Small Batch Preserving

The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving by Ellie Topp and Margaret Howard has been around awhile and I make recipes from it fairly often. Each recipe offers detailed directions and many have variations presented. I kept checking this book out from the library and liked it so much I finally bought a copy. I count it in my Top Five cookbooks.

If your garden is like mine, the vegetables don’t ripen all at once, thus the necessity of making small batches. The book also provides great combination recipes for fruits which eliminates the monotony of jams and preserves.

In addition to the recipes, Topp and Howard cover basic safety procedures for preserving and canning. Their step-by-step guidelines are easy to follow. They cover the four ways to preserve food.

The book contains charts for high altitude adjustments, multiple glossaries and lots of How To’s in a step by step format. One can find recipes for jams, jellies, chutneys, pickles, sauces, vinaigrettes and oils. The output is measured in cups with most yielding less than 4 cups. Large color photographs of the prepared preserves are grouped in two locations so there is a need to flip from one section of the book to another in order to compare your outcome with that of the authors.

The recipes span the range of the taste buds from sweet to savory as well as spicy. One of the things I like the most about Small-Batch Preserving is the combination jams and jellies. For example, my gooseberry yield this year was small, most likely due to a late freeze. But, combining the gooseberries with sour cherries allowed me to use the berries in a jam. Additionally, the book includes multiple recipes with blueberries. Since blueberries are low in acidity, many cookbooks leave out this super fruit.

The salsa and chutney recipes follow a similar vein. Combinations of fruits and vegetables in recipes ranging from tart to sweet with varying degrees of spiciness can be found in the book. Last fall I made both fruit and vegetable chutneys. Favorites were the Orchard Chutney featuring peaches, apples and onions and the Apple Plum Chutney. Again all these recipes were quick to make due to the small amounts.

A wide range of pickle recipes can be found in Small Batch Preserving. While cucumbers are the feature of this section, one can also find recipes for pickled peaches and beets. I am a relative novice at pickling. Last fall I tried eight of the pickle recipes. All disappeared before Christmas.

If you like to make your own preserves but don’t have all day to spend in the kitchen this book is for you.

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