The 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.
Written in a lively style by a creator of several British television food programs, this book recounts the development of food preserving from the time of the ancients to the era of the space program, from East to West and all points in between. The 16 chapters individually treat each technology, e.g., drying, salting, pickling in vinegar, smoking, fermenting, canning, refrigerating and freezing, and dehydration. Well-documented facts come alive with anecdotal support and the sense that the author truly cares about the ingenious way that humanity has preserved itself by preserving its food. Ultimately, one indeed understands that humankind's wanderings would have been impossible without the science of food preserving and its ability to improve flavor. While there are no recipes, the bibliography supplies a superb reading list for picklers, potters, and canners. Culinary history continues to be popular reading, which is just one reason to purchase this fine book. Highly recommended for public, academic, and special libraries. Wendy Miller, Lexington P.L., KY Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Adult/High School-This fact-filled chronicle of the development of food preservation delves into the historical context as well as the various procedures used for such ancient methods as salting, drying, smoking, and fermenting. Modern techniques like freezing and dehydration are also discussed. The development of each process is followed from its earliest time. Most innovations were born out of the necessity to keep an abundant harvest of food preserved during the winter or for long voyages. In turn new techniques empowered humans to undertake impossibly long journeys to map out trade routes, conquer distant lands, discover new continents, and eventually explore outer space. One especially interesting chapter tells of a late-18th-century race between the English and French to find a better way to preserve food and retain its flavor, nutrients, and palatability. The hero of this adventure about the process of canning was a French cook with an understanding of chemistry and a flair for business. His story is exciting and action-filled enough to be a book unto itself. This work is an excellent source for information about a small but important slice of history.-Penny Stevens, Andover College, Portland, ME Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.