This isn’t exactly a cookbook, but if you’re interested in food lore, time-honored methods, the French countryside, or fermenting, it’s a must-have book. Preserving Food without Freezing or Canning: Traditional Techniques Using Salt, Oil, Sugar, Alcohol, Vinegar, Drying, Cold Storage, and Lactic Fermentation is written by the gardeners and farmers of Terra Vivante, a French gardening magazine and proponent of organic agriculture and slow food. They asked the readers of their magazines for recipes and methods for preserving food, and received more than 500 replies.
Layout and design:
The updated paperback edition offers 180 pages of translated recipes and methods for preserving food in very old-fashioned, time-honored ways. If you’re a fan of sauerkraut, kombucha, and miso, this book will blow your mind with the variety of options. Chapters include preserving in the ground or in a root cellar, preserving by drying, lactic fermentation, in oil, in vinegar, with salt, with sugar, sweet and sour preserves, in alcohol. It concludes with an appendix: Which method for preserving which food?
The paperback book is part recipes, part lore, and will give you a feel for how people have preserved food for centuries before electricity and refrigeration. While you may not have a root cellar, you’ll still learn a lot from the descriptions, which were translated from the French. The editors chose not to change the submissions, so all are different styles and include the submitter’s name. Lovely pencil drawings add charm to some of the pages and chapter headings.
One page includes cardoons and celery, chestnuts in sand, chicory and escarole, and endive in buckets. Others include melon marmalade with mint, pear jam with walnuts, sweet-and-sour tomato coulis, rhubarb chutney, and sweet-and-sour dark red plums.
What I liked about the book:
It feels like a trip back in time, plus you get a feel for the nature of French country food and life, farm-centered and unfussy.
I wasn’t so keen on:
It’s not a book where I can critique it for special diets, low-sodium, or my usual list.
Anyone interested in preserving food, farm techniques, fermentation, and canning; gardeners; people who love French food and want to move beyond sauces; vegetarians and vegans
Not recommended for:
Migraine sufferers (these would all likely be high in tyramine content), low-sodium diets
A note about my cookbook reviews: In the past, I tested at least three recipes from each book, took photos, and described my experience. Due to my dietary limitations (extremely-low-sodium for my Meniere’s Disease and trigger-free foods for migraine relief), it is no longer possible for me to test the recipes and do them justice.