I know at least some of you have heard of Mrs. Wheelbarrow, aka Cathy Barrow, blogger and columnist for the Washington Post, if only because so many of you sent me her star-shaped watermelon rind pickle blog post this past summer. But did you know her food preservation knowledge is now available as a cookbook?
“Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry” is not just another canning book. The four chapters of the book cover a variety of food preservation techniques to build your pantry. She begins with hot water bath canning, moves on to pressure canning before delving into preserving meat & fish with a number of techniques (salt and air curing, brining and smoking) and finishing with cheese making. Along the way, there is some great in depth reading about the hows and whys of every technique. There’s a long list of recipes I want to try and I’ve already started staining it – always a good sign for a cookbook. I absolutely adore this book – it’s well written, personable and approachable. It’s a bit like sitting down with a foodie kindred spirit -she had me at her introduction, in which Cathy talks about what started her on her canning path – the connection between home canning and local eating. How by hanging out at her farmer’s market she learned who grew the best what and got to know the farmers who displayed their foods with love. I never get tired of hearing how others get inspired to think about where their food comes from, especially when it leads to canning and a well stocked pantry. Definitely my sort of people.
So, the recipes. There are the basic ones – “Straight-Up Preserves with Any Fruit” that walks you through jam with any sort of fruit. Included in that recipe is a long list of what pairs well with each fruit should you want to start getting fancy with them. There are recipes for things like Bresaola and Camembert (admittedly not on the beginner end of the spectrum), Split Pea Soup for your pressure canner (which sounds like the perfect pantry item if I do say so myself). There are bonus recipes utilizing your preserves, like Focaccia with Apricot Jam, Carmelized Onion and Fennel. The Whole-Cranberry Raspberry Sauce, which I’m going to share with you here, is sure to be a new favorite in this house that gets as excited about cranberry season as everyone else seems to get about pumpkin. Whether you are interested in learning how to put up your own food, wanting to expand your existing skills or are a seasoned hand at it, this book definitely deserves a spot on your shelf. So much so that I’m going to give away a copy. Just leave a comment by Friday, November 14 telling me what your favorite food to preserve is (or what you’d like to learn to put up). I’ll post the winner then, which will have been selected by drawing names out of a hat.
Now for that recipe. I had every intention of making it to show you, in part to get the jump on my Thanksgiving cooking, but between mystery apples landing on my doorstep (not at all a complaint), the schools having two long back-to-back weekends (that would be a minor complaint) and a few completely bizarre kitchen accidents this week (Breaking a nail to the quick while making coffee among them) it just wasn’t in the cards. Oysterfest is this weekend, which means everything coming out of my kitchen currently is headed to Urbanna for the gang. (Although Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Smoked Oysters just might be on the menu there.) This sauce and all my Thanksgiving cooking will just have to wait until next week.
Whole-Cranberry Raspberry Sauce
makes: 5 half-pint jars
active time: 1 hour
Over the years, I’ve heard many people complain about the horrid canned cranberry sauce they were served as a child. I have no such memories. These same people initially
shun my glistening, ruby-red cranberry sauce, but quickly revise their thinking after just one taste. Tangy, sweet, fruity in November, when many fruits are only a memory, this is a welcome addition to any holiday meal.
If you feel the need to serve this as a mold, as though it had slipped from a can, just run a palette knife around the inside of the jar and slide the cylinder onto a relish dish.
Slice and serve shamelessly.
4 cups (28 oz., 800 g) granulated sugar
4 cups (32 oz., 950 ml) nonchlorinated water
Grated zest of 1 orange
Juice of 1 lemon
4 cups (14 oz., 390 g) cranberries
1 cup (8 oz., 225 g) fresh raspberries
½ teaspoon unsalted butter (optional)
1. Combine the sugar, water, zest, and juice in your preserving pot and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. When the mixture is briskly boiling, carefully add the cranberries. The berries will burst when heated and may splatter. Cook until most of the berries have burst and the sauce is thickening, about 12 minutes.
2. Add the raspberries and bring back to a boil that will not stir down. Boil hard for about 10 more minutes. Test the set using the wrinkle test or the sheeting test. Add the butter, if using, to clarify and clear the sauce.
3. Ladle into the warm jars, leaving 1∕2-inch headspace. Clean the rims of the jars well with a damp paper towel. Place the lids and rings on the jars and finger-tighten the rings.
4. Process in a boiling-water bath for 10 minutes.
The sauce is shelf stable for 1 year.
Reprinted from Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry: Recipes and Techniques for Year-Round Preserving by Cathy Barrow. Copyright © 2014 by Cathy Barrow. With permission of the publisher, W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. All rights reserved.
Deneen is the winner of the cookbook. Thanks for all the comments and entries!