"CANNING CENTS: The Money-Saving Whole Foods Canning Handbook," by Stephanie Petersen, Front Table Books, $19.99, 192 pages

When professional chef Stephanie Petersen noticed her grocery costs were rising and healthy whole food was harder to come by, she dug deep into her home-grown upbringing and started preserving and canning.

Using her ancestors' time-tested recipes and methods, Petersen compiled a cookbook for both the canning novice and expert, proving that farm-fresh food is available on a shoestring budget in "Canning Cents: The Money-Saving Whole Foods Canning Handbook."

"Canning Cents" starts off with a section for beginners including tips on basic canning rules, materials and equipment. Petersen also answers frequently asked questions about canning for easy reference.

Each chapter specializes in a type of food or method, such as high-acidic foods, soft spreads, pickled foods, low-acidic foods and sweet and specialty gourmet sauces. Recipes range from the simple Whole Tomatoes with Herbs to a Southwestern Sweet-Hot Pork Tenderloin. Petersen also has a recipe for whole pickles, relishes and spreads.

Petersen introduces each recipe with a casual tone reminiscent of lessons from Grandma's kitchen. She also includes optional changes for the seasoned canner to build upon the original recipe.

Most recipes are at-home options for a fraction of the retail price at the grocery store. The recipes tested were easy to follow and yielded tasty results. Petersen recommends starting young and insists canning is an activity in which the whole family can participate.

"Canning Cents" is a great guide for those who want to start canning and need a place to begin.

*****

Classic Vegetable Soup

I’ve said it for years: Soup is way overpriced in the grocery store. It’s mostly vegetables and water, and those are things I can get for screaming deals if I shop carefully. That being said, we have had a lot of vegetable soup over the years. It is super healthy to eat and so delicious.

Yields: 14 pints or 7 quarts

8 cups tomatoes, peeled and diced (about 12 large)

6 cups potatoes, peeled and diced (about 6 medium)

6 cups carrots, peeled and diced (about 12 medium)

4 cups peas, fresh or frozen, defrosted

4 cups corn, whole kernel, uncooked

1 cup celery, chopped (about 2 stalks)

1 cup bell pepper, diced fine (about 2 peppers)

1½ cups onion, chopped (about 2 medium)

¼ cup garlic, minced

¼ cup parsley, minced

6 cups vegetable stock or water

1 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon pepper

1½ teaspoons thyme

1½ teaspoons cumin

1. Combine all ingredients in a 3-gallon pot and simmer 15-20 minutes. Prepare pressure canner and jars, keeping jars and lids in simmering (not boiling) water. Keep bands on hand. Scoop prepared soup into jars, allowing 1-inch headspace. Remove any air bubbles and top with lid. Tighten band onto jar and transfer jars to pressure canner. Process pints for 55 minutes and quarts for 1 hour 25 minutes at 10 pounds pressure, always adjusting for altitude as needed. Start the timer when the pressure canner is up to temperature and pressure.

2. When time is over, turn off the heat and allow the pressure cooker to decompress naturally. Do not run under water or remove the weight until the gauge reads “0” and the weight doesn't hiss when touched. That would be a sure sign that it needs more time to cool. Remove jars and cool in a draft-free area. Do not disturb them. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed. At this point, remove the rings. Wash and sanitize the outsides of the jars with warm soapy water.

— "Canning Cents: The Money-Saving Whole Foods Canning Handbook," by Stephanie Petersen

Tara Creel, Deseret News

Tara Creel is a Logan, Utah, native and mother of three boys. Her email is taracreel@gmail.com, and she blogs at taracreelbooks.wordpress.com.

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