Putting Food By

by Janet Greene, Ruth Hertzberg, and Beatrice Vaughn Hudson Street Press, 2010 $17.00, paper 454 pages

As more and more of us become front lawn gardeners and backyard chicken farmers, the obvious next question is what to do with all our produce.

Anyone can freeze a few blueberries to sprinkle on pancakes in the dead of winter, but what would you do with a bumper crop of kohlrabi? Have you ever stood at the deli counter and wondered if you can smoke your own salmon? And what about those mystery ingredients like gelatin, eggs, or whipped cream—can you freeze them or not?

The definitive answers and a bit of inspiration are all here in this compact bible of preserving food. Whether you are motivated by nutrition, thrift, or flavor, the home wisdom and scientific facts will guide you through safety to success.

The book starts with the basics—whay foods spoil. Knowing the action of enzymes, molds, yeasts, and bacteria on our foods allows you to control it. It’s a fine line between the noble bacteria of blue cheese and just plain mold.

But beyond the basics, the book provides great detail on specific ingredients and techniques that will effect the outcomes—from managing hard or soft water to the best use of salt, acid, and sugars.

Most of the book is sorted into specific preservation techniques for specific foods. It includes instruction for canning everything from fruit to fish and goes on to techniques for freezing, making jams and jellies, pickling, curing (with salt and smoke), drying, and even root cellaring.

There are recipes throughout the book—Blueberry Conserve, Tomato Ketchup—but most of them appear in the last chapter, Putting by Presents for Christmas. Here you’ll get ideas for specialty vinegars and other home made gifts, for Christmas or otherwise.

The wealth of knowledge here will make you a better cook, even if you venture no farther than freezing. Maybe it never occurred to you to make your own ketchup, and I’ll bet you don’t know the difference between the drugstore fold and the butcher wrap to pack foods for freezing.

So whether it’s a farm market deal or garden bounty, now you can enjoy it all year round.

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About Appetite for Books

read, cook, eat, repeat
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