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4.8 out of 5 stars
Preserves: River Cottage Handbook No.2
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267 of 269 people found the following review helpful
Hugh Fearney-Whittingstall hired Pam Corbin to organise River Cottage's Preserving Days, and she's done him proud with this handbook. She's fairly strongly pro-bottling, pickling and general jamming, and is keen to remind us that's just how life was, not very long ago. For her, preserving is not just a fun activity, it's a way of using up seasonal gluts and honoring the ebb and flow of the vegetable world.

She's meticulous on health and safety in a modern up-to-date way, and there's some really useful stuff I've never seen before, like sterilising, filling and sealing tables - chutneys are treated slightly differently than marmalades etc, which makes you feel in incredibly safe hands. And three different tests for setting! Encyclopedic!

Of course the real test is the recipes, which others have already recommended. I like the fact that each one is on its own page, that the design is beautiful, and that there's lots of illustrations to tempt me. I also like the seasonal advice that tells you when to make a particular preserve.

Also, Pam suggests tempting useful variations to each (Whiskey marmalade; indian spices like fenugreek in the rhubarb relish; pickled crab apples instead of pears).

Things I was delighted to know how to make: passata; harissa; quince jelly (for manchego); italian figs in mustard sauce.

Things I am amazed to know how to make: hawthorn ketchup; compost heap jelly; nasturtium capers; fruit "leather".

Honestly, buy it, have a go, it's such good fun.

Update, 12 Jan 2009 - just made the whole fruit marmalade - the most delicious marmalade ever!
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59 of 60 people found the following review helpful
If you grow fruit, vegetables or harvest the hedgerows there comes a time when you have more in your larder than you can comfortably eat. At these times your thoughts may turn to preserving your surplus for later. Most people leave it at that, but this book will show you how easy it is.

Fed up of making jam? Then try fruit leather or a wickedly fruity alcoholic drink instead. This book has a whole heap of fresh ideas for using up every scrap of your excess harvest in lots of different ways.

Pam Corbin runs the River Cottage preserve workshops and that experience is served up for us here without having to make that journey, though judging by this book her courses there must be a lot of fun. She divides her recipes according to the seasons, starting with seville orange marmalade in January through to haw ketchup for September-December. An anytime soup mix rounds it all off at the end. The 'Rules' are clearly explained prior to the recipes to help get you started on the right foot and ensure success every time.

The expected basics are there, such as raspberry jam and sloe gin, but there's loads of suggested variations to try - Pam really wants us to experiment with nature's bounty. There's plenty of unusual recipes too, like beech leaf noyau and pickled florence fennel.

It's all there in a clearly laid out compact book with lots of sumptuous photographs to tempt you into getting started straight away.

A book to keep to hand in your kitchen throughout the year.
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91 of 96 people found the following review helpful
on 7 September 2008
I've been wanting to make preserves for years, but I've only just started to do it. Loving the whole River Cottage ethos, I was naturally interested in this book. I read some great reviews and so I bought it, and IMO it's just as wonderful as others said it was.

There's a wealth of inspiring recipes, many of which come with suggestions for modifications which can be made by those who have different ingredients/would like to use something slightly different. Everything is clearly explained, and the photographs just make me want to go down to the kitchen and eat up every last preserve in the fridge!

This book is an absolute inspiration. I'd defy anyone even very slightly interested in making their own jams, chutneys, pickles etc not to want to dash straight out to the shops/the garden/the local nature reserves, pick things and get bottling, after reading it. I've already spent 3 happy evenings on the couch by the fire, listening to the rain beating at the windows, reading and re-reading the recipes and making plans for a whole pantry full of lovely things to see me through the winter.

Very highly recommended.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
I bought this book with the River Cottage Fish Book because it brought me up to the free-postage. What a bargain! Wonderful recipes, with clear, friendly instructions. Great pictures, that really look like the food does when you've made it - not a usual thing!

If you only buy one book on making jams, chutneys, jellies, seasonings and sauces, it has to be this one. Pam The Jam is a real star.
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50 of 53 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 31 August 2008
A comprehensive guide to preserves, cordials and all manner of edible items to put away for another day. Wide ranging recipes with hints and tips for success, additions and improvements.

Gooseberry Jam with Elderflower
Harissa Paste
Saucy Haw Ketchup
Runner Bean Pickle

It's had me out scouring the hedgerows already and will get plenty of use. Beautiful photos, clearly laid out. Includes details on suppliers and other interesting organisations.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 1 March 2009
This book contains everything you need to make your own preserves. It's scientifically rigorous, yet warm and friendly: you cannot possibly go wrong. To date, I've made: bramble and apple jam (picked the brambles myself), seville orange marmalade, grapefruit, lemon and lime marmalade and rhubarb jam - all have turned out perfectly.

The author describes the equipment you need, cover important processes such as sterilizing and sealing before moving onto the preserve recipes themselves. For most recipes, there are also many variants from the main theme that can be attempted. The book ends with a handy directory, so you can resource hard to find items such as paraffin sealing wax, and a set of conversion tables pertinent to preserve making.

I enjoyed this book so much that I'm going to get a hold of some other titles in this excellent series.
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on 10 August 2008
I bought this as a gift for my husband as we are huge River Cottage fans and try to be as self-sufficient as possible. He made a fabulous berry jam out of a pile of berries we foraged for. A week later, a neighbour gave us about 3lbs of plums and he made a divine plum and walnut jam. His next plan is marmalade and chutney. A really, really great little book and one I shall be giving several people for Christmas.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 9 February 2009
A brilliant little book that contains everything to get you going - I have just made my first marmalade and it is seriously gorgeous! I like the idea of a small book dedicated to one topic instead of yet another big book which gets half-used. Well done River Cottage.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 10 April 2011
I had never made jam because it seemed really complicated, but my quince bush produced a usuable crop for the first time in Autumn 2009 and I didn't want to waste them. I looked at quite a few books and read lots of reviews, and bought this book based on the reviews here. I wasn't disappointed, Pam Corbin took away all the mystique and made it all very simple. The book is well thought out, well laid out, and covers everything you need to know about what to do and why you need to do it. The following year I had an even larger crop of quinces, along with damsons and apples. My store cupboard is now so well stocked with quince jelly, damson jam, and apple and mint jelly (lovely with pork) that, although I'd like to make some different ones, I've run out of space to store them. I make my own bread, so I'm now going to buy the bread and the cakes books from the River Cottage series. Thanks Pam and Hugh.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
I love this book! Before you even get to the recipes, it just looks and feels so lovely. Wonderful photos and such a nice 'tone' to it, very easy to read.
I'm not a huge jam fan - I'll be concentrating on the chutneys - but just reading the jam recipes is so seductive... makes you want to try everything.
All The River Cottage books I have are well designed and written, and this sits very well with the others they've produced.
Ridiculously priced for such a quality book too.
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