Karen Solomon: Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It

Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It, by Karen Solomon

Are you looking for a great book with kitchen projects to do with your kids this summer?

Or perhaps you want recipes to help you save money by cooking grocery staples at home?

Maybe you’ve gone strawberry picking or apple picking and now you want to turn your treasure into something special to eat?

Karen Solomon‘s Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It (Ten Speed 2009) covers a lot of ground.

It’s an easy-to-follow cookbook full of sweet and not-so-sweet projects not specifically targeted to kids – but that’s why it’s so useful. It is not dumbed down, and so it perfect to use with kids beginning to explore foods and cooking on their own:

I’d always hoped to find those Girl Scout blueprints to the kitchen – the culinary equivalent of knot tying, fire starting and good citizenship– that would be the building blocks for everyday eating. Stocking the pantry and our own refrigerator doors with ingredients that were made by hand for centuries should not be so cumbersome. (p. 1)

This book is about those basic and not-so-basic foods that are so much better made at home. It is not exhaustive – there are only a few recipes for each way of preserving food – but the book will go a long way to getting you thinking and comfortable with putting up your own food.

The first chapter includes a fun recipe for homemade Crackers, Breadsticks, and Flatbread (p. 5) that would be fun to make with children – each can add their own favorite topping.

Karen Solomon

If your kids are hooked on ketchup, get there to help make their own. Regular Ol’Tomato Ketchup (But Better) (p. 20) includes cardamom and star anise, fun spices to try out. The ketchup keeps for two months in the refrigerator. Canning instructions are provided separately (p.88).

For those who love garlic, Karen has a chapter on pickling, starting with Pickled Green Beans (p. 33) and ending with Kimchee (p. 39) all of which can be made with plenty of garlic.

For the more adventurous, Karen includes recipes for bacon, beef jerky, sausages, and cheese. The kids can help make homemade Butter (pp. 76-77, shaking a mason jar until butter forms. But it’s really the second half of the book that contains most of the kid-friendly recipes. Start by making Marshmallows (p. 101), Apple Fruit Leather (p. 103) Graham Crackers (p. 107) and then try some of her fun frozen treats and candy.

The trick will be not making too many of the sweet recipes!

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