Wednesday, September 16, 2020

My Favorite Canning and Food-Preservation Books - 2020


Pictured here: recommended food preservation books and jars of food I've canned so far this year. Reviews and details below!

Jars pictured from left to right contain applebutter, apple sauce, maple-sweetened bread and butter pickles, roasted pepper and tomato sauce, blueberries in honey syrup, honey-sweetened bramble jam, and maple sweetened strawberry preserves.

If you've been following this blog (thank you!) you know that I love canning

How much canning I'm able to do varies from year to year. One of the benefits of spending so much more time at home this year is a well-stocked pantry cabinet!

I preserved our own raspberries and wild black raspberries into bramble jam. 

Canned some of the best strawberry preserves (jam) we've ever eaten.

Oven-roasted peppers, tomatoes, and onions for delicious tomato sauce.  

I've frozen strawberries, blueberries, sweet peppers, peaches, wild-harvested garlic mustard (has garlic-spinach flavor). I've dried tomatoes, apples, and herbs.

And I'm just getting started on apple season. So far I've canned some applesauce, lots of apple butter, and dried some apple slices. Still to come is more applesauce, dried apples, and the most delicious smokey apple barbeque sauce. 

Now for the book recommendations!

1.) Great Books for Beginners and for General Reference:

If you're new to canning, just getting started with food preservation, or want to have some all-around great general information books, I recommend these!

Put 'em Up! by Sherri Brooks Vinton.  - Put 'em Up! is a great beginner and general guide to drying, freezing, canning, and pickling. This is one of my go-to books that I consult almost every time I have bounty to preserve. The pictures are gorgeous, the recipes are delicious, and the knowledge is accessible and diverse. 

The Beginner's Guide to Preserving Food at Home by Janet Chadwick - This is a fantastic basic resource for more technical details about home food preservation. This book has a wealth of information on how and why to do certain steps, use particular methods, and how to do them properly and safely at home. While I rarely use particular recipes from this book, I do use it to make sure what I'm preserving is safe to store and particularly for general information about the processing I'm using. 

If you're new to canning, it's not as complicated as it seems! I'm considering doing a basic canning 101 post soon. 

All you need is some basic equipment, much of which you may already have:

Stuff you probably already have: a flat bottom non-reactive pot, kitchen towel, gloves, scraper spatula, ladle or spoon of some kind.

Specific to canning: canning jar lifter (the fancy red and black thing in the middle, canning jars (make sure they're specifically for canning as not all glass jars are manufactured for canning), jar bands and lids. Most years I use a mix of "regular" canning lids and the reusable tattler lids and rings

2.) Favorite books for recipes, particularly naturally sweetened: 

Naturally Sweet Food in Jars and Preserving by the Pint by Marisa McClellan

I've had Preserving by the Pint for several years and it's perfect for how to use that one quart of strawberries from the farmers market, or how to make kumquat marmalade from one package of kumquats. The recipes are delicious, the photos are gorgeous, and Marisa is a darling. 

I was so excited when she announced Naturally Sweet Food in Jars, as I'd had trouble finding safe recipes that didn't include a lot of white sugar. With the exception of an almond toffee recipe that I've made at the holidays for the last 25 years, I don't use white sugar. Not only are natural sweeteners more delicious and complex, they're also so much more nutritious! This book is a treat with so many recipes that have come to be family favorites with new ones added yearly. I haven't even made 1/4 of the recipes in the book and have ambitious plans for the years to come. 

3.) Advanced and particular preserving books: 

Tart and Sweet by Kelly Geary and Jessie Knadler and Well-Preserved by Eugenia Bone are both beautiful books with interesting recipes. I find both of these books' recipes to be slightly too particularly for my kitchen as I like a lot of wiggle room. If you're looking for exact recipes to create precise and diverse preserved dishes, particularly new twists on classic recipes, these books are excellent.

Preserving Food without Freezing or Canning -Traditional Techniques Using Salt, Oil, Sugar, Alcohol, Vinegar, Drying, Cold Storage, and Lactic Fermentation is a fascinating treasure trove of historical information for how people preserved (and still do!) food before electricity and even the knowledge of pasteurization and canning. Reading this book expanded my knowledge and understanding of the art and science of how people have been able to eat all year round without relying on electricity or supermarkets.

I learn something new from this book every year and look forward to a season in my life where I have more time to dig deeper into the techniques and recipes presented.

What are your favorite preservation methods? What are your favorite foodie preservation books? 

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