I’ve been reading a lot lately. And cooking and canning. I thought I’d share what books worked for me and what didn’t. As August’s harvest comes in full swing, consider putting up or freezing your extra fruits and veggies.
Well Preserved by Eugenia Bone. This new one has received a lot of press lately. I found the basics chapter interesting because of how the author discusses the science of canning, but beyond that, it was not useful to me. The design is one “master” recipe offered for canning, freezing, or eating fresh, and then a couple recipes on how to use the semi preserved item follow. If you are interested in more specialty Italian items, then check this book out.
The Complete Book of Small Batch Preserving by Ellie Topp and Margaret Howard. Hands down, my favorite. So many recipes! And like the first book, serving suggestions as well. I made the Garlic and Dill pickles, basic tomato sauce (with my Ohio plum tomatoes – seen cooking down in the photo), peach salsa, and peach chutney. I highly recommend this book. I’ve put it on my wishlist, as I can see myself referring to it long into the future. Some recipes even call for frozen fruit, so you really can use this throughout the year.
The New Jams, Jellies, and Pickles by Anne Nelson. The best idea I got from this book was to try a raspberry nectarine jam. I didn’t use the recipe because I use all of my own jam recipes created with Pomona pectin for low sugar jells. I am really not into pickles – I only made some because of the abundance of cucumbers I was faced with. So this book was not particularly useful for me, but if you are looking for these types of recipes, it’d be great.
Preserving Summer’s Bounty by the Rodale Food Center. This is another one for my wishlist. I love it! It is encyclopedic. There’s lists and charts for preserving all different fruits and veggies. And information is included about when drying is best, freezing, canning, etc. A good resource for the gardener as well – the author discusses when to harvest and more.
The three most important things I learned this year
#1 – steaming food preserves more nutrients than boiling, so steam blanch if possible before freezing. This is partly due to vitamins that are water soluble (like Vit B) being lost in boiling water.
#2 – time is of the essence. Nutrients lose so rapidly (except in the case of broccoli), that green beans frozen the day they were harvested have more nutrients than green beans that were fresh but lingered for two days in the fridge.
#3 – Seek out fresh produce. Much of what is available at grocery stores is waxed with a non-water soluble, non-toxic wax also containing a fungicide to preserve freshness and prevent moisture loss during transportation. Ask at your grocery store if items are waxed. Find the little veggie stand nearby or person selling extras from his/her garden. Be alert on your commute or drives around town. I found fresh, unsprayed zucchini at the farm stand I usually just visit in November for apples and apple cider.