What is the essence of the book?
As summer draws to a close those of us who grow their own fruit and veg will be undoubtedly deluged with a glut of something. It is always useful to have a few ideas up your sleeve on how best to preserve the season’s bounty. Elisabeth Luard’s latest book, Preserving, Potting and Pickling, from Grub Street takes inspiration from across Europe providing recipes from pickled cherries to bilberry jam and English salad cream to potted cheese (both dairy and ‘head’ varieties). The book goes beyond traditional preserving and includes chapters on suppers (several of which include store cupboard ingredients such as salt cod or use up left overs like breadcrumbs), cakes (like gingerbreads) and liquors (think sloe gin – very of the moment).
About the author
Elisabeth Luard is an award-winning food writer and a leading authority on European food and cooking. She is also the food columnist for The Oldie and a contributing editor to Waitrose Food Illustrated.
Who will like it?
If you hate the idea of waste and long to preserve the tastes of summer then this should be right up your street. Even if you fail to find any recipes you can make immediately it is a pleasure to read for those of revel in cookbooks as a form of literature (like myself).
Who won’t like it?
If you’re happy that Messrs Crosse & Blackwell et al do an adequate job of keeping you in pickles and sauces and therefore are not inclined to make your own (or conduct any other form of culinary preserving) then you probably won’t have much use for this book.
What do I like about the book?
I would consider myself a seasoned preserver and pickler. However, I always find multiple jars of jams, chutneys and jellies languishing at the back of the cupboard when I set out to begin the following season’s preserving. The question is what should one do with all of these jars (there are only so many gifts you can give)? This is where Luard’s book is particularly useful. Many of the recipes come with helpful hints on how to use said preserves. For example, at the end of the recipe for Pickled Cherries (evidently a favourite of M. F. K. Fisher) she notes ‘Pit a handful of cherries and incorporate them with a ladleful of their liquor into a sauce for grilled duck or sautéed pigeon breasts – more interesting than raspberry vinegar.’ The breadth of recipes, which are beautifully illustrated by the author, is also appealing as I love to see how other nations cook.
Would I cook from it?
Those cherries are already on the list.
Where can you buy it?
Grub Street are currently selling signed editions of this book. You can order it online by clicking on the link below.