LAENA'S FOOD PRESERVATION RESOURCE GUIDE
Sources for Spices, Vinegar, Herbs, Oils
When preserving food, whether cooking or fermenting, it's essential to use high-quality ingredients.
Bad news: Unfortunately, there are a ton of counterfeit or low quality products on the market, and it is best to avoid these for both taste and health reasons. Yes, Heinz vinegar is made from ethanol (a bi-product of the oil industry, not good for you, and tastes like what it is).
Good news: It's very easy to get fair priced, quality ingredients.
Below is a list of trusted brands and stores.
VINEGAR BRANDS that don't suck
[Read this handy "Comprehensive Guide to All Vinegars"]
I often get the question: "what brands don't suck?" "How do I know where to get them?" Below is a handy list. By no means exhaustive, it is a start.
You can also make your own vinegar, which is really easy. Two amazing books on vinegar just hit the shelves:
Acid Trip: Travels in the World of Vinegar: With Recipes from Leading Chefs, Insights from Top Producers, and Step-by-Step Instructions on How to Make Your Own by Michael Harlan Turkell, a genius and a wonderful storyteller.
Vinegar Revival: Artisanal Recipes for Brightening Dishes and Drinks with Homemade Vinegars, by Harry Rosenblum, owner of the Brooklyn Kitchen
1. BRAGG Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar
One of the most widely known apple cider vinegars is BRAGG Apple Cider Vinegar. Bragg Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar is made from organically grown apples. The product is certified organic by the Organic Certifiers and Oregon Tilth. In addition, it is Kosher Certified and Non-GMO Certified. It is produced in compliance with USDA guidelines. (3)
BRAGG Apple Cider Vinegar is the oldest brand available and is family-owned, which explains why it is one of the most trusted brands on the market for an organic, raw, and unfiltered apple cider vinegar that comes with the Mother. It comes in 16 0z, 32 oz. and 128 oz. bottles. I love that Bragg's is east to find and cheap.
2. Vitacost Organic Apple Cider Vinegar with Mother
Another popular brand is Vitacost Organic Apple Cider Vinegar with Mother. While Vitacost is more well-known for making general health products, their apple cider vinegar has a lot to offer. It is made from organic apples and is both kosher and vegan approved. Vitacost does not pasteurize their apple cider vinegar nor add any sugar or flavorings. It comes in 32 oz. and 16 oz. bottles.
Another excellent choice for vinegar is Eden Foods Organic Vinegars. Eden Foods makes their vinegars by naturally fermenting them, and aging them in a wood barrels.
Many of their vinegars are raw and unpasteurized, and of course, comes with the Mother. EDEN Vinegar uses amber glass as a way to protect its flavor and nutrients. They are also pretty easy to find at most grocery stores, health food stores, Whole Foods, even Walmart! And online, of course.
4. Dynamic Health Apple Cider Vinegar
If you are someone who cannot stand the harsh taste of apple cider vinegar, then Dynamic Health Apple Cider Vinegar is probably the brand for you. Dynamic Health offers a vinegar that is kosher and halal-certified. It is also unpasteurized, organic, and unfiltered.
The vinegar is unfiltered and raw, is non-GMO and USDA organic. It is also BPA-free and gluten-free.
Another option is Fleischmann’s Organic Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar which is made from organic apples. Fleischmann’s has been making vinegar for the past 100 years. This is the vinegar we use at ANARCHY IN A JAR to make our mustard!
Fleischmann’s vinegars are unfiltered, raw and unpasteurized preserving their unique flavor and are bottled with the Mother ensuring healthy and nutritious benefits.
Based in Mendon, Utah’s high-desert, Slide Ridge makes both honey and honey vinegar. It's sweet, yet also a little tart. It can take up to two years to make a batch of their vinegar!
The vinegar’s fermented with the beer brand's own malty beer.
If you're a real vinegar nerd.
A sweet Napa based vinegar company, with particularly great wine vinegars.
SHOPS TO SOURCE QUALITY SPICES, HERBS, VINEGAR, OILS
Organic medicinal herbs, spices, oils, extracts, essential oils, aromatherapy, herbal supplies and resources. The best and most comprehensive source.
Flower Power Herbs & Roots Inc [Herbal Medicine Store]
Shop stocking a vast collection of dried herbs & extracts for culinary, medicinal & beauty uses.
406 E 9th St, New York, NY 10009 | (212) 982-6664
La Boîte à Epices [online + NYC]
Amazing, super high quality spices; this is where top chef's go.
724 11th Avenue, New York, NY 10019 | 212-247-4407
Kalustyan's [spices, online + NYC]
A HUGE selection of spices, and vinegar too. Great fresh kaffir lime leaves, fresh turmeric, and fresh curry leaf. Specialty market known for Indian & Mideastern spices, teas & other global food items. At 28th & Lex in Manhattan.
123 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016 | (800) 352-3451
The Spice House [online + LA/Chicago]
Spices, cooking herbs, seasonings. Good prices and good sourcing; these are not counterfeit spices!
NOTE: you can get fresh and dried herbs (especially hard-to-find ones like lemon verbena or summer savory) at the Union Square Greenmarket on 14th St in Manhattan :: Furnace Creek Farm on Wednesdays; and Tweefontein Herb Farm on Fridays.
Sources for Buying Produce
The core of canning and preservation is high-quality fresh fruits and vegetables (so you're lovingly handcrafted babies don't taste gross). The best thing you can do is use tree or vine-ripened produce that has been picked when it is ripe (i.e., not the fruit shipped from South America). For fruit and some vegetables, the next best thing is frozen, as these have been picked when they are ripe and flash-frozen. Here is a list of places to get good, high-quality produce in NYC.
In NYC, GrowNYC has over a hundred farmer's markets around the city. Many of these are open year-round.
The best greenmarket in the city, with the most diversity and plethora of vendors.
1 Union Sq W (btwn 15th & 17th St), New York, NY
Not actually a farmer's market, but a nice greengrocer, with generally good veggies. 352 W 52nd St (9th Ave.), New York, NY | 476 9th Ave New York, NY 10018
A good, local spot for organic produce.
58 E 4th St (Bowery), New York, NY
A good spot for organic produce (although not the best spot for local produce!) if you can handle the community aspect.
Manhattan Fruit Exchange
Chelsea Market go-to for common & exotic fruits & vegetables.
Located in: Chelsea Market.
NOTE: Don’t forget CHINATOWN - most the fruit and vegetables sold there are from small farms in the USA, and are both cheap and fresh. See this article and this Wall Street Journal story for a cool story on why!
655 Grand St, Brooklyn, NY 11211
A great mom & pop not fancy greengrocer in Williamsburg. Great prices and good quality.
I used to be a librarian, and my husband is a food writer, so our cookbook collection is epic.
Laena's Kitchen Library
A look into a food entrepreneur + food writer's bookshelf
By yours' truly.
In Jam On, New York’s “Jam Queen” Laena McCarthy shares her love of making inventive handmade jam with delicious recipes and canning techniques. Her down-to-earth approach and unique, easy method allows even the novice cook to make fresh and exciting jam. The recipes in Jam On use less sugar, making the jams not only healthier, but more intensely flavorful than your average fruit concoction. With step-by-step instructions and four-color photographs throughout, McCarthy guides readers through the canning process and offers inventive herb and spice combinations for a range of signature jams.
By Camilla Wynne (my Canadian "jam sister")
This is my favorite jam book (besides mine, of course).
Preservation Society is a very personal, very particular preserves company. Its founder, Camilla Wynne, creates recipes filled with imagination and heart.
Her mandate at Preservation Society is to use as much local produce as possible. Her recipes are amusing, creative and simply mouth-watering. Her experience working with top chefs and pastry chefs is reflected in each recipe.
Besides the sumptuous jam, jelly and marmalade recipes, there are recipes for syrups, marinades, chutneys, conserves, as well as a dozen recipes that use the original preserve recipe.
A beginner or a seasoned pro will be comfortable making these recipes that feature reliable, easy-to-follow, up-to-date preserving instructions and information.
Kingry, Judi, and Lauren Devine. 2006. Toronto: R. Rose.
This is the ultimate preserving reference, for all the traditional recipes that aren’t in Jam On. Plus a great reference section with weight charts, etc!
Krissoff, Liana, and Rinne Allen. 2010. New York: Stewart, Tabori & Chang.
Nice, simple recipes. A little light on the actual techniques of canning.
Put 'em Up!: A Comprehensive Home Preserving Guide for the Creative Cook, from Drying and Freezing to Canning and Pickling
Vinton, Sherri Brooks. 2010. North Adams, Mass: Storey Pub.
Comprehensive recipes for homesteaders, from pickling to freezing. Eugenia is very thorough!
Jam and fruit-based preserves
Ferber, Christine. 2002. Mes confitures: the jams and jellies of Christine Ferber. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press.
The most exquisite jam-porn in print, with wonderful flavor combinations and romantic instructions, such as picking your fruit from your orchard at dawn as the dew has just evaporated from its surface. Brilliant recipes!
Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2017 (reprint).
A very heavy, very west-cost themed cookbook, with very complicated and fancy recipes. This is the kind of book that has 6-day long recipes that "require" a $500 French canning pot. But really cool if you are living in Northern California and want to preserve your hand-picked Santa Rosa plums.
Cooking, ratios, ingredients, literature
On Food and Cooking: the Science and Lore of the Kitchen
McGee, Harold. 2004. New York: Scribner.
Well-written musings on cooking and food.
The Flavor Bible: the Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity
Page, Karen, and Andrew Dornenburg. 2008. New York: Little, Brown and Co.
Fabulous reference book of flavor. Everyone needs this in their kitchen library!
The Illustrated Cook's Book of Ingredients
Publishing, DK. 2010. London: DK Publishing.
Ratio: the Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking
Ruhlman, Michael. 2009. New York, NY: Scribner.
Fascinating look at cooking and the craft of creating flavor and taste.
The Belly of Paris
by Zola, Émile, and Ernest Alfred Vizetell | Los Angeles: Sun & Moon Press.
Food politics in Paris circa 1873, by one of the finest novelists; a deep study in flavor and a great read.
Herbs & Spices: the Cook's Reference
Norman, Jill. 2002. New York, NY: DK Pub.
Excellent reference book of herbs and spices.
Foraging for Herbs
Peterson’s Field Guide: Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants and Herbs by Steven Foster and James A. Duke
Geared toward the eastern and central United States and Canada; plant photos organized by color; text outlines plant traits, habitat, uses, and warnings for more than 530 important medicinal plants.
By David Squire, 2015
You would be surprised at the bounty of wild food you can find practically on your doorstep, even in NYC: some native plants, some escapes from ancient gardens and all delicious. Most of these foods are within easy reach however, you have got to know what you are looking for and where to go and when. Arranged in a directory of categories divided into wild plants, herbs, fruits, nuts, mushrooms, seaweeds and shellfish, this book has all of the information you need alongside clear illustrations to help you identify a wholesome and natural food store, all for free. Hints on how to prepare and eat your foraged bounty are also included, along with advice on seasonality.
by Jessica Murnane, 2017
Wellness advocate and podcaster Jessica Murnane is the friend you never knew you had. And she's here with a cookbook to help you make a change you never thought was possible.
In One Part Plant, Jessica has a friendly request: that you eat just one meal plant-based meal each day. There's no crazy diet plan with an anxiety-inducing list of forbidden foods. Or pages filled with unattainable goals based on an eating philosophy that leaves you feeling hungry and deprived. Instead, Jessica offers you the tools to easily and deliciously make plants the star of your plate--no matter how much junk food occupies it now.
Since its first, highly successful edition in 1996, The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Complete Food and Nutrition Guide has continually served as the gold-standard resource for advice on healthy eating and active living at every age and stage of life. At once accessible and authoritative, the guide effectively balances a practical focus with the latest scientific information, serving the needs of consumers and health professionals alike. Opting for flexibility over rigid dos and don’ts, it allows readers to personalize their own paths to healthier living through simple strategies. This newly updated Fifth Edition addresses the most current dietary guidelines, consumer concerns, public health needs, and marketplace and lifestyle trends.
Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition
Whole is an eye-opening, paradigm-changing journey through cutting-edge thinking on nutrition based on the studies that a whole food, plant-based diet is the healthiest way to eat. In Whole, the authors' examines the fascinating complexity of the human body, and why our Western eating habits need a makeover.
Food as Medicine: The Theory and Practice of Food by Todd Caldecott
Using the theories of Ayurveda and modern science, offers practical nutritional guidance (and recipes) to support individual wellness.
No herbal home should be without this delightful book, which provides simple and creative ways to use herbs in the kitchen. Detailed profiles of many common cooking herbs and spices explain how these often over-looked plants are useful for health. Delicious and unique recipes include cooking oils, seasoning salts and sprinkles, herbal honeys, cordials, and vinegars.
The Art of Fermentation: An In-Depth Exploration of Essential Concepts and Processes from around the Worldby Sandor Ellix Katz and Michael Pollan
Winner of the 2013 James Beard Foundation Book Award for Reference and Scholarship, and a New York Times bestseller, The Art of Fermentation is the most comprehensive guide to do-it-yourself home fermentation ever published. Sandor Katz presents the concepts and processes behind fermentation in ways that are simple enough to guide a reader through their first experience making sauerkraut or yogurt, and in-depth enough to provide greater understanding and insight for experienced practitioners.