Specialty Recipes for Bartering, Sharing & Giving
What if you could get together with a group of like-minded people, once a month, and share your passion for homemade food. Would you do it? These people love the same things you do: growing, raising, and making food that most people buy. It’s a creative way to share your extra jars of jam, pickles, condiments, eggs, or any other things you can think to create from scratch. It’s a local food swap.
Do you ever get the feeling that great things are happening all around you and you are completely unaware? That’s me and food swaps. I had no idea that they have been happening in almost every major city (and some small towns) since 2010! The mother of food swaps is BK Swappers in Brooklyn NY. Founded by Kate Payne and Megan Paska it is now run by Kane Lerner and Margaret Spring. They put on four events a year and have 35-40 attendees at each event. There is a long waiting list.
After reading about the Philly Food Swappers, author Emily Paster learned there wasn’t a swap near her. Undaunted, she created the Chicago Food Swap in late 2011, as a way to share her obsession with canning, and to share her beautiful homemade creations with people who were equally obsessed. Now she’s sharing what she learned with us.
The idea that I could trade jam and pickles for homemade foods that my family would want to eat was revelatory – it’s hard to make a whole meal out of condiments. Emily Paster
This book is filled with practical advice and will give you all the information you need to create or attend your first food swap. Newbies will have all the confidence they need to go it on their own.
What Happens at a Food Swap
A small group of home cooks, bakers, canners, gardeners, and foragers get together to trade their homegrown food items. Each swap has its own rules for participating but here are the basics:
- No money changes hands
- All items must be made or homegrown by the participants
- They happen on a monthly or quarterly basis
- Items are portable and not highly perishable
At some point, all those homemade enthusiasts found themselves alone in their kitchens with too much of whatever they liked to make. The food swap movement gets those people out of their kitchens and creates and informal marketplace for homemade food.
Participants offer a tasting of their items as they gather for a sampling session. New friends are made and a sense of community is built. Each item has a tag describing the ingredients and people place an offer to “swap’ another item. Not all offers need to be accepted. See a sample card here.
This book will teach you everything you need to know about attending your first food swap. What items to bring, how to package them, and what to do it no one wants your food (highly unlikely!)
Food Swap: Specialty Recipes for Bartering , Sharing, & Giving is foremost a book about preserving. Even is you think you will never attend (or create) your own swap, those who love a good canning recipe you will love this book. It stands alone as an excellent cookbook for food preservation recipes.
Some of the recipes I will be trying include:
- Miniature Fruit Pies
- Sweet & Spicy Peach Barbecue Sauce
- Citrus Curd
- Garam Masala Spice Mix, and
- Spiced Ginger Syrup
Each recipe includes processing times and best shelf storage practices. There is a run down on water bath canning procedures and an extensive list of recipes for preserves and jams. You are sure to find something new to create for your own pantry or to share with others.
From the publisher: Part cookbook, part how-to guide, Food Swap features more than 80 recipes for artisanal items that will be coveted at food swaps and adored as gifts, including everything from salted caramel sauce and Meyer lemon curd to green tomato salsa, lavender shortbread, cultured butter, apricot jalapeño jelly, and rum vanilla extract. You’ll also find creative ways to irresistibly package your items, plus perforated gift tags ready for personalization. Finally, author Emily Paster — co-founder of the Chicago Food Swap, one of the biggest in the world — offers guidance on setting up a food swap in your own community, as well as inspiring stories from people who are part of this growing movement.
About the author: Emily Paster is the creator of the popular website West of the Loop, which was named Top Mommy Blog by Time Out Chicago Kids and a “Family Food Blog to Savor” by Red Tricycle. She is the co-founder of the Chicago Food Swap, teaches canning classes in the Chicago area, and writes on food and entertaining for Chicago Parent magazine.