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The Preservation Kitchen: The Craft of Making and Cooking with Pickles, Preserves, and Aigre-doux [Hardcover]

Paul Virant , Kate Leahy
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

April 3 2012
The first canning manual and cookbook authored by a Michelin-starred chef and restaurant owner, The Preservation Kitchen reveals a world of endless flavor combinations using revolutionary ideas that bring homemade preserves deliciously to life. Pairing science with art, Paul Virant presents expert preserving techniques, sophisticated recipes, and seasonal menus inspired by the award-winning fare at his restaurant, Vie, in Western Springs, Illinois.

Imaginative tangy jams, brandied fruits, zesty relishes, cured meats, and sweet and savory conserves are the focus of the first half of this book, while seasonal menus pairing these preserves with everything from salads and cocktails to poached fish and braised meat compose the second. Brandied Cherries used in Cherry Clafoutis, or as a garnish for the Beer-Jam Manhattan, are a sweet reminder of the summer harvest. And the Chicken Fried Steak with Smoked Spring Onion Relish anticipates warmer days when you’re still deep in winter.

Alongside recipes and menus, Virant draws on his extensive technical knowledge and experience to provide detailed and comprehensive guidelines for safe canning practices, testing pH, pressure canning, water bath processing, and storing. But no matter how precise the science, Virant never forgets the art in each handcrafted preserve and thoughtfully developed recipe. His unique approach re-imagines seasonal eating by harmonizing opposite or unusual partnerships: the brightness of summer fruit may be tempered with the earthiness of meats and winter produce, or the delicacy of spring vegetables might be enriched by the robust herbs and spices more typical of fall. The Preservation Kitchen not only demonstrates and instructs, it encourages and explores the limitless possibilities of capturing the seasons in a jar.

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Customers buy this book with The Art of Fermentation: An In-Depth Exploration of Essential Concepts and Processes from around the World CDN$ 28.22

The Preservation Kitchen: The Craft of Making and Cooking with Pickles, Preserves, and Aigre-doux + The Art of Fermentation: An In-Depth Exploration of Essential Concepts and Processes from around the World
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“Advanced, intelligent pickling recipes from the starred Chicago chef, plus inspiring seasonal menus in which to use them.”
—New York Times Book Review

“Virant is a fine coach for cooks accustomed to packing strawberry freezer jam into upping their game and inspiring those interested in keeping local flavors on their table year-round.”
—The Chicago Tribune, 4/11/12

“With clear instructions and a full seasonal spectrum of inspiration, this has already made its way to the top of my stack of spring cookbooks.”
—KQED Bay Area Bites, 4/9/12

"The Preservation Kitchen makes us want to can everything."
— 4/9/12

"If any book could inspire me to can, it's this one...To flip through this book is to await every turn of the season and every visit to the farmer's market to come."
—Time Out Chicago: Cookbook of the Week 4/5/12

“Virant's suggestions for cooking with preserved foods are helpful for both beginning and experienced cooks, and provided menu plans focus on making the preserves shine. A unique guide to elevating pickling and preserves, recommended for adventurous cooks and eaters.”
—Library Journal, 2/1/12

“Paul Virant takes us on a delicious journey in The Preservation Kitchen, to unexpected spots that ring of traditions long forgotten, to exciting places that our palates want to savor for hours. Paul’s Fried Chicken with Cherry Bomb Pepper Sausage Gravy and Drop Biscuits is soul food for a new millennium and his Beer Jam and Ramp Sauerkraut may just show up on my restaurant menus.”
—Rick Bayless, Chef/Owner of Frontera Grill, Topolobampo, and XOCO, Chicago
“Along with being a great technical guide to preserving fruits and vegetables, The Preservation Kitchen gives the reader a first-hand look at Paul’s exceptional talent and culinary philosophy. By sharing his immense knowledge and passion, he leads the way as a great craftsman and mentor for future generations of food professionals and enthusiasts. Paul’s zest for life and great food is contagious!”
—Jacquy Pfeiffer, Founder of The French Pastry School
“Paul Virant’s approach to the modern kitchen extends seasonal boundaries far beyond nature’s reach. By suspending local treasures in time, and incorporating them creatively, he has redefined American cooking as we know it. Truly a jar star!”
—Paul Kahan, Executive Chef/Partner of Blackbird, avec, The Publican, and Big Star

Virant offers seasonally inspired menus—beef chili with pickled candy onions, chased by his wife’s chocolate chip cookies, for a wintry warmer; grilled and pickled summer squash salad and summer berry soda floats for a breezy supper—that make use of the fruits (and veggies) of their labors. Geared toward ambitious home cooks and professional chefs, these recipes could inspire the rest of us to fit into one of those categories.
—Carly Boers,

About the Author

Chef-owner Paul Virant’s name is synonymous with local, seasonal eating, a distinction that has brought him accolades from national and regional publications. In 2005, before his restaurant, Vie, had been open for a full year, Chicago Magazine named Virant the city’s Best New Chef. Soon after, Vie was featured in Food & Wine, the Chicago Tribune, the Sun-Times, and Time Out Chicago. In 2007, Food & Wine named Virant among its Best New Chefs, in 2010 Vie picked up a Michelin star, and in 2011 Virant was nominated for a James Beard award. In addition to awards, Virant has appeared on NBC’s Today and, with chef de cuisine, Nathan Sears, competed in a close match on Iron Chef America. In addition to running Vie, Virant became chef and partner at Perennial Virant in Chicago in 2011.
Kate Leahy co-authored A16 Food + Wine (Ten Speed Press, 2008), the IACP 2009 Cookbook of the Year. Her work has been recognized by the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers and the American Society of Business Publication Editors. A professional cook turned food writer, she has written for Chicago Magazine, Time Out Chicago, and shares recipes and insights on her blog

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book April 25 2013
By minnie
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Already tried a couple of recipes and they worked out perfect. Also I had a question about the type of apples Chef Paul preferred in the Caramel Apple jam so emailed chef at the restaurant and he got back to me right away. The answer was honey crisp but he said any would do, a tart apple would be nice. I like how he makes the preserves and then has recipes on using how he uses the preserves, so gets you thinking about what else would it go with.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Cherry Mostarda of your dreams! Oct. 2 2013
By Ilse
Paul Virant has created a lovely assortment of simple seasonal and more intensive canning recipes to satisfy any canner's interests! The Cherry Mostarda recipe is worth the price of the entire book! I tried four recipes from this book during my canning whirlwind at the end of this summer - and all turned out deliciously well! Some of the recipes are more complicated, with unusual ingredients. The fermented products look amazing, but I haven't been brave enough to try them yet. Because this is an eclectic collection that seems aimed at the seasoned chef, I am giving this collection four stars.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good starting book for recipes Nov. 22 2012
By FredGag
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The book is good and the recipes are interesting (and somes very originals) but there is no information about real fermenting product then if you are searching for a book to do pickle by fermentation, it's not the one. Overal I recommend it for a first starting book if you have nothing else. Mary Anne Dragan book well preserved is not bad too.
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1 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fantastic April 30 2012
By cahd
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
an inspiring and refreshing take on both approaches to seasonal food and the traditional format and role of a cookbook.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars  38 reviews
49 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Phenomenal April 5 2012
By jessica - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I have dived into the world of fermentation and preservation for a while now. Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, and Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz have been great starting points for me. But, The Preservation Kitchen is taking preservation foods to a whole new level of expertise, culinary breadth and creativity. It covers everything one could want; direct recipes for canning and fermenting and then chapters of magnificent seasonal recipes to use your jarred items in. The canning recipes are very straightforward, divided into volume, ounces, grams and percent measurements. Everyone did their homework in this book and we readers will surely benefit. And, while not for the faint of heart or novice perhaps, this will surely be a well used book in my kitchen. Congratulations on a significant contribution to this emerging culinary field!
28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars pre-modern July 8 2013
By Larbo - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Anyone considering this book should be aware that it takes a pre-modern, even anti-modernist approach to food preservation.

For example, when it comes to getting jams, jellies, mostarda, etc to set up, he relies exclusively on a pectin stock that he urges you to make yourself from green apples. Since commercial pectin has been available for more than a century now, is made in the same way (by cooking pectin-rich fruits and vegetables), is tested for strength and thus produces reliable results, it's more than a little bizarre and atavistic that he won't even consider it in his recipes. If you want to substitute it, you're on your own. Granted, anyone interested in food preservation takes a certain pleasure and pride in making things themselves, but before I buy 5 pounds of apples and spend an hour in front of a hot stove cooking them down, I want to know that it's going to be better than what's commercially available. Just because you make it yourself doesn't necessarily make it better or more virtuous.

And I found his apple pectin recipe wildly unreliable. After following it, I had to reduce it by two thirds before even this "pectin" stock would set up. Even then, it took almost three times as much as his mostarda recipe called for before it achieved a soft set. So, all in all, the pectin seemed to be off by a factor of about 9. Such inaccuracy is aggravating enough, but it also seriously affects every recipe you use it in. Since he calls for more than 5 cups of sugar in his pectin recipe, if you need to reduce it by two thirds and then use tree times as much, you are adding 9 times more sugar and thus throwing off the balance of every recipe you use it in. All that added sugar transformed his mostarda into more of an insipid jelly.

This is not the only problematic recipe. A few pages later, in his recipe for Yellow Plum and Riesling Jam, you find these instructions: "bring the plums, wine, sugar, and lemon thyme to a boil. Give the mixture a good stir and cook until it reaches a boil, about 11 minutes." Huh? After coming to a boil, it's not going to take 11 minutes to reach the boil again just because you stirred it. There's some basic proofreading or editing error here, with the result that you just have to guess what you're supposed to do.

And for all the inventiveness of his flavor combinations, his approach is surprisingly limited in other ways. There's a world of interesting vinegars out there, but generally he relies on only one: champagne vinegar. And processing mason jars in a hot water bath for 11 minutes is basically the only preservation technique he covers.

So just know what you're getting. If you buy into the approach of classical French cuisine that just because a practice is a more traditional and laborious way of doing something it must automatically be better, if having wildly inconsistent results is part of the charm of cooking for you, then you won't be disappointed with Paul Virant's approach.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally! A preserving book that's more than pickles! April 27 2012
By Snaddius - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The dishes in this book are so creative, it's really energized me to get back to the jars. Beer jam? eggplant preserves? I'm in!

The pictures are beautiful and the writing is top-notch, too. It's a good read and one of those books you'll definitely want to own.

Some of the recipes are time-consuming but preserving was never about saving time, but about saving food. If you're looking for 5-minute jam them buy some smuckers. If you're looking for recipes you can't buy, this is your book.
21 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars potentially great with a few shortcomings. Oct. 8 2012
By Jesse W Ives - Published on
I picked up this book because I developed a hobby of canning and preserving this past Spring and Summer. I really enjoyed the pictures and found the recipes to be very inventive and different from other recipes I was finding in other books or online. I mean, I'm giving this book 4 stars, but I do have a couple critiques/warnings for those looking into this book.

1). Over half of the books recipes are how to use the preserves/pickles/jams/aigre-doux from the first part of the book. At first I thought this would be equally as inspiring, sadly, I follow a vegan diet, and most of the recipes are heavy on the meats and cheeses. I would almost rather just have a cook book about canning/preserving with maybe a few recommendations about how to use them, rather than over half of the book being taken up by these other recipes.

2). More concerning than the first critique is the fact that what I have found with these recipes is that you often end up not having enough liquid to fill the jars when canning. Putting you in the strange spot of either having to make more liquid on the fly, or not having the right yield. Also, not all the steps are clearly laid out in the directions. An example, the cippolini aigre-doux, in the box with volume/weight/etc (this graph I found totally helpful!) it says to blanch and peel the onions, but it never outlines how. Now I work in the culinary field and was able to figure this part out because of my experience, but if I didn't work in that field, not sure I would have figured it out. Also, the tomato jam, which was awesome, says to cook it down for 45 minutes to an hour, we let it go for almost 4, because in the time listed it never reached that jam like consistency. I feel as though most of the recipes are written straight from the authors restaurants recipe book, and don't necessarily take the home cook into consideration.
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring + accessible April 29 2012
By Eat&Run - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is the kind of book that makes you want to head to the market as soon as possible so you can get cooking. I'm new to preserving, and the process is explained here in such an accessible way that the intro left me feeling inspired rather than intimidated. And the recipes...ohhh...sweet pickled cherry tomatoes, peach saffron jam, grape aigre-doux...and these are just the base recipes. It's really nice, too, that there are so many seasonal recipes that actually show you how to make *creative* use of preserved foods. It's not just your great-aunt's sauerkraut, and it's not just accompaniments for a charcuterie plate, which is refreshing. Example: wheat-berry salad w/peas & preserved lemon vinaigrette, which is awesome. Next on my agenda: Grilled skirt steak w/fennel panzanella salad. For those who get geeked about the start of outdoor farmers' market season, I highly recommend Preservation Kitchen--check it out and geek out that much more.
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