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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Best Little Book of Preserves & Pickles

For the next several weeks I'll be highlighting some newer canning / preserving books.  I decided that I really shouldn't review the book without at least trying one of the I'll also be showing you the results of my efforts.

Author Judith Choate has put together an affordable, easy-to-follow book with several recipes for "easy jams & jellies, chutneys & condiments, sauces, spreads & syrups."  She begins with a chapter of basic information about ingredients and a chapter about equipment and techniques.  There are then eight chapters of recipes.  There are a wide range of recipes that, for the most part, had ingredients I had heard of and would actually be able to easily acquire (if I didn't already have the ingredient in my pantry.)  This is awesome because Nebraska does not necessarily have "fancy" ingredients found in some cookbooks...and if I haven't heard of it or I don't know what it is...I'm a little leery of spending my hard-earned pennies on it.  Maybe that's just me...

Also, this book is designed for small batch preserving.  I like small batch preserving because it is easier when you are canning by yourself.  Or, if you bought to much of something, you can preserve the goodness rather than letting food going to waste.

In addition to traditional jams, jellies, chutneys, preserves, conserves, relishes, and pickles, she also has recipes for canning your own:
  • sauces and marinades like teriyaki sauce and barbeque sauce
  • dessert sauces like white chocolate sauce and red hot apple syrup
  • condiments and dressings like fresh horseradish, spicy beer mustard, and hot and sour salad dressing
Anyway...I made "Mom's Special Strawberry Preserves."  I love that each recipe begins with QUANTITY: how much the recipe should make and METHOD and SHELF LIFE.   For example, the strawberry preserves said that the recipe should make 4 - 1/2 pint jars.  With water bath processing, the shelf life is 1 year.  With refrigeration, the shelf life is 6 months.  This is excellent information for beginners and old-hats alike.

The preserves were a three day process, but the time commitment was not bad on any day.  The first day involved cleaning and coring the strawberries and adding the sugar.  Day two was around an hour worth of heating up and boiling the strawberry / sugar mixture.  Day three was the longer time commitment.  Heat the strawberry mixture back up to boiling and water bath for 10 minutes.

The recipe said it would make 4 - 1/2 pint jars.  I actually got 5 - 1/2 pint jars.  I am completely okay with that!
There's only 4 jars in the picture because my brother had already stopped by to take one jar home.
What's your favorite fruit to can?  Have a wonderful and wacky Wednesday, and take care of you!

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