Sunday, May 31, 2009

Resources for Home Canning

It's become cool again to live off the land. The ever trendy Outside Magazine recently had a tongue in cheek article about the living off the land just recently, and mentioned this canning book called Well-Preserved by Eugenia Bone. Recently, there was an article in the New York Times about it, too. There's been a ton of hype around around this book...which I haven't yet checked out of the library to see if I want to buy it. Eugenia Bone is the daughter of a cookbook writer. Shy must have a great publicist! She has a blog, too. I 'll have to see if it is a book I'd recommend.

Until then....long before canning became trendy, I always recommend the Ball Blue Book for the beginning home canner. It's a booklet/magazine style cookbook that gets revised every couple of years and lists for $8.95. But for a few dollars more, I really like the Ball Complete Book for Home Preserving by Juli Kingry. It has a ton more recipes and sort of eases the newbie into home canning. Any recipe you can find in the Ball Blue Book, you can find in the Ball Complete Book. So, if you are going to buy one canning book, go for the Ball Complete Book. Every time I open the book, I find something I want to try like the strawberry margarita preserves or the sunshine rhubarb drink syrup, which I am canning today with some stewed rhubarb. The rhubarb at the Ann Arbor Farmer's Market was a sky high $3 a lb. and no one would give me a bulk buy discount, so I went to the Dexter Farmer's Market and bought about 12 lbs. for $9.

That being said, there are lots of free online sources for canning information. First, there's the Fed - yes, that's right, the USDA has written the official guidelines on home canning, it's the 2006 USDA Canning Guide. You can buy this book in book form on Amazon or from the University of Georgia, but I wouldn't bother because it's online (follow my link). It has a food sciencey bent to it, but it's worth reading if you have a particular question about the hows and whys of food preservation safety. It also provides the information on the proper acidification of tomatoes:

Acidification: To ensure safe acidity in whole, crushed, or juiced tomatoes, add 2 tablespoons
of bottled lemon juice or 1/2 teaspoon of citric acid per quart of tomatoes. For pints, use 1
tablespoon bottled lemon juice or 1/4 teaspoon citric acid. Acid can be added directly to the
jars before filling with product. Add sugar to offset acid taste, if desired. Four tablespoons of
a 5 percent acidity vinegar per quart may be used instead of lemon juice or citric acid. However,
vinegar may cause undesirable flavor changes.

I use this information to determine whether a salsa recipe I am considering canning is safe for water bath canning. Many I see online aren't, so check!

For a more user friendly online canning resource, I'd recommend the National Center for Home Food Preservation by the University of Georgia or Ball's website Freshpreserving. There's also PickYourOwn, which has a ton of information but I find it not well organized and is a really amateurish designed webpage. Even though it's a .org website, and the guy that puts it together says it's not for profit, he does sell canning supplies online...hmmm That being said, he's got a ton of information on there, so check it out. Hopefully, over the summer, I'll write more posts about other great canning resources. Today, I've got to sign off and can some rhubarb.


Anonymous said...

I froze a bunch of rhubarb tonight. My friend's new house had a shitload of rhubarb growing in the garden and he gave it to me.

I do love how living off the land is almost "chic"...even my mom liked my raised garden beds!!!

Buttercup said...

You should grow your own rhubarb - even the deer won't eat it!

I should go out and pick some of mine...

Mom said...

I am doing just that, Buttercup, but it's still too small to harvest. I love rhubarb!

Nancy Mehegan said... has a Drawing for a free copy of “Well Preserved” by Eugenia Bone. Drawing is June 10.

To enter drawing:

Good Luck. It's a fabulous book for beginners or experienced canners.

Sarah said...

I just wanted to let you know that I have awarded your blog the 'One Lovely Blog' award!

Please go to

to see how it works.

ilex said...

Just put up pickled some asparagus yesterday. True, it's farmer's market asparagus. But I do know the farmer's name.

Have you seen the brand new book "Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It"? Great little newbie book. Not really canning, but includes 4 to 12 recipes of each for home ec stuff like condiments, crackers, simple meat curing, brining, basic cheese- there's even a cocktail section. I'm going to give it to all my GFs who want to learn but have no idea where to start.

Michele said...

I was searching for a recipe my grandmother used to make when i ran across an old post of yours about parmesan balls. My grandmother used to make that, she dropped them right into the tomato sauce except she had alphabet pasta in the sauce also. I was wondering if you ever had any luck finding that recipe? you can contact me at