Out of the Bottle with preserving genius Sally Wise

Easy and delicious recipes for making and using your own preserves

By Robyn Lewis
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Out of the Bottle - Sally Wise

Out of the Bottle - Sally Wise [©Harper Collins Australia]

 

Sally Wise is the bestselling author of A Year in a Bottle (2008) and Slow Cooker (2009). Mother of six, owner of two crock pots, three slow cookers and a trove of much-used preserving jars, to say that she is passionate about preserving food, cooking and making the most of home-preserved produce is something of an understatement.

Perhaps born of the necessity of feeding a large family, as well as living in bounteous rural Tasmania, Sally has been a passionate preserver of fruits and vegetables for over three decades. But in the aptly names Out of the Bottle, the fruits of her labours come to life, as she tells us what to do with all the fabulous preserves that will soon be gleaming like gemstones on your pantry shelves.

Easy to make, nutritious and additive-free, home-made preserves are sensational as stand-alone products – but that is just the beginning of their potential. A jam can be far more than an accompaniment to scones and cream, just as a pickle is far more than a mere friend to meats or cheese. A simple dish can be turned into something sublime by the addition of a spoonful or two of home-preserved product – and Out of the Bottle will tell you what, and how.

The book contains basic methods for the novice home preserver, such as sterilizing jars, making jams and jellies, chutneys, cordials, pastes, dehydrating and freezing. There are great tips for the inevitable trouble shooting, including how to adjust pectin levels for over-ripe fruit, and resurrecting jams that refuse to set.

However the bulk of Out of the Bottle is a collection of Sally′s favourite recipes for the dishes in which her preserves play an integral part. From stir-fries to roasts, tagines, curries, vegetable dishes and savoury tarts; from delicious Mini Cherry Mud Cakes to Hummingbird Muffins, Sally′s recipes have been developed over decades of experimentation. They range from comfort food to contemporary dishes, and always focus on flavour, quick and easy preparation and natural ingredients.

The recipes are grouped by the base ingredient, from apples, apricots and berries through to tomatoes and zucchinis – even ten pages of things to do with mustard seeds for those who grow their own. Coming from a temperate climate the recipes favour pome and other temperate fruits, but there are also recipes for chillies, cumquats and passionfruits, and I’m sure that many of the principles would equally well apply to mangoes, longans and other tropical bounty.

Unless you are desperately time-poor or can’t find a case of cheap tomatoes over summer, never again will you reach for a commercial jar of pasta sauce – not when your own tomato relish will have friends and family demanding to know what your secret ingredient is, and keep them coming back for more. Passata is just as easy – I can sense a larger freezer purchase coming on before this summer…..

Various jus, made with lemons or quinces, feature with slow-roasted lamb and chicken, as do preserved lemons. Perhaps only a Tasmanian could get bored with curried scallops, but Sally sparks hers up with some of her own green tomato pickle. (I’ll have to try that before I’m convinced!) There are even some quick cheat ideas for Christmas; I can vouch that her mini-Christmas puddings are both delicious and very easy.

Out of the Bottle has no photographs; it’s a straight little cookbook of the pre-celebrity-chef era, and thus is half or a third the price of the latter.

Sally is a regular guest on ABC Local Radio in Tasmania, and holds cooking demonstrations at Gardening Australia Expos, community events, and more recently at The Agrarian Kitchen in the Derwent Valley north of Hobart. That she loves to share her considerable cooking experience certainly shows through; Sally has taught children and adults of all ages.

So today, when it seems that every second cookbook author is suddenly passionate about seasonal produce and creating exciting flavours from natural, readily available ingredients, here you can learn from a real master, with tested recipes that work and will delight.

Reading this book is like having an expert on hand in your own kitchen, watching over as you stir the pan, giving the odd bit of timely advice, but never hectoring if you deviate or experiment a bit on your own. Sally, you can come and visit my kitchen any time!

 

Out of the Bottle: Easy and Delicious Recipes for Making and Using Your Own Preserves by Sally Wise is published by Harper Collins for ABC Books (Sydney, NSW; sc 304 pp, 2010) and retails for RRP A$24.99. VisitVineyards.com and Winepros Archive subscribers can purchase Out of the Bottle from our book partners Seekbooks here at 12.5% discount off RRP.

Her other titles are also available for our subscribers from Seekbooks at 12.5% discount here »

 

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July 23rd, 2010
 
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