While I always look forward to the final days of summer (huge fan of Fall here!), one of the primary reasons for that excitement is the canning season. As a child I had the privilege to learn from my mother and have relied on her expertise for many years since. But family tricks and tips are by no means the only way to learn everything you need to know about making your own jams, jellies, and preserves. There was, as an example, one year that we tried to recreate my grandmother’s green tomato chow recipe from her original recipe card…yikes. It will come as no surprise then that I’m also advocating for the wisdom to be found in books 🙂
The Thunder Bay Public Library’s physical and digital shelves hold a rich collection of books on canning and preserving. There is sure to be a treasure there no matter what kind of produce or harvest you’re looking to preserve. By this point in the season though I’ve usually turned back to my tried and true favourites to help cope with the sheer volume of fruits and vegetables available (local and area farms have had an amazing growing season so far and our own little garden just provided several pounds of green beans).
Of all the preserving books out there, these are the three that I turn to time and time again. Canadian Living, Bernardin, and Ball are all standard names in the canning and preserving industry and have been around for decades. Many of my favourite recipes and family memories are tied to these books and time spent with loved ones while preparing jars to keep us all well fed during the winter months.
Canadian Living’s The Complete Preserving Book is perfect for anyone at any level of canning experience. The book starts out with multiple pages covering the basics and essentials of canning. This is how I was introduced to the wonder of the maslin pan, and I will never make strawberry jam without it again. There are recipes for jam, marmalade, pickles, relish, salsa, syrups, liqueurs, and more. I’ve got my eye on some of the coffee based recipes for the coming weeks. The recipes and instructions in this book are easy to follow and feature incredible photos and tips on how to adjust things along the way based on your preferences.
Bernardin’s Complete Book of Home Preserving brings the aesthetic of one of those older cookbooks that you expect to pull down off the shelf and find loads of margin notes courtesy of years of heavy use. In addition to advice and hundreds of recipes, this book also provides information on how to successfully preserve low-acid foods (such as meat or soup) using a pressure canner. Additionally you’ll find a home canning problem solver section to help address issues such as failed seals and food discoloration.
Last but not least, The All New Ball Book of Canning and Preserving is the most recent in this trio and picks up where the other two left off. Here you’ll dive further into canning and preserving with chapters and recipes focused on styles of canning – such as the traditional water bath method, fermenting, pressure canning, freezing, dehydrating, and curing & smoking.
With everything that this year has thrown at us so far, rows of jars full of beautiful preserves is definitely going to be a bright spot. Check it all out at your public library now and happy canning!
Jesse Roberts – www.tbpl.ca. If you have a comment about today’s column, we would love to hear from you.