Last night, despite National Weather Forecast warnings for thunderstorms, hail and tornados, Brian and I ventured to the Odyssey Bookshop in South Hadley. Marisa McClellan was signing her recent book, Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-Round (also the name of her fabulous canning blog). Blogger book signings are so rare in our area that I couldn’t resist traveling the hour and a half to meet her.
The ride there was uneventful and we arrived in plenty of time to try out some of the samples Marisa brought, explore the bookstore, and make small talk with Marisa. The presentation was probably the best book signing I’ve ever been to.
Marisa conducted the fastest, simplest fridge pickling demonstration I’ve ever seen and then answered a range of audience questions. Regarding my ever exploding applesauce, she suggested that the issue is the repeated cooling and heating of the applesauce and recommended keeping it hot to avoid the leaking. Marisa also spoke about lactofermentation, alternative sweeteners, canning safety and types of pectin. It seemed like she had a clear answer for everything.
The talk really got me thinking about the way I approach canning. As much as I enjoy the results, I always feel like it’s a whole day endeavor that requires tons of produce, effort and time. Marisa’s book is about small batch canning–1, 2, 3 or 4 jars at a time. Smaller batches, less produce, and no need to heat the huge canning pot full of water. The book is full of wonderful sounding recipes (apple-cranberry jam, orange vanilla curd, grainy white wine mustard) and I’m feeling really inspired to try them out knowing that it doesn’t have to be as overwhelming an task. Marisa’s approach would allow me to make a wider variety of products and not spend my entire winter working through a big batch of something. As a result, I’m really looking forward to canning this season.
The evening finished with the signing. I was kind of shocked when Marisa said she’d seen and sometimes reads Relishments, but she’s apparently one of the those quality bloggers who reads commenters sites; somehow I managed to maintain my composure after this revelation and not make a fool of myself. Marisa was incredibly genuine and informative and I’m really glad I got to meet her, even if Brian had to drive home in a downpour.