Once again John and his wife Val have produced a concise, down to earth guide to growing your own. They're problem solving this time, providing a solution to what to do with all that surplus fruit and vegetables, namely how to best store our plenty for the times of little.
A lot of information is packed into this book, just like packing lots of luscious fruit into a jar. Most of the major techniques are covered from the often forgotten clamping method which can be used for root vegetables and potatoes through to the increasingly popular making of jams, chutneys and other preserves. However it just falls short of being a thoroughly comprehensive guide as vacuum packing and the making of cheeses and curds aren't explained. On the plus side, juicing, cider and perry making and what to do with eggs are added to the more usual storage repetoire.
After a brief health and safety message, there's quick general explanation of how foods go off with advice on how to stop it and where to store. Then each of the preserving techniques is covered in depth, accompanied by a few tempting recipes, to give you some practice. After that comes an examination in turn of our commonly grown fruit, vegetables and herbs (and not forgetting those eggs) with advice on the best storage techniques to use for each one.
I particularly like that it's obvious that this guide is borne out of tried and tested experience and is refreshingly honest. Failures are talked about as well as the sucesses. The reason why this book doesn't get the full 5 stars in my opinion is because it is let down by the layout. The text can be a little dense or in large chunks at times, which means that some of the handy tips get rather lost. For example, I found a great little nugget on how to rescue jam that turns out to be runnier than expected after it's been poured into the jars. I know it's there, but it's rather hard to find again. More subdivision of the chapters, bullet points or a tips and wrinkles section where appropriate would have helped me at least.
I would have also liked more recipes, but I suspect this would have overlapped somewhat with the authors' other very popular book Easy Jams, Chutneys and Preserves
Another factor you need to consider when buying this book is whether you have a lot of the information already. If you have any cookbooks which cover making preserves or freezing your produce, then much of this book will be a duplication. However, you may feel that this relatively cheap guide is worth buying in order to close some gaps in your knowledge, or you may like the idea of having one just one book to consult when deciding what to do with your produce.
Overall, it's a good companion to any cookbooks you have for beating those gluts.