I purchased Well Preserved : Third Edition: Small Batch Preserving for the New Cook, by Mary Anne Dragan, a couple of years ago, when I decided I wanted to learn to make cherry jam.  I had gone to the book store, and was looking for a good manual on how to can.  I was drawn into Dragan’s book by its elegantly simple, clean lines and luscious photography.  Each photo makes you salivate while inspiring you to try a new skill.

Divided into 15 sections, Well Preserved runs the gamut from sweet jams, jellies and conserves to savory pickles, chutneys and ketchups.  There is something for every taste, including sections on cooking with preserves and gifts from the pantry.

Well Preserved begins with a discussion of how canning works, how to do it, and maybe more importantly what not to do.  Similarly, each section begins with information related to canning that particular type of food.  Many of the recipes include variations, to expand the flavor repertoire.  The batches are small, to bring the process down to size for the beginner.

The first recipe I tried was Orange Marmalade.  While it was very delicious, I had difficulty getting the marmalade sufficiently thick.  The recipe calls for 6-Cups of water to 4-Cups of fruit.  No pectin is added.  Perhaps I didn’t cook it long enough, such as to evaporate some of the water.  But, I made this recipe three times.  The first two batches were runny.  I cut the water by a third for the last batch, and it came out fine.

The Lemon-Lime Marmalade is delicious.  Dragan suggests slicing the limes very thinly.  However, they can still be tough.  Next time I make this, I am going to zest the limes.  That way, you get the flavor and a better texture.  For a less bitter flavor, leave out the lemon/lime seeds when cooking the fruit.

While I have made several of Dragan’s recipes, for me, the very best recipe is the Cranberry, Rum Raisin Conserve.  I have made multiple batches and we all love the sweet, tangy and crunchy nature of this preserve.  It is a great topping for toast or ice cream.  I also recommend the pickles asparagus.  It makes an elegant gift and a great accompaniment to sandwiches.

This bood was well worth the money I spent on it.

288 pages; Whitecap Books Ltd.; Third Edition edition (January 1, 2010)

Disclosure: I purchased this book with my own money, for my own use.  Nobody paid me to do this review.

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