Excerpt from Preface
In the fast-paced world we live in it would appear that preserving and storing food in the home is an activity that few of us have time for. It is also true that fresh produce is available in more quantity and variety year round than it used to be. Why preserve food at home then? We are living in a world that is rapidly being depleted of natural resources and where taking responsibility for ourselves and our families seems to be taking a back seat to our jobs careers and lives in general. No wonder that many of us feel a bit "out of control" at times! Having a garden is noted these days as a way to reduce the stress in our everyday lives and the number of gardens in increasing not decreasing. Putting food by is a way of saving some of that homegrown goodness and bringing it out when you are unable to provide your own fresh produce. Even though fresh produce has become more available in stores the quality is not as good as when it is picked at home in its natural growing season. Just a few days in transit causes supposedly "fresh" produce to lose significant amounts of all-important nutrients. Home-preserved produce does lose some of its nutrition in processing and storage but there is no question of its freshness at the outset.
Putting food by is a method of self-guided quality control. You control the freshness of the original food and you add no chemicals or preservatives in the processing something that is not always true in the commercial preserving procedure. It can also be a family experience from which all can benefit. All members except maybe the very young can learn about human and family dynamics by a cooperative process in which each member has a job to do. It allows all members to learn to take responsibility for themselves as well for the family as a group.
As important as taking responsibility for ourselves and our families is today we also need very much to take responsibility for our planet. Recycling efforts are underway in more and more communities and we can expect this to be the way of the next century and beyond. Home preserving allows us to recycle continually. Jars can be reused from year to year and if they are properly cared for they will last indefinitely. Even the heavy-duty freezer bags with the zip-type closures can be washed thoroughly rinsed and dried for use again (providing there are no holes or leaks in them).
A revolution of sorts has occurred in the average American kitchen since this book was written. Time-saving devices abound from automated coffee makers that turn themselves on in the morning to all kinds of equipment formerly available only to the professional or to institutional kitchens such as heavy-duty mixers. Two appliances now available and affordable have become mainstays in many kitchens the food processor and the microwave oven. These two appliances are very useful in the preserving kitchen. The food processor makes the preparation of purees and sauces infinitely easier than ever before; it can save tremendous amounts of time and relieve the tedium involved in hand chopping slicing and shredding of fruits and vegetables for preserving. Any place in this book that the instructions include the use of a blender you can substitute a food processor. The microwave oven boasting ownership in about 70 percent of American households can also be a timesaver in a number of ways. See page 24 in the freezing chapter for instruction on how to blanch vegetables in a microwave and page 101 for a discussion of the usefulness of the microwave oven in the quick drying of fresh herbs a job that no longer has to take hours days or weeks to complete but can be done in a matter of minutes. Copyright permission by Storey Communications