Saving the Season: This guide to all things food preservation came out this year, and is already an indispensable reference guide. Says Emily, "Kevin West is a gifted teacher and his book is both practical and inspiring for both new and experienced food preservers."
The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving: Another book, this one has already been a classic for quite some time. It doesn't have quite as much flair as Saving the Season, but the information is excellent.
The Art of Fermentation: Sandor Katz is well-known in the food community for his ideas, which range from obviously excellent to a little bit out there. Either way, he definitely knows his stuff, and this book is not only a good instruction manual, but a good overview of the history and uses of fermentation, too.
Canning set: There are plenty of home canning kits out there. Whatever you choose for your favorite food preserver, pick one that includes a jar lifter and a funnel in addition to the actual cans.
Institute of Domestic Technology: The upscale Institute offers courses in jam making, pickling, coffee roasting, cocktail crafting, cheese making, etc., with classes held at two different historic mansions: Zane Grey Estate in Altadena, and the Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills. Gift certificates are available, too.
Mason Jar Drinking Glass: This stylish glass travel cup comes with a Pyrex straw, and best of all, fits in the cup holder of most cars.
Lactofermentation Kit: Homemade sauerkraut? Kimchi? Pickles? Yes! Lactofermentation is a subcategory of cooking that most people don't even attempt, but its adherents are passionate and dedicated.
Stainless Steel Dehydrator with Clear Door: The Excalibur brand was specifically mentioned over and over -- "the Cadillac of home dehydrators," even -- so it's clearly the one to get. It's certainly not cheap, but the idea is you'll be able to use it forever.
Good Eggs: This grocery service is very specialized: they hand-pick their vendors, so everyone's using sustainable practices and high-quality ingredients. Products range from vegetables to fully-prepared meals.
Thermapen: "A $96 thermometer is by no means essential, but if you're looking to spoil your favorite cook or food preserver, this is a wonderful way to do it. The Thermapen gives an accurate, near-instant read of temperatures when making jam, cheese, bread, and more, plus it's really durable" says Emily.
Headspace Measuring Card: "At the other end of the price spectrum is a stainless steel headspace measuring card designed by food preservation guru Ernest Miller/Rancho La Merced Provisions. It's inexpensive, yet indispensable. I use mine for nearly every canning project I do."