Reviewed by Jen Kulman

First of all, I had always imagined a larder to be the same as a pantry, which it is not. A larder requires cooler temperatures and better ventilation, and can then store cheeses and meats. A pantry is what most traditional homes have – a place to store canned and jarred goods.

I don’t own any other cookbooks quite like Ham, Pickles & Jam. This one goes a bit more in depth, a return to how people used to cook because they didn’t have a choice. Obviously there is no longer the need to make our own preserves, bake from scratch, or pickle vegetables. But in these hectic times, to build our skill set and return to the old ways can be very interesting and satisfying. Some of these recipes are far more approachable than others. Fat rendering holds no appeal for me, and I would be too nervous to salt cure my own meats. Eliminating those chapters still leaves plenty of others I am interested in.

The Bread and Pastry chapter offers a yeast-based sourdough starter that promises to be fail-safe and keeps well, followed by a gorgeous photo of Sourdough Ciabatta. The Basic Baking Mix recipe calls for only four ingredients – super simple to throw together and much cheaper than buying the standard commercial mixes. From this, you can whip up scones, waffles, and pancakes. I marked Meringue Kisses and Seeded Cranberry Muesli as those I must try.

Man, Thane Prince sure does make it seem so easy to put up homemade jams, jellies and preserves. And Diane Miller’s photos make them seem that much more appealing. I want to see jars of Blackcurrant Jam, Orange Marmalade, and Apricot Jam lined up in my pantry! There’s a wonderful condiment chapter that offers some interesting concoctions. I very much like the marinades, as well as the flavored salts and sugars. But it was the chapter on cordials and liquors that I found the most interesting. Producing a bottle of homemade Blueberry Vodka or Wild Blackberry Gin to share with friends seems like such a cool thing to do. And then I would probably try to work my homemade jams into the conversation …

I really love that people are starting to care more about where their foods are coming from and relying less on packaged convenience foods. Books like Ham, Pickles & Jam give us the tools and direction for whatever we are willing to try. I feel so inspired by the photographs, and reading the directions leaves me feeling that these are dishes I could successfully tackle.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Jen lives in Michigan with her husband and six year old son. She writes reviews of children’s books on her blog, FIRR-Kids and loves filling her own shelves with cookbooks.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Pavilion. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.