The books I use for preserving the seasons

My work reflects the way I live, closely in tune with the seasons. It just feels like a no brainer to me. It makes sense financially, it makes sense environmentally and it's better for our bodies, nature gives us what we need at the time of the year our bodies need it. You just need to be prepared to capture the best of the seasons to get you through that tough period in the Winter and Spring, the hunger gap, when there is very little in the hedgerows or growing in the garden. You don't need to grow your own or forage to live seasonally, although I highly recommend both for multiple reasons. With any luck your local greengrocer will have bountiful selections at lower prices whenever different fruits, vegetables and nuts are in season.

Here are some of the books I use with brief descriptions and I've included favourite recipes as well. I have linked to the authors where possible. If you are thinking of buying any of the books please buy directly from the authors, try your local library, seek out secondhand or buy from Hive. Basically avoid Amazon wherever you can.

Food From Your Garden published by Reader's Digest in 1985

This is probably my most referred to preserving book and I would say essential if you are trying to grow and preserve as much as possible. It's not currently in print but easy to pick up secondhand in charity shops and online. It's jam-packed (excuse the pun) of great information about growing, cooking and preserving. It even includes hen and bee keeping. Really clear and practical information about basics like bottling, jam making, making syrups, fruit cheeses and butters. There is something so beautiful about these old Reader's Digest books.

Favourite Recipe - Hard to pick one. The Pear and Ginger Chutney is delicious but all the jam, sauce, chutney recipes are excellent and can be relied upon.

Booze for Free Andy Hamilton

Why not turn the hedgerow gluts into (almost) free booze! This is a wonderful volume which will really inspire you to go foraging. It's organised into seasons which I always love and it's full of practical and useful information. He has a book about fermenting out as well that I'd like to get my hands on. 

Favourite RecipeEric makes really incredible beer these days but in our early days of experimentation we made the Bay and Rosemary Ale from this book and I thought it was pretty great. You can see that recipe here but I urge you to buy his books.

No Dig Organic Home and Garden: Grow, Cook, Use and Store Your Harvest by Stephanie Hafferty and Charles Dowding

This is another book that delivers so much more than so many other books on this subject. Absolutely packed with great advice and loads of tips to save money and make the most of your harvest. It also has recipes for cleaning and beauty products. I think it's a really empowering book that gives you the confidence to question everything you buy from the supermarket and start to replace things with stuff you make yourself.

Favourite Recipe  - Dehydrated vegetable stock powder - not very thrilling but it never occurred to me I could make my own stock powder until I got this book which I found quite exciting!

The Creative Kitchen by Stephanie Hafferty

Another fantastic book from Stephanie Hafferty which has so many inspiring ideas. There are loads of recipes which are geared towards using up gluts and also more recipes for cleaning and beauty products and even a boot balm for waterproofing outdoor shoes. Some lovely tea blends, vinegars, infused sugars and loads of different flavoured stock powders.

Favourite Recipe - Vanilla extract and the two following recipes you can do with the pods afterwards and many more.

You can buy the two books above directly from Stephanie's website On the website is also this recipe for Nasturtium salt which I love to make. 

Preserves by Pam Corbin River Cottage Handbook

The River Cottage Handbooks are all little gems full of great advice and reliable recipes. I have made so many things from this book I feel like Pam is in the kitchen with me sometimes. Loads of great charts and rules of thumb to fill you with confidence.

Favourite Recipe - It's a close call between the Winter Fruit Compote (perfect if you run out of preserved fruit in the winter which I sometimes do, or when I fancy a change from stewed apples) and the Plum and Russet Mincemeat is absolutely gorgeous.

Curing and Smoking by Steven Lamb

We have been making our own bacon for a while and always use this book. Steve is just great and has always been really helpful whenever I've asked for advice, his YouTube videos are very helpful too. This book has come into its own more recently with the departure of our Gloucester Old Spot pigs and it's full of really solid recipes and tips. It helps that Eric built us our own cold smoker back when we lived in a terraced house in the city. Every year I cannot wait for the summer heat to die away so we can get back to smoking things. As I write this we have bacon from our own pigs and a big chunk of cheddar from the local farmshop being smoked to perfection in the chilly air outside.

Favourite Recipe - We have to wait a while before we know how well our salami, chorizo, prosciutto and guanciale taste but the bacon is always excellent.

Abundance by Alys Fowler

Alys Fowler writes gorgeous, engaging books which are full of great ideas. Abundance is practical and realistic including suggestions on what other things you can do with a cupboard full of homemade chutney. Reliable recipes, tonnes of great charts and a beautifully presented book. There is a really good section on fermenting with loads of useful info. One day I will make the Tsukemono which she describes as having an on-going love affair with a nuka-bed which needs attention every day. At the moment I can just about manage my sourdough starter. The Thrifty Forager is also wonderful.

Favourite Recipe - Roasted Plum, Cardamom and Vanilla Jam 

Salt Sugar Smoke by Diana Henry

I love Diana Henry and all of her books. Her food is just straight up delicious and warms the soul. Sitting down with one of her books is one of my greatest joys and never fails to inspire and delight me. There is a recipe in one of her books for chicken roasted with Autumn fruits which is just the most heavenly creation in the world. This book reflects Diana's extensive travels and research and is full of preserving ideas from around the world you can apply to whatever food is local to you. I am dying to try the labneh in olive oil and keeping buying loads of yoghurt in preparation and then not having time, although it doesn't look particularly time consuming. I'll update this when I've tried it.

Favourite recipe - So many things but most recently the Roast Plum and Liquorice Chutney was marvellous. 

A Cabin Full of Food by Marie Beausoleil

Marie lives off-grid in Nova Scotia and this book is crammed full of recipes. I quite like a cookbook without photos, it feels more serious, no-nonsense and practical when I've got some serious cabin-filling to do.

Favourite Recipe - There is a great garlic section which includes a cough syrup recipe and some simple and effective cheese recipes.

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