Blogs | Punk Domestics


Conquering the Quixotic Quince

Knobby, hard and fuzzy, quince won't win any beauty contests, but their intoxicating perfume lures you in. Once you know how to conquer these rugged beasts, their heady flavor -- and substantial pectin structure -- make them a preserver's dream.

Canned Quinces, found on
Cutting a Quince
Quince are tough customers. Before you lop off a finger trying to chop into one, be sure to check out this video from What Julia Ate. Your digits will thank you.
Canned Quince in  Syrup, found on
Canned Quince in Syrup
Canned slices of aromatic quince made all the more exotic with white wine or rose syrup will find their way into your holiday baking regimen.

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Plenty of Ways to Put Up Pumpkins

Are you pumped for pumpkin season? Think beyond the Jack-o-Lantern and put up pumpkins and winter squash. You'll be living the gourd life.

Canned Pumpkin, found on
Canned Pumpkin
You can't can pumpkin purée or butter, but cubes in water can be safely pressure canned for future use. Here's how. (Image via Mason Jars and Mixing Bowls.)
Pumpkin Butter, found on
Pumpkin Butter
Smooth, creamy and seasoned with warming spices, pumpkin butter is a delicious autumnal condiment. You can't can it, but you'll go through it so quickly, it won't matter. (Image via Dash of East)
Why Can't I Can Pumpkin Butter, found on
Why Can't I Can Pumpkin Butter?
So how come you see pumpkin butter in mason jars from local farms and preserves makers, but you're not supposed to can it at home? We did a little digging.

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Eight Ways to Preserve Grapes

Veraison is upon us, which means the grapes are coming into season. Here's eight ways to preserve grapes, from the traditional jelly to chutney, raisins and more. 

Grape Jelly
Grape Jelly
The ultimate taste of childhood, grape jelly captures the essence of the fruit. Stick it to Smucker's and make your own. (While you're at it, make your own peanut butter, too.)
Grape Jam
Grape Jam
Less fussy than jelly, grape jam burst with the juicy flavor of grapes, especially if you have access to wild fruit.

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12 Ways to Put Up Tomatoes

Got tomatoes? Here's a rundown of ways to put up your maters, from basic canned tomatoes to salsa, ketchup and more. 

Canning Tomatoes, found on
Canning Tomatoes
Canning your own tomatoes is a great way to economize, but first you need to know a few things to do it safely. Learn how to put up your 'maters.
Tomato Paste, found on
Tomato Paste
Cook down your puree until thick and rich, and can or freeze to use in sauces. Paste on, friend.

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We Can Pickle That: Cucumbers!

Summer is on -- time to cue the cukes! Pickling is the way to go for most of us, but we have a few other tricks up our sleeves for cucumbers.

Sour Pickles
Sour Pickles
Our friend lactofermentation gives cucumbers their characteristic tang. This is the deli pickle of your dreams -- but there are a few tricks to perfecting crispy spears. (Image via Tim Vidra)
Half Sours
Half Sours
A slightly less salty brine produces a pickle with a slightly less sour tang. (Image via From Scratch Club)
East Coast New Pickles
East Coast New Pickles
A tradition in the Northeast, these pickles are brined but unfermented, making for a crisp, salty cuke. (Image via Linda Ziedrich)
Dill Pickles
Dill Pickles
Whether fermented or vinegar-brined, dill pickles are dill-icious, and endlessly variable. (Image via Talk of Tomatoes)

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Preserving Italy by Domenica Marchetti

Preserving Italy by Domenica Marchetti, found on

Disclosure: A copy of the book has been furnished for review, and another for the giveaway, by the publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Anyone who's followed my personal blog from the early days knows I make no secret of my Italian heritage. My mother's grandparents came from various parts of the South--Abruzzo, Campania, and Calabria--and that is the culinary heritage to which I am most connected. 

Preserved foods are deeply integrated into Italian culture. Fruit preserves, pickles, and of course tomatoes in their many manifestations are the backbone of many dishes. Cheeses and cured meats of course are defining elements of Italian cuisine. It's because of these things that I decided to lead culinary tours in Italy -- to help people explore the intense, vibrant flavors of this culture firsthand. 

Come on, you want to go to Italy and make preserves, piadina, hand-rolled pasta and more, right? Join us in October

So when I heard of Domenica Marchetti's book, Preserving Italy, I squealed with glee. And also envy. In short, this is the book I wish I had written. 

Marchetti gets to the soul of Italian preserving, in fact boldly leading with an entire chapter on foods preserved in oil. In this method, referred to as sott'olio (under oil) in Italian, acidied food is kept submerged under a layer of oil. The oil keeps out oxygen, which can lead to spoilage. The acidification of the food staves off botulism. The oil does more than simply protect the food, however; it imparts its own flavor, and tends to give foods, especially dried vegetables, a chewier, firmer texture that's very pleasing. 

(There is no current USDA recommendation for storing foods in oil; however, the UC Davis Extension has provided a method for packing dried tomatoes in oil, using the same principles.)

Recipe: Grilled Mixed Mushrooms in Oil

With regards to fruit preserves, Marchetti showcases classic Italian flavors: Apricot jam inflected with anise, peach-almond conserve spiked with Marsala, fig with orange zest, by way of example. But fruit makes sometimes surprising appearances in other categories, such as in a sweet, sour, and spicy pickled melon recipe, or for the classic mostarda, a fruit-based condiment with bold spices (most notably, mustard), something akin to an Italian version of chutney.

Though a new-world food, tomatoes merit an entire chapter, with recipes for preserving tomatoes in various states: Canned whole, puréed (passata), dried, and as tomato pages (conserva). Avid pressure canners will also dive deep into the recipes for classic meat sauce and beans in tomato sauce to put up for quick meals by and by. 

Marchetti touches on a few simple cheeses, quickly made with ready ingredients. There's a ricotta, which you'd expect, but a couple variations intrigue, such as a Ligurian prescinseua, approaching a cottage cheese texture, or a proto-ricotta called primo latte, just barely set and meant to be eaten fresh as possible. 

She also glances off the topic of salumi, offering a few fresh sausages, and for cured product, simple salt-cured pancetta and guanciale, acknowledging that dry-cured salumi tends to require equipment somewhat beyond the scope of the typical home cook.

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Peachy Keen

It's no coincidence that the word "peach" is connoted with so many positive things in our language. These fuzzy fruit are the ultimate taste of summer. And when they're in, they're in but good, so you better get on them. Here's a few thoughts on handling the bounty.
jam, jam and more jam
Jam, Jam and More Jam
Got a bushel of peaches? Jam those mamma jammas. And get inspired: Kick it up with Earl Grey tea, or basil and habanero, or pineapple sage. Mix it up with other fruit like plums or raspberries. The choices are endless.
Peach Preserves
Peach Preserves
Keep it chunky to preserve the texture of those juicy drupes!

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What Are You Smoking?

Fire up the grill and bust out the wood chips. Summer is smokin' hot, and we've got a variety of hot smoking projects for your Smokey Joe. What are you smoking?

DIY Hot Smoker, found on
DIY Hot Smoker
You can turn that charcoal grill you probably already have into an effective hot smoker. Here's a few tips. (Image via Well Hung Food)
Bacon, found on
Everything is better with bacon, and making your own is surprisingly easy. Go with the traditional, or branch out with variations like French ventreche, Sichuan spiced, or made with wild boar or lamb belly. (Image via Eat Live Travel Write)
Smoked Ham, found on
Smoked Ham
Brine up a leg and then smoke it low and slow for a tender, flavorful ham. (Image via And Here We Are...)
Canadian Bacon, found on
Canadian Bacon
Or go for the loin to make the classic Canadian bacon, more like ham than its American counterpart.  (Image via Smoke Cure Pickle Brew)

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Interview on Cilantro


I'm happily interviewed over on the blog at kitchenware retail site Cilantro. Go check it out!Read More >

Food Swap by Emily Paster

Food Swap by Emily Paster, found on

Disclosure: A copy of the book has been furnished for review, and another for the giveaway, by the publisher, Storey Press.

Raise your hand if you have a few extra jars of jams and pickles stowed in corners and in the backs of shelves in the pantry. Now keep those hands up if you have a lot of jars. Yeah, that's what I thought. 

For those of us who are into DIY projects, moderation is antithetical to our desire to can all the things. As we get into summer, that's only going to get worse. After all, who can resist those flats of luscious berries or lustrous cucumbers just begging to be pickled?

Odds are you personally are not going to consume all those jars of jams and pickles single-handedly, but what if you could turn them into a bounty of practical material? Enter the food swap. 

From its humble beginnings in Kate Payne's small Brooklyn apartment, the modern food swap movement became a huge phenomenon of the sharing economy. Emily Paster, blogger at West of the Loop (and longtime Punk Domestics contributor) co-founded the Chicago food swap, which became one of the exemplars of a successful food trading event. 

So you just get a few people together and hand each other jars of things, right? Well, it turns out there's more to it than that. 

In Food Swap, Paster outlines all the aspects of a successful food swap event, from scouting locations to getting the word out to the sometimes surprising problem of no-shows. Moreover, she helps you think about what makes your contribution a successful bargaining chip. Hint: Presentation counts. Channel your inner marketer. 

The latter half of the book is full of recipes specially designed for trading, from fresh items meant to be consumed quickly to baked goods to home-canned treats to save for later.

Click here for Paster's recipe for canned sour cherry pie filling.

Whether you're looking to do a simple old-fashioned soup swap or organize a bigger community function, Food Swap equips you with the information you need to execute a successful event that will bring people together while enriching their pantries.

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