Review and Giveaway: "Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It"


I owe a debt to Karen Solomon. A review of her previous cookbook, "Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It," contained a reference to a burgeoning trend of the "punk domesticity of the hipster DIY movement." I felt this was a very apt turn of phrase, and it inspired the name of this site. The rest is, as they say, history.

Karen's back with a follow-up, a second volume of weekend warrior-worthy kitchen projects to deconstruct our most beloved kitchen staples, as well as a few new goodies to whet the palate:  The syntactically consistent "Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It."

Karen is also a personal friend, and so in full disclosure this review will invariably be tinged with my fondness for her, and for her spritely writing style. But even if Karen and I weren't buds, it would find "Can It" as engaging and enjoyable as its antecedent.  

"Can It" breaks down a wide variety of cooking projects of varying levels of ambitiousness, each chapter adhering to the imperative syntax of the title. Aside smoking (bottled goods mainly fit into the beverage chapter, Slurp It), there are also  chapters for making cereal (Spoon It), sweet and salty snacks (Munch It), making corn masa and its many uses (Stalk It) and even homemade cured meats such as pastrami, hot dogs and corned beef under the header Hunt It -- though presumably she has not gone hunting feral cows in the wilds of San Francisco for her quarry.

The recipes are all exceedingly approachable, rarely lapping over one page and always in a consistent format: a paragraph of grace notes, a concise list of ingredients, straightforward instructions and sensible tips on storing the final goods.

Experienced preservationists will find little new in the realm of cannable recipes; in fact only a handful of recipes call for canning. But there's still plenty to intrigue and inspire, with a number of recipes and techniques that you may not have known were feasible in the home kitchen. Puffed rice, for example, something many of us grew up with solely in Krispie form, is produced much in the same way as making popcorn, though unlike its commercial counterpart has a significantly shorter shelf life (as in a day). Reclaim the dense, chewy bagel of your youth by boiling and baking your own. Convert your leftover wine (whatever that is) into a subtle vinegar that far outsings the store-bought stuff.

Among the real whiz-bang recipes is a method to make your own miso. One of the more ambitious projects, this is upwards of a six-week fermentation process, although it is mostly inactive time.

Solomon's grace notes are the highlight of the book, though. For tepache, a lightly fermented drink of pineapple rinds, she notes, "this is an old-fashioned summer cooler ... and a popular base for hooch in Mexican prisons. It's a fun project to do with something you would normally have cast aside. Additionally, if you ever find yourself behind bars in Tijuana, you'll be able to dazzle your cellmates with your culinary chops."

This is surely a book I'll return to again and again, at least as often for the recipes as for the sparkling wit. And you can have a copy of your own. Just leave a comment about a canned, bottled or smoked product that you used to buy but now make yourself at home. For a bonus entry, click to tweet this post. The deadline is midnight on Tuesday, September 20. One lucky random comment or tweet will win this book. 

I bottle jams and pickles,

I bottle jams and pickles, pickles and wieners.


I make all my own stewed tomatos, tomato sauce and relish, no more store bought :-)

Love love love this book.

Take me out of the running because I worked on the book and have copies already. But... I just thought I'd add a shoutout. There are so many great recipes in this book. (And I know, because I worked on and tested all of them). Things you should make, stat:
1. Margarita Pops
2. Apple Candied Fennel Granola
3. Red Pepper Corn Salsa (it might be called relish?)
4, Corned beef.
Oh god, and the plum ketchup.

Thanks, Sam!

Also? Miss you!


I love pickles, and use a variety of recipes to satisfy my pickle needs :) So full flavored and fun to make


I now make my own jam, it's so much fun :)

Ketchup, in both canned and

Ketchup, in both canned and fermented form, tomato paste, bbq sauce, and pickles and relish! looking forward to learning more things to become more self-sufficient!

I just started a batch of

I just started a batch of apple cider vinegar. Can't wait to see how it turns out! I also have a batch of elderberry tincture almost ready to decant. First time for both of those.

Marinated eggplant

Marinated eggplant is Not something I buy but so delicious I can't keep it on the shelf for long.

Tomato Sauce

also jelly and jam


I haven't purchased strawberry jam in probably 20 years!

Strawberry preserves

Not so original, but this is the first thing I've ever put up and it was amazing!

Strawberry preserves

Not so original, but this is the first thing I've ever put up and it was amazing!

Saucy Apples and Figgy Pudding

I am addicted to booze in my jams and now so are all my friends and neighbors! I would some inspiration on smoking meats as the darn bunnies are eating my crops...

What do we buy?

My guy is a butcher, I'm an herbalist...should the apocalypse happen, we are set. We bottle all of our own medicine and condiments, can all our vegetables, there's nothing with seed that pickling doesn't enhance, kombucha, jalapenos in every form imaginable (jelly is our favorite), salami, bacon, sausage, prosciutto...oh! We do still purchase toilet paper and rice :) Our only lack is running out of creative ideas for food preservation.

I wish there was a corn free

I wish there was a corn free recipe out there for marshmallows. One year I found a kosher brand that did not contain corn and sadly I can not find it anymore. Powdered sugar can be made without cornstarch, but corn syrup I’m not sure how to replace.

Corn Free Marshmallows

I found a recipe the other day for corn free marshmallows but haven't had a chance to try it out yet. Maybe it will work for you?

No more buying tomato sauce

No more buying tomato sauce for mea

Well so far jam or applesauce

Well so far jam or applesauce and fruit butters are the only thing of that sort that I now make but no longer buy. However I am a HUGE smoked meat fan and I would love to learn how to DIY those. :-)

Where to begin? Or end?

It started way back with salsa (of course!), granola, and salad dressing. Then moved on to marinara and bbq sauce and pickles. The latest foray has been canned crushed tomatoes, and next has got to be bread. I hope to forever give up walking up and down the aisles of the supermarket!

roasted tomatoes and pesto

Never again do I need to buy this in February when I am craving summer tomatoes. Now I can half of my harvest of tomatoes and basil so that I can make it through the winter a happy girl!

Tomato Sauce

I've spent the past two weekends making tomato sauce.

Veggies, Jam, and Pickles

Our top home canned items are stewed tomatoes, beans, corn, jam and all pickled things! :)

preserves..i also make my own

preserves..i also make my own fresh cheeses!


I recently started making my own jam. Great way to preserve seasonal produce...and it's fun!

Salsa! I used to buy it, but

Salsa! I used to buy it, but now I either grab a jar of home canned stuff from the shelf, or make fresh salsa with my magic wand (blender)

Jams and fruit butters

Just made some apple butter yesterday, but I used to buy that sort of thing in the store. Looking forward to branching out my canning, though!

jams and jellies

used to purchase them and now I have so much I am giving it away.

Day by day.

How exciting!! We are striving to replace store bought items with DIY on a daily basis. Our latest canning endeavor was applesauce.


I used to buy ketchup - now I make a homemade fermented version that everyone loves and is so much better for us!!

Used to buy jams and jellies,

Used to buy jams and jellies, not anymore :) Used to buy pickles, mustard, ketchup, relishes, but no, sorry, not anymore :) I have tossed the idea of trying to smoke meats, that would be fun to try and miso...always wanted to give that a go and make it a permanent addition to our diet.


I have a toddler at home, so PB&J are major staples in my house. Since I am a beginner, I started with jams, and now I will never buy less than impressive jams again. My home canned jams are ten times better, and better for my family!

I always make my own jams!

I always make my own jams!

mmm.... sausage

My boyfriend and I have been making homemade sausages, smoked briskets, etc. for a few years now and the store-bought are just not the same!!! Would love to win the book!

i cannot wait to try making

i cannot wait to try making tepache! we love making pickles and sweet onion relish, but need to add more recipes to our canning repertoire!

Most everything

I can my own pinto a jar, reheat and mash if wanted to make refried beans that are outta of this world! I can A LOT but am always looking for new ways and recipes! Thanks

I used to buy salsa and

I used to buy salsa and pickles every week. But now that I make it during the summer months everyone is disappointed when we have used up our supply and we have to go back to store bought.

I never buy jam anymore. I

I never buy jam anymore. I never really bought a lot of it anyway but now that I can it (and jam everything!) we eat more of it than we used to. It just tastes better. Bacon and Bourbon is my favorite jam.

Pickles, Applesauce, Booze, Flowers...

I only do fresh, quick pickles anymore...filling jars with fresh veg and covering with herbs and vinegar! I can't stand store-boughten applesauce either, after making my own. I've gotten to where I'll can or tincture or cordial anything!

smoked salmon

We smoke are own salmon and can jam and won't ever go back to store bought.

BBQ sauce. It's not hard to

BBQ sauce. It's not hard to make and being able to customize it to our taste preferences makes it worth the time.


I just started preserving this year, and have been pickling and dehydrating, but have by far and away made the most jam. Even with the amount I'm giving away and swapping, I won't have to buy jam for a long time to come - if ever! Now I'm hooked and this week am going to pick figs, apples, quince and walnuts to make some butters and other good stuff. Love Karen and would love a copy of her new book!

Jams and...Hootch??

I've found myself on a weekly jam and jelly kick the last year or so. My family has become a lot more excited about seeing what concoctions I can cook up.:)

A funny thing, though, is also my foray into making...of all things...mead. My husband loves it, and would buy it every so often for way too much money. Once he got past the initial "HOW LONG DO I HAVE TO WAIT??" phase, it's definitely a top contributor;) 15 gallons goes a long way, and can be paired nicely with some home made cheese and jam!

Strawberry jam (my kids won't

Strawberry jam (my kids won't eat store bought jam any more) and vanilla extract.


Actually, last year was my first year canning. I am hooked. My ablity to not even buy condiments like Ketchup, Mustard or BBQ sauce suprise people the most. This year I did Tomato Jam. I am in love. I want to put it on everything.

Jam/ Infusions

I only think about buying a liquor when I want to try something different to imitate it now. With jam and swapping I don't know if I will ever buy a jar again.

I used to buy, but now

Syrup!! After having my own, there is absolutely no going back. Also salsa, so easy to make a quick batch in season, and just as easy to can some for out of season

Definitely far

Definitely far peach, apricot, and strawberry-rhubarb! I've started simple. This book would be great to learn more!

I make lots of homemade jams,

I make lots of homemade jams, tomato sauce, and pickled veggies of all kinds!

Fridge Pickles!

I make fridge pickles, salsa, guacamole, and salad dressing. Homemade is cheaper and sooo much tastier!

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