For the first time EVER, my very own modest little garden is actually coming along. Seasoned pros would probably have to stifle a laugh at my progress, but for me, it’s a victory! Put that together with the bounty that has been flowing off the tables in farmer’s markets, and it all adds up to one thing: CANNING. I love that a culinary art with such a rich history has been undergoing a renaissance for a while now. I first tried my hand at this just two years ago, and have been looking forward to jumping back in again.
Since there are a number of great books on the topic, I thought I’d poke around Powell’s and pick one up. I came across a copy of “Putting Up: a Year-Round Guide to Canning in the Southern Tradition” by Stephen Dowdney, leafed through it and loved what I saw, then flipped it over- lo and behold, it’s a Gibbs Smith publication. Gibbs Smith just happens to be the publisher that put out our first joint effort, “101 Things To Do With Tofu”, as well as a variety of Donna’s other cookbooks.
Though late summer is prime canning time, I also love the concept of canning throughout the year, and this book is the perfect introduction. I’m really looking forward to making so many of these recipes, from jams to chutneys to pickles. It’s the pepper jelly that really intrigued me first, though.
Pepper jelly has a touch of personal history in it for me – though it’s a longstanding tradition in some areas, I had never tasted or even heard of it until my biological dad sent me a jar of pepper jelly from my birthplace, Tucson, not long after we first met more than a decade ago. Tasting something so unique and savory from my literal homeland was a revelation, and a favorite flavor combination ever since. Of course, my first foray into “Putting Up” just had to be a pepper jelly, and this version did not disappoint!
Author Stephen Dowdney says of it:
I first made the garlic pepper jelly for lamb chops – sweet and meat are a favorite secret of mine although I disclose it in book II, Putting Up More. I have a website with an embedded blog that has added recipes and helpful canning hints. With the economy the way it is going canning is coming into its own once again and this time there are as many guys as dolls!
I liked the book so much that after giving the original copy as a gift AND getting another one for myself, I decided that we really ought to do a giveaway. Thanks to our publishing company, we got some copies right away, and are ready to pass some along to you!
So, to enter, tell us: what’s YOUR favorite thing to can? Or, alternately, a canning tip, or a favorite canned item to eat if you’re purely an appreciator. We’ll pick 5 winners at random from the comments. (Please make sure you include a working email when you post your comment so we can contact you and get your address!) You’ve got a full week and a holiday weekend to enter as many times as you like – keep it up through Labor Day and we’ll announce the five winners that week.
And without further ado, now for the recipe. …