Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Book Review - The Jam Maker's Garden

There are three bays of cookery books in our local bookshop, celebrity chefs beaming out from the front cover of most volumes, but I could find only one book devoted to preserves (a worthy River Cottage manual).  So I was more than happy to hear about this new book by Holly Farrell published today. In one volume there are fifty recipes covering the the full breadth of ingredients and techniques.  The presentation is modern: recipes are afforded a page each with a facing page picture.  The content is modern to match:  No old fashioned Piccalilli, but in it's place Giardiniera  (or Mostarda di Frutta if you really have a craving for mustard).  No pickled onions as such but pickled garlic instead.

The organisation and internal cross referencing, from the fulsome Contents page to the separate indices for plants and recipes, ensure easy navigation to your chosen topic one way or another. I particularly appreciate the "Use in" jam jar tag on the Growing pages. So if you have a glut of apples, for instance,  you can see that there are eight recipes which include this ingredient. Unlike the celebrity chefs this author is happy to keeps a low profile and allow the recipes to take top billing.

My Pickled Rhubarb

My first cheeky question to the publisher was: Are there any rhubarb recipes? and sure enough there are two - both of which I have now had a stab at. There is also the option to make rhubarb cordial/syrup. The instructions were easy to follow and the quantities sensible rather than industrial.   Other inclusions you wouldn't find in traditional preserves books: Pesto, Chilli jam and Chilli dipping sauce as well as "so retro as to be modern" Rosehip syrup.  I have not focused closely on the Growing pages mostly because I am up and running on the ingredients front. All the signs are that the recommendations have been well considered.  I feel a novice would have to be very patient to hold off on these recipes until their growing plans came to fruition but I guess that is the nature of growing. You can also buy when seasonal to enjoy the lowest prices. Having said that, now that I have a recipe, I just might get a quince and/or medlar.

All in all I have no hesitation in giving this book 5 stars and recommending it to anyone looking for a  comprehensive contemporary preserving guide.

Making Jam

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