There are bunches of reasons you might want to learn how to preserve food:
- Perhaps you grow a garden, and it has produced such an abundance of produce that your family couldn’t possibly eat it all.
- Perhaps you subscribe to a CSA that has given you more of a certain item than your family will be able to eat before it will go bad.
- Perhaps you had the opportunity to pick your own fruit at a local orchard, and you got a killer deal on apples or peaches or other fruit — and you want to preserve some of it for the future.
- Perhaps you’re thinking of giving homemade preserves to everyone you know for Christmas gifts this year.
- Perhaps you’d prefer to grow or buy your own produce and can it in glass jars rather than storing (and eating) cans of commercially available food that has been preserved with dubious preservatives and then stored in cans lined with toxic BPA.
Whatever your reason for wanting to learn how to preserve your own food, there’s a brand new book that could be helpful to you as you seek out the knowledge you need. It’s called The Farm Girl’s Guide to Preserving the Harvest: How to Can, Freeze, Dehydrate, and Ferment Your Garden’s Goodness.
If you’re a total beginner to food preservation, this book will get you up to speed on the topic fast ; and even if you aren’t new to the topic, this book is still worth owning — because it incorporates recipes, wisdom and insights that you might not have had the opportunity to encounter otherwise.
Authors: Ann Accetta-Scott is the author who wrote all this book’s informative text on preserving food. Ann also contributed much of the photography for the book. Joel Salatin, who is well-known as being one of the champions of the slow food movement, has written a compelling foreword endorsing the book.
Publisher: Lyons Press
Copyright Date: 2019
ISBN 13: 978-1493036646
ISBN 10: 1493036645
This book is available in the following format(s):
Number of Pages: 254
Skill Level: This book is suitable for total beginners to food preservation.
The Focus of This Book:
This book is intended to be an easy-to-use introduction to multiple aspects of food preservation. The book gives basic information about a broad variety of food preservation techniques including canning, freezing, using a food dehydrator, sun drying, root cellars, cold storage, freeze drying, fermenting, and salting. Water bath canning, pressure canning and steam canning are all topics of discussion. You’ll learn about pickling; making jams, jellies and preserves; making your own yogurt and kefir; brewing and bottling your own kombucha; and making jerkey and salt-cured meat. You’ll also learn which vegetables can easily be preserved in cold storage, without you having to can them (or even wash them). The book includes recipes, but recipes are not the central focus of the book; the theory of safe and effective food preservation is the primary focus.
A List of the Recipes Included in This Book:
- Homemade Apple Pectin
- Dandelion Flower Jelly
- Dandelion Petal Tea
- Simple Garden Salsa
- Cowboy Candy (These are sweet pickled jalapenos).
- Raspberry Jalapeno Jam
- Slow Cooker Apple Butter
- A Farm Girl’s Old-Fashioned Apple Pie Filling
- Blue Ribbon Perfect Pickled Asparagus
- Shelf-Stable Brandied Cherries
- Picnic Relish
- Grandma’s Dill and Garlic Pickles
- Pickled Garlic
- Maple Bourbon Bacon Jam
- Perfectly Pickled Eggs in a Jalapeno Pepper Brine
- Corned Beef and Potatoes
- Bone Broth
- Candied Salmon
- Stewed Tomatoes
- Turmeric Milk
- Tomato Powder
- Salted nuts and seeds
- Homemade Yogurt
- Ricotta Cheese
- Basic Teriyaki Jerky
- Cowboy’s Whiskey Jerky
- Dog Treats
- Stone Fruit Leather
- Apple Rings
- Herbed Tomatoes in Sea Salt
- Dehydrated Eggs
- Pizza Sausage
- Salt-Cured Egg Yolks
- Smoked Farm-Fresh Eggs
- Homemade Bacon
- Astralagus and Fruit Juice Syrup
- Homemade Cultured Butter
- Homemade Water Kefir
- Sugar-Free Coconut Water Kefir
- Ginger Bug
- Homemade Raw Apple Cider Vinegar
- Fermented Garlic Scapes
- Spicy Fermented Eggs
- Sourdough Starter
- Homemade Sourdough Bread
- Homemade Garden Pesto
- Preserved Peppers in Olive Oil
- Homemade Irish Cream Liquor
The Best Things About This Book
This book contains heaps of useful reference information. Much of it is presented in logical table format. There’s a table showing you exactly how long you need to process low-acid items in the pressure canner — for both pint and quart jars. There’s a table that can help you plan out how many jars you’ll need for canning your harvest. For example, if you have 50 pounds of pears to preserve, you can consult the book and easily see that you will need up to 25 quart jars to can it all. This can help you plan ahead and avoid running out of jars while you’re in mid jam session. (You might need to apply some simple junior high level math to make use of this information, depending on the size of your harvest). Another example is a section on sweeteners featuring information about possible substitutions for 1 cup of refined sugar.
Enticing full-color photography enhances the pages of this book — and the author provided the majority of the photographs. Thumbs up to that.
Why is that an important selling point for this book?
Personally, I find it highly frustrating that some cook books and cooking websites use stock photography. When you prepare a recipe from one of these resources, your version of the dish is almost guaranteed to NOT look like the one pictured in the stock photo — and, if you’re expecting it to, you’ll no doubt be puzzled about where you went wrong. You might even waste a lot of time trying the recipe again, and again, in a vain attempt to achieve the pictured results — when the truth is, nobody on earth could possibly arrive at a dish that looks like the stock photo using that particular recipe. The author of the recipe probably couldn’t even do it. That shouldn’t be a problem with this book. You’re looking at honest photography here.
I find the presentation in this book to be practical rather than glamorous. I appreciate it that the photos in this book are attractive and appealing, but not styled to the point that they’ll trigger the type of inferiority complex that people can sometimes start to experience when they are scrolling through Instagram and looking at all the influencers’ picture-perfect kitchens. My opinion: The straightforward, casual, classic and totally genuine styling of this book’s imagery is a definite selling point.
Ann discusses things that outright should not be canned — and why they shouldn’t be. This is crucial information for anyone who is planning to give home canning a try.
She also includes a brief section on which foods, in her experience, shouldn’t be dried. In some cases, she makes you aware that the foods can technically be dried — but in her opinion, they aren’t really worth drying, because it is difficult to actually use the dried versions of these foods when you’re cooking. Then she makes suggestions for alternative food preservation methods that would give you easier-to-use results.
This information is invaluable, especially if you’ve never actually cooked with dried foods before; Ann’s advice here could save you bunches of wasted food and time. If you plan to do a lot of preserving, this information alone could justify the purchase of the book. The book’s upfront cost is a bargain as compared against the cost of wasted food (not to mention all the wasted water and effort in the garden if the end result cannot easily be used).
Ann is enthusiastic about steam canning, and substantial numbers of pages in the book are dedicated to this topic.
Up until recently, this technology had not been researched thoroughly enough to be considered safe by the USDA. However, recent research has demonstrated its safety in some situations, and Ann gives you the lowdown on what you need to know about it in this book. I learned a HUGE amount by reading this book — and if you aren’t yet aware of the steam canner’s many benefits, this is information I think you’re likely to be really excited about.
For many people, the steam canner has the potential to significantly cut processing time and energy costs — because you don’t have to boil the same massive amount of water that you’d have to boil with the hot water bath canning method. (I say “for many people” because the steam canner’s usefulness diminishes at higher altitudes — which is an issue for me, because I live near a ski resort, high up in the mountains at an altitude close to 10,000 feet. The longer processing times required at this altitude make some recipes un-viable in the steam canner, since safe steam canning has a time limit of 45 minutes or less — and since high altitude canning requires longer processing times. So, if you live in Breckenridge, or any location with a similar altitude, you can safely scratch the steam canner off your list of techniques to learn about; you’ll likely find it more productive to use other preserving methods. But, for most people, this issue should hopefully not be a deal breaker.)
Other Observations About This Book
This book includes some food science basics, but there’s not a tedious amount of this type of information. If you’re looking for a book that gets really geeky and detailed about the science behind food preservation, this is not it. You’re not going to have to plod through tutorials for how to perform titrations for estimating the acid content of homemade vinegars, or anything like that. (If that’s what you want, check out The Art of Pickling by Linda Ziedrich). In contrast, what you have here is a gem of an introductory text that’s intended for the layperson.
Food preservation can be an overwhelming topic, especially when you are new to it and you do not know where to start. This book is ideal for giving you a good overview of when you might want to can a particular food instead of freezing, fermenting or dehydrating it — or when you might be better off choosing to ferment a particular food instead of freezing or canning it. It can guide you in the direction of understanding which foods can be safely stored in which ways. It also gives you insights into how to preserve food safely, so that nobody gets food poisoning from the preserved food.
If this book has a downside, it’s that an introductory text of this nature can’t get as in-depth as you might like it to on any one food preservation topic. Indeed, there are countless books that have been written about each one of the topics this book covers. I’m sure a whole library of books could be written about each topic. So, if you are looking for a comprehensive reference on any one of these topics, you will probably want to seek out additional references beyond just this one.
In particular, if you’re interested in canning, this book gives you a really fantastic introduction to the topic — but it doesn’t provide all the canning recipes you might like to have. But, really, can any single book ever give you all the canning recipes you might like to have? Probably not. If you’re going to learn to preserve food, you may want to pick up several books on the topic; and if you are puzzled about where to start, definitely consider making this one of them.
More selling points for this book: A helpful, easy-to-use resources section is included in the back of the book. If you need to buy food preservation equipment or supplies, this section of the book will make it ultra-easy for you to find what you need. Also, Ann clearly reveals all her sources – and I personally plan to make use of this information when I shop for additional food preservation books in the future. This is an area where my own library could use a lot of filling out, so I will find her reading list extremely helpful in determining which other books belong in my own reference library. You’re likely to find this aspect of the book useful, too, if you decide you’d like to do additional reading on the topic of food preservation.
I haven’t yet had a chance to test any of these recipes to see how they turn out. The one I’m most looking forward to is the brandied cherries. No, wait, make that the homemade garden pesto. And the apple rings, someday, if I can ever persuade my husband that we really need a dehydrator. And the herbed tomatoes in sea salt…and the homemade yogurt…OK, I am starting to feel hungry, just looking at all these recipes.
This is a worthwhile book packed with solid, helpful information. It is well worth its asking price, and I believe it has the potential to more than pay for itself — because the advice it contains can save you countless wasted hours in the garden and massive quantities of wasted food if you have a lot to preserve. I am delighted to recommend The Farm Girls’ Guide to Preserving the Harvest to others who are interested in learning about how to preserve food.
Where to Buy This Book:
Related Resources: Cook Books and More
- If you’re interested in growing your own herbs and using them in a variety of tasty culinary recipes plus applying them as herbal remedies and homemade beauty products, check out The Homesteader’s Herbal Companion , published by the same publisher (and also featuring a foreword by Joel Salatin).
- Check out our cook book reviews HERE.
This page was last updated on 11-14-2019.