Off The Shelf - Favorite Canning Books

book canning collection small

Walk into my kitchen any time in August  or September and you will find  a table full  of canning jars, baskets of lids and rings,  funnels,  a  Squeezo strainer anchored to the table, sugar, salt, spices, lemon juice, pectin, steaming canners on the stove, buckets of peppers, tomatoes, grapes, potatoes, onions, pickles, apples, pears  and me in my Kitchen Cousins apron.    Laying among the equipment you will find open books  about canning, pickling, dehydrating, jelly making, and food storage. Because I  have been getting a  lot of phone calls lately asking about home canning I thought I would share my favorite “go to” canning books –  some are dog eared, scribbled in, and dribbled on and some are new to my collection. Hopefully,  my suggestions  will help you find answers and inspire you to can, dehydrate, pickle, jam, and jelly.

Ball Blue Book small

Even though I have canned for over 30 years I always begin  every canning session by carefully reading over  the recipe to refresh my understanding of the process. I like to get each step straight in my mind before I begin and lay out things in a very organized way. The gold standard of canning books is The Ball Blue Book. If you home  process food you need to have this book. The Ball Blue Book   will answer all of your basic questions about low acid/high acid foods, give you processing times, and has a wonderful collection of recipes that are research based. I recommend that you buy a new copy every few years because updates are added when lab testing shows that changes are needed. One example of an update is for Fruit Pie fillings. It was always recommended that you thicken your fruit fillings with corn starch. Better testing equipment now tells us that when corn starch is used in filling the jar contents will not heat completely through while processing. So . .   updated pie filling recipes call for using Clearjel as a thickener.   Please – – – follow the updated recipes and be safe!

Book Independance Days small

Independence Days A Guide to Sustainable Food Storage and Preservation by Sharon Astyk was highly recommended by my friend Linda. I bought a copy and found it to be a fascinating “guide to storing food ….. and a manual for living in a changing world”. I could not put it down. The author discusses our food system and shares ways we can become less dependent through gardening, cooking at home,  and food home preservation. I, also, highly recommend you add this to your reading list.  Read it and  be inspired.

So Easy To Preserve small

The Cooperative Extension of The University of Georgia publishes So Easy To Preserve.   I find this book comparable to The Ball  Blue Book. Though it has only black and white drawings and charts instead of color like the Blue Book it is filled with up- to-date information about canning, pickling, jelly making, freezing , and drying. It has lots of recipes to get you thinking about how to  home process  all those beautiful fruits and vegies you grow or buy locally. You can buy a copy on-line through the site for the National Center for Home Food Processing or NCHFP – By the way, this site also offers free on-line canning  classes.

book Put 'Em Up small

One of my newest books Put ’em Up! by Sherri Brooks Vinton in a treasure chest of recipes for “creative cooks”. The author begins by explaining basic food preparation and food preservation methods but the bulk of the book is an alphabetical  collection of classic and out of the ordinary recipes for canning, pickling and dehydrating.   If you are a long time canner/ food preserver you will find several classics like Applesauce and Bread and Butter Pickles along side recipes for Appled Brandy and  Cucumber Sake. I definitely want to try the Sparkling Rhubarb Jelly made with Pomona’s Universal Pectin next spring.

book Pomona's Pectin small

Wondering about Pomona’s Pectin? Having made a lot of jams and jellies I am always appalled when I measure the sugar for one batch of jelly – usually about SEVEN cups – for 6-8 one cup jars! Pomona’s Pectin allows you to make jams and jellies with comparatively  small amounts of sugar – often one cup per recipe.   Pomona’s Pectin is a citrus pectin that is used in combination with a calcium water  you mix and keep in the refrigerator.  The combination of the citrus pectin and the calcium water causes the jam/jelly to gel without huge amounts of sugar.    Preserving With Pomona’s Pectin   by Allison Duffy is a collection of recipes  that allows you to have your jam and eat it too – – without sending your blood sugar into overdrive.

books Linda Ziedrich small

Two books by Linda Ziedrich, The Joy of Jams, Jellies and Other Sweet Preserves – full of old fashioned recipes that do not use commercial pectin (read that –  using less sugar) and   The Joy of Pickling – full of creative  “why didn’t I think of that” recipes, are so full of good information I use them in my classes.  I have felt for a long time that canning, pickling, jam and jelly making  were lost arts. Linda Ziedrich’s books  bring both into the 21st century and make them doable (is that a word?).  Store bought pickles? Store bought jelly? Homemade is BETTER!

Wild grape Jelly and jalapenos 2013 Sept. small

Get thee to a library, a good book store, or open that e-book and check out my suggestions. I hope you find inspiration!

Hey from the farm,
Fran                             The Country Cousin

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