Friday, July 25, 2014

Drink the Harvest: Making and Preserving Juices, Wines, Meads, Teas, and Ciders by Nan K. Chase with DeNeice C. Guest | Cookbook Review

(This isn't the full cover, but it's the best picture I could find.  All the photos in this book are so lovely!)

This cookbook was so beautiful and so informative, I'm giving it 4 of 5 stars even though I'm not going to try a single recipe out of it!

The authors of Drink the Harvest really know their stuff!  I was impressed, reading this cookbook.  I was also excited to see that they're rather near to me geographically; they hail from Asheville, NC.  That is a fun city to visit if you ever get the chance.  While the ladies certainly know their way around a garden and a kitchen, I never felt intimidated while reading.  I kind of got the feeling that if I were talking to them in person, they'd be helpful and kind without ever making me feel silly or stupid.  

However, I do not have a chance to hang out with the authors in person, and I do feel a little intimidated at how much work goes into a kitchen garden.  Gardening is covered in the first part of the book, and I love how honest the authors are about different plants' yields and time to maturation.  They don't discourage you from trying to grow any of the fruits/veggies/herbs yourself, but they do let you know that some things are more cost/time efficient to purchase at a farmers' market.  I've never grown a thing in my life.  In fact, the hubby still hasn't let me forget about the cactus that I managed to kill during our first year of marriage.  Yup, you read that correctly:  I have killed a cactus.  

I had requested this cookbook from my library so that I could start researching homemade wines.  I love wine, and I enjoy cooking (most of the time) so I thought it only made sense to try my hand at homemade wine.  I was in a for a little bit of a shock to find out how much work it takes!  I have a whole new appreciation for vintners now.  Even if I started with fruit from the farmers' market, it'd still be years before I had wine to drink!  The start-up (equipment that you'd need to purchase to get started) is actually relatively low; definitely not prohibitive, but still more than I'd like to buy for an "experiment."  (It might not be an experiment to everyone, but it would be for me.  I tend to not get things quite right at first.  Not so big a deal with trying a new cookie recipe; months of hard work to waste in winemaking.)  The good news is that nearly all of the work is done over the course of a few hours over the course of two or three days at the front end, and then you're letting it ferment.  So I really don't want to discourage anyone else from trying their hand at winemaking!

This cookbook is definitely more than just wine.  Part 1 is all about gardening and Part 2 is about all different kinds of beverages and then Part 3 is syrups and teas.  The winemaking is actually a pretty small part of the book as a whole.  For my purposes, I was interested in the winemaking, but I read the entire book.  It would be hard not to!  So many tips and tricks and advice, and loads and loads of gorgeous color photographs!

Which will be my final point: the loads and loads of gorgeous color photographs.  This book is beautiful!  I really really really want to taste test all of the drinks/meads/wines featured within, and I wish I could have a garden half as pretty as the authors'.  So if anyone else goes and reads this cookbook and makes any of the beverages, let me know.  I'm more than willing to volunteer as taster!

*I received my copy of Drink the Harvest from my public library.

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