If you’re like us, you have bowls and baskets overflowing with grapefruit or lemons from your own trees or your friends. And before long, summer vegetables and fruit will be so abundant we might wonder what to do with it all. In other words, canning season is coming up!
Globe author Autumn Miles has some suggestions. She’s just published a new book called Beyond Canning that offers new flavors and new techniques to help you preserve the bounty.
Autumn is a writer for the Globe-Miami Times who has also published her food writing in Edible Baja Arizona and Modern Farmer. Autumn and I chatted about her book yesterday at the GMT offices.
I got into preserving when I lived in NYC, which I think some people don’t expect. A friend of mine had a canning party where she invited a bunch of people over, and it split up the work of preserving and made it fun and social.
I was always kind of antsy as a city person, and was kind of looking always for connections to the world outside the city, so I was a huge green market [farmer’s market] shopper when I was in New York. Maybe paradoxically, the green markets in New York are beautiful, huge. I used to get up super early on Saturdays go to the market, even in the winter when it was snowing. I would see the chefs from the fanciest, most expensive, most popular restaurants in the city also shopping there at that market and think, “I can get the same ingredients as them and make something really cool out of it.”
I was often really just buying too much, I would get so excited about rhubarb or sour cherries or currants, and having that little dip-my-toes into preserving that I had when my friend had that canning party—that combined with overshopping at the green market. And I was really excited about preserving being a pathway into trying all this stuff that was at the green market, and ingredients that I wasn’t familiar with—like Concord grapes, real Concord grapes with the seed in them, they’re really musky and strong—stuff like that, too.
That was really how I got into it. In approaching writing the book, I looked to incorporate the three types of preserving that I practically use the most in my own kitchen. There’s three sections: sweet preserves, preserving with vinegar, and fermentation.
Why is the book called Beyond Canning?
The idea in calling it Beyond Canning is it’s going to hopefully offer some new flavors and some new flavor combinations that I’m proud of, like Celery Black Pepper Shrub, and also some techniques that are a little beyond the basics. For example, strawberry preserves—rather than mash it all up, I like to mascerate the fruit in sugar for a day before cooking it. It makes a nice syrup in the preserves.
So, someone who’s already learned how to can would learn something new?
Hopefully! Some different flavors, some new recipes to try. I think people who have been canning a long time are always looking for a new thing to try.
You have a book signing this Saturday at the Globe library. You’re also going to demonstrate a recipe there?
At the library I’m going to make Preserved Lemons with Green Chili Flakes, a recipe from the book. It’s a really adaptable recipe. Preserved lemons are a really good starting point for preserving because they’re more or less foolproof, and they’re a really versatile ingredient. I think they’re particularly good in non-meat cuisine—they’re one of those ingredients like mushrooms that have really awesome depth of flavor. I’m going to demo how to make those and talk about some of the ways that I incorporate them in my cooking, too.
The book will be there for sale, and I’ll be signing books, but people shouldn’t feel they have to buy the book—I just would love to have people come out. Something I’m really proud of about the book having lived in New York and knowing that a lot books get made in New York, was that this one was made here. It was written, photographed, and illustrated in Arizona. Paul Tunis, my boyfriend, illustrated it, I wrote it, and the photographer I worked with lives in Gilbert.
Autumn will be signing Beyond Canning and demonstrating on Saturday at noon at the Globe Public Library, at an event supported by the Friends of the Globe Library. Anyone was has already bought the book can bring it for Autumn to sign. Beyond Canning is published by Quarto Books and is available on Amazon.
Autumn’s blog is at www.autumnmakesanddoes.com.