Saturday, February 23, 2013

February Doldrums

It's February and I can feel it.  We were without a furnace on Tuesday and Wednesday.  I really felt it then.  usually it's my husband who misses spring and the warmer weather.  Right now, it's me.  One of the things I look forward to is picking strawberries at a farm nearby in May.  There's nothing like fresh, homemade jam.

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 a canning cookbook:  Saving the Seasons: How to Can, Freeze, or Dry Almost Anything.

This book is a nice size.  It's 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.  

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this review. Canning is something that I have been wanted to learn for a while. I'll have to check out this book.