I am a firm believer that one can never have too many canning and preserving books. Not only are there endless food items to preserve, home canned items taste better, use local fresh items, and make wonderful gifts. There is no better gift than something you made with your own hands. Canning is so satisfying and rewarding, and not at all difficult.
I also believe that cooks should always be learning, even if it is a way of cooking one has been doing for years. My local library, Cook Memorial Library District, offers wonderful free programs, the latest this past week was one on canning with author Marisa McClellan, who wrote Food in Jars. Being a long time enthusiastic canner, I signed up immediately. Marisa also writes a blog by the same name, in addition to writing on Serious Eats, Food Network’s FNDish, Simple Bites, the Cuisinart blog, Mrs. Wages Newsletter, and Grid Philly Magazine.
Speaking to a completely filled room of both would-be and seasoned canners, Marisa explained the process of canning and preserving. Marisa grew up reaping the benefits of her mother’s canning, but never took it up herself until 2006 when she found her kitchen filled with 13 pounds of blueberries after a day of picking them with a friend. Making jam seemed like the right thing to do with all the berries. When the task was completed, Marisa looked at all the beautiful filled jars and decided that this would be her niche in life.
Whether you are one of the seasoned canners or someone who wants to learn, Marisa’s book is a great way to start. In addition to the wonderful recipes, she explains what equipment is required, safety and sanitation issues, how to tell when your product is ready to place in jars, and even how to adjust canning to high altitudes. Canning may seem scary to those who haven’t tried it yet, but it is not as daunting as it may seem. Marisa suggests starting with something simple like blueberry jam and going from there.
I can’t wait to try the blackberry jam with sage, and the apple jam with honey and lemon. In addition to the jam recipes you will find delectable fruit butters, jellies, marmalades, curds, conserves, chutneys, condiments, pickles, relishes, syrups, nut butters, and other items that can be kept in jars such as granola and pancake mixes.
If you are a first-time canner and have no equipment yet, go over to my daughter Kristina’s blog at Better Recipes because she is giving away this great canning prize package. All you have to do is leave a comment on why you love canning or why you would like to learn. But you have to hurry, because the entry deadline for the random drawing is this Sunday, September 2nd.
Just a warning, once you start canning, there is no going back….