Our newly renamed, Ask A Beginner series from the pickle apron & towel designer herself, Christina, is kicking off (again) with the second post in the series! Check out her assessment of Sherri Brooks Vinton’s latest Preserving Answer Book, the third book in her Put Em’ Up book series:
Disclosures: Storey provided us with a complimentary copy of this book and will be mailing the winner’s copy directly. If you buy the book from Amazon using the link below, a minute fraction of the sale gets magically deposited into my bank account. Supporting bookstores or traditional booksellers directly is also a great idea if you’re able to go that route.
Sherri Brooks Vinton’s latest book on preservation - “Put ‘em Up! Preserving Answer Book” - seems like it was written specifically for me. Why? Because this book anticipated just how many questions I would have when I finally made up my mind to can the pickles that have been sitting on my counter for the past week, taunting me. I’m just going to come out and dub myself a beginner, and I’ll admit that I’m very by-the-book because I’m still finding my place in the kitchen.
That said, I have to make this guide a staple in my kitchen. First, it breaks everything down by a question-and-answer format (jus’ my style), which is a great counterpart when preserving. Sherri Brooks Vinton covers preservation in three parts: (1) basics of getting started, (2) preserving processes, and (3) putting your newfound skills to work.
Second, the preserving portion of the book is quite extensive and covers everything from general canning to infusions: the basics of preservation, learning equipment, and troubleshooting through your uh-ohs and whoopsies. She also includes some great starter recipes. All the topics covered are things that I have been itching to try, but have just forgotten how to tackle - like the boiling-water method of canning. This guide makes it easy to re-learn the processes I’ve learned in workshops, and the best part: there are illustrations to guide you along your way. This is way better, and more comprehensible, than my half-assed notes.
Lastly, I learned a couple new tricks: (1) cover your ferments so that pests (like a MOUSE) can’t snack or swim in your ferment. A.k.a. get a tea towel and rubber band that sucker down, pronto! And, (2) a new (hip) trick I learned, that you can use dried grape leaves to keep fermented pickles crisp - say whaaa? Tips like this are scattered through the book, and it seems she left no stone unturned.
While reading this book, I had so many “well how ‘bout that” moments (like how potatoes and onions do not get along in storage, which explains the two unhealthy tubers I found in my basket the other day) and then some “aha” moments (preserving is really about making the most out of the equipment you have on hand, so you only really need two specialty items and can substitute the rest - aka: stop procrastinating!). This guide has given me the confidence to get in that darn kitchen and make some of that preservation magic happen already! So if you’re looking for a resourceful preserving kitchen partner, this is your gem, y’all.