The summer harvest season is upon us. We are up to our knees in cucumbers, zucchini, green beans, broccoli, and peas. So much so that we can’t eat it all! We do give some away but we also preserve and can a lot of our summer bounty to enjoy throughout the year.
I remember that it wasn’t until I was about 10 or so that I realized most people bought green beans at the store in aluminum cans. It was an odd realization for me. There were late nights hearing my mom in the kitchen in the summer evenings checking on the pressure cooker for the beans. And then after that my parents were busily pickling cucumbers. And not to forget there are also the jams and jellies from the summer berries.
Now that I am older, married and have a family of my own I have taken these traditions of canning and preserving on myself. Although with a twist. I love to try new recipes so I have found some books that take preserving to a whole new level. Some of these recipes use unique ingredients and give new ideas for preserving the summer harvest. Below are my top 5 resources for preserving and canning.
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- BALL COMPLETE BOOK OF HOME PRESERVING
This book is my all time favorite, mainly because I have made so many recipes out of it. Justin loves, LOVES salsa on everything. Really. It’s a little odd. But to each his own. Each year we make several of the salsas, our favorites are the Fresh Salsa, Jalapeno Salsa, and Summer Salsa. I have also made the Strawberry Smooch and Blueberry Syrup which are both delicious. I have the hardback version and I am glad I do because it has received a lot of beatings through the years and has held up wonderfully.
2. THE BALL BLUE BOOK GUIDE TO PRESERVING
This book is republished with new editions every couple years. I have the 100th-anniversary edition from 2009 as it was first published in 1909. I have used this book to make jams and this year I made Dilly Beans for the first time myself. This is a recipe my parents have done many times each year. This book also features information about freezing and dehydrating. I love that these recipes have stood the test of time, I know some get removed or added each time but it’s a nice thought to think that I could be using the same recipes that my great-grandmothers used.
3. NATURALLY SWEET FOOD IN JARS BY MARISA MCCLELLAN
I just received this book last Christmas, I had had it on my wish list and I was very excited to try all these unique recipes. Marisa has taken canning and preserving and changed the way to think about what is going into these recipes. I still make some traditional jams using the familiar canning techniques. But I was not always a fan of adding such large amounts of sugar and consuming this on a regular basis. Marisa’s recipes use honey, maple syrup, agave, coconut sugar, fruit juice concentrate and dried fruit as sweeteners. I made the Lemony Strawberry Jam earlier this summer and used her twist of adding balsamic vinegar and it is very tasty!
She does explain in the introduction though that because traditional sugar is not used these recipes shelf life will be much shorter once opened and put in the fridge. For that reason, she does recommend using smaller jars in her recipes. I also recently made her Blueberry Chipotle Dipping Sauce. We used some that we didn’t water bath on some bbq chicken and it was very tasty! This book is definitely one to try if you are want to more naturally sweeten your preserves.
You can follow Marisa and more of her yummy recipes at http://foodinjars.com/
4. SOUTHERN LIVING LITTLE JARS BIG FLAVORS
I also received this book for Christmas last year, another one on my wish list. I have not actually made anything yet from this book but have several recipes marked to do so here soon. Top on my list is the Peach Bourbon Jam, I love peach jam and what could make it better than to add some bourbon! I am also excited to try the Chunky Marinara Sauce with Red Wine, we planted plenty of tomatoes this year and what could be better for spaghetti than homemade sauce. There is also a chapter about hosting a putting-up party where you invite friends and family and you all put up multiple items at a time and everyone gets to take some home! I call that a win-win, you get help and get to spend quality time with friends and family!
Lastly is Pinterest, I couldn’t leave this off the list. Pinterest is such a great way to search and find recipes for all types of canning, preserving and freezing. I love that I am able to find ideas that I may have never thought about. My Pinterest contains an entire board that is dedicated to preserving and canning recipes that I will be trying. One of Justin’s favorite that we have done for a couple years now is an easy recipe for Pickled Jalapenos that stay in the fridge, no water bathing necessary. He prefers these as they keep their crunch longer. But there are plenty more to try out there all you have to do is search!
Supplies Needed for Canning
Canning and preserving may be new to you so I wanted to share some of the supplies you will need to get yourself started:
- Canning Kit or you can buy the items seperately if you have some of them already (and honestly I don’t use the bubble popper or the jar wrench, but that is my personal preferance)
- The canning kit will include: Water bath canner with rack, wide mouth funnel, jar grabber, magnetic lid lifter, jar wrench, bubble popper/measurer
- Quart canning jars, Pint canning jars, Half Pint canning jars, or Jam canning jars (the type of jars you use will all depend on your recipe and what it calls for)
- Pressure Cooker Canner (this is primarily used for low acidic foods such as tomatoes and green beans)
I would love to hear if you have any favorite canning or preserving recipes or traditions in your family. Feel free to comment below!
I am now off to prepare some cucumbers to become pickles!
Amy, your canning ideas and tips are inspiring! One year when we lived in Amarillo, everyone who had an apricot tree had a bumper crop. People were telling strangers to come over and pick the luscious fruit so it wouldn’t fall to the ground and go to waste. My daughter and I were able to pick sacks and sacks from someone’s huge tree, and then we canned our first jam. It was SO rewarding! After reading your post, I’m thinking of trying it again!
Brenda that’s great! I have never made apricot jam but it sounds delicious. There is just something so satisfying about canning and producing your own shelf stable goods. Let me know if you try it again and how it goes!