I was just reading this post over at the Bitten Blog and it got me thinking that I never did tally up all the canning, freezing, and drying I did this year.
I've given quite a few jars away and we've run through a few as well, but I must have filled close to 100 jars with apricot jam, sour cherry jam, strawberry jam, blueberry marmalade, peach butter, apricot marmalade, stewed tomatoes, chili sauce, sweet tomato chutney, apricot-red pepper chutney, cranberry marmalade, satsuma plum jam, cranberry-orange preserves with cardamom, Asian plum sauce, and cranberry vinegar. I dried blueberries, peaches, cherries, and apricots. And I filled the freezer, too, with bags of blueberries, strawberries, apricots, peaches, cherries, elderberries, cranberries, and roasted tomatoes. And many quarts of slow cooked tomato sauce.
I've used my old copy of the Rodale book Stocking Up for years but this summer I got a couple of new additions to my bookshelf. The Complete Book of Small Batch Preserving by Ellie Topp has a wonderful variety of recipes and the small batch aspect takes some of the stress and frenzy out of preserving. Not the book for a tomato avalanche, but nice for variety. Some of my favorites from this book were red pepper and apricot chutney, blueberry marmalade, Asian plum sauce, and a super fresh tasting, barely cooked strawberry jam.
I also got my hands on Fancy Pantry by Helen Witty. I can't tell you how many times I've come across references to this book over the years, but it went out of print long ago and the library doesn't even have it. Every time I looked it up I found copies for $50 and more so I figured I'd never see it. When I shared my despair over this with my friend Chris, she found me a battered but completely serviceable (and affordable) copy on Half.com that very day. I love this book. I think there's something about that classic 1980's page layout from Workman Publishing which really works for me, possibly because that's when I started looking at cookbooks seriously. It's a fun book, loaded with tasty things like candied cranberries, peach preserves with brown sugar and rum, and other delicacies. Like the best cookbooks, it's as much fun to read as to cook from. If you come across a copy of this while out and about, snap it up as it's a keeper!