Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Book Review: Liana Krissoff

Canning has long been a tradition in my family. We usually started in the spring, making strawberry jam, and ended in October with apple sauce. So when I finally moved out of my university's housing and into my own apartment, I made sure that canning supplies were on my list of housewares.

Too bad my kitchen is equipped with only a two-element hot plate and a microwave!

Still, the first year, I managed to produce two quarts of pickled beans, three of tomato sauce, and twelve of peaches and apricots. I felt rather proud of myself.

This year, however, I wanted to try something else, new. I hunted through my local bookstores seeking a recipe book that would facilitate my desire.

Can you say Pressure Canning? No thanks! Not only does pressure canning require expensive, specialized equipment, it can be extremely dangerous if you do not do it correctly. For some bizarre reason, I could not find a book dedicated exclusively to water-bath canning methods for the longest time.

I was ready to give up, until one helpful employee directed me to Liana Krissoff's 2010 Canning for a New Generation: Bold, Fresh Flavors for the Modern Pantry, (ISBN: 978-1-58479-864-4, $24.95 USD, $29.95 CAD)

Krissoff's book focuses exclusively on water-bath recipes, and offers "200 Seasonal Recipes."
She opens her book with an introduction that tackles issues from the myth that canning is hard to advice about maintaining appropriate ph levels and avoiding botulism.

Telling the story of how she herself started canning, she describes a similar hunt for a canning book:
I went back to the bookstore and began a years-long search for a good, modern, clear, easy-to-follow canning book with delicious-looking recipes I wanted to make and eat. Finally I gave up and decided to simply learn as much as I could on my own--reading all the bad books, canning lots of stuff all year round, asking Mom and Dad and friends and neighbors and relatives and neighbors of strangers for adivce--and write one myself.
Boy, did she ever! The rest of her introduction is an easy read that addresses a number of important questions and concerns about methods and techniques, while the main body of the text is divided into the four seasons, and features seasonal fruits and veggies. Multiple recipes are provided for featured produce, as well as recipes that use the canned goods. For example, a recipe for Peaches in Vanilla Syrup (pg 108) is followed by a recipe for Toffee-Topped Vanilla Peaches (109) that uses the canned peaches.

Throughout the book, short asides provide advice to the reader for things like peeling tomatoes, pitting peaches, or removing fruit juice stains!

Not only does Krissoff's book live up to her desire to produce a "good, modern, clear, easy-to-follow canning book with delicious-looking recipes," but she implicitly and explicitly appeals to a variety of modern foodie trends, including the locivore movement.

A highly appealing book for the modern canner, whether he/she is a first-timer or a professional!