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Canning bible?

Looking to start preserving some of summer's goodness. Looking to purchase something authoritative. Thanks in advance...

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  1. I like the Ball book. To me the instructions (for a newbie) are easy to understand and the recipes are pretty good (I just started canning last year). But you should also search here for canning because a lot of more experienced people have books that they like and that they've recommended here.

    1. The two I have relied on for more than 20 years are Putting Food By and The Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving.



      1. The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving by Judi Kingry is the best canning book out there, IMHO. It has wonderful recipes and techniques for newbies and canning veterans. You will use it for years to come. I have been canning for almost 20 years, and I am still finding new things to try in this book! Also, if you are interested in pickling, I'd suggest Linda Ziedrich's Joy of Pickling for all things pickled. Good stuff! Happy canning!

        3 Replies
        1. re: momskitchen

          I plan on purchasing the Blue Ball Book of Canning and Preserves based on all the recommendations from this thread and noticed that there are a few editions out. The newest one being July 2010. Do you know if there is much difference between this one and Blue Ball Book of Preserving (June 2004)? If so, do you have a preference? I ask because the only place I can get the books are online (being in Canada) so I am not able to flip through them to compare. Of note the 2004 edition is about $10 cheaper so if there isn't much difference I'll probably opt for the 2004 one.

          1. re: 02putt

            You'll always want the newest edition available, so that it incorporates the newest research and recommendations on safety. If you're looking at the Ball Blue Book, the current version has peaches on the cover and should be available for less than $10 online. The Ball Complete Guide to Home Preserving (I'm running from memory, but the title is very similar to that) is available on Amazon for less than $15. Also, Google the National Center for Home Food Preservation - some of the recipes are less creative than Ball, but the site has a lot of recipes and links to the USDA's Complete Guide to Home Canning, both of which are safe and reliable sources for recipes.

          2. re: momskitchen

            This is the only book I've used in my four year canning adventure. I like all the recipes I've tried so far but, even more, appreciate the full explanations of all the steps of water bath and pressure canning. I copied the relevant pages and high-lighted the copies for easy reading. When I first started I always had the pages taped to the kitchen wall in the appropriate order so I didn't miss a step.

          3. Preserving Summer's Bounty by Marylin Kluger (NOT the Rodale book with Susan McClure by the same title) has been my personal bible

            Plus Putting Food By and The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving

            And for root cellaring and other non-canning/freezing/drying methods:
            Root Cellaring: Natural Cold Storage of Fruits and Vegetables by Mike and Nancy Bubel; http://www.amazon.com/Root-Cellaring-...

            1 Reply
            1. re: morwen

              Blue Ribbon PReserves by Linda J. Amendt is my go-to source -- great technical background and innovative recipes.

              I just ordered Preserving Summer's Bounty from Amazon and was greatly disappointed, Now I know why - I got the Rodale book, not the one by Marylin Kluger. Back to amazon for another order . . .

            2. Thanks, all. We picked up the Ball book today as it seemed like the best "starter" guide. Will probably look into some of the others mentioned here once we get up and going. Thanks again!


              1. Additional piggyback query: for those who have/have seen both.. what's the difference between the Ball "Blue Book" as opposed to the Ball "Complete Book"???

                13 Replies
                1. re: lidia

                  about 320 pages:) Ball complete is the larger and gives really good step by step instructions with some basic pictures. I used this when I first started and it was really helpful as a newbie. I think it's worth the investment , mine was $20 vs blue which I think was about $9 in the hardware store.

                  1. re: lidia

                    The Ball Blue Book is a thin magazine type publication that comes out yearly. The Ball Compete Book of Home Preserving is a thick book and it has all the recipes that you'd get in a typical Blue Book, plus a ton more.

                    1. re: momskitchen

                      So.. is the Blue Book more a repetitive thing or is it mostly new recipes each time it's issued? Thanks for the clarifications, momskitchen and geminigirl. I had browsed Amazon reviews but not seen the difference; never thought to look at page count.

                      1. re: lidia

                        The Ball Blue Book is fairly repetitive each year...there might be a few new recipes, but it is made mostly to be stacked next to a bunch of canning jars to entice you to buy both. I have several editions of it and not much changes.

                        1. re: momskitchen

                          Actually, the Ball Blue Book will have the latest safety recommendations. Those can change from year to year basis. Some of that is due to the varieties of fruits and vegetables you are canning and preserving. I've been canning for somewhere around 40 years now (started out as a child helping my grandmother). Many things have changed in that amount of time. Including the fact that today's tomatoes are right on the edge of not being safe to can in a Boiling Water Bath and should have some commercial lemon juice added to each jar. And some things have changed since 2004 when the Ball Complete Book was published.

                          For someone just starting out I would recommend both the Ball Blue Book and the Ball Complete Book and would cross check. Personally, I also love Putting Food By and several other "old" books. Do check out the website of the National Center of Food Perservation for recipes you know are safe to can.


                          Botulism is noting to play around with.

                          1. re: decolady

                            Hmmm...I am a canning instructor and have taken the home preservation class offered by the the National Center for Home Food Preservation. I think I learned in that class that that there has been no major changes to the recommended safe canning techniques since 1998. Any Ball Blue Book published before then might have unsafe techniques. What has changed since 2004 that I am not aware of?

                            1. re: momskitchen

                              The coop extension instructor in my class last month said that the main change for this year concerns summer squashes. They no longer feel the squash can be safely canned in a water bath. IIRC she said it was too delicate for pressure canning.

                              1. re: meatn3

                                The squash/pumpkin thing has been prohibited for years by the USDA..... The holding time is a good tip but that doesn't have anything to do with food safety. http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/publications.... I actually learned about that from the Ball Complete Book prior to it being published at the NCHFP. The water bath temp to start is a new one to me - I was trained that the water had to be boiling, not these lower temps. Not sure what benefit there would be if you can put the jars in the water if it is cooler, since the water needs to be at boiling to start the clock on processing time. Thanks for sharing!

                                1. re: meatn3

                                  Oops - memory is a scary thing!

                                  Momskitchen, you are correct that water bath canning of summer squash has not been recommended for some time!

                                  The change is in pressure cooking of summer squashes - here is the reason from UGA:

                                  "Why is canning summer squash or zucchini not recommended?
                                  Recommendations for canning summer squashes, including zucchini, that appeared in former editions of So Easy to Preserve or USDA bulletins have been withdrawn due to uncertainty about the determination of processing times. Squashes are low-acid vegetables and require pressure canning for a known period of time that will destroy the bacteria that cause botulism. Documentation for the previous processing times cannot be found, and reports that are available do not support the old process. Slices or cubes of cooked summer squash will get quite soft and pack tightly into the jars. The amount of squash filled into a jar will affect the heating pattern in that jar. It is best to freeze summer squashes or pickle them for canning, but they may also be dried."

                                  1. re: meatn3

                                    I've made a pickled pumpkin that I like - I got the recipe out of the Ball Complete. The thing I get asked about canning all the time is pumpkin butter, which isn't canning safe....water bath or pressure canned. The texture of it makes it too dense to heat properly, I understand.

                                2. re: momskitchen

                                  I just finished the Master Food Preserver course from my state's cooperative extension system, and we were told to closely review any publications older than about 2005. I can't recall all the changes, but I know we were looking at revisions to our own publications around the water temperature to start jars in (160 for raw pack/180 for hot pack in a boiling water bath) and the holding time in the canner after processing (5 minutes with the lid and temperature off after the end of BWB processing time).

                            2. re: lidia

                              Yeah, I would skip it and get the complete.

                        2. Authoratative food science knowledge...
                          Personally, I would go to the source for many books... The USDA canning guide (http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/publications...) and The National Center for Home Food Preservation (http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/) both provide the technical background and has recipes.

                          A compendium of recipes...
                          Also, as people have mentioned, Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving.

                            1. re: Matahari22

                              I, too, have used Putting Food By for many years now. Love that book. I mean, what other preserving book gives instructions for drawing, skinning, and cutting up a rabbit? But one needs to approach the book with caution, preferably with a more modern book in hand. Putting Food By was originally published in 1973 (I have the third edition published in 1983). The USDA safety guidelines have changed considerably since then and some of the techniques in the book are no longer recommended.

                              1. re: JoanN

                                I really do like that book, too, but agree that many of the methods need to be checked with new safety guidlines. That's also the book with Euell Gibbon's Dill Crock, something my family has been making since we first read about it.

                                1. re: decolady

                                  They have a fifth edition now of Putting Food By.
                                  I have the newest, I believe.

                                  1. re: Matahari22

                                    Thanks for pointing that out. The fifth edition was published little more than a year ago in May 2010. I thinks it's time I gave up on my original copy and treated myself to a new one. Although I wonder if the most recent edition has instructions on how to skin a rabbit?

                                    1. re: JoanN

                                      I checked to see if I had that book here, but it's in my storage shed, so I cannot check it. My step mom had, maybe still has and older copy. I remember seeing how to dress a rabbit being in there. I was thinking that the way i would do it, would be to give it to my father to do. My great grandfather ate rabbits all the time, and squirrels. I am living in one tiny room right now, so I only brought a handful of cook books with me.

                            2. That is supposed to be book, not boom. iPhone autocorrect.

                              1. I originally put this post in reply to someone else's by mistake so I am reposting it to the original hoping more people will read it. (Sorry) I plan on purchasing the Blue Ball Book of Canning and Preserves based on all the recommendations from this thread and noticed that there are a few editions out. The newest one being July 2010. Do you know if there is much difference between this one and Blue Ball Book of Preserving (June 2004)? If so, do you have a preference? I ask because the only place I can get the books are online (being in Canada) so I am not able to flip through them to compare. Of note the 2004 edition is about $10 cheaper so if there isn't much difference I'll probably opt for the 2004 one.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: 02putt

                                  From what I understand there are 2 different Ball Book canning products ... the first is the Ball Complete which is something like 400 or 500 pages long. Then there is the Ball Blue Book that is put out (not sure how regularly, maybe every few years?) that is a paperback sort of like a fat magazine style. It's maybe 100 pages long. I think both have good sections on the basics with instructions. The "complete" has, obviously, lots and lots more recipes.

                                  Sorry if this isn't helpful. I don't know the difference in the dates you are talking about. My copy of the Ball book that I like is the Ball Blue Book anniversary edition that says 1909-2009 on the cover (it has a very yellow focused cover, if that helps).

                                  1. re: LNG212

                                    The Ball Blue Book is published once a year and is a magazine style format. Many of the recipes are the same year after year. The Ball Complete book is much bigger, has many wonderful recipes and great info for beginners as well as more seasoned veterans. I have been canning for 20 years and it is my go to canning book. I highly recommend it. Any recipe in the Ball Blue Book can be found in Ball Complete.

                                  2. re: 02putt

                                    If you're looking at the Ball Blue Book, look for the current version, which as peaches and peach products on the cover.

                                  3. I love Fancy Pantry by Helen Witty and bought Well-Preserved by Eugenia Bone a couple of years ago - it has some interesting recipes such as canned tuna and serious discussion about using correct preserving techniques.

                                    13 Replies
                                    1. re: herby

                                      Seconding Fancy Pantry. Wonderful book. Every August I make as many jars as I'll be able to store of her Corn Relish. I could, and have, eat that stuff by the spoonful.

                                      1. re: JoanN

                                        I must try this! Made many-many other recipes from the book but not corn relish.

                                        1. re: herby

                                          Fyi, I make one minor change to her recipe. Because the relish doesn't thicken quite as much as I'd like, I mix two tablespoons of flour with 1/4 cup of water and stir it into the relish after it's been simmering about 20 minutes and then let it simmer another 10. This is just a personal preference. You might not think it necessary.

                                          1. re: JoanN

                                            Joan, have you tried blending 1/2 cup or so of the relish and putting it back to finish cooking? Thank you for the suggesttion.

                                            1. re: herby

                                              No, I haven't. Very interesting thought, though.

                                              The idea of thickening with the flour/water mixture came from a recipe in Putting Food By (see above) that thickened the corn relish in this way. But I liked Witty's recipe better so just added that one element.

                                            2. re: JoanN

                                              Using either flour or pureed product in your relish can cause problems for canning. (The extra thickness/viscosity can prevent appropriate heat penetration, which is necessary for safe processing.) Have you considered draining the relish or thickening it after opening the product?

                                              1. re: JoanN

                                                FYI...Adding flour or other thickening agents to canned goods isn't recommended by the USDA. BTW I love the recipe for corn relish found in Linda Ziedrich's Joy of Pickling. It's very good and doesn't have ground mustard in it so it doesn't look muddy in the jar.

                                                1. re: momskitchen

                                                  "Adding flour or other thickening agents to canned goods isn't recommended by the USDA"

                                                  Do you have any idea how long that's been true? I had no idea and, of course, have been doing it for years. Only with this one recipe, though. I know, I know. There are still people who are using melted parafin on the their jams. At least I no longer do that.

                                                  1. re: JoanN

                                                    I don't know how long it's been true, but here it is in writing if that helps:


                                                    It's an issue of texture - if a canned product gets too dense, the heat transfer to get the center of the jar isn't uniform enough to make sure it gets heated all the way through.

                                                    1. re: JoanN

                                                      The NCHFP does recommend using Clear Jel for thickening products intended to be home canned.

                                                      "ClearJel® is a corn starch that has been modified to give it special and unique characteristics when used in food products. It can be used for canned fruit pie fillings because it does not break down in the acid food mixtures and does not thicken enough during heat processing to interfere with the intended effect of the
                                                      heat on killing bacteria during canning. It is preferred for thickening canned pie fillings as well as other foods over other corn starches because it has less or no aftertaste, the thickened juices are smooth and clear, and foods thickened with ClearJel® may be frozen." http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/publications...

                                                      1. re: morwen

                                                        Thanks, but arrrrgh! Yet another product I'm not going to be able to find in NYC. Looks like I'm going to have to order a pound of it. That should last me a while, shouldn't it?

                                                        1. re: JoanN

                                                          I am so not keen on adding yet another "modified" product. What about canning it as is - thin - and than thickening with flour or starch when the jar is openned? I would much rather do this.

                                                          1. re: herby

                                                            You might very well like it as is. Crosse & Blackwell used to make a corn relish that I adored. When they discontinued the product, I tried to replicate it. The recipe in Fancy Pantry was closest to my memory of what the commercial product was like except that it was a bit thinner so I fiddled around trying to get the consistency I had remembered. You might not think it needs to be thickened at all.

                                          2. Think about "So Easy to Preserve" from the University of Georgia. It's quite comprehensive on canning along with dehydrating and freezing.