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Meals in a Jar: Quick and Easy, Just-Add-Water, Homemade Recipes Paperback – March 19, 2013
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One: The book is called "Meals in a Jar," and yet the preferred technique to prepare this food for long term storage uses something called a "retort pouch." So it's not about storing dry food in a container packed with an oxygen absorber; it's a book about pressure canning wet/cooked foods. Even the cover photo features dry ingredients stored in JARS. This book should have been entitled, "Meals in a Retort Pouch." Of course, if it had been, I never would've purchased it.
Two: There's no resources section in the front or back of the book for finding the products mentioned, like the retort pouches. The one link that appears in the book doesn't carry them (I checked this last night. They have mylar bags, but they don't have retort pouches of any size.). So good luck even finding them anywhere, since Amazon doesn't currently have them available.
Three: Her method makes MASSIVE amounts of food. I mean, putting together recipes with ingredient lists involving 16 cups of rice. If you're preparing for a small family or couple, the recipes are less than useless, since many of them make enough food for eight meals that feed six or eight EACH.
Four: Pressure canning is not "quick and easy," as this method is described on the cover. As one reviewer here said, "If you are a beginner and want to use this book, please be aware that you should learn to pressure can, and gather up the proper equipment." Guess how many hundreds of dollars and many hours you'll spend learning all that, before you can even BEGIN to use this book. Like I said, this option is neither quick, easy, nor cheap. I've made meals in jars using dry food and that process is very simple AND quick to prepare the food when needed. This process is very convoluted and difficult in contrast. And I don't know that the end-result is worth all the extra cost and work when dry food and an O2 absorber in a mason jar works far better and can make very tasty food.
Five: The brief how-to section on "canning" with a retort pouch didn't give much information. She makes it seem like you can use a household iron to seal the pouches and then pressure can them. This doesn't seem like an effective or safe way of sealing the pouches. The industry-standard equipment to process these retort pouches -- chamber vacuum sealers -- cost hundreds or even THOUSANDS of dollars. Do you really think your consumer iron and pressure canner will be sufficient to safely process your food? I don't.
Six: There's no information in the recipes giving shelf-life of the processed meals. "How long will this be good or safe to eat" is a pretty important piece of information which is completely overlooked. How can I know how long these meals will be good for, when she doesn't include that information? I'm not risking my family's safety on this, thanks.
I should have been wary when in the blurb about the author, it mentions she has a "dinner planning website," but the URL isn't given. When I did a web search on the author's name, I couldn't even find this alleged website. Why wouldn't she provide a URL in her bio? She hiding something?
Don't waste your time or money on this book; it isn't what you want. There's plenty of good and free information and recipes available on the web for storing meals in jars or mylar bags; this isn't a good resource for such information. Chef Tess the Bakeresse is far more helpful. I have her book, too, and even though some of it is disappointing, it's far more useful than this one will ever be.
I am disappointed that most of the recipes either call for a dehydrator, pressure canner or vacuum sealer. I have wanted a dehydrator for years; however, for my family it is a big financial investment. I have a vacuum sealer, but it creates plastic waste. I liked the idea of canning jars because they are reusable.
If you already own a dehydrator, pressure canner and vacuum sealer, I would recommend this book to you. If not, I would probably recommend another book.
I did find the oven and information very useful and will be taking a closer look. Do not get me wrong there is useful information here along with good recipes if you are fixing for a big family or giving as a gift. I found a lot of interesting things just was not what I was looking for.
Like I said though I do love this book and it is a great book to have on your shelf.