I am a big fan of Marisa McClellan’s Food in Jars blog, and was lucky to take her pear-vanilla jam class here in Portland last year. She’s coming back this week to teach a strawberry-lemon jam class again, plus she’s having a book party at Powell’s on Hawthorne/Pastaworks to celebrate her new cookbook – also called Food in Jars!
I got a review copy from Running Press last week, and have loved hanging out with it and planning some summer projects… Marisa not only clearly explains the techniques behind water-bath canning and preserving, she really engages the reader to show how fun it can be to choose your favorite fresh ingredients, make something amazing with them, and save your work for six months out, when you’re thoroughly bored with the contents of your pantry and could use a summery treat. My grandmother canned a household’s worth of vegetables every summer and fall – I know I can’t pull that off, no matter how industrious I am. But I can make homemade jam for a year’s worth of my daughter’s favorite PB&J roll-ups, and maybe half a year’s tomato sauce for the four of us (if I’m ambitious).
First up will hopefully be the jam. I am so excited to take my kids to pick berries… raspberries, marionberries, and blueberries are our favorites. That’s what feels like summer in Oregon to me – I have high hopes for July.
I’ve also been wanting to make more homemade drinks, and the syrup recipes Marisa shares (to mix with seltzer, or make cocktails) are super inspiring.
She also offers a nice selection of food-safe, shelf-stable tomato sauce recipes to try. Last summer I froze all my homemade sauces, but I want to try my hand at some shelf-stable recipes this time around… I have six tomato plants in my garden, a case of quart jars downstairs, and my fingers crossed.
I didn’t take any photos of her recipe pages, but some of the ones I’ve bookmarked and I’m super excited to try are lime curd, roasted corn salsa, cranberry syrup, blueberry-lemon syrup, vanilla salt, pear-ginger jam, and slow-cooker pear butter. We have a Bartlett pear tree in its third summer and two dozen tiny pears growing this year!
In addition to all the water-bath canning tips, techniques and recipes, Marisa offers some alternate ideas – helpful details on freezing and preserving all kinds of other things (including both a favorite chocolate cake and beer bread dry mix to give as gifts!), and pressure canning. I really appreciate her focus on avoiding BPA and other leaching toxins, and practical, real-life advice on food safety.
The book ends with a few pages you can write your own notes in, a really nice touch. During her class I added two pages of notes to my family cookbook – I love keeping track of things like that.
If you can make it to her Portland book party, here are all the details!
Food in Jars signing + party
Powell’s on Hawthorne
3723 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland
Saturday, June 16, 2-4 pm
(and if you can’t make it, you can pre-order a signed copy!)
PS: Also on Saturday, I’m super excited to be a judge at the Second Annual Captain Picard Day!!! at 6 pm at Floating World Comics (400 NW Couch St. downtown). Please make a TNG craft or art piece, bring it on by, and hang out with us… or just enjoy everyone else’s Picard awesomeness. I’ll be adding some World of Geekcraft comics magnet kits to the prizes and would love to say hello. Thank you to Zachary for asking me to be part of the evening!