Book Review: Putting Food By

by M.D. Creekmore on June 21, 2013 · 19 comments

Putting Food By – by Janet Greene, Ruth Hertzberg, and Beatrice Vaughan

I remember as a child living in rural Kentucky, going to my grandparents house and watching in wonder as grandmother Creekmore added logs to the fire underneath a metal 55 gallon drum that had been cut in half with steel legs welded to the bottom so the fire could burn underneath.

At the time I had no idea what she was doing, but after getting older, I realized she was doing what is known as water bath canning.

I can still hear the water boiling and those jars shaking inside that barrel. They always had a cellar full of home canned foods from their garden. She always made the best tasting blackberry jam.

Home canning is one of the most efficient methods of keeping the harvest, and my most refered to reference would have to be Putting Food By. If you’re interested in canning, freezing, making jam, drying, etc., this is your book. Putting Food By, has exhaustive information on exactly what you need to know.

Chapters include:

1. What is It?
2. Why Foods Spoil
3. Altitude and Metrics
4. Fair Warning
5. Common Ingredients and How to Use Them
6. The Canning Methods
7. Canning Fruits
8. Canning Tomatoes
9. Canning Vegetables
10. Canning Meats
11. Canning Seafood
12. Canning Convenience Foods
13. Getting and Using a Freezer
14. Freezing Fruits
15. Freezing Vegetables
16. Freezing Meats and Seafood
17. Freezing Convenience Foods
18. Jellies, Jams, and Other Sweet Things
19. Pickles, Relishes, and Other Spicy Things
20. Curing with Salt and Smoke
21. Drying
22. Root-Cellaring
23. Putting By Presents for Christmas

Some readers have complained that the information in Putting Food By is dated, since this edition of the book was first published in 1988, but I disagree.

The information is as useful now as it was then, as one commenter said on amazon “the equipment has remained the same, pressure-canners and freezers haven’t changed over the years and jars are still jars!”

I wonder if grannie Creekmore had a copy of Putting Food By? I’ll probably never know – but one thing is certain, Putting Food By is one of the best books, available for those interested in canning and preserving their own food.


riverrider June 21, 2013 at 9:42 am

granma creekmore likely had more in her little head than any book ever written. its a shame we can’t get to it anymore. my great gma was cherokee indian and took me in the woods to gather herbs and roots as a child, but i was too young to be interested. she lived to be 98, died in 73. you do the math. all that knowledge went with her…….thanks for the review. i have a couple of very good books on food preservation, both are 50 or more years old but still relevant to grid down.

one day at a time June 21, 2013 at 9:53 am

I have the second printing, 1975. I bought it 20 years ago at a library cast-off sale. It is my preservation bible. I use it time and time again and it has never failed me. I also use ” The Shaker Cookbook, Not by Bread Alone” by Caroline B. Piercy, 1953, which contains old shaker recipes and how-tos for basic foodstuffs.

Winomega June 21, 2013 at 10:19 am

Some modern notions have wormed into me like a terrible religion and I should really figure out how to get rid of them.

– Don’t use old books or recipes because they might be dangerous even if granny didn’t kill anybody.

– This, that, or the other method hasn’t been deemed safe by the acronym that decides what to test.

They got me wrapped up so bad that I actually water-bathed molten jam. And I still can’t find a recipe that doesn’t use so much sugar.

tommy2rs June 21, 2013 at 2:06 pm
akaGaGa July 19, 2013 at 10:02 am

Winomega, I had the same problem, but I have the solution. Just buy a container of “Ball’s RealFruit Pectin, low or no-sugar needed pectin”. The inside label (although very tiny print) gives you simple instructions for most any kind of jam.

I recently put up 24 jars of strawberry jam with NO sugar and they came out great.

JP in MT June 21, 2013 at 11:06 am

I always look for older books on food; preservation, cooking, whatever. Mostly because I fear that in the future we will have less to work with, be doing more with basics, have to use less technology. I have found that older cookbooks, etc. have these issues dealt with as a mater of course. I specifically like the ones that talk about cooking with a wood stove!

Thanks for the review!

worrisome June 21, 2013 at 11:52 am

+1! I would like to find a good book on cooking on a wood stove. I make do, but I bet a good book on the subject would improve my ratio of “burned” to just rights a lot more :)

JP in MT June 21, 2013 at 12:06 pm
Zee June 21, 2013 at 12:29 pm

If you want to cook on top of your wood-burning stove, try to find a copy of The Woodburner’s Cookbook by Janet Chadwick. It has great techniques and Recipies for cooking (even baking) on the hot stove top. I wonder if Lehman’s has a cookbook for a true wood cookstove? Off to check!

Zee June 21, 2013 at 12:40 pm

Found it! Woodstove Cookery by Jane Cooper, American Wood Heat Cookery by Margaret Adams (looks like another wood-stove top book) and the Home Comfort Cookbook (made for the home comfort stove, but looks fascinating). Lehman’s has all three, I see at least the first one is slightly cheaper at Amazon. How fun!

Encourager June 29, 2013 at 10:26 am

“The Woodburner’s Cookbook” by Janet Chadwick is a GREAT book! It sure has helped me conquer the burnt beyond belief meals…

Becky June 21, 2013 at 12:39 pm

The secret is great quality cast iron cookware. We lived on a ranch owned by Missy(baby sis gave her that name), she had a wood stove she still cooked on in 1960′s & beyond, her meals were all done in cast iron. Her stove was a mix of wood/electric–yes–it was one of those specialty stoves. We would pop-popcorn in a hand held wire basket over the wood stove. Her cinnamon rolls were so superior to anything I have eaten since then, fluffy melt in your mouth an all done in that stove.
Have you tried Lehman’s Amish cookbook, or call them to see if they have a cook book especially for wood stoves. If they do not, they might know of a business that does carry one.

Becky June 21, 2013 at 12:47 pm

Purchased this book used awhile back, to add to my other canning/cookbooks that I collect for their wonderful knowledge. My favorites are canning books from the WWII era, especially the “chow chow” recipe(without cabbage)for hamburgers, hot dogs. For those ex military who eat ketchup on everything, try this as a replacement, you get more veges this way.

worrisome June 21, 2013 at 4:26 pm

Have I told you guys lately that I love you! I put out something that has been on the back of my mind for a while………and y’all come up with the answers! If you lived out here in Cali……I would put y’all to work doing research! Thanks!

OhioPrepper June 21, 2013 at 10:21 pm

I absolutely concur with your opinion of this book. I have a either a 1st or 2nd edition copy which I purchased new around 1975 and it has been well used since then. I also purchased a newer copy (5th Edition) a few years ago as a backup, since the original is a bit tattered. I highly recommend this book as a welcome member of anyone’s self reliance library.

Pirate June 22, 2013 at 10:49 am

Hi Creekmore,
My wife and I read you’re blog daily and have enjoyed it as lurkers
For a couple years now. I post now only to complain, one of your new
Adds is floating on screen and there’s no way to remove it. As we only
I-phones so we can no longer read your blog, the screen isn’t large
enough with the add..
Could you have an “X” put on it so we can close the add?
Ps: love the blog, hate having to skip it..:)

Jumbo June 23, 2013 at 1:18 am

I just ordered “Putting Food By” a couple days ago on Amazon used books for $0.01. I’m glad to hear the good review and looking forward to delivery.

OhioPrepper June 24, 2013 at 2:53 am

It’s a great book. I have ordered many Amazon used books, but generally get the ones in good or excellent condition. Please report back on your book and it’s condition, since $0.01 is a great price if the book is still useable.

Encourager June 29, 2013 at 10:24 am

I am sooooooooo behind in reading posts!

I have the original edition of Putting Food By printed in 1973, which is when I bought it. I love the charts, especially the Yields in Canned or Frozen Produce (how many bushels or pounds of peaches will make how many quarts or pints, etc). My copy is stained, worn and falling apart, in other words WELL USED!

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