With temperatures hovering in the mid 30s to low 40s March is still a little early to find fresh fruit and vegetables locally, which is why I'm a huge fan of food preservation techniques. After nearly six years of living in Wisconsin I'm still trying to come to grips with the short growing season we have, which is why I began putting up food as soon as I had a kitchen large enough to work in. The Put 'em Up! Preserving Answer Book covers a variety of preserving methods, including canning. Food preservation is much easier than you might have been led to believe and that means no more green beans from Mexico or apples from Chile, you can still eat local all year long.
While over half of the book is dedicated to water bath and pressure canning, there are a broad range of other preservation methods covered. The book is divided into three sections, getting started, preserving processes, and putting your skills to work. Getting started covers the basics including safety, sourcing food, food storage, prolonging produce and kitchen skills, tips and prep work. Part two covers the actual preserving processes in depth, starting with general canning using both water-bath and pressure canning methods as well as refrigeration, freezing, drying, fermentation, and infusing techniques. Part three covers putting your skills to work and is divided up by sweet and savory spreads, pickles, sauces, vegetables, whole fruits, and tomatoes and tomato products.
There is a lot of information packed into this book and I wish it had been around when I was first learning the basics of food preservation. It covers nearly every conceivable question someone new to food preservation might have and even manages to touch on a controversial topic or two. When I was pregnant with my son I searched high and low for instructions on how to can baby food, I knew you could do it, but I wanted to ensure I was doing it safely. Small children are much more susceptible to food born illness and I can't stress enough how important it is to follow canning guidelines when making food for young children. Many books have chosen to ignore such a controversial canning topic, but not this one, it lets you know that while canning baby food is tricky and many foods are not recommended, there are some items which are safe to can such as apple and pear sauce. While I do wish the author had dedicated more than half a page to this topic, I'm extremely excited to see it covered at all.
The information in the book can be difficult to wade through, but there is an index in the back which should help you find the answers to your questions just a little bit quicker. The resource section in the back of the book is also divided by state so you can easily find the resources that are closest to you. Although this is mostly a Q and A book, there are recipes spread throughout. If you're looking for more of a canning recipe book you may want to consider one of Sherri Brooks Vinton's other books, Put 'em Up! or Put 'em Up! Fruit: A Preserving Guide & Cookbook: Creative Ways to Put 'em Up, Tasty Ways to Use 'em Up. I've been using Venton's original Put 'em Up! book since it was released and have really enjoyed working through the recipes, but she's really outdone herself with The Put 'em Up! Preserving Answer Book, it will be a valuable resource for anyone interested in the many ways available to preserve food and eat locally all year long.
Normally I like to test out a few of the recipes included in the books I review and share my results with you on twitter and instagram, but unfortunately it's a little early in the year for fresh produce, so I won't be able to do that with this book.
Where to Purchase
This book was sent to me for review by Storey Publishing through NetGalley. As always, all opinions are my own.
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