Friday, June 11, 2010
The Sustainable Bookshelf: Putting Food By
I spend lot of time on this blog talking about things you can make yourself to save money and live a healthier life, but part of sustainability is being able to do the things you want and need, in an emergency or for enjoyment.
To that end, I will occasionally be suggesting books that I have on my "sustainable bookshelf." These are titles that I turn to time and again to give me instructions and input on how to do things "Fast, Cheap, and Good." Today's selection is the Bible of home food preservation: Putting Food By. You can see my stained copy above.
If you have ever wanted to preserve food in any way, this is the book you need to talk you through the steps of doing it safely and emerging with a yummy product. It is broken down by preservation method - canning, freezing, drying, and even salting and cellaring -- and then by fruit, vegetable, meat, or other product that you might want to preserve.
I turn to this book every time I want to know how many minutes to process tomato sauce in quart jars in a water bath canner, how many minutes to blanch green beans for freezing, or whether it would be best to can, freeze, or dry any number of products from garden and farm market -- and how to know when they are safely preserved with the best flavor. I have never tried the instructions for preserving meat, but I'm sure they are as helpful as those for fruit, veggies, and even gift products like wine jam.
My husband often jokes that if The End comes, one should watch for the people who are looting the hardware stores for tools and supplies and invite them to the hypothetical safe house; forget about those who are looting the big box electronics store for plasma TVs. I will be watching out for those raiding the stores for canning lids and jars -- I'll bring my copy of Putting Food By, and I think we'll all be fine.
Fast: It is a cliche, but this is truly the only food preservation guide you really need. This is the one I recommend to beginners and experts alike.
Cheap: Just shy of $12 on Amazon.com, a new copy will pay for itself in your first season of preserving. As a frugalista, I should tell you to check it out of the library, but the librarians will not appreciate getting it back covered in tomato sauce.
Good: In our house, this is called "The CYA Canning Manual" -- if you follow the authors' instructions, you are covered.
Posted by Jennifer Lorenzetti at 8:53 AM