Friday, May 8, 2009

In a Pickle or a Jam Just in Time for Summer

The cookbook for review this week is from a collection of books called Creative Home Library that Better Homes and Gardens offered in the 70's. The author of the book is Vicki Willder and it was published by Meredith Corp. in 1971, and again in 1974. The ISBN is 696-275007. As you can see from the title of my post today, the title is "In a Pickle or a Jam" and it is a "well-preserved" cookbook that's just right for today's frugal style of living, including the trend of storing up a supply of food in the pantry. It is also a timely book given that this is a big year for gardening. Many people who don't normally put in a vegetable garden are polishing off their green thumbs and digging up a little space in the back yard, I think partly due to the "green movement", and partly to save money and eat healthier; we're all interested in that!

The beginning of this cookbook is interesting because it addresses another modern trend, home-based business! The very first chapter is devoted to talking about how to make money from your home-canned specialty items. It discusses keeping costs down, packaging and marketing your products. There are also tips on exhibiting your homemade goodies at local Fairs. For example, it tells you how to make your jams or pickles look their best so that they show well. Later chapters are sprinkled with handy bits of advice on home canning.

In a Pickle or Jam has full-page, four-color photos of some of the recipes; for me, that makes it an enjoyable cookbook, and inspires me to try some of the great looking foods. I also liked the user-friendly way that the written recipes are presented. It is a style that is concise and easy to understand. The ingredients are listed first, but then the really great part is the way the instructions are broken down into steps and numbered.

There are so many wonderful recipes in this book for preserving the bounty of your garden, orchard, vineyard....or if you're like me (a semi-gardener), just your "great haul" home from the Farmer's Market!
As a student of American history, I remember hearing that early pioneers and settlers depended on what they "put up" from summer to get through the winter. And also, how the diets of these folks were pretty bland, but they spiced it up with pickled goods, jellies and compotes. Well, that's what this book is all about, saving those summer flavors to put some "spice" in our meals and make them special. These are recipes for the nice little "go-withs" that can also become Christmas gifts or hostess thank-yous that say, "I planned ahead and made something unique for you this past summer." Don't miss hunting for this old cookbook; it's a gem and it's age (the 70's) means you might be able find it at a yard sale this summer.

P 27 Blackberry Jam

Yield: three 8 oz. glasses
6 C blackberries, 2 lb.
juice of 1 lemon

1. Combine blackberries and lemon juice in a heavy kettle.

2. Heat to boiling. Simmer until blackberries are soft, about 15 min. Press through a sieve to remove seeds.

3. Measure fruit and add 2 C sugar for every 2 C fruit in same kettle.

4. Boil until jam sets, about 10 min. Seal in hot, sterilized glasses.

Note: If you like the flavor of blackberries but hate the seeds, this jam is for you. Put a dollop of jam on tapioca pudding.


Next Tuesday I'll share a family recipe for a pickle mix that uses up almost any kind of vegetable from your garden, including that ever-abundant zucchini. Don't miss it!


I'll be participating in Grocerycartchallenge's recipe swap today. Also join me at LifeasMom for her FrugalFriday ideas swap.


  1. When we lived in Washington, we'd pick blackberries for free along any country road of our choice (they are considered weeds there). I made a jam almost exactly like this one for years. Boy! do I miss being able to do that!

  2. I am putting making my own jam on my to-do list this summer. I have always wanted to try it!