Book Review: “The Fresh Girl’s Guide to Easy Canning and Preserving”

by Larissa Dzegar
One of the ways my mom lets me know she loves me is by making soup and canning it so I can preserve it until that fateful day when a cold hits me and all I want is a bowl of mom’s magical brew. When I don’t know what to give someone for the holidays, I rely on my homemade orange marmalade presented in cute jars—it’s a gift everyone appreciates since it’s such a sweet labor of love. And when I get carried away at the farmers’ market and buy way too many tomatoes, I love making a kick-ass marinara sauce and storing it for when my pasta, fish, or pizza needs some extra flavor. So I can attest: knowing how to safely can and preserve foods is a true lifesaver. If you have a busy schedule, live in a climate where fresh produce can’t be grown year-round, or want to make sure that your canned foods are really free of preservatives and safe from bacteria, then you can’t miss Amy Micka’s new book, The Fresh Girl’s Guide to Easy Canning and Preserving (Voyageur Press, $19.99).
Even if you’ve never canned anything in your life, Micka’s guidebook, which comes with a step-by-step DVD, will surely inspire you to try. In addition to helpful tips, like how to prevent discoloration in certain fruits and veggies, she also includes some incredible—and easy-to-follow—recipes, such as Salsa Verde, Pickled Pepperoncini, Tex-Mex Vegetarian Chili, and Boeuf Bourguignon. There’s no reason to buy overpriced processed foods when you can preserve them yourself, with just a pair of tongs, a few jars, and a large pot; if you fall in love with canning and want to go pro, the only piece of equipment Micka recommends investing in is a Pressure Canner, which allows you to process foods at a higher temperature (necessary for fruits and veggies with low pH values). 
Presented with plenty of images that take you through the steps of proper canning, and clear, uncomplicated instructions, the book really does make the time-honored trade of canning accessible to anyone who wants to eat affordable, fresh, and locally grown food year-round. Check it out and treat yourself to unprocessed, hassle-free, and delicious meals any night of the week.

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