This week’s canning and preserving book review is naturally sweet food in jars.
If you are interested in home food preservation, you probably are familiar with Marisa McClellan. McClellan is a cookbook author and home canning enthusiast. Her popular blog, Food in Jars, continues to be one of the best known and loved in the canning community. She specializes in small batch preserving, recognizing early on that even though many of us want to preserve fresh foods, we don’t necessarily need to put up 50 cans of green beans like our grandmothers did!
Her most recent book, naturally sweet food in jars (although she has a new book coming out soon!), is dedicated to preserves made with non-sugar sweeteners like coconut sugar, maple syrup and maple sugar, honey, agave nectar and more. It’s a delightful little book (about 200 pages) full of not only jam recipes, but pickles, relishes, sauces, glazes, and other sweet treats.
Low-Sugar Not Low-Carb
Don’t make the assumption that these recipes are low-sweetener/low-carb. I receive several questions each week about how to make low or no sugar soft spreads. The process requires special low-sugar pectin, and specific recipes designed for the low-sugar pectin.
Instead of being a book full of low-sugar pectin recipes, naturally sweet food in jars uses alternative sugars. Coconut sugar is still sugar. A different type of sugar than refined sugar, one with its own benefits, but it still provides sweetness, as do the other sweeteners used in the recipes. What makes these recipes different is that there is no refined sugar used at all. As a result, some of the recipes may be lower in carbs than their refined sugar twins.
For those of us who have a sweet tooth, and who seek great flavor while reducing our reliance on possibly GMO white sugar, this is the book to have!
I can attest that Meyer Lemon Curd, made with honey and no sugar, is spoon-licking good. Maple syrup (the real stuff) is another traditional sweetener and marries well with piquant cranberries in Cranberry Butter. I am anxiously awaiting fresh, local, strawberries to make the spicy Strawberry Dipping Sauce, sweetened with coconut sugar. Juice concentrates are creatively used to sweeten Zucchini Relish and canned Apricot Halves with Vanilla. There are also recipes sweetened with dried fruit (what could be more natural!), and agave nectar.
The Basics Too
The book includes all the basics about water bath canning, high acid versus low acid, best type of salt to use, pectin, and the very real concerns about shelf life of goods made without that preservation powerhouse – refined sugar. Shelf life issues are all about longevity – less of a concern when you are making one or two jars instead of dozens.
naturally sweet food in jars would be a welcome addition to your food preservation bookshelf. It’s unlike any other book out there; combining the desire to eat more natural foods – even sweet ones – with the desire to preserve those same foods for future use.
Some of my favorite cookbooks would best be described as “quirky.” I love the unusual or obscure. naturally sweet food in jars bridges the gap between quirky and user-friendly. A book to be appreciated by home food preserves of every type.