Interview with Sherri Brooks Vinton of Put Em Up

This past summer, I really found my groove when it came to putting up applesauce, jellies, jams, pickles and relishes.  I canned a lot and filled my freezer with berries, pickles, and peaches. I had a great time and I couldn't have done half of it without the help of Sherri Brooks Vinton's book, Put 'Em Up!

I wrote up a big review of the book and I meant every word.  During our county's fall festival celebration I entered the households contest for the Food Preservation competition.  Thanks to following the Put 'Em Up recipe for Bread'n Butter Chips, I won a champion ribbon.  See my photo of my winning entries at the bottom of this post.

Anyhoo.  I got my nerve up awhile back and emailed Mrs. Vinton asking if I could get a short interview with her.  She agreed. YEAAAH!!

Meet Sherri Brooks Vinton.

Jill: Tell us a little about your upbringing that connects you to preserving foods.

Sherri: I come from a long line of food preservers.  My mother's side of the family is southern--they'll can anything that isn't moving.  And my father's side of the family is Polish so there was always a crock of kraut or dill pickles percolating in his parents' kitchen somewhere.
Jill: What was the first recipe you put up? Did you get it right the first time?

The first thing I did was an improvised strawberry sauce that I threw together while I was cooking dinner--it was either cook those berries or watch them wither.  I refrigerated some and put the rest in the freezer--it was delicious.  That's what kind of turned me onto the thrill of stopping the clock on seasonal produce.


Jill: What's your favorite recipe(s) to put up today?

Sherri: Right now I'm getting ready to do a bunch of Spiced Apple Chutney.  I love that stuff with some sharp cheddar cheese.  When they are in season, I love to do cherry jam, orange marmalade and plum sauce.  So many good things!

Jill: What do you say to folks that are nervous about canning?

Sherri: There's really nothing to be nervous about.  If you can boil water, you can can your own preserves, chutneys, relishes, pickles, tomatoes, jams and jellies and fruits.  It's a simple technique that is so rewarding--and with a little common sense kitchen cleanliness and case of jars you can have terrific local food all year round.

Jill: What recipe(s) from Put 'Em Up would you recommend for a new canner?

Sherri: I always recommend the Bread and Butter Chips for first time canners.  It's a vinegar pickle--so very straightforward to make.  It's also a familiar pickle, so I think it's a fun sort of touchstone flavor--one that we can all connect with--but so much better than any supermarket version you'll taste.

Jill: You cover more than canning in Put 'Em Up, explain "Working in Groups."

Sherri: There are lots of techniques eaters can use to preserve their own food--drying, fermenting, even freezing. So you don't have to spend hours in the kitchen to put up some of that seasonal flavor.  When I do want to take on a big project, though, like putting up multiple cases of tomatoes or flats of berries, it's fun to get some friends over to help.  Open up a bottle of wine, crank up the canner and you can have a good gab while putting up your winter's reward.