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Posted April 2, 2011
In recent years, many people have wanted to return to more natural foods, or have a more direct experience with creating their own foods. This has opened up interest for people in old ways of preserving fruits, like was often a necessity, before the easy availability of mass-market jams, jellies and preserves. I grew up near a grandmother who enjoyed making jams from summer fruits, common in our area of the South, only to enjoy them through the colder months, or even to give as thoughtful gifts through the holiday season, months later.
The Joy of Jams, Jellies and Other Sweet Preserves: is a great resource and reference tool for people wanting to learn how to create fruit jams and jellies, and have readily available over 200 recipes for most popular North American fruits. The author, Linda Ziedrich, of Oregon, has years of experience, through her own farming, with preserving fruits, and writing about the processes involved and popularizing them.
There are several distinctives of this book that need to be noted, especially for the beginning preserver. This book does not advocate the use of commercially created pectin, and instead mostly advocates the use of more naturally occurring items, like lemon juice. Also, while the technique for preserving virtually every fruit here is the same there are a host of variations that range from low-sugar and sugar substitute preserves, to preserves with alcohols and other spices.
We have used the recipes for two fruits, widely available in mid summer in the South, peaches and black berries. We found the fruit set quickly and as described, without using commercially produced pectin.
The book begins with a nice overview of how preserving fruit works, the different types of preservation, and how the canning process physically happens. The biggest draw back to this book is that it could use some illustrations, especially since the audience for a book like this would be many people who are familiar with the hardest part of preserving; the canning process. Otherwise, the user of this book would find this a fine reference book for virtually any type of readily available seasonal fruit.