April 22, 2014

Author Spotlight: Marisa McClellan’s Preserving by the Pint + Giveway

Preserving by the Pint

Last year I interviewed Marisa McClellan about her debut cookbook, Food in Jars, based on her blog of the same name. This year I am pleased (and so impressed!) to be showcasing her newest book, Preserving by the Pint: Quick Seasonal Canning for Small Spaces. Yes, you read that correctly, the goddess of preserving managed to produce two terrific canning books in the span of as many years. Wowza – that is a lot of canning, my friends! What I love about this book is that she really hits the nail on the head for those of us who might want to just make a quick pint or two of a new jam or chutney. She provides delicious and manageable solutions for canning an array of produce without it turning into a day-long (or more) sticky canning journey. It couldn’t be more brilliant! And did I mention the recipes span from sweet to savory and everything in between? She really covers all the seasons and all the produce that fit in them. Here is more about the book and our little chat:

TNC: I love that you finally acknowledged that canning can be done in small batches. Everything things of it as such a big project! How was it to test all these small batch recipes this time around?
MM: After doing much larger batches for my first book, it was such a delight to work on a smaller scale for this book. Everything in this book is quick to prep and cooks up in no time at all, which was a huge asset in testing and it is a boon to people who use the recipes in their home kitchens as well.
TNC: You have such a great array of recipes from savory to sweet. What inspires you as you develop these new flavors?
MM: I am so happy to hear that you like the range of recipes! I love the work of mixing and matching different fruits and vegetables with complementary flavors. I’m not sure where the inspiration comes from, beyond staring up at my spice rack and wondering what might taste good with the pile of apricots or plums sitting in my kitchen. There’s a lot of trial and error and it’s such a joy when something works.
TNC: What is one of your favorite recipes? Where there any surprises that came about as you were testing? Sometimes mistakes can turn into great flavor discoveries. 
MM: One of my favorite recipes in the book is the Pear Caramel. I was so excited when I discovered that it was possible to make satisfying caramel sauces using fruit purees instead of cream and butter, because that makes them safe for canning. What’s more, it can go places that regular caramel sauces don’t necessarily work, like on a cheese plate. It’s really one of my favorite things.
TNC: How quickly does food rotate through your canning pantry? Do you find that jars hang out for a while, or do you eat them all up right way?
MM: Things don’t actually rotate through my pantry all that quickly. First of all, I make a whole heck of a lot as I move through the recipe testing process. Second, I’m the only one in my household who eats fruit based preserves or pickled (my husband isn’t interested in either) and so the progress is often slow. However, I give away a lot to my friends, family, and neighbors, so everyone in my community benefits.
TNC: This is a great book for beginners and city dwellers. If you had any advice to share on the best ways to get started what would it be?
MM: I think that people need to remember that you don’t actually have to can something in order to preserve. The yields in this book are small enough that you can make something and just pop the results in the fridge. That way even those readers who are intimidated by boiling water bath canning can still try their hand at jam making, pickling, and more.
TNC: I know so many people who love your books. What is next for Food in Jars?
MM: Right now, my focus is squarely on promoting this new and trying to get into as many hands and kitchens as possible while still also keeping the blog full of good, interesting new content. I do hope to do another book, but that’s still a ways down the pike.
TNC: Thanks, Marisa!
To kick-off your preserving season with a copy of your very own here is how you can enter to win:
1) Leave a comment sharing your favorite preserved food to eat…it can be a jam, chutney, or whatever you like!
3) Contest runs from April 22nd at 7:00am through April 29th at 7:00am. Winner will be announced in the Friday May 2nd newsletter!