Book Review: “The Preserving Answer Book”

“The Preserving Answer Book:

Expert Tips, Techniques, and Best Methods for Preserving All Your Favorite Foods”

By Sherri Brooks Vinton

Storey Publishing, 2nd edition, 2021

256 pages, paperback, $14.95

Sherri Brooks Vinton is an expert on all methods of food preservation. The author of “Put ‘em Up!” and Put ‘em Up! Fruit,” she has toured and taught innumerable classes on the topics. This book is inspired by all the questions she has answered from her audiences.

I do not gravitate to single topic how-to books. I like the all-inclusive big book on the topic. But this book is an exception, because it is an all-inclusive book of answers. I read it from cover-to-cover; I couldn’t put it down. I have been putting food by for more than 40 years, and I learned quite a bit. And it was comforting to be reassured that I was doing things correctly.

The book is dedicated to “all those eaters who ask questions and demand answers.” That’s us, the farming and gardening and food-loving community, the ones who seek to learn all we can and constantly strive to learn how to do it better.

“The Preserving Answer Book” is divided into three sections. “Getting Started” covers questions around the basics of why to preserve, safety, sourcing produce and storage, and prep work, which covers kitchen skills and tips, blanching, making the most of it, and pits and peels.

The second section, “Preserving Processes” covers general canning, the boiling-water bath method, pressure canning, refrigeration, freezing, drying, fermentation and infusions. The third section, “Putting Your Skills to Work” covers sweet and savory spreads, pickles, sauces, vegetables, whole fruits, and tomatoes and tomato products. Though not a step-by-step manual on how to do every step, Vinton shares so much detail as she addresses questions that one comes away with a deeper understanding and confidence that it is all being done correctly. Some basic questions on root cellaring also get addressed.

Each section includes interesting recipes that pertain to the method covered. Pickled okra, peel and pit pectin, dried cherries, pub pickles and white peach jam recipes are interspersed with sidebars of great tips. I love the recipe called “Avalanche Sauce,” which helps one quickly deal with an avalanche of tomatoes.

The book concludes with a very handy metric conversion section, a resource section and a well-organized index.

– Roberta Bailey, Seven Tree Farm, Vassalboro, Maine

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