My first memories of preserving food are impressions: buckets and boxes of produce, a 90-degree August day boosted to triple digits by steam and heat from the stove, hands wrinkled from peeling pears or sore from snapping beans, and the pinging chorus of jars lined up on tea towels the length of the kitchen.
I loved it. My dad ran a giant garden at our Pacific Northwest house, and my mom and grandma ran an equally large home-processing plant whose results we ate all winter. I can still recall my first taste of commercial applesauce—it was equivalent of a scratch-and-sniff sticker to someone who’d lived in a rose garden. Store-bought pickles were as disappointing: flavorless yet candy sweet. A long list of commercial edibles couldn’t stand up to the homemade versions: Jams. Salsas. Popsicles. Fruit leathers. Salad dressings. Breads. And on.
As an adult, as soon as I knew I would be in the same house (state, country) for at least a year, I adopted my mother’s canning equipment and began preserving food. If you found my home in northwest Montana on a map, you might think I live in the country, but the truth is that I live in northern woods: clay soil, heavy shade, and a 90-day growing season. But I’ve made it work. Flats of cucumbers and apples purchased at the market became a CSA with end-of-season storage crops and then a garden on a friend’s sunny, fertile farm.
My partner and I now process 200–250 jars of food a season, dehydrate a winter’s worth of herbs, fill a 5.5-cubic-foot chest freezer, and have a fridge full of homemade condiments and bases. Our bounty inspired this blog, and I look forward to sharing our experiences and ideas with you. In recent years, we’ve begun to ferment dough and vegetables, smoke vegetables and cheese, age cheese and vinegar, and play with numerous other ways of preserving food. As this blog grows, I plan to share those adventures with you as well.
What You’ll Find Here
The Twice as Tasty blog is all about learning how to eat well year-round by preserving, pickling, freezing, dehydrating, fermenting, and more. The blog is a growing, dynamic project, just like a garden. It’s an attempt to share my experiences and inspire you to create your own. Posts contain recipes, tips and tricks, and other ideas about how to preserve and use food. This blog also contains a basics section with pages of info on techniques, tools, and “starter” recipes.
Although I try to provide all the info you need to make every recipe on your own, some techniques and ideas are unfamiliar to today’s home cooks. So I also offer customized workshops on just about any technique, recipe, or topic that is—or could be—covered by the blog. These are designed to give you a chance to see and try the techniques and ask questions as we go.
The blog and the workshops are all about “you can do it,” and I will do my best to counter every excuse. Not enough room? Our house is 500 square feet and our kitchen counter length adds up to 5 feet, yet we stash away enough that we never have to buy an out-of-season tomato, smoothie berries, or midwinter potatoes. Not enough time? I have plenty of ideas about how to break up the work, share it with friends, and ultimately turn it into a party. No garden? We live in a world where buying an underripe tomato—or a zucchini—is a choice: Farmers’ markets, CSAs, community gardens, and friends plant more than they can eat are all there to help you out.
On Twice as Tasty, no post will begin, “This looks good; I hope to make it someday.” I’ve made every recipe on this site numerous times, adjusting with each iteration until I find the combination I love. I hope you’ll love these recipes as well or, if not, be inspired to improve upon them. Because we’re talking about preserving safely and effectively, I’ll explain which things you shouldn’t tweak—particularly when it comes to water-bath processing—and those that are ultimately going to be twice as tasty.
What You Won’t Find Here
I’m not a food scientist, a chemist, or a USDA expert: I am a home preserver. I am also a professional writer and editor, and I take facts and sources seriously. When my personal experience doesn’t match the status quo, I ask why. When I don’t know the answer, I research it. And when I still have doubts, I dig deeper until I’m satisfied. Hopefully you will learn as you read and explore this site as I did in writing its content.
My research takes me to websites run by the USDA and FDA, universities and their extension services, food scientists, chefs, home canners, and others. I read piles of books—not just the recipes, but the opening and closing sections that discuss the ins and outs of preserving food safely. I talk with people who preserve food, make cheese, and bake bread for a living. I’m passing along the best of their advice in the hopes you will find it as helpful as I have.