The Piglet

Piglet Community Pick: Ripe

By • February 14, 2013 • 21 Comments

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Read up on some of 2012's most-loved cookbooks, tested and reviewed by the one and only Food52 community.   

Today: Cristina Sciarra contemplates the lyrical prose and intuitive recipes of Ripe.


Ripe is a great cookbook. The recipes and musings tucked inside are an ode to the fruit grown in Nigel Slater’s London garden, similar to the way its companion volume, Tender, glorified the vegetables cultivated there. In respect to prose, Ripe is exquisite. At once literary, lyrical, and convivial, it's so enjoyable to read that it’s equally at home propped open in the kitchen and nestled amongst novels on the bedside table.
The book is organized into chapters by fruit, beginning with “Apples,” and landing nearly 600-pages later on “White Currants.” The recipes within each chapter are enticing and dependable and follow the seasons in a way that makes sense: winter fruits are braised slowly with game and sausages, while June strawberries are barely altered. For fall, a Cake of Roasted Hazelnuts, Muscovado, and Coffee tasted deeply, deliriously of all three. Jonathan Lovekin’s lush photographs are inspiring and complement Slater’s tone beautifully. 

But Ripe adds up to much more than the sum of its parts. The book is also a teaching aid: learn a thousand peculiarly named variations of apples, or all about the diverse history of quince. Ripe guides the reader to better cooking through example.
As much as Slater prizes first-rate ingredients, his recipes are never fussy or overly precise. He encourages tinkering, leaving the door open to flexibility, substitutions, and derivations. (A Cake for Midsummer, heady with milk and ground almonds, became a Cake for Deep Winter when nutmeg-stewed pears were substituted for apricots and raspberries.) Slater’s intuitive approach to cooking helps the reader, in turn, become a more intuitive cook. And it is this attitude that ensures Ripe’s status as a nearly endless spring of knowledge and inspiration.

Jump to Comments (21)

Tags: piglet, community picks, cookbook

Comments (21)


over 1 year ago luvcookbooks

Meg is a trusted home cook.

Great review, evocative descriptions of the recipes, I am going to get this one, too!


over 1 year ago GregoryBPortland

I've made it my mission to own all of Nigel Slater's wonderful cookbooks. Reading him makes me a better cook--a better reader.


over 1 year ago cristinasciarra

I totally agree!


over 1 year ago EmilyC

Lovely review, Cristina! I'd love to have a copy of this book going into berry and stone-fruit season!


over 1 year ago cristinasciarra

Thanks, Emily! I'm looking forward to cooking from this book in spring and summer, too!


over 1 year ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

Great review, Cristina. I received Ripe for Christmas, and it truly is inspiring, as are all of Slater's books. He is a brilliant writer. Can't wait to make the hazelnut muscovado cake!


over 1 year ago cristinasciarra

It's so good! It's become my reliably impressive go-to.


over 1 year ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Wonderful review. I thought Tender had no equal; I was wrong.


over 1 year ago cristinasciarra

Ripe is just as good! I am also loving the second Kitchen Diaries.


over 1 year ago Bevi

Lovely review Christine. I can vouch for how delicious the cake was that you made for the party. I ordered this book and can't wait to find it in my mailbox.


over 1 year ago cristinasciarra

Thanks! I can't wait for spring to continue cooking from the book.


over 1 year ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

Lovely review. Nigel Slater, swoon.


over 1 year ago cristinasciarra

I know, I love his books!


over 1 year ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Great review, you summed it up perfectly and left me wanting more. I want to buy that book now, I will attest to the utter deliciousness of the hazelnut muscovado cake, it's so good it's positively addictive.


over 1 year ago cristinasciarra

I can't stop making that cake! It's almost memorized at this point :)


over 1 year ago Kitchen Butterfly

What a great review - I second intuitive cooking, thus experts build experts, and imbue them with confidence! I have some of Nigel's books and have surprised at how 'easy' they are to cook from because there isnt an elaborate show, or list!


over 1 year ago cristinasciarra

I totally agree!


over 1 year ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Wow! I really want to pick this book up now, as in right this second. I feel a trip to Powell's is in order.


over 1 year ago cristinasciarra

I remember Powell's fondly from my visit!


over 1 year ago Kenzi Wilbur

Kenzi is the Managing Editor of Food52.

Great review! This book is sitting on my bedside table now, actually, and I'm really happy about it.


over 1 year ago cristinasciarra

:) I am onto Kitchen Diaries II and loving it!