14 March 2009

Putting Up

My friend Ann (not to be confused with my friend AnnE, who often comments on the blog and tries to correct my dyslexic spelling) gave me two very different cookbooks. I have been craving Putting Up: A Seasonal Guide to Canning in the Southern Tradition by Stephen Dowdney. It is a cookbook on preserving from a Southern perspective written by a guy who ran his own boutique canning company and was a classmate of Pat Conroy at The Citadel. Good enough for me.

Not good enough for the people who comment on Amazon. This book has been savaged on Amazon --IGNORE THEM!!! Mr. Dowdney offers and alternative to traditional hot water baths for sweetly acidic jams, etc. He tells his reader how to use the inversion method. One would think he had written a book advocating canning kittens and puppies! I recently put up some blackberry preserves and put them up at Lucindaville.

In that post I sort of addressed this controversy. I, like Mr. Dowdney, Christine Ferber, Clotilde Dusoulier, June Taylor and many other illustrious cooks, use inversion to seal my sweet jams. The British and French have done it this way for years. I understand your concern. That is why I am so surprised about the negative comments for Putting Up. This is one of the first books on preserving (and I have many, from at least 4 continents) that explains how the home cook can ph test canning to make sure it is safe. I have always wanted to preserve garlic, but I have read that it is a harbinger of bacteria and I have shied away from canning garlic. After reading this book, I am looking forward to the garlic crop coming in, as it is my first canning recipe from this book!!

For you, I have chosen a favorite of mine, ginger pear preserves. To avoid any controversy, I am going to give you the recipe. You can use it as you see fit.

Ginger Pear Preserves

3 pounds pears, firm but ripe, peeled, seeded and chopped
2 pounds sugar
2 lemons, sliced thin, seeded and slices quartered
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 ounces crystallized ginger, chopped fine

Pace pears and sugar in a pot; simmer, stirring often. While pears are softening, add lemon slices, lemon juice and ginger. Increase heat and cook until syrup thickens.

Break out those biscuits!

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