Saturday, July 4, 2015
What I'm Reading In 2015, June (Late): Preserve It!
Preserve It! by DK Publishing
I found the book at the used store and got all kinds of excited as I love ANY book that centers around preservation of food. Seriously, I could read a book on the history of pasteurization I bet. Sad, I know.
The book promoted that it covered canning, bottling (what I was actually the most excited about as I'd read a bit about "bottling" of fruits in my WWII books), curing, drying, etc. So, I figured I could find some cool stuff in the book.
Sadly, I didn't find much. It's not that there weren't some neat recipes in the book. I got the book months ago, in fact and got my recipe for making candied peel out of it (which I'm still munching on from time to time). No, the biggest problem was the fact that this was written for overseas audiences.
The canning process for jam making was...well weird compared to what I'm used to. I remember my mom used to make jam with wax disks when I was a child, but there's some weird processes going on with the recipes (like letting the jam sit for a while before you seal it) that I had a hard time wrapping my head around. For one thing the book has you making your own pectin out of apple peels, which is great if you have bushels of apples, but for those of us, like me, who have to buy pectin at the store the measurements in the recipes are going to be way off.
Here in America we have mason jars with two piece canning lids. There's a inner circle that sits on top of the jar with a sealing compound around the edge and there's a seal "tester" in the middle of the circle that sucks down with a "ping" when the jar vacuum seals. Then you have an outer ring that you screw down onto the jar to hold the lid with the sealing compound in place so that the heat from canning can melt the sealing compound, the jar can release the air it needs and then it will vacuum seal properly. The methods they used in the "Preserve It" book were well...different.
And then there is our safety standards for doing things over here that the book didn't need to adhere to because it was written in a different country. Like preserving fresh mushrooms in oil and just letting it steep at room temperature. In America that's considered a big no-no as is preserving fresh garlic in oil as botulism can survive in the water contained with fresh ingredients like that. So, I got kind of nervous that the book was being sold over here without some type of warning that safety standards differ from country to country and such because some of the recipes just out and out made me nervous.
There are some good recipes in the book, do NOT get me wrong, but the processes in the book, I think, at least over here should be greatly ignored and just everything pretty much should be stored in the fridge. It seems safer to me. But, I'm also a safety nut when it comes to canned goods now that I know more than when I first started out years ago, so be your own judge.
The photography in the book is top notch, though and some of the recipes are (I hope anyway *laugh*) safe by American standards. Like the candied peel recipe I mentioned earlier. I made a batch and it came out very well and I've been eating pieces on and off as snacks and plan to help flavor cakes and other desserts with the peel later on as well.
So, overall, if you are looking for a canning book that explains things and adheres to American food safety standards, get the Ball Book of Home Preserving (speaking of, I want to get their newest addition SO bad as it has like 75 new recipes in it!) and get this one to look at and get ideas, but don't get it and think of it as a preserving bible. Because for Americans...it isn't.