Book Review

The Food Lover's Guide to Canning: Contemporary Recipes and Techniques

by Chris Rich and Lucy Clark Crawford

Lark Books, 50 College Street, Asheville, N.C. 28801.
Phone (704) 253-0467; Fax (704) 253-7952, or toll-free (800) 284-3388.
http://www.larkbooks.com/
Published 1997. 128 pages. Hardcover. 9 by 11-1/2 inches. 100 color photos, topical index. $24.95.
Now available in paperback (5/1999). 8-1/4 by 11 inches. $18.95.
(Price/availability info may have changed since original publication of review.)

Reviewed by Bob Allen (9/1998)

Now that summer has finally arrived, presumably leaving El Niño is its wake, fruit and vegetable growers can feel free to dream of bumper crops. The immediate problem presented is how to deal with the largesse. A new offering from Lark Books provides not only techniques but wonderful recipes to preserve the harvest. Both authors live in North Carolina, Chris Rich in Asheville, where she is a writer and editor, and Lucy Clark Crawford in Hendersonville, where she is a registered dietitian and licensed nutritionist.

The first half of the book is devoted to techniques:

Sidebars give tips in a wide variety of subjects:

Beginners and experts alike will benefit from the discussion of techniques and the many tips provided. Of particular note in my opinion are the tips on using sugar and salt in recipes and how to know when it is safe to reduce the amount in a given recipe. The recipes are divided into chapters covering the following subjects:

Rich and Crawford have collected a fine array of recipes -- not your grandmother's canning recipes -- to suit modern tastes. Pickled fruit recipes include Sweet Pickled Pears, Sweet-and-Sour Peaches, Cinnamon Apple Rings, and Spiced Cherry Pickles. In fruit relishes, check out Papaya-Cucumber Relish and Spicy Plum Relish. There are two versions of Mango and Apple Chutney, depending on whether the mango is green or ripe. Rhubarb-Kumquat Chutney is an unusual combination, and the Nectarine-Peach Chutney is said to work "miracles with meatless curries."

For ham dishes, try the Almond-Prune Chutney. Intriguing fruit jellies and marmalades include Cherry Calvados Jelly, Blueberry-Citrus Marmalade,Aunt Emme's Mystery Marmalade (with green apples, peaches, tomatoes and oranges) and Spiced Sour Cherry and Orange Marmalade. The Gingered Pear Jam, Very Berry Jam and Honeydew-Peach Conserve look especially appealing, if one were forced to choose from the many wonderful recipes. Of the fruit butters, the following should be tried: Strawberry-Pear, Apricot-Prune and Kate's Peach Butter.

At the back of the book, an invaluable A-to-Z canning chart provides a concise blueprint of canning procedures, jar sizes, processing times and food preparation methods for everything from apple juice to zucchini. This book should be on every serious canner's shelf.


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