Sunday, August 11, 2013

My favorite canning books

Last week, I taught a canning class at Whole Foods Market, and I think it was the best group of students I have ever had - everyone had really thoughtful questions, everyone actively participated, no one stole anything* and they all laughed at my jokes.

*one time, someone stole another participant's jar of strawberry jam.  I've had people steal my cookbooks, too!    

I have a ton of canning books, both vintage and recently published,  I promised my students I'd publish my list of of my favorite canning books, so here it is....

Best All Around Canning Book: Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving

If I was lost on a deserted island with only one canning book (and all my canning supplies),  this is the one book I would want to have with me.   It's perfect for beginners, and it has plenty of interesting recipes for the more advanced home canner. 

Best book for a novice on a budget:  Blue Book Guide to Preserving

Published since 1909, this book is ideal for first time canners.   It is relatively inexpensive and features water bath, pressure canner, freezing and drying recipes.  

The Wonder Twins:  The Joy of Pickling and  The Joy of Jams, Jellies, and Other Sweet Preserves by Linda Ziedrich


These books, together, provide tons of creative water bath canning recipes.   I have learned so much from both of them.   

The 2 new books I acquired this year...I'm not sure if they are going to be my favorites, but  they are off to a good start.   First is Preserving Made Easy: Small Batches and Simple Techniques by Ellie Topp and Margaret Howard.   It features some new ideas for recipes and I like the small batch aspect of it.   The second one - Saving the Season: A Cook's Guide to Home Canning, Pickling, and Preserving by Kevin West a book so beautifully written and photographed that I have been reading it all summer before bedtime.

Read this review:

 “Part cookbook, part manifesto, and part crypto-memoir . . . literate and lyrical and fanatically well researched. . . . The kind of cookbook you can read for pleasure. . . . It has more than 200 recipes but is shot through with little essays, too—about preserving, food gathering, gardening, family.”  —John Jeremiah Sullivan, Lucky Peach

Kevin West is my kind of canner - he loves Linda Ziedrich's books like I do, and also flames Mes Confitures: The Jams and Jellies of Christine Ferber, which is a canning book I would definitely put on my "do not recommend" list.   It's very difficult to follow - must be something was lost in translation from French.   When I was in France earlier this summer, I saw some of her preserves in gift shops.  

Kevin West's book is so lovely, it even has poetry in it.   I'll close with this one:

"Blackberry Picking" by Seamus Heaney

Late August, given heavy rain and sun
For a full week, the blackberries would ripen.
At first, just one, a glossy purple clot
Among others, red, green, hard as a knot.
You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet
Like thickened wine: summer's blood was in it
Leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for
Picking. Then red ones inked up and that hunger
Sent us out with milk cans, pea tins, jam-pots
Where briars scratched and wet grass bleached our boots.
Round hayfields, cornfields and potato-drills
We trekked and picked until the cans were full,
Until the tinkling bottom had been covered
With green ones, and on top big dark blobs burned
Like a plate of eyes. Our hands were peppered
With thorn pricks, our palms sticky as Bluebeard's.
We hoarded the fresh berries in the byre.
But when the bath was filled we found a fur,
A rat-grey fungus, glutting on our cache.
The juice was stinking too. Once off the bush
The fruit fermented, the sweet flesh would turn sour.
I always felt like crying. It wasn't fair
That all the lovely canfuls smelt of rot.
Each year I hoped they'd keep, knew they would not.

Happy canning!

1 comment:

Kalamity Kelli said...

Oh my goodness! All the books you posted pictures of are the exact ones I have and USE! I do have one more called Blue Ribbon Canning Book or something like that - I enjoy that one as well but we sure have similar tastes in calling books!