It’s summer, which means I’m in the thick of canning season. It’s been a few years since I was able to have a full summer of preserving since we moved so much between 2017 and 2018. This year I was a bit slow to start, but now my pile of sealed jars grows each weekend and, of course, so does my hunger for more.
I think there’s something so deliciously satisfying about canning. For one, there’s the actual process of turning fruits and vegetables into something new. I love the life-affirming “ping!” as each jar seals after a long day of peeling, blanching, chopping, juicing, boiling, and attempting not to get burned. Then, there’s the satisfaction of opening that jar of perfectly preserved pasta sauce with those scrumptious Georgian tomatoes and getting a whiff of warmer months in the middle of winter. What I’m trying to say is, it’s worth all the hassle.
This blog post isn’t going to be a canning how-to. There are plenty of people who have done that already (see blog links below), but I wanted to share my favorite canning cookbooks in case anyone is interested in trying their hands at preserving. I have a bit of an addiction to cookbooks, so there are quite a few here. But let’s be honest, when I love something, do I ever do it in moderation? I have five animals for goodness sake.
First off, my ode to the Food In Jars books. Canning titan Marisa McClellan is my absolute favorite author in the preserving world. The original Food in Jars was the first canning book I ever owned, and I’ve gone on to collect the other three in her arsenal. I always say Food in Jars is the perfect beginner canning book. The recipes are easy and tasty. Preserving by the Pint offers tiny baches of more unique flavors, and Naturally Sweet Food in Jars is an updated version of Food in Jars using natural sweeteners like honey, agave, dates, and coconut sugar. All three have unique recipes, so you can totally justify all of them. This is where my peach jam comes from, and the exciting and sometimes controversial tomato jam. (I love it, but sometimes people have strong opinions.) In the spring, she also released The Food in Jars Kitchen, which is the perfect companion to her books. It’s packed with tons of ideas to actually use your preserves aside from simply slathering jam on toast.
Next, I want to talk about Preserving Italy by Domenica Marchetti. I’ve followed Domenica’s blog for years now, and I also own her pasta cookbook. When I found out she was going to be releasing a canning book, I went straight to Amazon to pre-order it. The book is filled with amazing recipes like you would expect, but it’s worth the price alone for the small-batch tomato sauce. This is, hands down, the best tomato sauce I’ve ever preserved. It’s that perfect basic basil tomato sauce that’s beautiful on its own but makes an excellent base for augmentation later on. She also includes ideas for how to use her preserves throughout, which is helpful and brilliant.
Then there’s Canning for a New Generation by Liana Krissoff. This was one of my earliest canning book purchases, probably second to come into my collection after Food in Jars. I like it quite a bit, but the standout in this book are the pickle recipes. I always go back to the honeyed bread and butters, and this year I tried out traditional pickle relish, and I’m very excited to bust that out. There’s also a great apple butter recipe in here that is always a favorite.
Lastly, I want to mention Fermented Vegetables and Fiery Ferments by Kirsten and Christopher Shockey. These two are a bit of a departure from the others on this list in that they are truly about fermentation and less about water-bath canning. I’ll admit, I’m thoroughly intimidated by this series – I haven’t even thought about trying out their third masterpiece: Miso, Tempeh, Natto & Other Tasty Ferments – but perhaps one day I’ll be so bold. Everything I’ve tried from these two books has turned out delicious, and I’m going to make it my goal to expand my fermentation skills next time I’m stateside.
I know there are hundreds of other canning books out there, and my wishlist is continually growing. Perhaps one day we will stop being so transient, and I can let my cookbook lust run wild, but for now, I’m trying to be happy with what I have. And, with this mix, I must say I’m quite pleased.