The Jar Star Speaks

Preserving guru Paul Virant shares his secrets

You don't have to be a canning fiend to appreciate Paul Virant's new cookbook, The Preservation Kitchen ($21).

The chef of Perennial Virant and Vie is known for his overflowing canning closet, filled with thousands of jars of sweet-pickled cherry tomatoes, blueberry aigre-doux and the like.

The form of the second half of his book is familiar; it's dedicated to menus, from an Earth Day celebration to a midwinter feast, each with inspiring flavor combinations. You'll find recipes for wheatberry salad with preserved lemon vinaigrette, and sunchokes with maple-black walnut butter.

But it's the book's first half that demands The Preservation Kitchen be added to any well-balanced cookbook shelf. There, Virant offers detailed recipes for dozens of pickles, marmalades, mostardas and more.

We homed in on a recipe for rhubarb-beer jam. Once cooked, the jam is effervescent and bright–not only in flavor, but in its boldly pink hue (click here to see the recipe).

As preserving is only the first step, Virant recommends using this jam in a Calvados-based cocktail, and we also plan to spoon ours over goat cheese, lamb chops and duck breast.