February 17, 2022

Book Review: Preserving Food Without Freezing or Canning

I've mentioned this books a couple of times before (here and here), but I've never done a book review on it. Time to correct that!

The full title of the book is Preserving Food Without Freezing or Canning: Traditional Techniques Using Salt, Oil, Sugar, Alcohol, Vinegar, Drying, Cold Storage, and Lactic Fermentation. It's a compiled work of the gardeners and farmers of Terre Vivante in Isere, France. The original idea for publishing the book was to preserve the techniques, themselves, but I have found it to be a fantastic resource for self-reliance. 

The book sports two forwards, one by Eliot Coleman for the first edition, and one by Deborah Madison, which was added to the second edition. The Preface explains "How This Book Came to Be." The introduction explains the benefit of these methods—preservation techniques that preserves nutrient value. It also touches on safety issues. Each chapter discusses a different preservation method and includes instructions and recipes.

Chapter 1, "Preserving in the ground or in a cold cellar." Did you know that the word "silo" comes from the French and originally referred to a hole in the ground? This chapter Contains a chart of vegetables that can be left in the ground all winter, and discusses various methods of underground storage including trenching, underground containers to make, and root cellaring. Includes illustrations. The last section of this chapter discusses increasing shelf life at room temperature. For example, squashes keep longer if oiled (includes a chart of how long various squashes keep), cheese can be stored in ash, and both squash and tomatoes keep longer if wrapped in newspaper. 

Chapter 2 discusses a method many of us are familiar with, preserving by drying. Explains various dehydrating methods: easy-to-make dryer trays, electric dehydrators, oven drying, sun drying, and string drying. Covers a large variety of fruits, vegetables. herbs, flowers and mushrooms. There are also instructions for drying some unusual food items, such as bread, yeast, and fish.

Chapter 3, "Preserving by Lactic Fermentation." Lots of recipes in this chapter, starting with the all-familiar sauerkraut. More unusual foods to ferment include green beans, radishes, Swiss chard ribs, tomatoes, zucchini, and plums. Recipes include various vegetable medleys, tomato balls, and tomato sauce.

Chapter 4, "Preserving in Oil." This is where I got the idea to store my feta cheese in herbed olive oil! In addition to cheeses, recipes are given for eggplant, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, zucchini, plus a variety of condiments.

Chapter 5 discusses preserving in vinegar. A variety of vegetables, seasonings, and even fruit can be given a longer shelf life in vinegar: beets, Brussels sprouts, cherry tomatoes, green peppers, tomatillos, mushrooms, cherries, and grapes. I tried it this year with horseradish, because the dehydrated root is too hard to use! But I like to keep in on hand for when I make my Supertonic.

Chapter 6 is preserving in salt. The modern mindset pretty much considers salt taboo, but it is an ancient preservation method. Includes recipes for grape leaves, green beans, lemons, and rose petals.

Chapter 7 is preserving in sugar as jams and jellies, candied condiments, or in syrups. Lots of recipes here, including a few with no-added sugar: apple-pear molasses, carob honey, and apple or pear syrup.

Chapter 8 is entitled, "Sweet-and-Sour Preserves." Lots of condiments in this chapter, including chutneys, relishes, and ketchups. There's also a section of recipes for sweet-and-sour fruits such as cherries, pears, and plums.

The last chapter is "Preserving in Alcohol." This includes wine making and preserving fruits in wine or brandy, with recipes for these. 

The Appendix contains a handy-dandy chart listing a variety of foods along with the best options for preservation methods.

224 pages, 250 recipes, and filled with lovely hand-drawn illustrations. An excellent book for anyone interested in preparedness or off-grid, low tech, and historical methods of food preservation. You can "Look Inside" at Amazon.


Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

Leigh, this book has been on my "want" list for at least 15 years now. Thanks you for the insightful review. Moving up on the list.

(One of the most interesting things I saw years ago when visiting Virginia was making hams traditionally in salt. Unfortunate such a natural method (dare we say "environmentally friendly"?) has fallen on hard times to be replaced by chemical compounds I can barely pronounce.

Leigh said...

TB, that's the price of industrialization. But then, some people prefer it that way. I even knew someone years ago who told me, "but I like the taste of chemicals." (!)

Nancy In Boise said...

I have this book and it's a great! Tons and tons of great info to use so you won't find in mainstream food preservation

Leigh said...

Nancy, I agree! Some really great low-tech ideas.

Florida Farm Girl said...

Leigh, as a child I remember that pork was stored in a wooden barrel full of salt brine. Had to have something to weight down the meat so that it didn't float. Also, sliced smoked bacon was stored in lard.

wyomingheart said...

Wonderful post, Leigh! We have been looking into this info for awhile, and fantastic that we will have this in one volume! Ordered through your link, and can’t wait to get it! Thanks so much!

Leigh said...

Sue, I've brined meat but never stored it in the brine. I've never had salt pork either! I'm guessing it had to be soaked to remove some of the salt before cooking.

Thanks to this book, I learned about storing cheese in olive oil! I should try bacon too. :)

Wyomingheart, I don't think you'll be disappointed! Lots of good techniques and recipes.