Book Review: The Pickled Pantry

Pickled Pantry Book ReviewAuthor: Andrea Chesman
Publisher: Storey Publishing
Book Publication: 2012

Although it’s still early summer, many of us are already looking ahead to preserving the season’s bounty by pickling the delicious fruits and vegetables that were tenderly weeded and watered over the season.

For those of us who have never tried pickling or preserving, beyond enjoying the labour of others, Andrea Chesman’s The Pickled Pantry: From Apples to Zucchini, 150 Recipes for Pickles, Relishes, Chutney & More should take the heat off and walk you through the process. Chesman goes into great detail about the essential ingredients of pickling, such as the different types of salt, vinegar, sweeteners, spices and herbs, and crisping agents one uses. She also lists what equipment you will need, which surprisingly isn’t that much outside of standard kitchenware, and shares various hints for when you get to actually pickling, such as headspace and how to make a spice bag.

Concerning the recipes themselves, they can be summed up with the following: Chesman believes if you can imagine it, it can be pickled. Recipes for apples, pears, oranges, eggs, mild kimchi, pineapple, tomato ketchup, and daikon are featured, along with the standards for onions and cucumbers – cucumbers galore! There are more than two-dozen recipes for cucumbers alone, the vegetable that most of us instantly associate with pickling.

The Pickled Pantry, as its full title says, also covers relishes and chutneys, and even includes recipes for homemade mustard, sauerkraut, confit, sauces, salsa, and mincemeats. So if pickled cucumbers aren’t your favourite, there’s a wide selection of non-cucumber recipes to choose from. Many of the recipes also feature one or two kitchen notes, such as how many carrots can be packed into a jar, or ingredient substitution.

The book also features profiles of several well known picklers who share their passion and tips for pickling, as well as lots of full-colour illustrations.

Something that new-to-pickling readers might appreciate is that one chapter is devoted to single-jar pickles, which is an excellent way to try out new recipes, or experiment with old ones, without making six jars of the stuff.
The last part of the book is devoted to what to do with the pickles after they are ready to be eaten. Some of the more interesting suggestions are alcoholic drinks with pickle brine, sweet pickle macaroni salad, kimchi fried rice, and German chocolate sauerkraut cake, to name a few.

Editor’s note: several of the recipes in The Pickled Pantry call for white vinegar. White vinegar is highly acidic and many of the helpful enzymes and nutrients are destroyed in its manufacture. In Vitality’s opinion, white vinegar is good for housecleaning and that’s about it. On the other hand, many of the recipes in The Pickled Pantry call for healthier ingredients such as malt, cider, balsamic, rice, and wine vinegars, which all add their own subtle notes to the pickling process.

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