Tart and Sweet Book Review

101 Canning and Pickling Recipes for the Modern Kitchen

Tart and Sweet

I recently purchased a copy of Tart and Sweet by Kelly Geary and Jessie Knadler. The book was published in 2010, but the great thing about books – cookbooks in particular – is that they never seem to grow old. That is why we happily pass down family cookbooks from generation to generation.

Ever heard of anyone passing down a business book? With only a couple of very notable exceptions, the answer is……no.

Regular readers of this blog know that I am always on the lookout for something “different.” I do so much canning, that if I just canned the usual peach jam or dill pickles (both really wonderful things) I would go nuts. Maybe you disagree. Maybe you find comfort in putting up 120 cans of the very same grape jelly. Good for you! I really mean that. But my attention span is too short. I crave variety. Tart and Sweet offers some of that variety.

The Basics

You will find all the basics here in Tart and Sweet. The authors cover step-by-step water bath canning, high acid foods vs. low acid foods, altitude, necessary equipment, and are vocal cheerleaders for everyone to jump on the canning bandwagon. They give great advice for new and more experienced canners alike; like “make only stuff you actually want to eat.” That is a great bit of advice that my fellow “variety canners” will understand. Many of us have too many aging jars of Super Hot and Spicy Pickled Pea Pods and the like lurking in the pantry.

Ms. Geary and Ms.Knadler also identify which ingredients can safely be tweaked during the canning process and which cannot.

The Recipes

Most of the canning recipes are for jams or pickles, with fruit and syrup recipes too. The recipes are arranged by season which is helpful when you have an itch to can in the middle of winter and don’t know what to make.

Many of the recipes are unusual, like Ginger Cardamom Nectarine Jam and Strawberry Bay Leaf Jam. I personally can’t wait for my late crop garden beets to mature. I plan to turn them into Sweet Apple Cider Baby Beets.

There are also ideas and recipes for using those jars of homemade goods. Recipes like Spaghetti with Herby Tomatoes and Brisling Sardines and Strawberry Milkshake using Strawberry Orange Compote. I am licking my lips just thinking about that last one.

The Bonus

There are two bonus sections that are quite unique to this particular book.  The first covers party planning tips with various theme ideas for using your canned goods.

The second is a section of Canning Cocktails. Here you will find several cocktail recipes made using homemade pickled ramps, ginger key lime syrup and pickled asparagus. Plus you are sure to be inspired to create your own cocktails using the home canned goods in your pantry.

The Misunderstood?

Canning book writers are always walking a thin line. On the one hand, we want people to engage, enjoy and flex their creative muscles when preserving fresh, real foods.

On the other hand, there are “rules” that must be followed; for safety and/or scientific reasons.

That is probably why I pickled up on a statement about sugar and jams that could be misunderstood by some canners. The authors state that it’s ok to reduce the amount of sugar in a jam recipe because sugar is not the preservative. That what preserves the jam is the acid level and the processing.

This is true. And also not true.

  • You can use less sugar when you use a low-sugar pectin and follow a low-sugar pectin recipe.
  • You can use less sugar if you want a really soft or syrupy jam. How soft or syrupy depends on the fruit used.
  • Don’t use less sugar when making a no-pectin added jam. The sugar is there both to preserve and to make the jam set.
  • Sugar is sometimes used as part of the preservation method. Sugar reduces the available water, thus reducing the chance of mold and bacteria growth.

To be fair, the authors do explain that your jam may not set-up if using less sugar than the recipe lists. And I personally am stuck on this subject because I do not like pectin-added jams at all, mostly because pectin doesn’t like me or my digestive system.

The Verdict

There, now that I have expressed my personal idiosyncrasies, I can give Tart and Sweet a thumbs-up. I really like the recipe variety and the unusual bonuses in this book. Although I may not make many of the jams because of the whole pectin-added thing, the pickles are intriguing and the other sweet spreads sound wonderful. I’m sure you’ll find lots of great things to make here too.



by Renee Pottle

Renee Pottle, a freelance writer and Home Economist, is fanatic about all things food. She blogs about canning and food preservation at SeedToPantry.com. Find her professional food writing info at PenandProvisions.com.

September 5, 2015

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