Monday, August 10, 2009

Well Preserved

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By Pat Tanner

My mother instilled in me two fears that to this day I am unable to shake: terror of pressure cookers (explosions) and home canning (botulism). So it was with some trepidation that I cracked open Eugenia Bone’s new book, “Well-Preserved” (Clarkson Potter 2009).

I began to relax when it became clear that Ms. Bone conducted painstaking research on the latest technological improvements. The first 45 pages explicate the exacting but simple facts and provide detailed how-to instructions for each technique. Plus, she brings preserving into the 21st century by going beyond water-bath canning and pickling to also include freezing, preserving in oil, curing and smoking, and pressure canning. She uses this variety of techniques to preserve not just fruits and vegetables, but also meat, poultry, fish, beans, nuts, and fungi.

Bone acknowledges that modern home cooks have limited time and space both for preserving and for preparing daily meals. She makes a good case that preserving a wide variety of products in small batches - which she does in her space-challenged Manhattan rental – is not all that time consuming and that the resultant variety of products allows her to actually spend less time preparing interesting dinners all year long.

Each recipe for preserving a particular product – say, cherries in wine – is followed by savory and sweet recipes that incorporate that product (e.g., cherry tenderloin, seared duck breast with cherries, cherry dessert soup with mascarpone).

Even if you choose to substitute store-bought preserves for homemade, dishes such as chicken thighs with green olive tapenade and shrimp with three-citrus marmalade are wonderful. But because Ms. Bone makes preservation seem so doable, so practical, and so cost-effective, you will want to make your own

Even I - scaredy-cat that I am - am contemplating buying a pressure canner to try my hand at preserving top-quality local tuna in oil.

1 comment:

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