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From The Preface
Taking The Mystery Out Of Preserving Food
By Mary Clemens Meyer and Susanna Meyer
Until recently, preserving food was in danger of becoming a lost art. From the early days of "putting up food" for the winter, canning was a familiar practice in the scrimp-and-save Great Depression and war years of the 1930s and 1940s, and the back-to-the-land movement of the 1970s.
The 1980s and 1990s brought cheap canned goods to grocery store shelves. Women joined the work force in unprecedented numbers, and had little time for homemaking "extras." Fewer people had time or interest to grow gardens or buy extra produce to store. The process of canning and preserving food seemed like a mysterious art from the past—not relevant or efficient for modern times.
Things began to change in the early 2000s. There was a sharp rise in farmers' markets and CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) subscription farms, along with a greater demand for organic foods, the growth of local food and slow food movements, and the planting of urban and community gardens. All of these things illustrated people's desire to reconnect with their food.
At the same time, the children of the 1980s and 1990s—people who grew up learning about care for the earth—reached adulthood and began making lifestyle choices. Many are choosing healthier and less processed foods. They want to buy "fresh and local" and grow at least some of their own produce, even if it's one pot of tomatoes on the balcony. They want to feed their babies wholesome meals without additives. They want to be part of the whole experience of food, not just opening a can of tomato soup or a box of flavored noodles.
But, for many, preserving food seems like a mysterious art. How do you can, dry or pickle produce? What implements do you need? Where do you start?
That's where Saving the Seasons: How to Can, Freeze, or Dry Almost Anything comes in. We wrote it to show that preserving food is not a mysterious art. With clear steps, photos, and easy-to-follow instructions, we show how anyone can pickle, can, freeze, and dry almost anything. With a little practice, the process will become second nature and lead to years of satisfying experiences and good eating.
There's nothing more satisfying than seeing a row of colorful, home-canned jars on your shelf, or serving your friends and family homemade applesauce or strawberry jam in the winter. Preserving your own food also brings peace of mind—you know the quality of the ingredients and the care taken in processing. Best of all, the flavor is even better—a generous helping of taste for just a little effort.
Through Saving The Seasons, anyone can learn to preserve food, and also get the answer to the big question that comes from abundant CSA boxes and home gardens: "What do I do with the extra?" The answer: "Enjoy it all year long, from your shelf or freezer!"
From the Preface to Saving the Seasons: How to Can, Freeze, or Dry Almost Anything by Mary Clemens Meyer and Susanna Meyer.
Saving the Seasons: How to Can, Freeze, or Dry Almost Anything is available from Mennonite Publishing Network at www.mpn.net/savingtheseasons or by calling 1-800-245-7894 x 278 (U.S.), 1-800-631-6535 (Canada). The cost is $24.99 USD/$28.99 CAD.
Herald Press is the book imprint of Mennonite Publishing Network, the publishing ministry of Mennonite Church USA and Mennonite Church Canada.
Posted February 23, 2013
When I was a kid, my grandma always made jam and jellies. My mom learned how, but I never did. I wish I had. I've honestly been very intimidated by canning. So, I have been looking for a good cookbook to help me learn how. Two years ago I reviewed a canning cookbook published by Storey Publishing. The recipes were good and it had a ton of information, but many of the recipes used Pomona pectin--which happens to be quite expensive. One of my prerequisites for a cookbook I'll use over and over is that the recipes use affordable ingredients. That one didn't fit the bill. So, I've continued to look for a solid canning cookbook that would fit easily on any cookbook shelf (since the cookbook space in my kitchen has filled up) that would help me feel like I can tackle canning jam and be successful at it.
So, I was excited to discover that the publisher of Simply in Season, Herald Press, published this cookbook. It's a nice size. It is a thin volume, but it's just the right size for all the information that I found on the pages inside. I asked a friend of mine to look it over and give me her opinion of the cookbook. She is an expert canner who is well known in my church for her jams, jellies, salsas, and condiments! She liked it. She loved the pictures and was very interested to find out who the photographer was. She was tempted to purchase the cookbook just for the photographs! Her opinion is that is a great book for beginners - clear directions, good explanations, The step by step pictorial directions are easy to follow. The recipes are a good selection and are almost identical to the recipes she already uses--which have worked well for her for years. She also thought there was a good selection of tomato based canning recipes. The Farmer's Market Salsa recipe looked interesting to her. She did try the marmalade recipe and it turned out just the recipe said it would.
When I opened up this cookbook, I was immediately reminded of all the things I love about Simply in Season. Both cookbooks are simply written and are easy to understand. I did love the photographs. The photographer did a wonderful job of capturing candids, portraits, and still lifes. Saving the Seasons has the basic recipes that I want and more. I don't have tons of time to look all over the internet for good directions and illustrations of how to can. I need all the information in one place. In the back of the cookbook, the author biographies reveal that Mary runs a CSA from her family's farm. Susanna is her daughter. Susanna is now involved in urban community farming in Pittsburgh, PA. Mary has had lots of customers over the years ask for canning recipes. This cookbook was the fruit of her effort to provide them with a good place to start. I think the authors succeeded in doing just what they set out to do. I am even inspired to seriously consider purchasing a dehydrator. The information included answered one of my big questions--like the financial cost of using a dehydrator vs. an oven.
This cookbook isn't as large as many canning cookbooks, but it's a lot more useable than many I've seen. It will have a place in my kitchen for many years.
If you're interested in canning and haven't done much before, I'd highly recommend this cookbook! It is one that will be easy to use and follow. And-- there's always the great pictures to look at!
Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this cookbook for review from Herald Press.