Batch: Over 200 Recipes, Tips and Techniques for a Well Preserved Kitchen by Joel MacCharles and Dana Harrison is a comprehensive guide to expand your knowledge of preserving methods. Joel and Dana's first venture in preserving was making jam and with that experience they launched the WellPreserved.ca website, a resource for all levels of preserving skills.
In the Introduction chapter, we learn the principle of Batch processing is to “make the most of the ingredients we work with.” We also gain insight into how Batch was developed and how the book is organized. A separate page lists graphics for conversions and jar sizes.
Batch is divided into two sections: the basics of the seven methods of preserving, and preserving recipes by ingredient.
First Section — 7 Methods for Preserving
- Waterbathing canning
- Pressure canning
- Salted & smoked
The chapter of each preserving method lists the following:
- Description of the method
- Basic process
- Common equipment and costs
- Advantages and disadvantages
- Adjusting for altitude
- Do’s and don’ts
- Common problems and how to solve them
- A Batch-It tip on how to make the most of that ingredient
Depending on the method, additional information may be included. Since I only was familiar with the canning method, I found this section very informative and was intrigued to the point that it gave me the incentive to try my hand at a different preserving method.
Section 2 — A Trip to the Market in 25 Ingredients
The twenty-five ingredients are listed in alphabetical order:
Apples, Apricots, Asparagus, Beans & Peas, Beets, Blueberries, Cabbage, Carrots, Cherries, Chili Peppers, Citrus, Cucumbers, Fish, Grapes, Herbs, Meat, Mushrooms, Peaches, Pears, Peppers, Plums, Raspberries, Rhubarb, Strawberries and Tomatoes.
Each ingredient includes Preserving Nose-to-Tail and storing tips. The Batch-It section includes recipes for six preserving methods as well recipes using that ingredient. There are also ingredients you can preserve in 10 minutes or less. With apples you can make Homemade Pectin, Applescrap Vinegar, Quick Sauce, Shriveled Apple Skins, Applesauce and Dried Apple Slices. The Apple Skins (page 85) and Apple Cider (page 82) are used to make the gastrique in the Broiled Scallops with Apple Gastrique recipe.
More recipes include: BBQ Salmon with Blueberry-Ginger Sauce using Blueberry Maple Jam 2.0 (page 133) in the sauce; Penne à la Chili-Infused Vodka, using the hot peppers and chili-infused vodka (page 175); Roasted Chicken with Pickled Grapes, using grape pickled brine and quick pickled grapes (page 219); Homemade Pizza, using tomato sauce or canned tomatoes and juice (pages 332 – 333) and cured meats (pages 238 – 241); and Fish Cakes using gravlax (page 206).
The well-written recipes and illustrations are easy to follow and beautiful colour photos appear throughout the cookbook.
Blueberry Maple Jam 2.0, Waterbath Method (Page 133)
Fresh blueberries added to yogurt and drizzled with maple syrup is one of my favourite breakfasts so I could just imagine how amazing this combination would be in jam form. Peels and cores from three apples and a cinnamon stick were inserted in a tea bag made with cheesecloth and added to the blueberry mixture. It took more than double the specified time of 20 minutes for the jam to set. The longer cooking time could be due to the varying temperatures of different stoves. Nevertheless, the taste was sweet with a hint of lemon. The next morning I added it to my yogurt and it tasted better than the fresh blueberries drizzled with maple syrup.
BBQ Salmon with Blueberry-Ginger Sauce (Page 138)
I have to admit I was a bit hesitant in making this recipe. It would be the first time I would be combining salmon with blueberries, but since my husband and I enjoy exploring new flavours I gave it a go. While my husband was grilling the salmon on the BBQ, I started to prepare the Blueberry-Ginger Sauce.
Once the salmon was grilled to perfection (thanks to my husband’s grilling skills) I served it with the warm blueberry sauce. The combination was a match made in culinary heaven! I didn’t expect the Blueberry-Ginger Sauce would pair so well with the salmon. The balsamic vinegar and ginger offset the sweetness of the jam. I'm definitely going to make this recipe when my daughters come over for supper to get their take on it.
Gardiniera, Cellar, (Page 283)
Gardiniera is basically pickled vegetables and is made in two stages. The first day you mix all the vegetables with salt, cover, and let sit for 6 to 18 hours or overnight. The second day you rinse the vegetables to reduce their saltiness and add the marinade ingredients. Refrigerate for two days to develop the flavours before eating. The vegetables stay crunchy and the taste has a bite to it due to the jalapenos.
The longest part of making Gardiniera is chopping the vegetables, which you can swap according to your taste or what’s available. I brought a jar of Gardiniera to a BBQ and it was finished in no time as it pairs well with fish and meat. I even had recipe requests!
There are still a few recipes I bookmarked to preserve: Tomato Sauce (page 332) using tomatoes from my garden; Honeyed Pear Butter (page 270) using the pears from my pear tree; and Salt Cured Gravlax in Olive Oil.
I’ve learned so much from reviewing Batch. It’s a well thought-out book and contains a wealth of information about the different methods of preserving. It also teaches you how to use each ingredient to the fullest so there’s no waste. If you’re a novice or an expert at preserving food, you should definitely include Batch on your cookbook shelf. It will certainly be on mine.
Batch: Over 200 Recipes, Tips & Techniques for a Well Preserved Kitchen
Authors: Joel MacCharles & Dana Harrison
Publisher: Appetite by Random House
Hardcover, 342 pages
The Batch cookbook review was written by Liliana Tommasini, author of the aptly named blog My Cookbook Addiction. Her passion for baking and cooking began at an early age. Liliana grew up in an Italian household where each meal was made from scratch with fresh ingredients and Sunday family lunches were always a celebration. She has a passion for collecting cookbooks and believes that every recipe tells a story that must be shared to nourish your soul and feed your belly. You can connect with Liliana on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.