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The Complete Idiot's Guide to Preserving Food
By Karen K. Brees, Ph.D.
ISBN: 1592579167
Publisher: Alpha
Publication date: July 2009
Format: Paperback
Number of recipes: 52
List price: $18.95
Type: Pantry: Preserving, Canning
Sample recipe:Zucchini Bread; Tomatillo Green Salsa
Intended audience: novice advanced beginner good home cook gourmet professional
Apparent goal: stocking stuffer sampler comprehensive encyclopedia coffee-table
Meal part: all breakfast/brunch lunch dinner dessert
Competition: outclassed a bit behind in the pack strong challenger likely champ
Variety: too little too much unusual nice mix just right
Practical recipes: <20% <40% <60% <80% ≥80%
# of ingredients: ≤4 ≤7 ≤10 ≤12 >12
Ingredient hunt: airfare required online farmer's market supermarket pantry
Recipe complexity: too hard simple medium challenging professional
Instructions: inadequate verbose minimal complete educational
Time conscious: not conscious bald lies white lies realistic scout's honor
Cooking time: weekend project takes all day takes time ≥30 minutes <30 minutes
Added info: zip overwhelming scant ample generous
Photos/drawings: none drawings b&w photos occasional color all color
Art contribution: disappointing helpful decorative beautiful glorious
Recipe results: ≤dorm food casual food family meals fancy food fit for royalty
Nutritional info: none overwhelming hit or miss adequate comprehensive
Format/Ease of Use
Layout: ugh cluttered fine kind work of art
Legibility: unpleasant challenging ok clear brilliant
Production quality: cheesy middle ground years of service gift quality stunning
Page numbers: hard-to-find spotty sufficient most pages every page
Table of contents: missing frustrating minimal helpful excellent
Index: none confusing adequate nice a treasure
Page flipping: upsetting tedious acceptable rare never
Writing history: beginner writer/journalist food writer writing cook personality
Cooking heritage: unknown self-taught teacher chef celebrity
Fulfills ambitions: falls short satisfactory successful exceeds home run
Flavor delivered: sad inconsistent tasty delicious exceptional
Overall tone: sterile trying too hard straightforward good friend mom
Value: ouch! a little pricey worth splurging on the money a deal
Overall rating: skip it good very good excellent Ochef Top 100

Comments:We have whole books on freezing, fermenting, drying, salting, smoking, root cellaring, canning fruits, canning vegetables, canning meats, making jams, jellies, pickles and relishes, etc., etc. Is it possible to find meaningful information on all of these topics in one book?

More or less, it is.

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Preserving Food seems to cover the topic pretty thoroughly. There is obviously more information in our 50 books on preserving food, but what idiots want to buy 50 books, especially when they only want to know about canning or only want to know about freezing (the two topics this book covers in most detail). There is limited information on smoking and salting, more on fermenting, and still more on dehydrating. There are a few dozen recipes, and they come from a variety of sources (mostly various extension services, but also the maker of Equal), and so are somewhat inconsistent. There is a recipe for beef stock, but then the Vegetable Beef Soup is made with beef bouillon cubes.

In addition to chapters on freezing; canning; pickles, relishes, and fermented foods; fruit spreads; and drying, salting, smoking, and root cellaring, there is in the back a glossary, a chart of abbreviations and equivalencies, a chart on syrup making, charts on processing times for various foods, a freezer storage chart, and a grid on the best preserving methods for various foods.

If you are thinking of taking the plunge into canning, dehydrating, or otherwise preserving foods, this is a great place to start.


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