‘Tis the season for canning and preserving! We received our first Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) share last week, and that means that now is the time to get moving on preserving seasonal foods so that we can enjoy them year-round.
There are a few fundamental things that you need in order to can and preserve food, beyond just the food itself. You need jars (with lids and rims) and a water bath canner at the very least, but other important items also include a jar lifter, a magnet for lids, and potentially a pressure canner. And, of course, you need to know how to can and preserve properly. And for that, you need guides and recipes!
It’s important to follow instructions very carefully when it comes to canning and to use safe canning methods to ensure botulism and other serious issues don’t occur. I’m reluctant to use canning recipes from the Internet, and feel as though books are a better go-to (especially because they’re significantly more likely to use appropriate and safe methods!). This is probably only because I’m still a novice canner – I’m sure that as I can and preserve more often, I’ll get to really know the ins and outs of how to can and preserve safely, but for now I’m following the recipes exactly. And that means I need to have some trusty books to rely on!
Here are my top three favourite canning and preserving books:
Canning & Preserving with Ashley English: All You Need to Know to Make Jams, Jellies, Pickles, Chutneys & More.
This is a simple book which outlines the basic of canning and preserving. One of my favourite parts about it is that it provides minute details and a lot of great photographs featuring exactly what to do when you’re using a water bath canner. There are even instructions and photographs for cleaning the rims of your jars after you’ve put the food in there.
Canning & Preserving was the book that really paved the way for me when I started canning, and made me feel super comfortable with the process. It’s a great book for if you’re just starting out and want to know every detail for every step along the way!
This book doesn’t contain a huge amount of recipes, but the dill pickles, canned corn, and crushed tomatoes recipes are all fantastic. Recipes are easy to follow and everything is laid out in a very straightforward manner. This book is also a little less intimidating because there aren’t that many recipes. This is the perfect book for beginner canners.
Complete Book of Home Preserving: 400 delicious and creative recipes for today.
As the title suggests, there are an insane amount of recipes in this book! It’s pretty awesome. I’ve bookmarked dozens of recipes I want to try, and they have a lot of basic canning recipes (for canning dark leafy greens and a whole bunch of other plain vegetables, rather than pickled, for example).
If you want to can everything you can think of, and really have a proper store of homemade everything to last you until next year’s canning season, then this book is the one for you. However, it can be a little overwhelming when you’re just starting out. There are so many recipes to try! I didn’t make use of it a huge amount last year, but I expect I will be trying out a lot more recipes using the book this year.
Canning for a New Generation: bold, fresh flavors for the modern pantry.
My friend Carly gave me this book as a very early birthday present this year! This book divides the recipes into seasons, and has all kinds of very interesting and unique recipes (cumin and paprika pickled turnip, anyone?). What I also really like about the book is that it includes plenty of non-canning recipes, from cakes to cocktails, which use items that you have preserved as ingredients. It also talks about how to properly freeze foods and that sort of thing, so there is a lot of variety.
Even better, this book appears to only include water bath canning recipes – so if you’re scared of using a pressure canner, this book is perfect for you! There are also cute little gift tags to pull out at the back of the book, reminding readers that canned and preserved goods can be one of the best gifts to give.