Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It: And Other Kitchen Projects

Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It: And Other Kitchen Projects

by Karen Solomon


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Have you ever wanted to . . .
Bottle your own soda? Press your own tofu? Smoke your own cheese? Boil your own bagels? Ferment your own miso? Can your own tomatoes? Roast your own coffee? 

Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It
walks you through a slew of satisfying culinary projects to stock your larder and shower your friends with artisan foods and drinks, kitchen staples, and utterly addictive snacks. Karen Solomon—veteran food writer, kitchen explorer, and author of Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It—brings forth a new collection of 75-plus recipes for condiments (Plum Catsup), cereals (Cornflakes), crunchy snacks (Tortilla Chips), beverages (Soy Milk), and more. Whether you’re a beginning or seasoned home cook, you’ll be inspired to pump up the power of your pantry. 

With detailed instruction on essential techniques, time commitments for each project (from 20 minutes to 2 hours to a weekend), and labeling and wrapping tips, Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It will help you get creative in the kitchen. So leave the grocery aisle’s mass-produced packaging and mystery ingredients behind and join the urban homesteading revolution as you whip up a bevy of jars, bottles, and bags full of outstanding hand-labeled eats.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781580085755
Publisher: Potter/Ten Speed/Harmony/Rodale
Publication date: 07/05/2011
Pages: 160
Product dimensions: 8.06(w) x 9.22(h) x 0.88(d)

About the Author

Food and lifestyle writer KAREN SOLOMON is the author of Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It and The Cheap Bastard’s Guide to San Francisco, and a contributor to Chow! San Francisco Bay Area. She also writes for the San Francisco Chronicle and is a former editor and columnist for the San Francisco Bay Guardian. Her writing has appeared in Fine Cooking, Yoga Journal, Prevention, the SF Zagat Guide, and dozens of Bay Area and national publications. Visit

Read an Excerpt


Call it punk domesticity, urban domestics, hipsters with Mason jars, or just a CAN-do attitude: a humongous tidal swell of interest in food preservation, home canning, foraging, nose-to-tail eating, and back-to-basics DIY kitchen wizardry has been growing in the past few years, and the movement has permanently shaped the way we think about store-bought and packaged foods of all sorts. Obsessive food eaters like you and me are demanding in earnest the same high-quality, artisanal standards from factory-prepared foods like cereals and sodas that we’ve sought out in our organic produce, hormone-free dairy, and grass-fed beef. In short, we’ve grown hungry as hell for real food, and we see no need to stomach mass market cookie-cutter food any longer. 

Home cooks have burned our palates on too much overbulked food packed with guar gum, dyes, and stabilizers. We’ve grown weary of characterless crackers, condiments, cereals, and other same-same packaged food solutions that continue to dominate the interior aisles of the grocery store. Who wants uniform factory-fake food that always tastes the same and looks the same?

We’ve come to expect more from what we eat, and we’re happy to inject a little sweat equity in our food—donning an apron, picking up a wooden spoon, and forging our own path to good eating and kitchen fun.

Making your own food is awesome. And, in point of pride, crafting your own pantry staples outshines the assembling of a single meal any day. Make chicken and rice and you can eat tonight. Make catsup and miso and you can enjoy the fruits of your labor for months.

When I wrote Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It, my first book on DIY cooking projects, I spent a year in the kitchen tinkering and experimenting to find the best and shortest routes to the kinds of handmade cooking projects that felt, at least to me, overlooked—lard, mustard, and marshmallows among them. My goals were simple: make a wide swath of the best project-y eats, using the least amount of effort and specialty gear, in my own urban apartment kitchen. I loved this notion of putting my own stamp on larder staples. I enjoyed writing Jam It so much, but I felt limited by a short production time, and I always felt just a few recipes short of finishing the kitchen manual that I’d always longed to own. 

Each recipe was like a stand-mixer-windstorm that blew open a dozen new pages of ideas for additional projects. Making frozen fruit pops made me want to try out alcohol-infused pops. Infusing oil naturally got me thinking about full-flavored vinegars. Making sausage steered my thoughts to the possibility of homemade hot dogs and, of course, to handcrafting the ever-present and necessary elongated bun. Was it possible to do all this at home adhering to these same principles? The only way to know for sure was to give it a go.

And once I started talking to other food-crafting enthusiasts in bookstores and online, I immediately started acquiring new material: family fixes and recipes and a grandmother’s archive of pantry staple ideas. One woman told me of her grandmother’s pickles fermented with a slice of rye bread floating on top. Another gave me her recipe for plum brandy, made with nothing but garden plums, sugar, and plenty of time. And I’d never had so many conversations about raising chickens in my backyard! I am thankful to everyone who shared with me all of those great kitchen ideas.

I’m also thankful to all of you kooky cooks and bloggers who gave Jam It a try, and I sincerely hope that it led to some brainstorming at your own kitchen counter—that you, too, realized that you can do it better than the faceless food factory. I’m also thankful to Ten Speed Press for continuing to take a gamble on the culinary trials, errors, and successes of one dedicated, hard-working, heavy-researching food geek.

Yes, you CAN can. And dry. And ferment. And bottle. And bake. AND SMOKE. This book will give you a few more ways to do it all to the best of your ability. Enjoy, happy crafting, and keep pushing your food lust to the limits of kitchen science and your own palate’s creative genius.
Karen Solomon
1. Jam It
In the oeuvre of jam-making, we have the classics: strawberry, blueberry, grape, marmalade, and so on. And while these blue-chip jams are always crowd-pleasers, one should never get stuck in a fruity rut, but instead venture forth into new ingredients and new flavor combinations destined to become your new favorite spreads on bread. 

Head into the kitchen with your head held high. Cut your culinary chops on a carrot almond jam, stir up a classic apricot jam, channel your inner Spaniard with quince paste, and start dunking the entire contents of your refrigerator into addictive plum catsup. And the firm, sliceable fruit cheese here will also keep your dairy bin in action. 

Remember that good jam starts with good fruit: never use overripe fruit or anything not perfect enough to eat out of hand. March to the farmers’ market and scope out what’s good right now. Your jam pot awaits.

Carrot Almond Jam
Makes about 4 cups (2 pints)
This jam is an extension of a failed recipe for Passover carrot candy from an ancient cookbook put out by a home for the aged in Worcester, Massachusetts. I’ve abandoned ship on making the candy, but this jam is an unusual and sweet treat unto itself. I also dig this one because all of the produce isn’t super seasonally dependent. Not only will this add veggie power to your breakfast toast, but it’s fah-bu-lous mixed with cream cheese as a frosting for carrot cake. If you can’t find tamari almonds, just roasted and salted ones will work.
11/2 pounds carrots, trimmed, peeled, and shredded (about 41/4 cups)
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
21/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup chopped tamari almonds
1 thin-skinned orange
1 lemon
INSTRUCTIONS Combine the carrots, ginger, sugar, and water in a large Dutch oven. In a food processor, grind the nuts and add them to the pot. Wash the orange and lemon and cut them into quarters. Chop them—seeds, skins, and all—in the food processor, and then stir them into the pot as well. 

Put the pot over medium heat, cover, and let it come to a boil. Stir, turn the heat to medium-low, cover again, and let simmer for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, allowing the carrots to get tender.
HOW TO STORE IT Spoon the jam into clean jars and refrigerate for up to 3 months. Or spoon into sterilized canning jars, packing very tightly to eliminate the air bubbles inside (you can also stick a chopstick or long skewer into the jar to pop the bubbles before canning). Process for 15 minutes (review the canning instructions on page 28). This will keep for up to 1 year on the shelf. 

Apricot Orange Jam
Makes about 7 cups (31/2 pints)

TIME COMMITMENT About 1 1/2 hours
A little citrus can go a long way in jam-making—it both brightens sweet fruit flavors and helps thicken fruit-and-sugar mixtures. This lovely summer jam is not overly sweet, and it shows off the apricots’ best attributes. Use thick-skinned oranges like navels or Valencias.
21/2 pounds apricots, pitted and sliced lengthwise
1 cup minced orange peel (from about 2 large oranges)
4 cups sugar
Juice of one lemon
3 cups Apple Pectin (page 12)
INSTRUCTIONS Place a small plate in the freezer.

Combine the apricots, orange peel, sugar, and lemon juice in a large Dutch oven and let macerate for at least 1 hour to extract the juice from the fruit. 

Cover the pot and bring the fruit mixture to a rapid boil over medium-high heat. Remove the cover and stir often for 5 minutes, to keep the temperature even and keep the fruit from sticking to the bottom. Turn off the heat and, once the bubbling has stopped, stir in the pectin to combine. Test a teaspoonful of the jam on the chilled plate. After 30 seconds, the jam should be viscous and streak slowly when the plate is tilted.
HOW TO STORE IT Pour the jam into clean glass jars and refrigerate for up to 4 months. Or pour it into sterile canning jars and process for 15 minutes (review the canning instructions on page 28). This will keep for up to 1 year on the shelf. 

Quince Paste
Makes about 6 ounces
TIME COMMITMENT About 1 1/2 hours
Quince are fall and winter fruit and they’re very high in pectin, making them a dream for jams and jellies. This preparation is called a paste, but it’s really sort of an adult fruit chew just born to sit alongside Manchego cheese and Marcona almonds. Don’t let the week-long preparation time deter you; most of that is just curing time.
3/4 pound quince, peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch cubes
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup water
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from about 2 lemons)
INSTRUCTIONS Line a small rectangular baking dish (about 6 by 4 inches) with parchment paper, and lightly oil the paper with a neutral vegetable oil.

Combine the quince, sugar, water, and salt in a medium saucepan. Cover, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to a simmer and stir occasionally for 20 to 25 minutes, until the fruit completely breaks down and the mixture turns a dark, caramel color. Draw a spoon across the bottom of the pot; the mixture should streak and hold its shape before flowing together again. Mash the mixture with the back of a spoon or with a potato masher (or carefully spoon it into a food processor and puree it for a totally smooth consistency). Stir in the lemon juice. Pour the hot paste into the paper-lined dish and let it set at room temperature for 4 days. Lift the paste out of the dish with the paper and invert onto a flat surface covered with oil-lined parchment paper; let it cure for an additional 3 days at room temperature, uncovered. The dried and cured paste should be firm throughout and slightly tacky on the outside.

Using a knife or a bench scraper, trim the edges of the paste to make them even and attractive (that is, if you like your food even and attractive).
HOW TO STORE IT Wrap the paste tightly in wax paper and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 year.
Plum Catsup
Makes about 4 cups
TIME COMMITMENT About 1 1/2 hours
Where does one draw the line between a catsup and a sauce? My personal definition is that if I want to dunk French fries in it, it’s a catsup. This hot little number is way more versatile than your standard bottled tomato catsup. It’s tangy, sweet, severely savory—killer on a chicken sandwich or with pork loin. Find a friend with a plum tree (thanks, Tom!) and you will have plums a-plenty to get this in gear.
5 pounds black or red plums, preferably Santa Rosas
2 cups water
11/3 cups sugar
2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
6 tablespoons orange marmalade
1 large cinnamon stick
2 star anise
2 whole cloves garlic, peeled and lightly scored with the tip of a knife
4 teaspoons kosher salt
INSTRUCTIONS Wash and stem the plums and lay them in a single layer in the bottom of a large Dutch oven. Add the water. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent the fruit from sticking to the pot. The skins will burst and the plums will release their juice and soften.

Remove the pot from the heat, uncover it, and let the fruit cool for about 5 minutes. Pour the plums into a heavy-duty sieve, a small-holed colander, or a food mill set over a large mixing bowl and push the plums through to render the juice and the pulp and to separate out the skins and the pits. Discard the skins and pits. Return the juice and the pulp to the pot and add the sugar, vinegar, marmalade, cinnamon, star anise, garlic, and salt. 

Set the pot over high heat and bring it just to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer the mixture, uncovered, to reduce it, being careful not to let it splatter. Stir often, modifying the heat as needed to keep it at a slow simmer as the liquid reduces. Cook for about 35 minutes, until the mixture has thickened. Draw a spoon across the bottom of the pot; the mixture should be thick enough to part, expose the bottom of the pot, and then come back together again. Remove and discard the cinnamon, anise, and garlic. Pour the catsup into glass jars or bottles.
HOW TO STORE IT Kept refrigerated, this catsup will keep for up to 1 year. It can be served warm or cold.
Apple Cranberry Fruit Cheese
Makes about 11 ounces
Where does a fruit paste begin and a fruit cheese end? On the culinary map, I believe it’s somewhere around the intersection of Yum and Awesome. Fruit cheese tastes like fruit but slices like cheese, and it comes complete with a surprisingly creamy texture. It’s beautiful, and in addition to tasting swell on its own, it turns any humble plate of Cheddar cheese and crackers into a rather swanky hors d’oeuvre.
11/2 pounds sweet apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch cubes (about 4 cups)
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
INSTRUCTIONS Combine all the ingredients in a large saucepan, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, until the fruit is very tender. Reduce the heat to low, uncover, and mash with the back of a spoon or a potato masher. Allow the fruit to thicken and slowly reduce for about 1 hour, until the mixture darkens, mashing and stirring frequently to keep it from burning or sticking. The mixture will be thick enough to part and expose the bottom of the pot before slowly coming together again.

While the fruit is cooking, line a loaf pan with a sheet of parchment paper long enough that an inch or two hangs over each long side. Lightly oil the paper with vegetable oil and pour the fruit mixture into the lined pan, smoothing it out evenly with a spoon or spatula. It will be about 3/8 inch thick. Refrigerate, uncovered, for 24 hours.                     

Take the fruit cheese out of the refrigerator. Grasping the paper, lift it from the pan and transfer it to a rack on top of a baking sheet. The cheese should retain its shape. If it doesn’t, return it to the pan and refrigerate for another day before moving forward.

Turn on the oven to its lowest setting and place the fruit cheese—paper, rack, and all—in the oven. Dry the fruit cheese in the oven for 3 hours, with a wooden spoon propping open the oven door to let moisture escape. The cheese should feel dry on top when it’s done. If it’s not, return it to the oven for another hour. Allow the fruit cheese to sit at room temperature for 1 day. The next day, lay a clean piece of parchment paper on the rack and invert the cheese onto the new paper, so that its bottom side is facing up. Put the cheese—rack, paper, and all—back into a low oven for 3 hours. The cheese has cured when the surface feels dry to the touch (but don’t worry if it’s still quite moist in the middle).
HOW TO STORE IT Once it’s cooled completely, wrap the cheese tightly in wax paper and store it in the dairy drawer of the refrigerator. It will keep (and, in fact, improve), when stored well-wrapped, for 6 months.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments     x

Introduction     1
1 Jam It
Carrot Almond Jam     7
Apricot Orange Jam     8
Quince Paste     9
Plum Catsup     10
Apple Cranberry Fruit Cheese     11
Apple Pectin     12
2 Spoon It
Cornflakes     16
Puffed Rice     17
Insanely Healthy Nuggets     18
Sesame Rosemary Granola     19
Apple–Candied Fennel Seed Granola     21
PLUS: Dried Apples     22
Energy Balls!     23
3 Stock It
Canned Tomatoes     27
Preserved Lemons     29
Vanilla Extract     30
Worcestershire Sauce     31
Vinegar     32
PLUS: Infused Vinegar     33
Basic Barbecue Sauce     34
Smoke and Chocolate Spice Rub     35
Curry Powder     36
PLUS: Chicken Curry     37
Miso     38
4 Pickle It
Sweet Pepper and Corn Relish     42
Ploughman’s Pickle     44
Miso Pickles     45
Pickled Grapes     47
5 Bake It
Bagels     51
English Muffins     54
Hamburger Buns and Hot Dog Buns     55
Pizza Dough     56
PLUS: Pizza     57
Cakes in a Jar     58
6 Stalk It
Masa     62
Corn Tortillas (Two Ways)     64
Tortilla Chips and Tostadas     67
PLUS: Simple Salsa     67
Tamales (Two Ways)     68
PLUS: Fillings for Tamales     71
7 Roast It
Coffee Beans     75
Sweet and Spicy Nuts     77
Cacao Nibs     78
PLUS: Cacao Nib Brittle     78
Roasted Chestnuts     79
8 Hunt It
Corned Beef     82
Pastrami     84
Hot Dogs     85
Corn Dogs     88
9 Smoke It
Chipotles in Adobo Sauce     93
Smoked Almonds     95
Smoked Apples and Pears     96
Smoked Cheese     97
10 Munch It
Soft Pretzels     101
Cheese Weasels     103
Fried Pork Rinds     105
Crunchy Lentil Snacks     106
Caramel Popcorn     107
11 Sweeten It
Chocolate Hazelnut Spread     110
Caramel     111
PLUS: Caramel Apples     112
Dulce de Leche     113
Candied Citrus Peel     114
Crystallized Ginger     115
12 Milk It
Almond Milk     118
Rice Milk     119
PLUS: Horchata     119
Coconut Milk (Two Ways)     120
Soy Milk     122
PLUS: Sweetened, Flavored Soy Milks     122
Tofu     123
13 Slurp It
Strawberry Black Pepper Syrup     126
PLUS: Strawberry Black Pepper Soda (Two Ways)     126
Pineapple Mint Syrup     128
PLUS: Pineapple Mint Soda (Two Ways)     128
Blueberry Lemon Syrup     130
PLUS: Blueberry Lemon Soda (Two Ways)     130
British-Style Ginger Beer     131
Tepache     132
Apple Cider     133

14 Freeze It

Orange Vanilla Cream Pops     136
Salted Margarita Cream Pops     137
Berry Cabernet Pops     138
Strawberry Ice Cream (Without an
Ice Cream Maker)     140
PLUS: Chocolate and Vanilla (and Other) Ice Creams     140
Ice Cream Cones     141
Ice Cream Sandwiches     143
Index     147

Customer Reviews