Get a Taste of History with Jewish Preserving

Posted by: Emily Paster, Guest Blogger on Friday, April 13, 2018 at 12:00:00 am

Emily PasterCrunchy kosher dills. Hamantaschen filled with prune levkar. Date honey and pomegranate molasses. Foods like these demonstrate how preserving has played an important role in Jewish cuisine, both Ashkenazi and Sephardic, from Biblical times to today.

Preserved foods are a traditional part of many Jewish holidays and celebrations, from eingemacht and date charoset at Passover to applesauce for Hanukkah latkes. In the harsh climate of northern Europe and Russia, where Ashkenazi Jews lived for centuries, preserving summer fruits for winter was a matter of survival and pickled vegetables livened up an otherwise bland diet. Even today, in America, no Jewish deli is complete without a dish of pickled cucumbers in various states of sourness on every table.

PreservesFor Sephardic Jews, preserves and jams made with local fruits such as quince, figs, and dates were served from crystal dishes with silver spoons at every joyous occasion. Throughout the Middle East and North Africa, vast spreads of pickled and marinated vegetables were served as part of the mezze, appetizers to accompany drinks before meals.

Today, home food preservation is experiencing an exciting revival. All over North America, home cooks are making their own jams, jellies, pickles, and other preserves using homegrown fruits or vegetables or local produce from farmers’ markets. At the same time, there is an emerging new Jewish food scene as evidenced by the popularity of artisan delis, Middle Eastern restaurants, and new, Jewish-themed cookbooks.

LemonsGiven the renewed interest in both home food preservation and Jewish cuisine, I decided it was time to update the tradition of Jewish home food preservation for the contemporary home cook and DIY kitchen enthusiast. In my new cookbook, The Joys of Jewish Preserving: Modern Recipes with Traditional Roots, for Jams, Pickles, Fruit Butters, and More - for Holidays and Every Day, readers will find recipes for jams, jellies, pickles, and other preserves that are modern and employ contemporary techniques yet are rooted in centuries-old Jewish traditions. The recipes are inspired by the fruits mentioned in the Bible and the Talmud; life in the shtetls of Poland and Russia; the abundance of the Sephardic Mediterranean and Middle East; and traditional Jewish holiday foods.

preservesAt my upcoming talk at the Barshop JCC, attendees will learn about the robust and distinctive tradition of Jewish preserving and experience some of the best flavors from this tradition. I will demonstrate how to make Crunchy Pickled Okra: a perfect mash-up between the flavors of the Sephardic world - where okra is a favorite vegetable - and the American South. There will also be some sweet treats from the book to sample, as well, and a chance to ask me plenty of questions. I hope to see you there! 

Purchase Your Tickets!

Emily Paster will be at the JCC Thursday, Apr. 26 at 7pm. Copies of her book are available to purchase in advance with your ticket purchase, or you may purchase a copy at the event. Tickets are $15 or $35 for ticket and book.



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