Monthly Archives: July 2012

Canning Book Reviews

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I have been meaning to do one of these for awhile. Though the internet is all well and good, there is nothing like having a book on hand. What if I need to can and the electricity is out and the www is not accessible? Or what if I am just too damn lazy and sick of staring at a screen, so I would rather just rifle through a book for awhile. (I know this all sounds so silly coming from a blog and all, but hey, I love books and tangible hand held items so whatev). Anyways, check out my reviews, support some authors, and try out some of their tasty recipes:

Perfect Preserves by Hilaire Walden

This book is a lot more than just putting things in jars; there are sections on smoking, salting, crystallizing, canning, pickling, almost all possible preservation methods under the sun. This 160ish page book is full of beautiful photos (a must for me, I gotta know what it looks like before I try it out) and some pretty great recipes. The instructions are easy to follow; with step by step guides that include pictures of every step. I think this cookbook is a great place to start, but might not be beneficial to someone who is already an avid preservationist. Most of the books is well written instructions, with a few pretty ordinary recipes. A great beginners books.

Food In Jars by Marisa McClellan

Since I began reading Marisa McClellan’s blog almost a year ago, I have waited anxiously for this book to hit the shelves. I bought it the first week it came out on Amazon because (1) her recipes are original and fun and (2) Marisa is the least pretentious sounding food writer I have heard in a long time and I wanted the chance to support what I assume to be a good wholesome person.

Anyways, Food In Jars is 240ish page book “jam” packed (haha see that, I made a funny) with recipes. All of Marisa’s recipes are boiling water canning method, making them easy and accessible to pretty much anyone. She also has a variety of small and large batch canning recipes. This is great because people like me prefer the large batches, while many of my friends enjoy doing small batches to put in the fridge every once in awhile. The bulk of Food in Jars includes jams, jellies, and pickled things, but the end of the book contains other fun “jar” recipes like nut butters, granolas, and baking mixes.

I have already made tons of recipes from this book and have about 30 more dog eared for future canning. Soon to come: Oven Roasted Peach Butter and Mimosa Jelly. Yumm… thanks Marisa!

Tart and Sweet by Kelly Geary and Jessie Knadler

This books is very appealing to me in a way the others are not. The colors are cool and calm, the photos and lay out feel rustic and simple to me, and the way the author writes makes the process of preservation feel all very natural (as it should). The aspect I enjoy most about this cookbook is the way the recipes are divided by seasons. First of all, this makes them easier to find, and secondly, this just makes more sense! Canning is all about eating seasonally and preserving what’s juicy, sweet, and poppin’!

Tart and Sweet, like Food in Jars, only does Water Bath Canning as well and has a very accessible and understanding introduction into canning. I also like that they add a “tweaking a recipe to your liking” section, because I constantly change recipes and with canning it is important to keep adequate amounts of acid and salt for safety reasons. I also constantly exchange sugar for honey and  find it helpful to have a guide so that I do not add too much.

The authors also included a “difficulty scale” to their recipes: one little red jar equals ‘easy’ while three little red jars equals ‘more involved.’ This is good for not only beginners but also seasoned canners who are on a time crunch.

Some recipes I am looking forward to trying: Peach Lavender Jam, Blackberry Syrup, and Horseradish Beer Mustard.

 

Put Em Up by Sherri Brooks Vinton

So, even though I have two friends that currently own this books, I had to get one for myself (is that wasteful? I’m sorry…). But I am constantly flipping through the pages of this high energy, eclectic, and overall original recipe book.

The books is broken down alphabetically by each fruit or vegetable and usually includes a few canning, some drying, and some other interesting technique for preserving that item. For example, the Chilies section includes: Red Hot Vodka, Pickled Chili Peppers, Ristras, Charred Chilies BBQ sauce, Chili Tomato Jam, and more!

The first 100 pages include information on drying, infusing, canning, pickling, freezing, fermenting, bottling, etc. The next almost 200 pages are all recipes. This cookbook is my go to place for interesting and fun recipes that always turn out well and are sure to impress.

These cookbooks should get you going on your canning adventures! Happy canning!

We be jammin’

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Oh the possibilities of July. The berries are in full force with perfected sweetness, vibrant colors, and flavor oozing with every drop of juice. I had to get my hands on some, so I went to two different UPicks. River Bend Farm and Pleasant Hill Orchards is a great little farm that uses Integrated Pest Management (IPM). IPM is the farming process where many steps are taken to keep infestations at bay, using organic practices, and, at the very last straw, using pesticides. While this is not completely ideal, I spoke with the farmer and she said that she did not have to spray that year. I have talked about this before, but this is one of the choices one must take when eating locally and on a budget. The strawberries were about $1 a pound, had not been sprayed, looked healthy, so I decided to support the farm. I got about 20lbs of strawberries, some happy duck eggs, and  as we were leaving, the owner came out and gave us a strawberry pie. Very sweet farmer and in a beautiful location.

The second farm is Detering Orchards (which I have mentioned before). They have a similar viewpoint as River Bend Farm. The blueberries are no spray, and the peaches and cherries are occasionally sprayed before the tree fruits.

Another point I want to make about the jammin’ season is that I use Pamona’s Universal Pectin. This pectin is great because it does not require loooadddss of sugar to make it solidify. Pamona’s includes a packet to make calcium water, which is added to the fruit mixture, and acts as a helper to the pectin in the thickening process. No sugar necessary.

Honey Orange Strawberry Jam (about 8 pints)

  • 16 c strawberries
  • 1/2 c lemon juice
  • 1 T orange extract
  • 2 c honey
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1 packet Pamona’s Universal Pectin

Directions: Cook down the strawberries in a pot with lemon juice and orange extract until thick and jammy (I like to blend the fruit up with a stick blender, but if you like thicker chunks you can just mash them with a potato masher). Add the honey, and (you will want to read the direction on the Pamona’s packet) add the proper amount of calcium water. Let simmer 5-10 minutes to bring all flavors together. Mix the proper amount of pectin with the remaining cup of sugar. Bring the jam to a boil and add the pectin sugar, stirring vigorously so that there are no chunks of pectin left floating around. These chunks are not pleasant at all. Let boil for 5 minutes and remove from heat. Immediately pour jam into sterilized jars and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes (for pints). Remove from water and let sit out for 24 hours before putting away or moving around too much.

Spiced Blueberry Jam (about 3 pints) adapted from Marisa McClellan’s recipe in Food In Jars

  • 8 c blueberries
  • 2 c honey
  • Zest and Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 T cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp ground cloves (depending on how much you like cloves)
  • Pamona’s Universal Pectin

Directions: Smash the blueberries and place in pot with honey (reserve 1/2 c of honey for later). Make sure you smash them in the beginning to get the juices flowing and so you dont burn your blueberries. Cook down berries with spices and Pamona’s calcium water until thick, simmer here for 5-10 minutes. Take the 1/2 c honey you reserved early and mix the pectin in. Its easier to heat the honey first and add pectin. Bring the berry mixture to a boil, add pectin honey, and stir vigorously until all pectin is incorporated. Boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and immediately pour into sterilized jars. Process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Happy Jamming!