Preserved

A celebration of diversity, Preserved by Nick Sandler and Johnny Acton blows a contemporary breath of air through primordial preservation techniques. Dried fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, chilli’s, mushrooms; aromatics include Bouquets Garnis and Smoked Rosemary and also enjoy ever popular fruit leather – concentrated fruit which is puréed and rolled into sheets. Kids love these and you can feel rewarded by providing healthy lunchbox snacks. This is just the beginning; Preserved is a trove of tasty goodies.

Current trends lean away from mass produced food and coupled with spiraling interest in home grown produce, sales of seeds and plants are rocketing. And those who don’t indulge in this green-fingered pastime are constantly encouraged to purchase quality seasonal produce. We want to know more about what we are buying, serving and eating; where it comes from, how it was grown or reared and all about additives – some deemed necessary and others surplus to requirements. What could be better than grasping the opportunity to extend a home-produced repertoire of store cupboard flavours and out-of-season treats. With summer gluts still in full swing and autumnal bounties to follow, this is a perfect time to prepare a winter store of sunshine food.


Forwarded by Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall, with his unblemished record of commitment to good seasonal produce, he succinctly emphasises the value in this area of cuisine:

“Preservation is about intelligent home economy. It is a matter of maximising resources, using know-how both ancient and modern to get the most out of your food. But this doesn’t imply parsimony or tight-fistedness. If understood and practiced well, preserving techniques will never produce food that seems meager, mean or bland. Instead they introduce a whole new range of flavours and textures to the cook’s repertoire, which are as pleasing and exciting as they are diverse.”

Preserved’s dynamic team, Nick and Johnny begin their extravaganza with a lively narrative which describes the geographical history of food preservation. This is followed by 12 comprehensive, step-by-step chapters to the essential techniques of home preservation: Drying, Salting, Smoking, Sausages, Pickling, Herbs including Pastes and Infused Oils and Vinegars, Fermenting, Sugar, Alcohol, Bottling & Canning, Air Exclusion and Freezing and conveniently, a list of useful supplier addresses. Meanwhile, be seduced by Peter Cassidy’s stunning photography throughout the book, but safely in the knowledge that everything has been adapted for home kitchen and includes a selection of recipes to showcase those goodies: Pea and Smoked Pancetta Soup and, Smoked Salmon, Noodles and Sweet Chilli Sauce to name but two.



Responding to both traditional and modern tastes there are simple instructions for making a drying box (little does he know it but, this is at the top of my husbands to-do list!) which can be used to dry beef into South African Biltong or American Jerky. Hot on the heels of drying is smoking – with further instructions to build both cold and hot smokers (safety precautions included!). Salmon, kippers, bacon, poultry, game and even eggs and seafood. Once the basic principals are mastered, drying and smoking is limited only by imagination.

As I write this review my kitchen is awash with the eclectic colours of foods in various stages of preservation. Segments of fragrant candied orange await their molten chocolate dip – what a luxurious treat to accompany strong espresso; a garland of red Basque chillies hang from a hook and several cuts of beef idle their days as they mature into Bresaola – a soft, salted and air-dried beef eaten raw. (The original and best examples hail from the Valtellina mountains on the borders of Italy and Switzerland. A classic Italian starter served cut into thin, succulent, almost translucent ruby-red slices and served with olive oil, lemon juice and parmesan), and Corned Beef which, incidentally is not a South American processed commodity:



“The nomenclature of salted beef products is a food editor’s nightmare. When Americans refer to ‘corned beef ’, they usually mean what the British would describe as ‘salt beef ‘, namely whole cuts of cured meat. Meanwhile, when the Brits talk about ‘corned beef ‘, they mean highly processed South American beef sold in cans.”

It is therefore, salted beef reposing in my refrigerator, the ‘corn’ referring to the nuggets or ‘corns’ of salt used in this traditional process. Once cooked, this beef is amazingly tender and Nick and Johnny provide instructions for a ‘Paddy’s Day’ dinner accompanying corned beef with cabbage and tiny onions.


These culinary exploits don’t cease here. I am strongly tempted to turn my hand to sausage making, which up until now I have resisted because of the amount of specialist equipment required. Yes, these tools will be required should you decide on a larger scale of production, but to test the water "The Duo" suggest an attachment to a food processor and failing this a sturdy piping bag - et voila, sausages for lunch and supper. Recipes include both fresh and preserved sausages such as Salami and French-Style Garlic, but simply offered to illustrate how easy it is to devise your own.

Preserved is packed with oodles of delicious temptations – the perfect recipes for Smoked Bacon, Smoked Eggs, Tomato Ketchup, Corn Relish, Piccalilli, Pickled Roasted Peppers and a host of flavoured oils and vinegars , which without any hint of artificial additives makes for safer, tastier food and you know exactly what’s in it all.



I share a selection of recipes from Preserved which I hope will entice you to dabble in this rewarding culinary art :

It is with thanks to Kyle Cathie Ltd. for their permission to reproduce recipes, photographs and quotations from

Preserved by Nick Sandler and Johnny Acton.

Published by Kyle Cathie Ltd., price GBP 14.99

Photography by Peter Cassidy