Montreal's Preservation Society is the city’s best-known producer of artisanal—and often alcohol-drenched—preserves. The mastermind behind the canned Bloody Caesar celery (vodka included) and marmgarita marmalade—is Camilla Wynne. She teaches canning and preserving classes (e.g. “The Dark Art of Marmalade”), sells her products at local markets and restaurants, and is releasing the English-language version of her preserving cookbook, Les Conserves selon Camilla in Spring.
If you live outside Canada, the book will be the best way to fill your mornings with her Bombe Matin marmalade (Seville oranges, whisky and locally roasted coffee) and your nights with her Blood and Sand jam—cherry jam with orange and cherry brandy.
Here are Preservation Society’s five unique ingredients you can't miss if you're looking for new canning and preserving food ideas:
1. Bloody Caesar Celery
This is the preserve that put Wynne on the map. “Obviously I think my Caesar Celery is genius—one of my best ideas,” says the pickling queen. Customers agree, calling it a dream come true, and wondering if the potential ulcer from drinking the leftover brine after munching the vodka-, horseradish-, chili- and clamato-infused celery stalks would be worth it. It would.
2. Grapefruit and Honey Marmalade
‘Bitter’ is big this year in food trends, according to cookbook writer Jennifer McLagan. But bitter needs balance, which is why Wynne combines astringent grapefruit peel and more-sour-than-sweet pink grapefruit juice with local honey. She also chops the rind by hand—a feat in itself. The marmalade is available online and at Le Vieux Vélo in Montreal’s Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie neighbourhood, a casual brunch spot north of downtown and a Benedict mecca.
3. Spicy Bread and Butter Pickles
Take some bread, take some butter and take some of these sweet, sour and spicy sliced pickles and call it lunch. The original non-spicy sweet-and-sour pickle’s name comes from the Great Depression, when gardeners turned bumper crops of cucumbers into cheap and tasty pickles for cucumber sandwiches. Wynne adds cayenne pepper for heat, which means her pickles are a cut above your average sandwich fare. Alternatively, she likes to purée them as a sauce for roast pork.
4. Fall Sweater Jam
“Every year I look forward to autumn leaves and crisp air, but mostly to pumpkin beer,” says Wynne. “Pumpkin anything, actually, but mostly pumpkin beer.” This seasonal treat is the canned version of fall in Quebec: apples, pears and pumpkin ale from Quebec brewer St-Ambroise.
5. Famous Apple Chutney
Wynne takes juicy apples and drowns them in brown sugar and malt and cider vinegars. She adds onions, raisins, chili peppers, garlic and ginger to make the preserve both savoury, sweet and just a little spicy. It’s “famous” on a small scale, she says—as in there was a point at which all the people she knows within a five-block radius were obsessed with it. Wynne loves it for its versatility; it can bring a grilled cheese or a burger to new heights, she says. “It even makes a piece of leftover chicken eaten cold in front of the fridge feel like a bit of an event.”
6. Rhume Rx
This jelly is a cold-fighting miracle mix of honey, lemon and candied ginger, with cayenne and bourbon thrown in “for resurrection purposes.” Wynne recommends smearing it on a scone with thick cream, or stirring it into hot water “for an instant feeling of being cared for...”
7. Blueberry Coffee Vanilla Bean Jam
Wynne is launching this jam this fall under the name Bleu Matin. “Just think of blueberry pancakes with coffee on a chilly morning,” she says. “I originally thought I stole the idea from somewhere, but as far as I can tell that's not the case. Maybe I just had a dream about it. Those flavours are all so good together.”
8. Strawberry Marmgarita
It’s a strawberry margarita in the form of marmalade. Take strawberries, douse them in Tequila and Triple Sec, add enough sugar and lemon to taste and suddenly breakfast turns into happy hour. Wynne developed the recipe for a newspaper article. “I thought it was a one-off, but a few weeks later I spread the test batch on my toast and then did not stop eating it ‘til the jar was empty. Seemed like I should probably put it into production.”