The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

The Preservation Kitchen Makes Us Want To Can Everything

By Anthony Todd in Food on Apr 9, 2012 3:20PM

The Preservation Kitchen, Chef Paul Virant's new ode to canning, preserving, pickling and seasonal food, is now available for purchase. The book has gotten tons of attention, and the beautiful photographs that adorn its pages are one of the primary reasons. Those photographs are the work of Chicago-based food photographer Jeff Kauck. We've talked to Kauck before, and we wanted to hear his take on the unique challenges and joys of photographing this particular book.

Taking pictures for this book was a bit different than for some other food-porn-y cookbooks, since Kauck didn't use any artificial light sources. Virant told Kauck that he wanted the book to be "rustic and natural" and that he wanted it to look "not overly fussed with." So, Kauck shot photos in all different types of daylight - sometime early morning, sometimes late afternoon - and the light glows through in all of the pictures. Shooting outdoors and on the farms produced rewarding results, but also presented special challenges. The book was photographed over several seasons and during the summer, plates had a tendency to melt before the photography was finished.

Light was particularly important for a book on preserves, which are all about glass and translucence. Kauck told us that he wanted to achieve the "umami of light," a reference to the elusive and savory fifth taste sensation. Photos with umami have "a lot of dimension and color."

In addition to shooting the wonderful images, Kauck took particular care while arranging them in the book. The cookbook has an unusual number of tryptics and photographic combinations, because Kauck wanted to combine multiple ideas on the same page. "When you look at a tryptic, it's sort of in between print and motion. It gives you three things to look at that tell a story." The photos are used with striking effect to combine images of Virant on the farm or the crops and animals that were used to produce the products with pictures of the finished jars and plates.

What's next for Kauck? He wouldn't divulge any secrets, but told us that he's working on other projects with Virant, as well as another cookbook with Patricia Wells. If you want to buy The Preservation Kitchen, it came out last week and is available now in hardcover.