Since this spring, I have been working my way through Liana Krissoff's Canning for a New Generation: Bold, Fresh Flavors for the Modern Pantry. So far, I have made rhubarb and orange jam, pickled asparagus, kohlrabi and radish refrigerator pickles, brandied cherries with red wine, and peach jam. Everything has been extremely tasty and surprisingly easy.
Krissoff's writing style is clear and easy to follow, infusing a touch of gentle humor with understandable descriptions and directions. Rinne Allen's gorgeous photography also goes a long way towards making the book a delight to hold and read.
One truly wonderful thing about the book is that the recipes are geared towards small batches, which work well for the modern pantry. Most of the preserved fruits I have made have been in quantities about about six half-pint jars. This allows me to make a variety of recipes without becoming overwhelmed by a wall of canned goods.
The book is divided into Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter, and then subdivided into Fruits and Vegetables for each section. Along with the pickles and preserves, Krissoff includes a few recipes that incorporate the things you have canned. I am particularly looking forward to trying her "Perfect Sidecar" with my brandied cherries.
One cruel thing about summer canning (particularly this summer) is that you end up spending time with a lot of boiling water during the hottest part of the year. (It was in the high 90's when I made my rhubarb orange jam...at that point, I figured I would hardly even notice the extra heat.) However, the occasional cool evening is the perfect time to hit the kitchen.
I don't think I will make every recipe in the book, but I do have hopes for at least one fruit and one vegetable from each seasonal section. I may even start freestyling as my CSA bounty comes in. I do remember having some success with dill pickled summer squash and zucchini a few years back.
The book may be "For a New Generation", but I come from a long line of canners. Shortly after I began my canning journey, in June, my Grandmother died. She was my Dad's mother and, at 92, she was my last remaining grandparent. One of the things I brought back with me from her house after the funeral was the jar lifter that she and Grandpa had used in their canning. It was a step up from my clumsy rubberband-wrapped tongs, and I think of my heritage every time I use it. I have a feeling that, at some point, canning jars from my grandparents (and great-grandparents) may make their way into my kitchen. It turns out that we aren't just preserving produce when we do this.