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The Preservation Kitchen

Paul Virant goes through a year of pickles, preserves and aigre-doux

by James Thorne
on 29 March 2012
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From Paul Virant, chef-owner of the Chicago area's Vie and Perennial Virant, comes a collection of recipes and techniques geared towards foods with a long shelf life. "The Preservation Kitchen" traces the Michelin-starred chef's mission to dish out local and seasonal meals, offering instructions on proper canning techniques, full meal recipes and seasonal advice for pickled vegetables and fruit jams.


The vibrantly photographed kitchen companion is rife with stories surrounding Virant's forays into preservation and his Midwestern heritage: "I grew up eating pickles," he writes. "My grandmothers, both from Missouri, were avid canners, their summer meals often punctuated with a plate of tart dill-marinated tomatoes served straight from the refrigerator." While the anglo-American influence is heavy in his recipes for pickles and preserves, his classical French training shines through in his exhaustive treatment of aigre-doux and mostarda.

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Virant offers a practical set of guidelines for safe canning, breaking down the science and proper measurements for beginners, before launching into pickles, the foundation of his canning program. Going beyond strawberry preserves, the variety of recipes brings creativity to canning, from peach saffron jam and ramp sauerkraut to Virant's Beer Jam Manhattan, which sweetens bourbon with a stout syrup and gets a brandied sour cherry as a garnish.

Recipes for preserves from the early parts of the book—which each come prefaced with a thoughtful introduction and chart outlining volumes and percentages—are later incorporated into seasonal meals in which Virant combines fresh ingredients with pantry-ready canned items, like grilled and pickled summer squash salad; chicken liver mousse with arugula, currant mostarda and grilled bread; and buttermilk ice cream with brandied peaches.


Shipping 3 April 2012, "The Preservation Kitchen" is available from Random House and on Amazon.

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