Book Review: Put ’em Up

Reviewed by Amy Cotter

In Put ’em Up: A Comprehensive Home Preserving Guide for the Creative Cook, Sherri Brooks Vinton holds your hand and walks you through the time-honored tradition of home food preservation.  She begins by acknowledging the rumors that home preservation is time-consuming and dangerous, and goes on to successfully dispel them.  Vinton describes why home preservation is worthwhile, then directs us in the selection of food to preserve.  The first half of the book contains techniques.  Preserving one’s own food is a two step process, so Vinton starts with step one: food preparation methods.  Keeping with the theme of the book, this section is user friendly with sections on equipment, key ingredients, and step-by-step instructions complete with illustrations describing processes like blanching and making fermented pickles.  Step two of home preservation is the preservation aspect, and this section also contains useful sections and illustrations.  Vinton thoughtfully includes sections titled, “Trouble” and “Things That Look Bad but Aren’t Dangerous,” which are very helpful.

Of course, the second half of the book is recipes.  It is organized by type of produce, so that you can identify what you have too much of and then find recipes geared specifically toward preserving it.  The range of produce spans from traditional fruit and vegetables to spices, herbs, and more regional items like ramps and scapes.  Since techniques for preservation have already been taught, the recipes section is able to encompass far more options, including traditional jams and jellies, and less typically imagined items like Vin d’Orange.  This lively book uses family anecdotes, easy to follow instructions, and delicious recipe recommendations to convince us to return to the tradition of home preservation.

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