Food preservation, a necessity before the advent of modern refrigeration, is popular again. The slow food movement, which stresses the use of locally grown food prepared with minimal processing, is a factor. The Jewish food scene emerging from this trend is another. The author, Emily Paster, a passionate home cook and preserver, offers a comprehensive introduction to the process for those who want to get started.
The book opens with a brief overview of the development of Jewish cuisine, the kashrut laws, and the tradition of preserving. Paster also notes foods that are appropriate for Jewish holidays: apples and honey or quince for Rosh Hashanah, latkes and sufganiyot for Hanukkah, charoset for Pesach. Preserving comes into the picture when she talks about using homemade jam to fill hamantaschen for Purim, keeping her pickle-loving family supplied all year, and making her own condiments. She discusses food safety and recommends the proper equipment for canning.
The recipes, accompanied by photographs guaranteed to whet the appetite, include jams and jellies made with unusual combinations such as apricot and poppy seed, and sour cherry and almond. There are also interesting recipes for condiments: sweet and sour peach ketchup, harissa, and fruit butters (plum, peach). Of course, recipes for pickles (not just pickled cucumber, but also carrots and cauliflower), and sauerkraut are included. There are also recipes for foods to go with the jams, jellies, and condiments: latkes, rugelach, blintzes, challah, and shakshuka. Most are original creations developed by the author.
Anyone interested in cooking and trying something new will find this book useful. It is a worthy addition to home cookbook collections.