The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving CookBook Review

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June 12, 2010 by Flora Dawn

With Summer just around the corner, I am thinking about gardening and the return of the Farmer’s Market.

If you love gardening or just perusing the farms and markets in your area, you probably like to preserve. There are so many books and resources about preserving, however, so much of the information floating about is out of date; and when it comes to canning and preserving that can be a recipe for disaster and illness.

One book I really enjoy is The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving: Over 300 Recipes to Use Year-Round. It was written by Ellie Topp, who as been a consultant for the government, and Margaret Howard, a registered dietitian.

The cookbook has over 300 recipes and is divided into four main sections; an introduction, which discusses the ins and outs of preserving food with heat, acid, sugar, or freezing, and chapters on sweet spreads, condiments and extras.

Although there may be better “canning” cookbooks out there, I love that this cookbook gives you safe and easy ways to preserve your harvest in small, practical batches that the average home cook can do easily.

I grew up with a mom that loved to can, I can tell you from experience, canning is a LOT of effort. I think this cookbook gives you the recipes to make preserving much less work and actually fun.

The small-batch approach is something I can appreciate. For example, I wanted to try my hand at pickles, but really, do I want dozens of jars of pickles that I am not even sure my family will love? No. So making a small batch was the perfect solution for me, and personally was a great introduction into the whole picking process.

This cookbooks contains all the traditional recipes for preserving, like raspberry jelly and orange marmalade and the some. There are over 25 recipes for pickling alone, everything from the traditional dills to pickled ginger.  The chapter on Extras contains recipes fro flavored oils and vinegars, which are fabulous gifts to make.

Hits:

  • Recipes for small-batches that are actually fun and easy to do.
  • With over 300 recipes there is something everyone will love to make and eat.
  • The authors are very knowledgeable and the information is up to date; the second edition published in 2007.
  • The canning recipes are for water-bath canning, so it doesn’t require a pressure cooker.
  • The recipes are a combination of traditional and unique foods, most of which would make great gifts.

Misses:

  • These aren’t true “canning” recipes in the pressure cooker sense, these are recipes for freezing, water bathing and creating sauces, oils, vinegars etc.
  • These recipes are for small-batches, these recipes aren’t the traditional canning recipes that produce enough food for an army.

In a nutshell: This a great preserving cookbook for a beginner or someone who enjoys the farmer’s market or backyard gardening. The recipes make small quantities, making it the ideal for trying new recipes and techniques. However, if you have lots of experience preserving food or a large family to feed, this wouldn’t be the best book for you.

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