I’ve treated myself to the “Canning Bible”. But does it live up to the hype?
Lately I’ve been looking for more ways to preserve my vegetable harvests. Ideally without solely relying on my overflowing freezer. My research led me to canning and I’ve been getting quite into the idea.
There’s a huge amount of conflicting safety advice about the risks associated with canning. I’m utterly confused and wanted to err on the side of caution as I have young children.
So I decide to invest in a reputable recipe book and start from there.
The internet overwhelmingly recommend the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving.
I came across one review that said the book was poorly titled as it was almost entirely about hot water bath canning and not preserving in general. As this was exactly what I was after my mind was made up.
The book itself is more practical than pretty. The recipes are really clear and well laid out. The first few pages have some very detailed recipes designed for beginners to learn canning techniques. The rest of the recipes then just include the important information instead of repeating the basics in detail.
I spent a lovely afternoon reading through the recipes and making a list of the one’s I think we will enjoy. I was spoilt for choice.
There are more jam recipes than anything else. But still enough pickle recipes to give me different option for preserving my harvests.
A lot of the recipes have inspired me to try new things, like making my own tomato ketchup and barbeque sauce as these are firm favourites in my house.
I personally would have preferred a small image of each recipe. I also agree with another reviewer that there is a lack of serving suggestions which would have been appreciated.
Some of the ingredients are a little difficult to obtain in the UK. However I did find alternative recipes that would preserve the same produce or make a similar recipe without the specialist ingredients. I’m still planning a trip to a local ethnic shop where I should find some of the rarer spices. I’m also on the hunt for a UK supplier of all things canning, which seems a little elusive.
My main bug bear with this book and my only real criticism is the ingredient quantities.
I understand using cups to measure flour and sugar in baking. It’s easier than getting the scales out. I’m assuming the most Americans have larger storage containers for their flour than us Brits do. I have to go through the palaver of spooning my four out of my storage jar and into the cup in order to measure it. So I prefer to use my scales most of the time.
But for fruit and vegetables? It seems crazy. The volume of the ingredients depends entirely upon how small you chop it up. Surely the measurements can’t be remotely accurate.
The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving does give what the writers appear to believe are metric conversions. They provide the ingredients required in litres. This is totally useless, except perhaps to help visualise the quantity required. Whenever I cook from this recipe book spend a ridiculous amount of time trying to convert cups to grams.
On the whole I’m really glad I bought the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving book.
If you’re looking for water bath canning recipes and information on how to water bath can foods safely then this book is fantastic.
It’s not ideal for the UK market but it’s possible to work around these issues.
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A Little Bit About Me . . .
Thank you so much for stopping by my corner little of the interweb. I’m Bridie, mum to two small humans, full time homemaker and full time craftaholic – which totally explains why I’m always short on time!
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