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Preserving Wild Foods: A Modern Forager's Recipes for Curing, Canning, Smoking, and Pickling Paperback – November 6, 2012

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* This fascinating book doesn’t update Euell Gibbon’s Stalking the Wild Asparagus (1970); New York City chef Weingarten and his sidekick-editor Pelzel have channeled the furious attention lavished on Copenhagen’s Noma restaurant and its foraging owner, Rene Redzepi, into a book that even a confirmed urbanite would embrace. It’s all about the generations of Redzepi’s family, who were devoted to the techniques of preserving. Weingarten and Pelzel are careful in documenting folklore and fact as they pertain to food preservation. (My friend Lubor, who is from Eastern Europe, where stinging nettles are widely used in cooking and home remedies, swears by the nettles’ ability to, as he puts it, ‘awaken’ his spirit.) Of the 60 recipes, many are streamlined to suit modern conveniences, while others are lovingly presented in page after page of elegant prose. From more well-known ingredients, such as salt cod and goose, to items not readily available in sidewalk cracks, such as rose hips, samphire, and Irish moss, the authors can and preserve and smoke up some unusual yet tasty recipes: farmer cheese, dandelion jelly, and gooseneck and whiskey sausage. They even go so far as to ensure that many ingredients, together, meet kosher standards. Spend time lingering over the photographs, by Stephanie de Rouge, and other illustrations, which lend an art-book-like quality to the volume. Weingarten and Pelzel lead the way to making do with the earth’s bounty in the manner it deserves. --Barbara Jacobs


“A must read for preserving enthusiasts” 

(Edible Brooklyn)

“New York City chef Weingarten doesn’t let his urban base get in the way of his passion for scavenging edibles; even sidewalk cracks are fair game when it comes to sourcing herbs. In this encyclopedia of all things cured, canned, smoked, and pickled, he shares his favorite ways to preserve the bounty.”

(Tasting Table)

“A serious book for the committed forager who sallies undaunted o'er beaches, hedgerows, fields, forests and wetlands. With lovely photos and detailed recipes, the authors offer a range of pickles, preserves, smoked, brined, fermented foods."


“But while the book is about smoking, curing and otherwise preserving wild edibles, you can make these recipes without day-tripping upstate or getting arrested for picking lamb’s-quarters in Prospect Park, because the techniques work just as well on chanterelles hunted at the Greenmarket or Union Market. Our advice? Buy yourself the book now and next year you can give everyone on your list a jar of handmade Maraschino cherries.”

(Zester Daily)

“New York chef Matthew Weingarten and TT’s senior food editor, Raquel Pelzel, prove that delicious wild ingredients are abundant if you know what to look for and where to find it, even in Manhattan’s concrete jungle. But the book is hardly just a guide to picking plants: Find great instructions for making everything from maraschino cherries to oil-cured anchovies.”

(Library Journal)

"Preserving Wild Foods is a recipe book as well as an expression of the 'wonder and joy' that comes from a connection to the seasonal, natural world. … A great book for beginning foragers, as the authors interweave foraged foods with those you might find in a cultivated garden or farmers' market.”

“Weingarten uses his sensibilities as a chef to both wake up standard recipes and introduce new flavor combinations … a valuable book for aspirational foragers, preserving geeks, and people who forage regularly and [are] serious about preserving their finds.”

“Will delight those looking for a new experience … Weingarten and Pelzel take readers beyond their backyard gardens to landscapes and waters many home cooks may not have considered using to fill their pantry. A great reference for those who want to try their hand at recipes outside of the “fruit preserves box.”

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Storey Publishing, LLC (November 6, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1603427279
  • ISBN-13: 978-1603427272
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 0.6 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #458,635 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Marty Martindale on November 12, 2012
Format: Paperback
Preserving Wild Foods:
A Modern Forager's Recipes for Curing, Smoking, Canning and Pickling
By: Matthew Weingarten and Raquel Pelzel
A review by Marty Martindale, Editor, Foodsite Magazine

Do you ever wish you could "freeze" a season, say have fiddleheads all year long? Difficult. Impossible. However, this book offers the best solution we've found - how to somehow preserve the "precious for a bit longer."

In the book, they go into the various types of processing: water bath, salt curing, sugar curing, oil curing, pickling and smoking. Of the 60 detailed recipes offered, these caught our eye:

Bismarck Herring with Young Carrots and Onions
Smoked Mussels
Old-World Rose-Hip Jam
Speckled Tea Eggs with Star Anise and Ginger
Old-Timey Watermelon Pickles
A Peck of Pickled Peppers
Smoked and Naturally Nitrate-Free Bacon
Black Walnut Chutney
Venison Summer Sausage
Pickled Fiddlehead Ferns
Wild Ramp and Walnut Pesto
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Autamme_dot_com on December 14, 2012
Format: Paperback
Increasingly people are getting tired of mass-produced food and are looking for something different. More natural ingredients, better ingredients, more home-made food... things are reverting full circle in part, since previously many people rushed to the more modern, convenient alternatives and many old-fashioned things fell by the wayside.
But what to do if you have never been taught this once "regular stuff" by your parents? After all this would have at one time been as natural as learning how to walk? A book like this perhaps can fill in the gap, educating the reader on how to preserve various foodstuffs through means such as curing, pickling and smoking. The more adventurous reader can even go foraging in the `wilds' and get a lot of free food too.
The book manages to combine its good advice with many recipes in such a seamless way. Often many books would just be full of advice, advice and advice and then bang! recipe recipe recipe. The author has also seamlessly merged actionable information with personal or historical references too. After reading it you feel a lot more informed, more enriched and perhaps even less reticent to try something. It just feels then, so natural. This book and its approach seems to work on many levels. Whether you read the book sequentially for advice and then go searching for suitable `targets' or if you come back with something and then wonder what to do with it. Straight away you can then dive in and get preserving and/or cooking.
Putting one's cards on the table. For some reason this book first didn't sound that special. It sounded a bit like some modern-day hippie commune guidebook. Boy! Can impressions be wrong. This is a LOT more than that. It is part solid reference work, part recipe book and part whimsical general interest.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Shay Moscon-ishai on November 27, 2012
Format: Paperback
Sometimes preserved-food books have a utilitarian feel and not-too-sophisticated-palette approach to their recipes -- not this one!

Between the stories, the beautiful rich imagery, and the out-of-the-ordinary yet classic recipes it feels like a time-travel to a romantic period of culinary mystique. It's dreamy and quite practical at the same time. It takes you to a journey of love for nature and food. Matthew Weingarten is giving the reader a personal guidance into the art of capturing nature's essence in the form of edible time capsules.

With many cookbooks I find myself tweaking and modifying recipes simply because the recipe offered is merely a "good start". In Preserving Wild Foods every recipe I tried came out spot-on! Even tricky and somewhat challenging recipes I tired, like Little Hunters sausages or the excellent Bismark Herring came out as if I worked on them for years. This book is a chuck-full of mature, well-developed recipes. The flavors are simply sublime, delicate and intriguing. In my view, you don't have to be an experienced cook to do these recipes, but I am sure many savvy and even professional cooks will find it very useful.

Beyond the excellent recipes, it has a very personal touch. This book is tremendously inspiring -- which makes the difference between an ordinary cookbook and a really great one. An absolute must for anyone that shares the love for food, nature and life.

In short, I loved it. It earned a prominent placement in my library!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Amaliarose on January 21, 2013
Format: Paperback
First of all, let me disclose that I am somewhat of an "armchair canner" sort of in the tradition of the "armchair traveler". I have the typical fantasies that instead of my tiny city kitchen I have enough cabinet space to store a pressure-canner or possess the arcadian weekend house with the kitchen garden, but that won't happen anytime soon.

I DO can on a fairly regular basis but so far have only made things on the low acid food side of the spectrum that can be water bath canned. My ventures into canning have given me an interest in learning more about preservation methods, so I appreciate reading about the history of food preservation and the wide variety of methods out there, even if they are things I will not ever have the opportunity or desire to prepare. I have at least a couple dozen books on canning and preserving - ranging from WW2 "can for victory booklets" to this most recent of books.
I found this to be an interesting addition to my collection and am glad I put it on my Christmas wish list.

Anyone expecting this to be a "Euell Gibbons meets Ball Blue Book of Canning" will be disappointed. It is not a book about identifying and finding the wild ingredients, it is a book about using them in new and creative ways explored by an inventive chef.

The book is very attractive, with nice photographs and illustrations. The prose is entertaining as well as informative.

I eat little meat or seafood, so the smoking and curing recipes were read out of curiosity but with little expectation I would prepare any of them. Many of them do not preserve items for long term storage or they specify refrigeration, so to me they seem a bit more like regular recipes instead of "preserving" recipes.
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