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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Next time you come back from the grocery store, take a good look inside those paper bags. Should you see any of the following -- vinegars, jams, jellies, dried fruits, dried beans, canned vegetables, frozen foods, yogurt, aged cheese, smoked sausages, or smoked salmon -- please take a moment and raise a glass of (fermented) beer or perhaps some kefir (fermented yogurt) to the many heroes of food preservation.
From the Romans, who cured hams with salt, to Nicholas Appert, (b. 1740) the father of modern-day canning techniques, and Clarence Birdseye, the poster boy of modern frozen foods, these and many other heroes appear in their moments of glory in Sue Shephard's comprehensive history of food preserving. In the process, they not only extended the shelf life of food but the shelf life of expeditions, from those of the Roman colonists to the Lewis & Clark expeditions and the NASA space flights.
You've heard the adage, "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade." There are two shining examples in Pickled, Potted, and Canned. First, there is the case of the Scottish housewife Janet Keiller, whose husband bought an entire shipload of bitter Seville oranges for almost nothing in the wake of a shipwreck. Janet transformed them into quantities of the now-famous Keiller bitter orange marmalade, changing her family's fortunes in the process. Another is the story of Edmund McIlhenny, whose family estate after the Civil War was reduced to nothing -- nothing that is, but a crop of Tabasco peppers and some piles of salt: the very basics of McIlhenny's Tabasco sauce to this day.
Shephard rolls through the centuries and civilizations as she reviews the many methods of food preservation: drying, salting, smoking, fermenting, concentrates, preservation with sugar, bottling, canning, refrigeration, and freezing. You'll find plenty of good history and plenty of good food stories. (Ginger Curwen)