Book Review: Savory Sweet: Simple Preserves from a Northern Kitchen

This review originally appeared in the Hot off the Press column in the September/October issue of Northern Gardener.

For those of us who are willing to skip lugging bushels of tomatoes, apples and corn into our kitchens and then melting in the steam of a day-long, hot water bath-canning session, the authors of Savory Sweet have an alternative.

Mette Nielsen, a photographer and University of Minnesota Master Gardener, teamed with cookbook author Beth Dooley to describe and illustrate techniques for keeping the brilliant colors and tastes of fresh fruits and vegetables available for months. These small-batch recipes skip the canning process. Instead, a brief cooking time is followed by freezer or refrigerator storage.

The bulk of Savory Sweet is filled with interesting recipes interspersed with photographs so appealing that one wishes each recipe was illustrated. The recipes feature main ingredients that can be grown in Minnesota perked up with unusual and even exotic accessories, many with a nod to Nielsen’s Danish heritage. For example, Minnesota apples can be transformed into Applesauce with Grapefruit and Cardamom, and, in case grapefruit doesn’t suit you, the authors offer ideas for using different citrus fruits and spices.

Options are suggested with each recipe, but the first dozen pages offer enough background on tools, techniques and other logistics to empower even the timid to modify them with confidence to adapt to personal tastes or available ingredients.

Along with their relaxed philosophy about preserving the harvest, the authors share many useful tips, such as a photograph showing the difference between minced, finely diced, medium diced and chopped; and an explanation of the “dipstick” method of measuring reduced liquids.

—Julie Jensen

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