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Oct 4, 2010 04:42 PM

Blue Chair Jam Cookbook and River Cottage Preserves book = unsafe?

I recently bought the Blue Chair Jam Cookbook and the River Cottage Preserves book. I was taken in by the luscious photography and the unusual flavor combinations.

However, upon getting them home and reading more closely, the methods that the books use to preserve the jams are entirely unsafe! The River Cottage book uses the open kettle canning method and no after-processing. I know tons of grannies may swear by this method, but I'm not taking the chance.

The Blue Chair book is slightly better, though the author says she processes her jars in the oven. It sounded like a brilliant idea to me, but now that I've researched it, I see it isn't safe either. The other option in the Blue Chair book is to "process according to manufacturer's directions". Say what? I assume she means the directions given by the jar maker (Ball or Mason or whomever.) So, does this mean I can put her jams in half-pint jars and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes and they'll be safe?

Can I make any of these jams as freezer jams? Should I just take both books back to the store and ask for a refund? I'm very annoyed and don't really want to get into the debate of whether open kettle canning is safe. I don't think it's safe, so that's not an option for me.

Thanks in advance!

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  1. I would just follow Ball instructions for similar jam and you should be fine-10 min for 1/2 pints, etc. The only ones I'd be worried about would be anything low acid-fruit jams and jellies and any pickles should be fine.

    1. Are you annoyed that you didn't look at the book's canning methods before buying or annoyed that people are still using the open kettle canning method? If you're not happy with the books, return them. I know you don't want to hear it and I'm not debating but open kettle canning has been used since before you were probably born and is safe if you know what you're doing.

      1. My mom always mad jam and jelly with the open kettle method. Nobody ever got sick. My understanding is that this is only safe for jams and jellies but not pickles, tomatoes, etc. I also think low-sugar jams shouldn't be processed with this method.

        I make my own jams and never use a recipe. I sterilize my jars, lids and rings, fill with hot jam and then process in boiling water for 10 minutes. I'm sure you can follow the jam/jelly recipes in the book you have, fill your jars and boil for 10 and be perfectly fine.

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          1. Re: making fruit jams, marmalades and preserves: Open kettle method canning is not unsafe as long as the fruit being preserved has sufficient acidity. My grandmother regularly used this method. Figs are the only fruit that will present a problem. If the seal fails and you see mold, discard the jam. Most fruits are too acid to allow for the growth of harmful bacterial like botulism. If you are deeply concerned about canning, the USDA has free online instructions here: