Marisa McClellan has come quite a long way since the launch of Food in Jars in 2009. She has since become a TED speaker, a canning teacher, and a contributor to the Food Network’s FN Dish blog among other food writing endeavors. Her first book by the same name received rave reviews from the Washington Post, Saveur, and the Seattle Times, and this spring she’s beginning her nationwide tour for her second book, Preserving by the Pint.
The book is arranged by season and focuses on freezing time on your farmer’s market produce without needing to work in enormous batches—perfect for the urban home cook.
I had a chance to chat with Marisa recently about her new book.
Tell me a bit about growing up in Portland. Do you think it had a lot of influence on your passion for canning and preserving?
I think growing up in Portland played a key role in my excitement around food preservation. It’s one of those rare cities where fruit grows abundantly in public places. In the summer time, blackberries are everywhere, from parking lots to playgrounds. We had apple trees in our backyard. You could go for a hike and come back with a bag of salmonberries. Because there was so much fruit around, we canned. Making jam and applesauce was just something I learned to do from an early age and so was always comfortable with the process.
Was it difficult to transition kitchen-wise to an urban area as someone from Oregon?
Philadelphia has always been my second home, so making the transition from the west coast really wasn’t hard. Both my parents are from Philly and so every summer, we’d come to visit my grandparents. The apartment I live in used to be my grandparents, so it’s always been a really comfortable space for me.
What are the most common problems home cooks face in urban kitchens?
I think that urban cooks feel like they are limited by size of their kitchens. However, I’ve found that as long as I’m organized, there’s really nothing I can’t do in my 80 square food kitchen. The most important thing is keep your focus. One project at a time is always best if your space is limited.
Are there any advantages to the urban kitchen?
I think that urban kitchens are amazing places for fostering creativity. You have to be imaginative, but that’s part of the joy.
What are you favorite east coast farmer’s market finds? Anything Philly-specific?
I love getting sour cherries in late June. They were new to me when I moved here. I’m also a huge fan of black raspberries. Some people know them as black caps and they are seedy and flavorful. They’re also supposed to be really good for you.
What type of home cook should check out Preserving by the Pint?
This book is designed for people who shop at farmers markets, subscribe to CSA shares, or who have tiny garden plots. All the recipes start with either a couple of pints, a quart, or a couple of pounds of produce, so they are relatively accessible and quick. If you find yourself with strawberries that are ripening quickly, or zucchini that’s not going to make it more than a few more days, this book will help you extend their lives and avoid waste.
Other than food-geekery, what do you like to geek out about?
Just about everything I geek out about has something to do with food. I can’t resist a new cookbook and I’m sort of obsessed with vintage cookware. I have started knitting recently, though, and could easily slide down that slippery slope.
Preserving by the Pint comes out on March 25th, but you can order on Amazon now. You can also catch Marisa at the local events listed below over the next few months.
April 13: Demo and signing at the Philly Farm & Food Fest. 2:30 pm. Free with festival admission.
May 3: Demo and signing at Fante’s Kitchen Shop, 1-3 pm.
May 4: Demo and signing at Headhouse Square Farmers Market, 10 am – 2 pm.
May 10: Demo and signing at Greensgrow, 10 am – 1 pm. Demo and signing at Occasionette, 5-8 pm.
May 20: Strawberry Vanilla Jam class with Weaver’s Way Co-op, 7-9 pm.
July 10: Talk and signing at the Free Library of Philadelphia, 7:30-9:30 pm.
July 15: Low Sugar Blueberry Jam class with Weaver’s Way Co-op, 7-9 pm.
July 23: Demo and signing, Collingswood Library, 7-9 pm. (Collingswood, NJ)
August 5: Tomato Canning class with Weaver’s Way Co-op, 7-9 pm.
August 8: Demo and signing at the Wyck Festival.
September 9: Pickles Two Ways with Weaver’s Way Co-op, 7-9 pm.