amount of storage is the fact that these are small batches – I can make a fresh batch of six jars in an hour, and have something to bring to a friend’s house or to send home without wondering where I’m going to store it all. Oh, and the jam is DELICIOUS. Probably my proudest moment was when Amy told me that my raspberry jam – the first batch I ever made from her cookbook – was perfect. Who knew I had it in me?

Since then, I’ve been channelling my inner domestic goddess pretty much every week with fairly solid results. I’ve made strawberry, strawberry-rhubarb, rhubarb, raspberry, and raspberry lemon jams and I’ve attempted a strawberry and balsamic jelly. That was an experiment for sure, as the berries were very juicy so I had to redo that one to thicken things up a little. When I realized that a visiting friend had never actually made jam, we made a quick batch of strawberry jam so she could bring some home to her house mates, and we also attempted some preserved asparagus with fennel and garlic. I can’t report on the success of that just yet, as they need two to three weeks to settle before we can do any taste tests. My jam has graced the table of several of my friends, including a rather memorable night when a concoction of fresh sourdough bread, lemon hummous, smoked venison, gouda and my fresh strawberry jam was the hit of the party!

Am I a canning queen? Perhaps not yet, but I am definitely more confident about making my own preserves. I know that I can pick up fruit at the market and make something really yummy out of it, and that people will enjoy it. Thank you to Penguin Canada and especially to Amy Bronee for visiting and for encouraging me to take the first steps into a great new world!

Amy has a fantastic blog that you will want to follow – click HERE for more. Want to try a sample recipe? She has one for blueberry raspberry jam posted HERE – you will be a convert, I promise. Her book is available now from Penguin Canada at all fine booksellers. ISBN: 9780143191315, 256 pages. 

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3 Responses »

  1. Thanks for reviewing my book. You DID do a great job of those jams I tried at the market. Peach season next, and tomatoes!

    Liked by 1 person


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