I really wanted to like Mrs. Wheelbarrow's Practical Pantry cookbook. I really wanted to like it and the good news is that I loved it!

Mrs. Wheelbarrow's Practical Pantry - web-3

One look at the book and you know this is everything you need. It speaks to both the beginner (hello!) and the experienced canner and everyone else in between.  Water-bath canning, pressure-canning, curing, brining, smoking, cheese-making, jams, juice, pickles, soups, this literally has everything you need to fill your pantry. What an apt name for the cookbook! If you've read any of Cathy's work on her blog, you know that she has a casual, personal tone in which it feels like she's talking directly to you. And that's exactly what I needed to make the leap into the wonderful (and potentially scary) world of canning!

Now, full disclosure, Cathy Barrow (aka Mrs. Wheelbarrow), is a good friend from the Internet world that I met a few years ago. We have actually met, we have broken bread together, we "like" each others Instagram photos and we share the occasional yiddish reference.

So, the real disclosure is...I have always wanted to make pickles because. Why, well c'mon, it's pickles! The excuses have aways been numerous but the one I always go back to is the classic "Umm, I really don't want to kill anyone." This definitely isn't a unique hesitation by someone who is new to the world of preserving.  And right there in the introduction, Cathy's put my mind at ease. She acknowledges it and says the likelihood of it ending badly is pretty slim IF you follow the rules. No getting creative or cute with the directions. I wasn't planning on it, but yes ma'am!

Quickle onions and pickles - web

I knew the goal was to make pickles. If Mrs. Wheelbarrow can get me to successfully make pickles, this book would be worth its weight in pickles. As a beginner, it was best to keep the training wheels on for the first go-round so the recipe for "Quickles" caught my eye. Quickles is quick-pickling almost anything. With cucumbers, a red onion, homemade pickling spices and all the other ingredients and equipment in hand, I was set.

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Success! It was much more painless than I thought and I even had an explanation in the book as to why my garlic turned this blue-ish/turquoise colour. Anthocyanin, a pigment that reacts to acidic solutions like a pickle brine, go figure! Within 20 minutes, the onions and the cucumber had drastically changed and I was munching away pretty impressed with myself at 12:00am. After they cooled somewhat, it became the moment of truth and with a couple of Weck Jars that I had leftover from FBC2014. The lids went on, the clips clicked on and just like that, it was done.

The next morning, I couldn't wait, so I went straight for the two jars and had a heckuva time getting the lid which meant more success! I eventually got the lids off and was about as happy as a guy can be from conquering what some people take for granted but you have to start somewhere.

Pickles

So with that, Mrs. Wheelbarrow's Practical Pantry is proudly going on my shelf and I know it will be reached for often and soon.

It is the perfect gift for yourself or for anyone you think should fill up their pantry with homemade goods to last throughout the year! You can find it online at Amazon or Chapters/Indigo.

And the good news is that the folks at W.W. Norton are offering up one (1) copy of Mrs. Wheelbarrow's Practical Pantry to a lucky FBC reader!

Disclosure - Food Bloggers of Canada was given one copy of Mrs. Wheelbarrow's Practical Pantry for review.

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This review was written by Ethan Adeland, co-founder of FBC and author of Feeding Ethan.  He is a writer, iPhone picture-snapper, traveler and experimenter in the kitchen.  He currently resides in Vancouver, BC.  Twitter: @EthanAdeland

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31 Comments

Elizabeth H
Reply

I’d love to have a lazy susan spice rank in my pantry. It would really come in handy when I’m looking for spices!

Sabrina Weldon
Reply

I always have jars of diced tomatoes. We cook a lot in my house so we have big days of prep and making batches of mason jars filled with tons of goodies! We do pickled Jalapeños too for tons of tacos! 😀

Jamie
Reply

We have several staples that always must be found in our pantry, a variety of beans, jams, mustards, vinegars but I will have to say that chopped tomatoes is our most used.

Jon@localkitchener.ca
Reply

I would always love to have beer in my pantry. It is usually the case but every once in a while the supply runs dry and that is always a sad moment. In terms of true pantry items though I would like to always have canned tomatoes in my pantry!

lillian
Reply

Always love to have artichoke on hand and some spiced blueberries for adding to breakfasts and desserts. Having lots of canning jars would help to.

Paula
Reply

I would love to have jars and jars of homemade jams and jellies in my pantry…made by me! I’d love to have Cathy’s book. It just might be the thing to finally take away my aversion to preserving for fear of accidentally poisoning someone.

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