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The Farmer’s Wife was a monthly magazine published in Minnesota between the years 1893 and 1939. In an era long before the Internet and high-speed travel connected us all, the magazine aimed to offer community among hard-working rural women: to provide a forum for their questions and concerns and to assist them in the day-to-day goings-on about the farm—everything from raising chickens and slaughtering hogs, to managing scant funds and dressing the children, to keeping house and running the kitchen.
Decades before the advent of Cook’s Illustrated and its monthly doses of kitchen science, there was The Farmer’s Wife and her own science-based methodology, culled from staff experts, bulletins issued by the USDA, and various extension services across the country. On no kitchen topic was her expertise more critical than on preserving. Preserving then required—and most assuredly still does—precise procedures in order to yield wholesome, safe foodstuffs. And the farmer’s wife had plenty to preserve. She put up myriad stores from her gardens, fields, and orchards—not just the niceties of jams and jellies and pickles, but the fundamentals of plain fruits, vegetables, sauces, and soups, which formed the backbone of meals during the long, cold months when nothing grows. These recipes for canning and preserving fruits and vegetables from your garden or local farmer’s market have been updated with current USDA recommendations for safe use in the modern kitchen. Also included are recipes for how to use the tomato sauce, raspberry jam, and peaches or other fruits of the harvest that you’ve canned or preserved.
Here’s a sampling of the recipes you’ll find inside:
Apple Plum Jam
Rhubarb Raisin Conserve
English Orange Marmalade
Currant Bar le Duc
Favorite Strawberry Preserves
Mixed Currant “Catsup”
Tomatoes the Old Fashioned Way
Seasoned Tomato Sauce
I Can Vegetable Soup
J. Fenimore Cooper Pickles
Editor Lela Nargi is the author of Around the Table: Women on Food, Cooking, Nourishment, Love . . . and the Mothers Who Dished It Up for Them and Knitting Lessons: Tales from the Knitting Path. She is also the editor of Knitting Memories: Reflections on the Knitter’s Life, Knitting Through It: Inspiring Stories for Times of Trouble, The Farmer’s Wife Baking Cookbook, and The Farmer’s Wife Comfort Food Cookbook, all published by Voyageur Press.