I have been a fan of Andrea Chesman’s work for a very, very long time. The author of more than 20 book, her Pickles & Relishes was one of the first canning books I bought when I started down this path nearly a decade ago and I consider The Pickled Pantry one of the best volumes on home pickling out there.
I had the good fortune to meet Andrea last year at the IACP annual conference and I was delighted when she told me that she had another book in the works. Called The Backyard Homestead Book of Kitchen Know-How, it is an incredibly comprehensive guide to cooking, canning, home dairy, freezing, curing, fermenting, dehydrating, and more.
The book is divided into three large chunks of information. The first is called Getting the Most from Fresh Food and contains information about setting up your kitchen (including Andrea’s recommendations for the sturdiest and most durable equipment), how to harvest, handle, and cook fresh produce, how to store grains and beans, what to do with eggs, tips on butchering poultry and rabbits, how to make the most of fresh milk, and how to label, store, and use goat, lamb, pork, and beef.
The second part of the book is called simple Food Preservation, and it offers detail on cold storage, freezing, canning (both boiling water and pressure), drying, pickling, the making of fruit preserves, culturing milk, and curing meats and sausages. I particularly like her essay on pages 227 and 228 entitled, “Strong Opinions about Pectin.” I have similarly strong opinions on the topic.
Part three is called Homestead Cooking and is a treasury of recipes, preparations, and suggestions for how to cook, bake, simmer, and stew the fruits of your homestead into appealing meals and treats. What I most like about this section is that Andrea repeatedly encourages her readers to use these recipes as nothing more than a starting place and that they are there to be adapted and personalized depending on the ingredients you have.
Andrea has poured her years of culinary experience into this book. It’s one that any home cook looking to stretch seasonal produce and make the most of the food coming forth from their homestead, garden, or farmers market will value. I highly recommend it!