“If you’ve got some stuff in your pantry, let me show you the possibilities of what to do with it,” says Marissa McClellan, author of The Food in Jars Kitchen: 140 Ways to Cook, Bake, Plate, and Share Your Homemade Pantry (Running Press 2019: $15.91 Amazon price). “That’s what I’m really trying to do, to open the door for people to show there’s a world of cooking and flavor possibilities in the world of preserves. Home cooks often feel they need to have permission before trying something new and I’m working at freeing them up from those confines.”
McClellan, who has been food blogging at foodinjars.com since 2005, describes her newest cookbook as a departure from what she’s done before. Her previous books have included Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year Round, Preserving by the Pint: Quick Seasonal Canning for Small Spaces and Naturally Sweet Food in Jars.
“It’s not just a canning book, it’s the ideal book for people who love to put food up in jars,” she says, “it’s designed to answer the question what to do with it after you made it.”
For someone who writes and cans prolifically, you might expect McClellan to have been putting up food forever but though she did a little food canning with her mom when young, she didn’t get serious about it until 13 or so years ago.
“I made a batch of jam, I knew how to do it, but I didn’t know a lot of the rules,” she says. “To me it was just a really great way to save produce. Then I started writing about it, I didn’t have any baggage from the past so I just approached writing as you would a cooking class. Then I was doing more and more canning and writing more about it and realized that there wasn’t much information about making small batches with unique flavors instead of large batches of highly sugared fruit jams.”
When it comes to canning, McClellan likes to stretch people’s boundaries say by developing a recipe for asparagus berry jam.
“When it comes to flavor combinations for preserves, I start thinking of categories,” she says. “My goal is to include a category for every moment of the day—no matter the time of day—lunches, desserts, cocktails and then what sounds good. My book is also very personal. I was able to incorporate a lot of recipes from my family—my great aunt, we called her an appetizer hobbyist, she’d make appetizers ahead of time just in case she was invited and other members of my family.”
For those who want to learn more about putting food up and what to do with it afterwards, on the first and third Mondays of the month at 9 pm ET/6 pm PT, you’ll find McClellan offering free, live canning demos over on the Food in Jars Facebook page.
Aware of readers’ budgetary restraints, McClellan always makes suggestions for substitutions and also want to support her followers.
“I demonstrate how to make a seasonal recipe and answer all your questions, “she says. “I built my whole career on trust with my readers who believe in me and want good quality.”
The following recipes are reprinted with permission from The Food in Jars Kitchen © 2019 by Marisa McClellan, Running Press
Basic Compound Butter
Makes 1 ¼ Cups Compound Butter
8 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 to 5 tablespoons jam, marmalade, chutney, relish, or finely diced pickle
½ teaspoon flaky finishing salt
Put the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a flexible paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until the butter is distributed throughout the bowl. Reduce the speed to low and add the preserve 1 tablespoon at a time as the motor runs. Add the salt and increase the speed to medium for a few final seconds.
When the butter and preserve are well integrated, turn off the mixer. Taste and make sure you’re happy with the flavor intensity. If not, add a bit more of the preserve. Just take care not to go beyond 6 tablespoons of preserve, because the butter will break if you ask it to hold too much additional product.
Spread a length of plastic wrap on your countertop and scrape the compound butter into the plastic. Form the butter into a log and wrap it tightly. It will keep well in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. For longer storage, place your plastic-wrapped butter in a resealable plastic bag and freeze for up to 6 months.
Below are some tasty variations on this theme.
Marmalade Compound Butter
Add 4 tablespoons of Seville orange or lemon marmalade and ½ teaspoon of flaky finishing salt. Serve with pancakes, biscuits, or scones.
Relish or Pickle Compound Butter
Add 4 to 5 tablespoons of well-drained pickle relish or finely chopped pickle and ½ teaspoon of flaky finishing salt. This butter is a really good addition to meat and fish. I occasionally tuck a pat into the middle of a burger when I’m feeling indulgent and I like to roast salmon fillets that are liberally dotted with this butter (using a dill-flavored pickle makes it an even better match for fish).
Preserved Lemon Compound Butter
Add 3 to 4 tablespoons of diced preserved lemon. No need to add salt here, as preserved lemons are quite tasty. This is another butter that is really great with fish, or as a finishing element when you’re pan roasting chicken or pork. It manages to be bright, salty, and rich all at once.
Makes 1 cup pesto
I make pesto with herbs, such as basil, parsley, or cilantro, as well as flavorful, tender greens, such as arugula, mustard, or young kale.
This formula should work regardless of what kind of green you’re using as your base. A combination of greens is also nice, particularly if you’re trying to stretch a bundle of herbs. As far as the nuts go, I like to use walnuts, cashews, blanched almonds, or pine nuts.
2 cups packed greens or herbs; tough stems removed
½ cup nuts, toasted
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 garlic cloves
½ cup olive oil, plus more if needed to top
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
In the work bowl of a food processor, combine the greens, toasted nuts, Parmesan cheese, and garlic. Pulse until a paste begins to form. Remove the lid and scrape down the bowl, if necessary.
Once you’ve gotten to a chunky paste, slowly stream in the olive oil with the motor running and process until well combined. Taste and add the salt and pepper to taste.
Use the pesto immediately, or pack it into 4-ounce freezer-safe containers to preserve for a longer period of time. Top the pesto with a thin layer of olive oil to prevent freezer burn and discoloration. It will keep in the refrigerator for at least 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 1 year.
Makes about 4 cups
Recommended Preserves: Choose preserves that you’d like to eat on a peanut or almond butter sandwich. My absolute favorite jam to use is pear vanilla, but grape is also wonderful.
1 pound raw almonds, peanuts, cashews, walnuts, or pecans (or a combination thereof)
6 tablespoons jam or marmalade
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 ½ teaspoons flaky finishing salt
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
In a large, dry skillet, toast the nuts over medium heat, stirring frequently so that they don’t burn. In a small saucepan, melt the jam and butter together. When the nuts are looking lightly toasted and are smelling nutty, pour the jam mixture over the nuts and toss to coat. Spread the toasted nuts on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for about 10 to 15 minutes, checking regularly, until the bits of glaze have started to brown.
Remove the nuts from the oven and dust them with salt. Let them cool completely so that the glaze has a chance to harden and adhere. Once cool, break apart any nuts that are stuck together.
Store the finished, cooled nuts in an airtight container for up to 1 month.
Makes 3 pint-size
This chutney will work with apples, apricots, cherries, nectarines, peaches, pears, or plums. I typically peel the apples and peaches before stirring them into a batch of chutney, but all the other fruits can keep their skins. Remove the pits and cores as needed.
4 pounds fruit, prepped and chopped
1 medium-size yellow onion, minced
2 cups golden raisins
1 ¾ cups red wine vinegar
2 cups packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon mustard seeds (any color is fine)
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
Combine all the ingredients in a large, nonreactive pot. Bring to boil over high heat and then lower the heat to medium-high. Cook at a brisk simmer for 45 minutes to an hour, stirring regularly, or until the chutney thickens, darkens, and the flavors start to marry.
While the chutney is finished, remove the pot from the heat. Funnel the chutney into the prepared jars, leaving ½ inch/1.25 cm of headspace. Wipe the rims, apply the lids and rings, and process the filled jars in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.
When the time is up, remove the jars and set them on a folded kitchen towel to cool. When the jars have cooled enough that you can comfortably handle them, check the seals. Sealed jars can be stored at room temperature for up to 1 year. Any unsealed jars should be refrigerated and used promptly.
Follow McClellan’s blog at foodinjars.com
What: Marissa McClellan cooking class and talk
When: Friday, May 10 from 6:30-8:30 pm.
Where: Read It and Eat, 2142 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL
FYI: (773) 661-6158; readitandeat.com