An acidic understanding of Preservation Society
“On our rider, it was Jameson. Always.”
It is hard to imagine Camilla Wynne as a young musician, serenading crowds across the globe with ethereal songs such as “Us Ones In Between.” In those days, touring with the art-rock band Sunset Rubdown, her list of instruments included the melodica, glockenspiel, and digital autoharp. Her food of choice was often fast and regional, decided more by tour dates than personal preferences – eating barbeque shrimp in New Orleans or toasted ravioli in St louis. Her drink menu was limited to Jameson Whiskey.
Now, as a writer, pastry chef, and certified master preserver, Camilla’s instruments of choice are stainless steel pots, wooden spoons, and rolling pins. She has settled into an apartment in Toronto’s west-end and takes pride in cooking well-curated meals. Her liquor cabinet is flush with a wide range of whiskeys, gins, liqueurs, and bitters.
After her music career, Camilla established herself by creating the company Preservation Society, which makes cocktail-inspired preserves. I’ve tried them. They’re fantastic. I was particularly impressed with her take on a Manhattan Marmalade and her Black Cherry Cocoa Nib jam.
Preservation Society opened up a whole new world of flavour for me. I’m used to being treated to jams which hit on one, monotonous, painfully sweet note. Like a song with too many major chords (the ones that typically make people feel happy and grand), most jams and preserves are forgetful and leave me emotionally unaffected. But this was not the case for the nuanced and complex preserves which are commonplace for a Preservation Society production run.
I expressed my previous, sometimes grotesquely sweet experience of jam with Camilla and she was quick to confirm what I had begun to expect.
“There needs to be some acidity in there, for sure,” she said, and went on to explain, “One thing that happens when you cook a fruit is it will lose a lot of its acidity, or at least the bright acidity it has when its fresh. I like the flavour of cooked fruit, but when you’re trying to recreate a cocktail where they use fresh citrus juice you want that punchy fresh acidic quality, so I use citric acid.”
It makes a lot of sense. Camilla adds acidity to her preserves for the same reason people salt their steaks or season their vegetables. It isn’t just to introduce an extra layer to a meal, it’s to compliment pre-existing flavours and bring out the full potential of any given culinary endeavour.
Acid League and Preservation Society are currently working on a new line of limited-edition vinegar-based preserves. We hope, and Camilla seems confident, that the resulting preserves will be orchestral in their execution (my words, not hers). But seriously, these preserves will not only satisfy your palette, but will also leave you intellectually engaged and emotionally effected.
Are you jealous of her bar? Because I’m jealous of her bar. The skull is a nice touch as well.
A small assortment of preserves and ferments which Camilla had in her apartment.
Fun fact: The Kinks are one of Camilla’s favourite bands and the name for Preservation Society was partly inspired by their song “The Village Green Preservation Society.”