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Vintage California Cuisine: 300 Recipes from the First Cookbooks Published in the Golden State


Art of Preserving

By Jan Berry


Putting up Produce Down Under

Pickled Grapes

If the hint of winter in the air, as summer turns to fall, isn’t enough to spur you to start putting up produce, a gorgeously photographed book, The Art of Preserving, might do the trick. The book is loaded with 140 recipes that offer a diversity of ways to preserve several dozen different fruits and vegetables, from the prosaic carrots and green beans to the exotic tamarillos, feijoas and angelica.

There are recipes for old standards, like strawberry jam and cucumber pickles, and an enticing lineup of more exotic concoctions, such as blood orange marmalade, pumpkin and rosemary jam, melon and passionfruit jam, and apple and date salsa.

Berry, who was born and raised in the Australian outback, offers some useful advice along with the recipes. To begin with, select slightly underripe fruit for preserving. It has more pectin, which helps the fruit set. The one exception to this rule of thumb is tomatoes, which should be fully ripe, she writes.

For the following recipe, Berry advises using "unblemished muscatel grapes or large, firm black grapes. Serve with a platter of cold meats or cheeses."

Pickled Grapes
(Makes one 4-cup jar)

2 pounds grapes
1 cup white wine vinegar
2/3 cup white granulated sugar
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 bay leaf

1. Cut the grapes from the main stem, leaving a small twig on each grape. Wash the grapes well in salted water. Drain them in a colander, then pack them into a sterilized jar.

2. In a saucepan over medium heat, boil the vinegar and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Add the mustard seeds, cinnamon stick, black peppercorns, and bay leaf and return the mixture to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes, then pour the hot vinegar over the grapes.

3. Cover and seal the jar. Store the grapes in a cool, dark place. Leave for 4 weeks before using.

Recipe reprinted with permission from Art of Preserving, by Jan Berry, Copyright 1997, Ten Speed Press, P.O. Box 7123, Berkeley, CA, 94707. Available through this Web site or from your local bookstore, or call 800-841-2665.

Copyright 1997 Seasonal Chef