Topline Trends Tuesday: Preserving: jam, jelly and pickles

June 30, 2009


I’m posting about an hour early today. It’s not that I’m an early bird looking for a worm or that I’m more organized than usual. No, I’ve got camp induced insomnia. My son left yesterday for camp and, although I looked forward to the peace and quiet of the house being an adult sanctuary, the truth is, it’s just not the same without his smelly boy bones cluttering the place up. 1 day down; 27 to go.

Fortunately, I have my work to divert me and that means that you get Today’s Topline Trends Tuesday an hour or so earlier than usual!


Although it’s not a new way to spend time in the kitchen, preserving is back! In fact, it’s difficult to find a publication that doesn’t have a story or feature about making jam or jelly right now. Specifically, I noted articles in the New York Times, the June issue of Eating Well, the May issue of Waitrose Food Illustrated and the June issue of Sainsbury’s. And in cyberspace, ChezPim has been making (and selling!) marmalade all winter while Jessie presented these quick, fresh pickles in her blog.

While the current crop of preserving articles focus on fruity concoctions, I’m pretty confident that pickling and other canning methods will turn up in the late summer and early autumn issues of many national and international magazines, too.I just hope no one gets to Luke Despatie before I do ‘cause I want to pick his brain and post his pickling tips for you guys here. (Luke’s stand out pickles came in second at his local fall fair, which makes me very curious about the winning pickles; I just can’t imagine any better than Luke’s!) And, of course, my long time friend and colleague Jennifer Mackenzie’s new book The Complete Book of Pickling, is going to be at my elbow all season long, too.

What about you? Are you a committed canner? Newly canning curious? Or, do you prefer to buy your jams, jellies, pickles and condiments fully made and ready to enjoy? I confess that when I was a kid, I loved helping my mom strain jelly but as an adult, I rarely make jam or other preserves since there are so many wonderful ones on store shelves.

Pickle Sickles and Kool-Aid dills – two sour ideas

March 27, 2008

Pickle sickleBeing half Ukrainian, I have a deep and well-developed respect for dill pickles. In fact, I would say that I’m one of their biggest fans. But even my affection for dills has its limits and they have been tested twice in the last 24 months.

First came the Kool Aid dill. A Kool-Aid dill is what happens when you marinate a classic dill pickle in super strength strawberry Kool-Aid. You get a sticky, candy colored pickle that Mississippi kids (who comprise the fan base of this confection) call a Koolickle. I call it a sweet and sour abomination.

Koolickles are often made in a big jar and then sold by convenience store owners for $1 each. When I wrote about these pickle-flavoured confections in my Topline Trends newsletter the response was a universal yuck! Then, when I made a batch and featured them on Canada AM, the response was double yuck (I wish I could have taken a picture of Seamus’ face when he tried one on air!).

New this year is the commercial product called Pickle Sickles. Like a freezie, these snacks can be thawed and refrozen. Unlike a freezie or a Kool-Aid dill, they aren’t sweet but salty and sour. The press kit says Pickle Sickles are a healthy snack for kids and diabetics because they’re made from whole pickles, have no fat and only 1 g of sugar. I tried one as a professional duty. I have to say that even as a lover of pickles, dill pickle chips and even dill pickle juice (although only homemade dill pickle juice), these frozen snacks are nasty. They’re so salty that any nutritional advantage they have for not containing sugar is negated.

Trust me: when you want a cold, salty and sour snack: grab a fork and eat an actual pickle. You don’t need to try these new pickle creations.