Canning Books, Fav SW Cookbooks

pamchesbayDecember 3, 2012

The thread about peppers gave birth to a parallel thread about dehydrators and canning (water bath v. pressure canning - pros and cons). I have a question about recommended books, so I thought I'd better start a new thread.

I've read several pieces of advice about using the "Ball Book" or the "Blue Ball Book." When I went to Amazon, I found THREE Ball books so decided to ask which you rely on, or maybe both are good.

Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving [2004]

Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving (2006)

Ball Blue Book Of Canning And Preserving Recipes (2010) - at 56 pages, this seems to be republished content from old cookery books; lots of reviews by irritated customers.

I lived in Arizona many moons ago, loved it. When I visited NM, I loved the food. Interesting, diverse, tasty. I plan to grow more varieties of peppers this year. This led me to another question (i know, the questions never stop ... drove my parents to distraction)

What are your favorite Southwestern or NM cookbooks?

(As a side note, I'll bet a thread about favorite cookbooks would be fascinating and HUGE. Maybe when the weather gets cold and everyone is inside? But y'all are having another heat wave so it's hard to know when that will happen.)

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This is hands down THE cookbook any real Northern New Mexican will own for traditional Northern NM fare:

    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 10:39PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

I only can comment on the canning books because I don't have any New Mexico style cookbooks.

The Ball Blue Book entry in Amazon is kind of misleading om that it shows a 2004 printing date, which is technically incorrect. The latest Ball Blue Book (which updates every few years) is correctly pictured in the photo (and should be because it is the most current) and it was printed in 2009. Somewhat amazingly, the 2009 edition of the Ball Blue Book is the 100th Anniversary edition of the Ball Blue Book, evidence of its staying power for over a century now. My mom, grandmother and likely great-grandmother as well all would have used the Ball Blue Book edition that was current at the time back when they were canning long before I was born. The fact that the Ball Blue Book has been the leading canning book all that time is not an accident. It is science-based and always includes only safety-tested and safety-approved recipes, which is important since the use of untested, unapproved recipes in canning can be deadly.

It just so happens that the 2009 edition of the Ball Blue Book, with the gorgeous Peach-Walnut Shortcake on the cover, is the most-used cookbook in my house, and it is my favorite of all the editions of the Ball Blue Book that I've had in my lifetime. I do always promptly buy the new editions when they come out every few years because I want to stay current on the latest techniques for obvious safety reasons.

The Ball Blue Book 2009 edition is organized into sections that correspond to recipes that came into use in different decades that the book has been published and it breaks down like this:

1909--High-Acid Foods: Fruits, Juices and Tomatoes
1920s--Soft Spreads: Jams, Jellies and Fruit Spreads
1920s--Pickled Foods: Chutneys, Pickles and Relishes
1920s--Low Acid Foods: Meats, Seafood and Vegetables
1980s--Special Diet: Low-Sugar and Low-Salt Recipes
1980s--Something Extra: Sweet and Savory Condiments, Gourmet Spreads and Salsas
1940s: Freezing: Spreads, Meats, Vegetables and Prepared Foods
1980s: Dehydrating--Fruit Leathers, Jerky & Rubs

At the end of the book is the standard planning section and the section with answers to commonly asked questions.

Much of what I can every year is from recipes from this book.

The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving is a huge book. The version I have is the 2006 edition, but the book (like the Ball Blue Book) has been around much longer. My edition has over 400 recipes and offers a much larger variety of recipes than the Ball Blue Book. I especially like some of the more unique fruit spread recipes in it. It is a great book that I find very useful.

If I had only 1 canning cookbook, it would be the Ball Blue Book though because of its simple, straight-forward "how to" format.

There are many more canning books out there, and huge numbers coming out in recent years as canning is having a huge resurgence in popularity, but I am very cautious about buying and using them because some of them have recipes that.....I am not positive conform with current, accepted safe-canning practices. When you buy something that is not published by Jarden Brands/Ball or the National Center for Home Food Preservation, you have to be careful and make sure those books meet current safety standards. I generally check and try to verify the other books, if I want to purchase one, were prepared under the guidance of food safety experts or were reviewed by food safety experts. With the Ball Blue Book and the Ball Complete Book of Home Canning, you know that you have the books that were written by the true canning experts in the USA. (Other countries have differing canning safety standards, which you'll see reflected in some of the books published there.) When I am considering purchasing a new canning book, I usually go to the Harvest Forum and do a search to see what kind of comments, if any, have been made by the canning experts there about the book I'm looking at.

Some of my favorite canning recipes (Annie's Salsa, Apple Pie Jam and the Big Batch Habanero Gold recipe) have come from the Harvest Forum, although the original Habanero Gold recipe as I first found it came from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving.

I cannot comment on the third Ball Book which seems to be a republication of older recipes as I've never seen it, nor would I spend money to purchase it. As we learn more about food safety and develop more advanced testing methods, some old recipes have fallen from favor for good reasons. It is better to stick with the latest edition of the recipes because they meet current safety standards.

The other canning cookbooks on my bookshelf don't get used as often as the Ball Blue Book, although some years I will use the Small Batch Preserving book pretty often, especially (as it made obvious by its name) when I want to try something new in a small batch since I don't know until we try it if we're going to like it.

You also can find great recipes at several different websites belonging to companies that make/sell canning supplies. I think Jarden Brands probably owns all of these companies now, but has let them keep their individual websites.

I've linked one of them below. It is, of course, the Ball website, but there's others too.

Also, I just want to throw this thought out there for anyone who wants to make fruit spreads (like jellies and fruit butters) but hesitates to try canning: you can buy plastic freezer jars (from Ball, of course) and make freezer jams, jellies and other fruit spreads. So, you don't necessarily have to have a canner in order to "can" in the 21st century.


Here is a link that might be useful: Ball's Website:

    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 5:30AM
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chriser - Thanks for the link to the Northern New Mexico cookbook. I looked through the online version - this is just what I'm looking for - like how to prepare peppers to use in recipes. I like to look through a cookbook before buying - it's hard to know if it will meet your needs until you do that. My library didn't have any NM cookbooks so I was stuck.

Dawn - What a gift! This morning, I turned on the computer while Pete is running around, preparing for a trip to OKC, and find this great info about canning resources. The Ball books on the Amazon site do not have the "Look Inside the Book" feature so I couldn't see the copyright page which would show info re: edition and print dates.

Then I went to the Ball site - very nice site btw - and looked at several recipes, including a strawberry balsamic jam - a perfect gift for my sister who loves strawberry balsamic vinegar. So much great info!

My reluctance to getting back into canning is gone. ;-) I need to make a list of supplies including which canner to order. The Ball site has a Getting Started area so I'll start there. Thank you thank you!

Take care,

    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 10:17AM
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I have been enjoying Mes Confitures: the jams and jellies of Christine Ferber by Christine Ferber with a foreword by Alain Ducasse. I found a used library copy via amazon. It is a translation from French. She doesn't use commercial pectin but a "pectin stock" jelly made from very green apples. Several of her jams include nuts, dried fruits, herbs, tea, wine or beer, and even chocolate. I have not made any actual jams from the book but have used her flavor combinations for other things. A pleasant read to keep around. And I envy her hand hammered copper preserving pan. Sigh.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2012 at 2:10PM
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I agree with Dawn on Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving and
Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving.

I have bought several books on SW cooking and have been disappointed in most, but I love the ingredients used in their cooking. This is not SW, but my daughter had this book and I spent a lot of time looking at it when I was at her house. Her kitchen was being re-modeled so I didn't try any of the recipes, but this will likely be my next cookbook purchase.

Here is a link that might be useful: The Food and cooking of Mexico........

    Bookmark   December 9, 2012 at 3:48PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Betty, I have read Mes Confitures too, although now that I think about it, I don't remember seeing the book on the bookshelf in the kitchen lately. Maybe I loaned it out. I like her recipes and think it is important to know how to make fruit spreads without commercial pectin. I always feel more accomplished when I use a recipe that does not require purchased pectin.

I also have Madelaine Bullwinkle's "Gourmet Preserves Chez Madelaine" which also features recipes made without commercial pectin. One thing I love about this book is Chapter 9 which focuses on baked goods (muffins, crepes, popovers, bread, scones, blinis, biscuits, etc.) you can make. With each recipe for a baked item, she lists several of the fruit spread recipes that she recommends you pair with the baked good. So, if you have made her drop scones, for examples, she recommends you pair them with her Apricot Orange Jam or Rhubarb Blackberry Jam. Mmmm mmmm good. Then there's the last chapter, which is desserts. This book is more than a book of canning recipes.

I make a lot of jams and jellies with commercial pectin because of the convenience factor, but they mostly taste too sweet to me. When making something strictly for myself, I like to make the recipes that do not use commercial pectin because they have much less sugar, and sometimes very little sugar added at all. Some of the Chez Madelaine receipes have no sugar added.


    Bookmark   December 9, 2012 at 4:09PM
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Betty - thanks for the info about Mes Confitures. I was not familiar with it and that sad state would have continued if you hadn't written to recommend it. I'm happy to learn that I can make fruit spreads without commercial pectin. Yes, I'm a newbie. And not a young newbie.

Carol: I'm with you about being disappointed in cookbooks I order online. Inevitably, they had great reviews. I'm trying to stick to a new rule - don't buy a gardening book or cooking book unless it is recommended by a person I know.

When we moved into a new house several years ago, my sister and her kids were hauling boxes of books up two flights of stairs to the loft with built-in bookcases. (My house is on pilings because we are in a flood plain, so you have to climb 16 stairs before you get to the front door.) My sister commented, "Pam has more gardening books than my Barnes and Noble."

The embarrassing thing is that she was right. Cookbooks and gardening books are like seeds - so many that are interesting, so little time!

If we had a serious discussion of favorite cookbooks, I'd need to unplug the computer and disconnect the wireless.

Dawn, I'm reading your description of "Gourmet Preserves Chez Madelaine"- about scones and preserves at the wrong time - dinner was hours ago, and this is making my stomach hungry.

Anyone familiar with "Blue Ribbon Preserves: Secrets to Award-Winning Jams, Jellies, Marmalades and More" by Linda Amendt? She's won tons of awards ... Sounds a bit like the "Growing Great Tomatoes" concept.

I've been watching the Detroit -Green Bay game intermittently - the snow is blowing horizontally. The game is nearly over and it's way past my bedtime. Our weather is supposed to get colder on Tuesday so I have a ton of stuff to do tomorrow.

Thanks for all your help. You are enabling all my vices!

    Bookmark   December 9, 2012 at 11:39PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Pam, We are nothing here if not enablers. We all enable each other, whether it comes to gardening, preserving or cooking.

I have heard of Linda Amendt's book, but don't have it. I think you could do a search on the Harvest Forum and find reviews of it there.

The three non-Ball canning books on my bookshelf that I use the most are these:

"The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving" by Ellie Top and Margaret Howard. My copy is from the second edition, published in 2007. They may have a newer edition or a more current revision out, or even a newer book. I haven't checked lately. This book has marvelous small batches many of which make only 2 to 6 half-pint jars, which is a great way to try new recipes without making huge batches you might never eat. It also is ideal for items you grow in smaller quantities or can purchase at the Farmer's Market. This book has a lot of great recipes for everything from the usual jams, jellies, salsas and pickles to flavored vinegars, mustards, marinades, dessert sauces, syrups and even liqueurs. I use this book pretty often.

"The Joy of Pickling: 250 Flavor-Packed Recipes for Vegetables and More from Garden and Market" by Linda Ziedrich. I have the second edition, published in 2009. This book has a huge variety of recipes and they are different from a lot of the standard pickling recipes. For example, she has a whole chapter on recipes for sauerkraut, kimchi and other cabbage pickles, and a different chapter on rice-bran, miso and soy-sauce pickles. There's a full chapter on fermented pickles, and also full chapters on sweet pickles, quick pickles and freezer well as chapters on pickled meat, fish and eggs, and a chapter devoted to chutneys, salsa and other relishes. I love this book.

"The Joy of Jams, Jellies and Other Sweet Preserves: 200 Classic and Contemporary Recipes Showcasing the Fabulous Flavors of Fresh Fruits" by Linda Ziedrich. My copy shows a copyright date of 2009. I am not positive if all the recipes in this book are free of commercial pectin, but nothing I've made from this book has included commercial pectin. It is full of amazing recipes for anything and everything you possibly could make from fresh fruit, including these: apple cider syrup, apricot-pineapple jam, cantaloupe jam with mint, maraschino cherries, fig jam, rose petal jelly, rose petal syrup, red grapefruit marmalade, lemon curd, lime syrup, orange jelly, peach-fig jam, hot green pepper-lime jelly, plum-apple conserve, pomegranate syrup, pumpkin butter, quince jelly, raspberry jam, raspberry vinegar, strawberry-orange jam, tomatillo jam, tomato marmalade, yellow tomato-pineapple preserves, watermelon rind preserves and watermelon molasses. If you are looking for recipes that are a little different from the usual fruit recipes in canning books, this book is full of them.

I was watching the same football game and thinking at times that it looked like they were playing the game inside a snow globe.

I know you'll be busy today ahead of the brutal cold front. It is almost noon and we're still below freezing. It is hard to imagine that a week ago we were in the 70s and hit the 80s a couple of times. Today it is a whole different world, and a very cold one at that.


    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 12:30PM
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Thanks for the reviews Dawn. I have thought about buying that 'small batch' book, so I am glad to see that you recommend it.

It makes me a little nervous that so many people post canning recipes on the web and some look so dangerous. I try to be really careful with that kind of thing and I know you do too.

It is already down to 28 at 7:30 PM, so I know it will be a cold night. They are now saying we will go to 16 tonight. I have been gone all day and I forgot and left the blanket over the lettuce all day so I don't know if it is dead or alive. I will uncover it tomorrow because our daytime temp is supposed to be 45.

The Tulsa news covered your accident situation on I-35 today and Al and I both wondered how busy your family had been today. Sounds bad. At 5 this morning our ground had a dusting of snow, but after I (really) got up, it had all melted.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 8:39PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

You're welcome, Carol, and I am glad the reviews helped.

It currently is 8:20 p.m. here and our thermometer is showing 25, so I expect the cold tonight will be brutal. I bet your lettuce is fine. One day recently, I left mine covered up all day and it was not harmed at all. However, I did have an air space between the top of the lettuce plants and the blankets of about 10-12", and that can make a difference too.

Amazingly (and I am so grateful for this), we weren't paged to any of the I35 wrecks. The early ones were way down near the river, so Thackerville FVD and the Winstar Casino's EMS Fire Brigade responded to them. I could see the little red light on my fire radio flickering when I first awakened. That red light flickers when people are talking on the radio, so seeing it flickering nonstop for several minutes made me nervous. I got up, took it out of the bedroom so I wouldn't wake up Tim, and turned it on. The first thing I hear is one of the law enforcement officers telling someone else that the accident he is working is a fatality accident. That scared me, since I knew Chris had left earlier for work. I immediately called him and said "Are you at work and are you alive?" The answer to both questions was yes. After that, I couldn't go back to sleep. I listened as wreck after wreck happened (I wrote a little more about them on the snow thread a minute ago) and thought we'd get paged out. Eventually there were wrecks to our south and to our north, but not in our district. I was relieved. Once you get out on the highway in icy or snowy conditions, you don't make it home for hours because you are just going from one wreck to another.

I don't know when the snow started, but when Chris left for work at 4 am, he said there already was at least a half-inch on the ground and he had to deal with icy bridges all the way down to Denton. He left early so he'd have time to take it easy and be careful, and he arrived at work an hour early.

I just wasn't ready for it to be this cold this early, even though it happens almost every December. I'm not a cold weather person. (I like to watch snow falling from the warmth of the house, but after that, as far as I am concerned, the sooner it melts and goes away, the better). We had been above-average, temperature-wise, for so long that we were sort of getting used to not being cold. Now we have to get used to colder temperatures. The only good thing about the cold weather is that it means spring is getting closer.

Until spring gets here, we can talk endlessly about gardening and about how we preserve all the garden produce we cannot eat fresh. There might even be new canning books out there for us to check into. This year I was so busy actually doing the canning that I wasn't reading much about it online, but every now and then I saw a canning recipe in a magazine that made me uneasy. Those magazine editors need to be sure their canning recipes are being vetted by actual food scientists before they print them.


    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 9:22PM
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Dawn - I second Carol's thanks about those book recommendations. All three look excellent, and it's so helpful to have recommendations by people you know and whose judgment you trust. I just wish I had something to can!

This year, I'm planning to grow a pretty big (for me) crop of tomatoes. The biggest year was 2011 when I started 60 tomato plants from seed (Dawn, you can stop laughing). My neighbors teased me for starting so many - said they expected me to put up a farm stand on the road from town. That was the first year of this current drought. The little ones - like Principe Borghese - did fine but the big ones struggled, produced little, and cracked open when we got a little rain. 2011 was a bad experience so I decided to cut back. In 2012, I cut back on tomatoes, but made 8 new raised beds so there was a net increase in garden space.

Today, it hit me that I live in Tomato town - several big farms grow tomatoes for canning in Richmond or elsewhere. I can buy a 25# box of tomatoes for $8-$6 (price drops later in the summer or if they have a glut). The local farmers also grow a lot of sweet potatoes, melons, pumpkins. It's good to have a backup if my crop gets wiped out but I plan to keep growing tomatoes and sweet potatoes - I love the whole seed to harvest process and really enjoy trying different varieties - the thrill of the trials.

Take care,

    Bookmark   December 12, 2012 at 10:32PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Pam, In the winter, you can buy the produce that is in-season in the stores to can. You can even make stuff like Strawberry Jam or Blueberry-Lime Jam from frozen fruit. At this time of year I'm usually canning stuff from the grocery store....making Apple Pie Jam, Orange Slices in Honey, Kiwi-Lime Jam, etc. It is a rare year than I'm not canning something in December and January, partly because that's when I have more free time with less of a garden to tend to.

I'd never laugh at you. Sixty tomatoes grown from seed is a lot. I just tend to overdo it so I do raise more than that. Partly that is because of the worst-case scenario-planning we discussed earlier, and the need to have back-up plants in case a three-week cold spell with ice and snow arrives after I have all the tomato plants and pepper plants in the ground, which last happened in either 2007 or 2008.

Principe Borghese remains on my grow list, year in and year out, precisely because it will set fruit when nothing else will, and the fruit last simply forever on the vine. If I am too busy canning other tomatoes, the Principe Borghese fruit seem to patiently wait practically forever until I get to them. The drawback is that picking all those little tomatoes takes a long time, but that is not an insurmounable problem. I don't think I've ever seen any other variety last on the vine as long as this variety does. In this year's busy canning period, I always harvested PB separately from all the other varieties so larger tomatoes wouldn't crush them. Then, every day I did tomato triage, where I went through all the buckets and bowls and canned the ones that were closest to becoming overripe or overly after day after day. For a while there, I didn't think I'd ever make it to Principe Borghese, so then I changed my plan. Instead of leaving them for last simply because I could, I'd start with them, slicing them in half and putting them in the oven on dehydrate mode to dry first thing in the morning before I did anything else. Then the house was full of that yummy tomato aroma (ha! pun intended) all day long.

I wish we had commercial tomato farmers here. I cannot imagine being able to buy flats of tomatoes at that sort of price. I am so envious. Of course you'd rather grow your own, but it sure is nice to know that you have that sort of backup if disease or pests or weather strike.

I love the thrill of the trials too. You never know what you're gonna get, and every now and then you find a really outstanding variety.

I was just thinking today that one of these years I need to shake up my tomato plan (I get bored easily) by planting nothing but varieties that are new to me. That would be amazing, and terrifying....because maybe none of them would do well here and I'd find myself regretting my stupid idea.

Every time a catalog arrives, I find a few tomato varieties in it that I want to try. I just need to stop looking at the catalogs.


    Bookmark   December 12, 2012 at 10:55PM
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