PICKLED, POTTED, AND CANNED:
HOW THE ART AND SCIENCE OF FOOD PRESERVING CHANGED THE WORLD
by Sue Shephard
(Simon & Schuster - 2000)
It was with some curiosity that I picked up
Pickled, Potted, and Canned: How the Art
and Science of Food Preserving Changed the World. I
wondered, at 365 pages, could there be that much to say about the
As it turned out, the answer is yes, there is.
Ms. Shephard has written, in my opinion, an enjoyable book
that looks at the history of food preservation the world
She covers a lot of ground in examining the various food
preservation techniques that have been used in the past and
many of which are still used today in various parts of the
There are chapters on drying, salting, pickling
in vinegar, smoking, fermenting, milk products, sugar,
concentrates, pies, pots and bottles, canning, refrigerating
and freezing and dehydration.
She brings to life what it might have been like to be an
early seaman making ocean journeys with the provisions
available at that time.
She tells of what it was like to be a traveler on a long
"Every opportunity to acquire food had to be
grasped. A willingness to eat whatever was available,
regardless of its appearance or taste, was a prerequisite
for survival for solitary travelers, many of whom brought
back journals filled with fascinating information about new,
Interesting enough to read
from cover to cover in just a few sittings, this book is
also of the type where you can pick it up and read short excerpts at different times, when
you have only a few spare minutes. There are just so
many interesting details that you might never have thought
about before regarding the preservation of food.
the history of food preservation and food technology in America (the United
States) is part of her story, its not the primary focus of
the book. It's refreshing to read about how they did
things in other parts of the world as well.
enjoyed the book immensely, I did find at least one error in
the Milk chapter where she discusses Gail Borden, the
developer of sweetened condensed milk. His name is
continually spelled as "Bordern" throughout that section.
I'll attribute this to careless editing on the part of
the publisher (not uncommon these days when computers are
doing the proofreading rather than people--do they think we
don't notice?) rather than author error, but it does put a
slight cast on the authenticity of the details in the rest
of the book. If the book had originated in the U.S.,
where Borden is one of the most well-known brand names, it
might put me off more.
If you enjoy food history, I
believe it's still a book worth reading.
author did not provide footnotes, the Selected Bibliography
in the rear of the book gives you a nice list of other books
that are related to the subject and you might find other
book titles to add to your reading list.
There are no
recipes in this book. But after reading the stories
she presents to us, you will certainly appreciate how little
effort we have to put into our own modern day canning,
drying and preserving of foods in our home kitchens.
You can appreciate more the food storage methods that we
take for granted. As her history will show you, we
have it easy.
Purchase your own copy of
Pickled, Potted, and Canned.
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