Are you thinking about giving canning or preserving a try? With everything that's been going on in the world over the past few months, I'm exploring more ways to secure our family's food supply, including canning. In addition to getting a new pressure canner, and extra canning jars, I recently bought the new and updated 2020 version of the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. And I'm so glad I did.
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Note: Commissioned by the company behind Ball mason jars, this book is branded as the Bernardin Complete Book of Home Preserving in Canada, and as the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving down in the United States. However, the content is the same. The Bernardin version shows metric measurements as well as imperial measurements.
True, there are a lot of free resources about canning available online. However, there’s just something about a big book sitting on your kitchen counter that you can reference throughout the canning process. It’s also nice to leaf through for inspiration when you’ve harvesting vegetables that need to be “put up”.
Why Can and Preserve Anyways?
Over the past few months, I've noticed an explosion of interest in canning, preserving and dehydrating food. And for good reason.
Canning is a great way to enjoy healthy, nutritious foods throughout the year. It allows you to preserve everything your garden has to offer throughout the year and it allows you to take advantage of great offers from the farmers market.
What's Inside the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving
As expected from a book like this, it includes many recipes (400+) for a large variety of canned products to make right at home in your kitchen. What makes this book such an invaluable resource to my homestead kitchen though, is all the extra information packed into these pages.
You’ll find detailed information on the basics of canning plus each step of the food preservation process. (You'll also find it on my Autumn Off Grid Reading List.)
3 Reasons This is my Favorite Canning Book
The 2020 edition of the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, edited by Judi Kingry and Lauren Devine is my favorite canning book for several reasons.
First, it's great for beginners because it includes detailed sections on
- home canning equipment
- getting started
- pressure canning - low acid foods
- the impact of altitude on canning and preserving
- a problem solver and troubleshooting section
- a produce purchase guide
But be warned, it's a big book! With almost 450 pages in the paperback version, it definitely has earned it's reputation as "the canning bible."
The second thing I love about this book is that it offers over 400 recipes for canning and preserving. This new edition comes with several new global recipes to make use of tomatoes - and our family LOVES tomatoes. (We grow them indoor year-round.) I'm particularly excited to put up a few jars of Slow-Roasted Mexican Tomato Sauce (Salsa Ranchera) and Moroccan Spiced Tomato Sauce.
It also includes new recipes using fermenting, such as Kombucha, as well as Greek-Style Yogurt. And I'm particularly excited to try some of the recipes in the new Low -Sugar Jams and Jellies section too.
The third reason I love this book is that I can refer to it again and again as it includes answers to all my canning questions. Before I start canning, I review processes and also refer to the handy guide on produce weight vs. volume. I often thumb through the recipes when I'm taking a break from my homesteading and homeschooling chores.
Canning Safety and Foodborne Illnesses
Safety is crucial when you’re preserving food that you and your family will eat months from now. This book includes important information about foodborne illnesses and how to prevent them.
When you can or preserve, you must make sure to kill the bad bacteria that could make you and your family ill. That happens through safe preservation and canning techniques, which are included in this book.
Why I Bought The Paperback Version and Not the Kindle Version
Our family loves books of all sorts. However, our book collection has gotten a little out of hand recently. As I struggle to declutter and organize our home, I made a decision to avoid purchasing books unless they are on Kindle. So that's why I bought the paperback version of the book. I did also notice a spiral-bound version of the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving - a great idea for busy cooks.
The exception is my books on self-reliance, including homesteading, wilderness living and survival skills, gardening, cooking, foraging/natural medicine. And also my books on canning meats and fish, dehydrating, pickling, smoking meats, and preserving.
My thought is that if a SHTF situation did occur, and we lost access to our off grid internet completely, I'd still have access to this collection of hardcover and softcover books. And in fact, our internet has at times been pretty spotty. And I feel reassured knowing that I own a tangible copy of the books I need to survive.
If you're looking for a comprehensive book on home canning and preserving, I highly recommend adding the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving to your homemaking and homesteading library.