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The Preservation Kitchen: The Craft of Making and Cooking with Pickles, Preserves, and Aigre-doux Hardcover – April 3, 2012

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The Preservation Kitchen: The Craft of Making and Cooking with Pickles, Preserves, and Aigre-doux + The Art of Fermentation: An In-Depth Exploration of Essential Concepts and Processes from around the World
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Ten Speed Press (April 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1607741008
  • ISBN-13: 978-1607741008
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 1.1 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #116,734 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“Advanced, intelligent pickling recipes from the starred Chicago chef, plus inspiring seasonal menus in which to use them.”
—New York Times Book Review

“Virant is a fine coach for cooks accustomed to packing strawberry freezer jam into upping their game and inspiring those interested in keeping local flavors on their table year-round.”
—The Chicago Tribune, 4/11/12

“With clear instructions and a full seasonal spectrum of inspiration, this has already made its way to the top of my stack of spring cookbooks.”
—KQED Bay Area Bites, 4/9/12

"The Preservation Kitchen makes us want to can everything."
— 4/9/12

"If any book could inspire me to can, it's this one...To flip through this book is to await every turn of the season and every visit to the farmer's market to come."
—Time Out Chicago: Cookbook of the Week 4/5/12

“Virant's suggestions for cooking with preserved foods are helpful for both beginning and experienced cooks, and provided menu plans focus on making the preserves shine. A unique guide to elevating pickling and preserves, recommended for adventurous cooks and eaters.”
—Library Journal, 2/1/12

“Paul Virant takes us on a delicious journey in The Preservation Kitchen, to unexpected spots that ring of traditions long forgotten, to exciting places that our palates want to savor for hours. Paul’s Fried Chicken with Cherry Bomb Pepper Sausage Gravy and Drop Biscuits is soul food for a new millennium and his Beer Jam and Ramp Sauerkraut may just show up on my restaurant menus.”
—Rick Bayless, Chef/Owner of Frontera Grill, Topolobampo, and XOCO, Chicago
“Along with being a great technical guide to preserving fruits and vegetables, The Preservation Kitchen gives the reader a first-hand look at Paul’s exceptional talent and culinary philosophy. By sharing his immense knowledge and passion, he leads the way as a great craftsman and mentor for future generations of food professionals and enthusiasts. Paul’s zest for life and great food is contagious!”
—Jacquy Pfeiffer, Founder of The French Pastry School
“Paul Virant’s approach to the modern kitchen extends seasonal boundaries far beyond nature’s reach. By suspending local treasures in time, and incorporating them creatively, he has redefined American cooking as we know it. Truly a jar star!”
—Paul Kahan, Executive Chef/Partner of Blackbird, avec, The Publican, and Big Star

Virant offers seasonally inspired menus—beef chili with pickled candy onions, chased by his wife’s chocolate chip cookies, for a wintry warmer; grilled and pickled summer squash salad and summer berry soda floats for a breezy supper—that make use of the fruits (and veggies) of their labors. Geared toward ambitious home cooks and professional chefs, these recipes could inspire the rest of us to fit into one of those categories.
—Carly Boers,

About the Author

Chef-owner Paul Virant’s name is synonymous with local, seasonal eating, a distinction that has brought him accolades from national and regional publications. In 2005, before his restaurant, Vie, had been open for a full year, Chicago Magazine named Virant the city’s Best New Chef. Soon after, Vie was featured in Food & Wine, the Chicago Tribune, the Sun-Times, and Time Out Chicago. In 2007, Food & Wine named Virant among its Best New Chefs, in 2010 Vie picked up a Michelin star, and in 2011 Virant was nominated for a James Beard award. In addition to awards, Virant has appeared on NBC’s Today and, with chef de cuisine, Nathan Sears, competed in a close match on Iron Chef America. In addition to running Vie, Virant became chef and partner at Perennial Virant in Chicago in 2011.
Kate Leahy co-authored A16 Food + Wine (Ten Speed Press, 2008), the IACP 2009 Cookbook of the Year. Her work has been recognized by the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers and the American Society of Business Publication Editors. A professional cook turned food writer, she has written for Chicago Magazine, Time Out Chicago, and shares recipes and insights on her blog

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Customer Reviews

Paul Virant is a culinary genius!!
Also great ideas and recipes about how to use your pickles and jams in dishes.
Kyle Colvard
I can't wait to try some of the recipes in this book.
Delores Nunn

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

52 of 56 people found the following review helpful By jessica on April 5, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have dived into the world of fermentation and preservation for a while now. Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, and Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz have been great starting points for me. But, The Preservation Kitchen is taking preservation foods to a whole new level of expertise, culinary breadth and creativity. It covers everything one could want; direct recipes for canning and fermenting and then chapters of magnificent seasonal recipes to use your jarred items in. The canning recipes are very straightforward, divided into volume, ounces, grams and percent measurements. Everyone did their homework in this book and we readers will surely benefit. And, while not for the faint of heart or novice perhaps, this will surely be a well used book in my kitchen. Congratulations on a significant contribution to this emerging culinary field!
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43 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Larbo on July 8, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Anyone considering this book should be aware that it takes a pre-modern, even anti-modernist approach to food preservation.

For example, when it comes to getting jams, jellies, mostarda, etc to set up, he relies exclusively on a pectin stock that he urges you to make yourself from green apples. Since commercial pectin has been available for more than a century now, is made in the same way (by cooking pectin-rich fruits and vegetables), is tested for strength and thus produces reliable results, it's more than a little bizarre and atavistic that he won't even consider it in his recipes. If you want to substitute it, you're on your own. Granted, anyone interested in food preservation takes a certain pleasure and pride in making things themselves, but before I buy 5 pounds of apples and spend an hour in front of a hot stove cooking them down, I want to know that it's going to be better than what's commercially available. Just because you make it yourself doesn't necessarily make it better or more virtuous.

And I found his apple pectin recipe wildly unreliable. After following it, I had to reduce it by two thirds before even this "pectin" stock would set up. Even then, it took almost three times as much as his mostarda recipe called for before it achieved a soft set. So, all in all, the pectin seemed to be off by a factor of about 9. Such inaccuracy is aggravating enough, but it also seriously affects every recipe you use it in. Since he calls for more than 5 cups of sugar in his pectin recipe, if you need to reduce it by two thirds and then use tree times as much, you are adding 9 times more sugar and thus throwing off the balance of every recipe you use it in. All that added sugar transformed his mostarda into more of an insipid jelly.
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27 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Jesse W Ives on October 8, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I picked up this book because I developed a hobby of canning and preserving this past Spring and Summer. I really enjoyed the pictures and found the recipes to be very inventive and different from other recipes I was finding in other books or online. I mean, I'm giving this book 4 stars, but I do have a couple critiques/warnings for those looking into this book.

1). Over half of the books recipes are how to use the preserves/pickles/jams/aigre-doux from the first part of the book. At first I thought this would be equally as inspiring, sadly, I follow a vegan diet, and most of the recipes are heavy on the meats and cheeses. I would almost rather just have a cook book about canning/preserving with maybe a few recommendations about how to use them, rather than over half of the book being taken up by these other recipes.

2). More concerning than the first critique is the fact that what I have found with these recipes is that you often end up not having enough liquid to fill the jars when canning. Putting you in the strange spot of either having to make more liquid on the fly, or not having the right yield. Also, not all the steps are clearly laid out in the directions. An example, the cippolini aigre-doux, in the box with volume/weight/etc (this graph I found totally helpful!) it says to blanch and peel the onions, but it never outlines how. Now I work in the culinary field and was able to figure this part out because of my experience, but if I didn't work in that field, not sure I would have figured it out. Also, the tomato jam, which was awesome, says to cook it down for 45 minutes to an hour, we let it go for almost 4, because in the time listed it never reached that jam like consistency. I feel as though most of the recipes are written straight from the authors restaurants recipe book, and don't necessarily take the home cook into consideration.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Snaddius on April 27, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The dishes in this book are so creative, it's really energized me to get back to the jars. Beer jam? eggplant preserves? I'm in!

The pictures are beautiful and the writing is top-notch, too. It's a good read and one of those books you'll definitely want to own.

Some of the recipes are time-consuming but preserving was never about saving time, but about saving food. If you're looking for 5-minute jam them buy some smuckers. If you're looking for recipes you can't buy, this is your book.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By VegGirl on October 29, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I actually took this book out at the library and decided not to buy based on this and and article I read about fermentation written by Paul Virant that confirmed what the book suggested: the author doesn't understand the basic principles of fermentation. Fermentation is not only possible with kraut. Any number of vegetables can be fermented, and it is healthier to ferment them (and, in my opinion, more delicious). Virant has weird, non-science or culture based ideas about what can be fermented and how it should be fermented. It's a lovely book for the general preserver, but not suitable for anyone learning about or serious about fermentation. Check out the art of fermentation, instead.
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