This book is much more than traditional preserving. It's beyond just chutneys and jam. It does that too and we'll get to that later but for now we'll start at the beginning. The first chapter of this book is called 'On Growing'. This is a book on preserving that starts with advice on how to grow things worth preserving. So awesome. The list of vegetable varieties best for home growing and old fashioned storage is invaluable to me.
The book then talks you through storing your vegetables (including an amazing idea for a modern take on the clamp) before landing on drying. There is advice on drying whole fruit, vegetable crisps, tomatoes and, well, most things you can grow. I gave the fruit leather a whirl. I've made fruit leathers a bunch of times before but this time I made a thrifty batch of blackcurrant crumble from pulp leftover from cordial making.
|Chive Blossom Vinager|
From the pickling section I went straight for herb vinegar. I had some chive blossoms appearing on the balcony so I put them into white vinegar for a week. After a strain I bottled it up and gave it a tentative taste. Delicious. I'm also looking forward to pickling fennel and doing some Beetroot Marmalade as the season marches on.
The fermenting chapter excites me. I haven't fermented before (on purpose, that is) and now I'm super excited to get some sauerkraut started and for my cucumbers to grow up enough for dill pickles. While I assemble my kit for that I picked a really simple recipe to play with. I have a Rosemary on the balcony and a sage on the allotment so I made the Dry Salted Salamoia Bolognese. I swear I swooned taking the picture of it. It smells so delicious.
The next chapter, On Sugar, has the lovely jams and jellies. It also displays the best thing about this book perfectly. There are by the numbers recipes for beginners but if you want to experiment you are totally supported. All the whys are explained in an accessible way so you can put them to good use coming up with your own interpretations. I made some blackcurrant jam using the basic jam recipe and, on the advice of the book, cut my usual level of sugar to make a much more subtle tasting jam.
|Sugary Trio - Cordial, Jam, Leather|
On Bottling continues with the theme of amazing advice and exciting recipes. I made some cordial from blackcurrants. If you are wondering where all those blackcurrants come from at this time of year I'll tell you. They where in my freezer. Lori from Shute Fruit suggested that if you come into a great deal of fruit in summer you can freeze it to make jam out of season. It might sound counter-intuitive but last year when I was working as a gardener and brought home 3kg of blackcurrants (and picked so, so much more) it was all I could do. I whipped them out for this trio of jam, leather and cordial.
Back to the book but on the subject of freezing, On freezing is the next chapter with helpful tips about what goes in the freezer and how long for. I'm intrigued by the broad bean Falafels. The last chapter was the most intriguing to me, and one I could definitely read a whole other book on. It talks about the top to tail eating concept and applies it to vegetables. Which is so amazing I don't even know where to start. If I didn't save my carrot tops for dyeing I'd totally try out the Carrot Top Pesto.
So my advice? Go, go buy this one now. It's amazing.
Abundance: How to Store and Preserve Your Garden Produce Growing Harvesting Drying Pickling Fermenting Bottling Freezing