The most important lesson I’ve learned about canning is this: turn on the burner under the big pot of water now. God, it takes forever to boil. The rest is pretty much chopping and timing and jars and lids. My wife is chief preservationist in the family. I’m the always cheerful right hand man. It’s worth the effort--to do the dirty work and to be cheerful. The reward is great on a raw winter day when we open a jar of fresh green salsa from tomatillos and peppers we grew ourselves.
Now is the time to start putting up your relish and pickles. Do you know what you’re doing?
There are more books than ever out on this subject.
The classic Putting Food By is a good place to start. Now in its fifth edition, PFB has been the go-to reference for canners for over 30 years. For pickle relish we use The Big Book of Preserving the Harvest, by Carol Costenbader. It’s simple and the results are great. That and several other fine books on the subject are published by Storey Publishing, from just down the road in North Adams, MA. They know what they are doing when it comes to kitchens and gardens. Put ‘Em Up!: A Comprehensive Home Preserving Guide for the Creative Cook, from Drying and Freezing to Canning and Pickling, by Sherri Vinton Brooks is a good companion volume to Ms. Costenbader’s book. Vermont’s own, Andrea Chesman, who has written many books on cooking and sustainable living has a new one—The Pickled Pantry: From Apples to Zucchini, 150 Recipes for Pickles, Relishes, Chutneys & More. You can ask her all your preserving questions when she visits the store on Sunday, September 30 at 3:00 p.m.
The sustainable living experts at Chelsea Green Publishing know a thing or two about putting up a harvest, too. Jackie Sherman’s Making the Most of Your Glorious Glut, one of their British imports, will help you address the problem of over-abundance. And if you are ready to take your preserving skills to the next level, check out The Art of Fermentation, by Sandor Ellix Katz. You’ll learn how to make kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt, beer and dozens of other foods. Katz covers meats, eggs, nuts as well as history, culture and nutritional information for what is likely the oldest form of food preservation.