Must-have for canning

This is what my old Ball Blue Book looks like (note the price).

It’s the bible of home-canning. My original copy, purchased in 1971 when I moved to the north country, has finally reached retirement: pages falling out of the binding, other pages stuck together (syrup from peaches canned and consumed years ago). I’ve held off replacing it, but this week I gave in and bought two newer versions, one from about 20 years ago, the other the current edition.

What makes the Ball Blue Book so essential? It has all the information you need to run a successful in-home canning kitchen. And even though I’ve been doing this for decades, I need the Ball Blue Book to help me remember from year to year: how long to process a quart of tomatoes, how much salt to use per pound of cabbage for sauerkraut, or the ratio of sugar to water for a light syrup to pour over peaches.

If you’re new to home-canning, I have two recommendations: get a copy of the Ball Blue Book, and spend an afternoon or two canning with a friend or neighbor who knows how to do it. My neighbor showed me the basics years ago, along with sharing her Ball Blue Book. I’ve been canning every year since.

Several step-by-step photographic tutorials in the Ball Blue Book are particularly helpful for beginners.

This homily was included as the final page in the earlier editions…gone from the more recent editions.

Here’s what the newer edition looks like.

At this time of year, you might find the Ball Blue Book in the cookbook section of local bookstores. It’s available on line from a variety of sources, just Google Ball Blue Book.

I put up NYS peaches last week, and plan to tackle the abundance of garden corn (corn relish), beans (dilly beans) and tomatoes (canned whole, in sauce and in ketchup) this weekend.

What are you preserving (canning, freezing, pickling, drying) right now?

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3 Comments on “Must-have for canning”

  1. Lucy Martin says:

    Pesto! Oh my goodness, are we looking at pesto!

    More than enough for now and winter ahead and lots to give away. (Which sweetens efforts to distribute tomatoes, zucchini, etc.)

    Olive trees don’t grow in North Gower yet, but my basil and garlic came in very well indeed. As most of you know, pesto freezes quite well (minus the parm cheese).

    I just finished a fourth (5th?) picking/processing. I am sure there will be 1-3 more before cooler weather shuts that down.

    If there is a silver lining to this summer’s heat, it’s how happy the Mediterranean climate crops have been: tomatoes, peppers, basil.
    Even okra – which never did well for me here before – is thriving.

    Ellen, thanks for your tip of not planting okra before early June. That probably helped too. (I used to start okra indoors in May and it always did poorly.)

  2. Ellen Beberman says:

    NYS peaches are an under-the-counter treasure: thin-skinned, sweet and juicy. Wish I could get more of them!
    Tomatoes: Sungolds and other cherries are easy to dry. Slice them in half, lay on the drying tray cut side u, and sprinkle with salt. The only drawback is that they take 12-24 hours to dry adequately.

  3. Barb Heller says:

    I’ve got my cherry tomatoes in the food drier; batch #7, 065 (or so it seems!). This year I tried Jackie’s roasted tomato recipe and I think I am permanently addicted! (unfortunately, you have to freeze these). Martha has a terrific family recipe for tomato conserve too!
    As for the rest of the garden: Pickles: done. Carrots: done. Green beans: done. Tomato marmalade: done.
    I canned onions this year for the first time, and if I don’t STOP filling our freezer with roasted tomatoes, I’ll be canning all of the meat that’s coming this fall!

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