By Sharon Omahen
University of Georgia
The fifth edition of the popular book is hot off the presses, says Elizabeth Andress, a UGA Cooperative Extension food safety specialist and editor of the publication.
The book contains more than 175 tested recipes with step-by-step instructions and in-depth information for both the new and experienced food preserver.
Andress said experienced canners need the manual's information just as much or more than new canners.
Grandma said what?"We're trying to spread the word that home food preservers should not be using historical cookbooks," she said. "The Internet now contains full-text versions of the cookbooks our grandmothers and great-grandmothers used, like the 1918 Fannie Farmer Cookbook. This doesn't mean all the advice these books contain is considered safe by today's scientific knowledge and standards."
It may be safe to use your ancestor's 80-year-old cake or casserole recipe, she said. But that's definitely not the case when it comes to pickling and canning recipes and instructions.
Along with home chefs sharing their canning advice over the Internet, she said, this is creating food safety concerns in canning, freezing and drying foods.
"The methods detailed in the new manual continue our tradition of teaching USDA-recommended practices for food safety as well as high-quality finished products," Andress said. "We want to be sure home canners are serving their families the safest and the freshest food possible."
The new edition includes information on new procedures not featured in past editions, including many more recommended techniques for home-canned salsas.
"So Easy to Preserve" has these chapters:
Preserving Foods: Different methods of food preservation, how they work, related costs and the amounts of foods needed.
Canning: The basics of canning, which method is safe, what equipment is needed and steps to follow to ensure a safe product.
Pickled Products: Ingredients and equipment needed for successful pickling, recipes for cucumber and other vegetable and fruit pickles and many relishes.
Jellied Fruit Products: Jellies, jams, preserves, marmalades, conserves, butters, syrups, uncooked jams and jellies and products without added sugar.
Freezing: How freezing affects food, which foods don't freeze well, what to do when your freezer breaks down and how to freeze more than 150 foods.
Drying: How to safely dry foods using an electric food dehydrator, how to prevent fruits from darkening.
"Each chapter includes a list of most frequently asked questions," Andress said. "There's also a table of problems, causes and ways to prevent the problem from happening again."
The UGA book costs $18, including standard shipping in the United States. Order 12 or more copies at a reduced rate of $15 each when shipped to a single address.
DVD, tooIf audio-visual media is more to your liking, the "So Easy to Preserve" collection includes a DVD series.
The video series consists of eight shows, each 20 to 35 minutes long. Features include home canning of tomatoes, vegetables and fruits; freezing fruits and vegetables; drying fruits and vegetables; pickling; making jams and jellies; and a show devoted to the canned specialties of hot chile salsa, mango chutney and spicy jicama relish.
Experts show basic techniques throughout the videos and explain reasons for modern guidelines.
"The DVD series also contains a separate collection of 13 important illustrated concepts and procedures to review when canning," said Andress. She also directs the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Center for Home Food Preservation.
Each DVD series costs $39.95, including shipping in the U.S. Order 25 or more copies at $35 per copy when shipped to a single address.
Ordering information for the book or the DVD set can be found at www.soeasytopreserve.com.
(Sharon Omahen is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)