Monday, September 13, 2010

Review: The Beginner’s Guide to Preserving Food At Home by Janet Chadwick

The Beginner’s Guide to Preserving Food At Home by Janet Chadwick

From Jennifer Allen

From the time I was 12 my family had a large garden most years. We would be enthusiastic as we planted and if things went well we had a large harvest of garden fresh vegetables on our hands. As you stare at the harvest before you there is one thing on your mind, what will I do with all of this? You have a few choices. Begin eating a great deal of produce, give away produce to every family member and friend you can find, or begin preserving the food for future use. Many times our plan was to preserve the food. I am most familiar with canning and freezing, while dehydrating has been few and far between.

With these past experiences in mind I began taking a look at this book. This is hands down easily one of the most informative book on food preservation I’ve read! I think for those who are new to food preservation it could be the best book to start with. For those who have years of experience behind them I’m sure you will find some new tips. I know I did!

From the beginning chapter on choosing equipment Ms. Chadwick goes through a detailed explanation of basic equipment needed for root cellars, freezing, drying, and canning. She gives extensive information on the best equipment for each way of food preservation. There is an awesome chapter on tips and shortcuts for your food preservation plan. Ms. Chadwick tells readers the easiest way to preserve various foods, as well as the best way to plant your garden. From experience I think the best tip is to stagger planting your garden. You put in your seeds/plants every few weeks throughout the season so they don't all ripen at the same time. That is a very smart idea I'm here to tell you!

I’m a step by step person and Ms. Chadwick found a fan in me for her writing style. In her Basic Techniques for Preserving Foods she gives simple but clear illustrations and step by step instructions for each process she is describing. One process I will point out is her instructions for the boilable freezer method. I would want to study up a bit on the virtues of boiling my vegetables in a plastic bag. Time may be saved as she points out, but I would be concerned about the plastic leaching into the food at high heat.

In the Preserving Vegetables and Preserving Fruits and Preserving Herbs chapters Ms.Chadwick shares what would be the fastest way of preserving that food item, and what would be the healthiest way to preserve that food. When you are standing in the garden you can decide how much time you have to get the job done and follow which method you chose.

In Pickles, Relishes, Sauerkraut, and Sauces and Jams, Jellies, Preserves, and Marmalades Ms.Chadwick gives you the recipe to use then the step by step instructions for preserving with the recipe.

For the beginner gardener/preserver the book would easily be worth the purchase price for her Troubleshooting chapter. All the basic problems you could run into are addressed. I love the harvest meals chapter where she gives recipes for foods that are commonly preserved such as tomato sauce, green beans, squash and more. It’s a book well worth investing in for those concerned about the quality of their food and economic aspects of the home food preservation.
A special thanks to Storey Publishing for sending the book for review.

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