We are nose deep in harvest season, so I think it's appropriate to start talking about how to preserve all this bounty.
I'd like to tell you about a book that I recently picked up and its author.
Put 'em Up! is a collection of preservation techniques, from pickling to drying, for all kinds of foods. I was immediately drawn to the book by the variety of foods shown on the cover, and my gut instinct that this book was valuable was confirmed when I read the dedication; "For all the home cooks, who nourish family and friends, culture and tradition." The table of contents revealed some interesting looking sections, including "things that will surely get you into trouble" and some very intriguing flavor combinations and riffs on basic preserved foods, including cherry and black pepper preserves, fennel confit, roasted pepper ketchup, rhubarb soda syrup, and watermelon agua fresca.
I picked up my copy at the best bookstore around, Prairie Lights, and dug in. The book is smartly laid out with a small section in the beginning outlining the basic preparation techniques (blanching, vinegar and fermented pickles) and preservation methods (freezing, drying, canning) used throughout the text.
The bulk of the book is composed of creative recipes organized by the type of food, so when you have lots of rhubarb on hand, you'll quickly find six different ways to use it up.
I picked up this book because the author, Sherri Brooks Vinton, will be visiting the Iowa City farmer's market next Saturday, September 4th. She'll also be involved in the Field to Family event sponsored by the Johnson County Local Foods Alliance. You can see more about her book tour schedule here, and you can read my post about last year's JCLFA Culinary Walk here. If you live in the Iowa City area and care about food, come out and experience what the city has to offer.
Frankly speaking, I don't buy new books very often. I have many that I haven't read yet, and most books I want to read are well-suited to being checked out from the library. I've written here before about the books I keep related to food, and I don't add pieces to that collection very often. That said, I think this book is one worth purchasing and I expect to use it this season. Could you find all the information contained in it on the internet? Yes, with some effort. Is it worth $19.95 to have all this information organized and available in paper form (rather than on a laptop screen, which you want nowhere near food) in an attractive way? I think so. I think the print medium has been sold short in recent times. It is still necessary and important. So grab a copy and let me know in the comments whether you agree.
Finally, I'd like to leave you with some links from my blog for all kinds of preserved food.
pickled green beans, beets, and cucumbers
three ways to save strawberries
cranberry clementine marmalade
So tell me, what are you reading and putting up these days?