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70 of 72 people found the following review helpful
on May 12, 2012
Canning is something that's intimidated me. I knew I wanted to be able to preserve fruits and vegetables and save freezer space but it seemed so complicated and time consuming that I put off doing it. This book simplifies the process and explains the why's and hows and seems quite complete with ingredients and times.

I initially browsed the book then started to read it and it's like having an experienced friend guiding at the beginning. Followed by some intriguing recipes - I never thought of canning brussel sprouts.

I can truthfully say that I am enjoying this book as instructive and interesting.
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204 of 221 people found the following review helpful
on August 7, 2013
I have recently become interested and canning and I took this book out of the library, along with the Ball Complete Book of Preserving and Put 'Em Up!. I liked the idea of the recipes being for small batches of of 3-4 pints, or 3-8 half pints, since my kitchen is small, and my pantry is non-existent. I started by reading through the information on the canning process from the Ball Book, before moving on to the tasty sounding recipes in this one. I skimmed the recipe titles and the chatty little paragraphs that introduced each one, and carefully marked recipes that I wanted to try. Once I had tried a few simple recipes in the Ball Book (considered such a classic and trusted source, full of time-tested information), I came back to this one and tried a few recipes. Specifically I did the Basic Tomato Salsa, Pickled Brussels Sprouts, Pickled Zucchini, Caramelized Red Onion Relish, and Cranberry Syrup. This is when I started to notice the exceptional number of typos, and instances of missing necessary information. In most recipes it seems that the author has cut and pasted text from previous recipes. (Understandable when it is the same phrase "Prepare a water bath...") In some instances, an ingredient is listed twice in a row. In others it does not list the amount of headspace needed, which is vitally important in successful canning. I can only assume that the writer and publisher were in such a rush to get the book out and capitalize on the author's successful blog, that no one stopped to edit the text, or more importantly to TEST the recipes.

I noticed that while I followed each and every recipe exactly as written on the page, weighing or measuring the ingredients carefully, I had wildly different results with the recipes. In the Basic Salsa I had enough salsa to fill 4 pint jars, but the recipe only called for 3 to be prepared, leaving me with an extra pint of salsa to be used immediately. The recipe for Pickled Brussels Sprouts called for 2 lbs of sprouts, which I carefully prepared. Unfortunately, they came no where close to filling the 4 pint jars the recipe indicated, so I had to quickly move some sprouts from the fourth jar into each of the other three jars, AND make an extra half-batch of brine to cover the sprouts. This left me with 3 jars and a partial jar to use right away. The recipe for Caramelized Red Onion Relish also came no where close to filling the 3 jars it said it would. I had only 2.5 jars filled, though I do have to note that the relish was absolutely delicious and was raved about by friends and family. I will be making it again, albeit with a slightly larger quantity of onions, based on my own notes, so I can be sure it will actually fill the jars. Finally we have the Cranberry Syrup. I am from New England, and love the flavor of Cranberry year round. I was excited to make this syrup for use in seltzer and mixed drinks. Sadly the flavor was not wonderful. It tasted primarily of sugar, and lacked the brightness and tartness associated with cranberries. I believe increasing the amount of cranberries, and adding some lemon juice might go a long way with improving this syrup. Sadly, I won't be trying this myself, as I am still learning about canning and am not comfortable creating my own recipes yet.

As a frame of reference for readers who are considering this book, I created 15 different canning recipes in the last two weeks (since I started). Seven were from the Ball Book, and each came out perfectly as described and outlined. I created 3 from Put 'Em Up!, and again, each came out exactly as described. The final 5 were from Food In Jars, and NONE of the 5 recipes I tried came out as described in the book. They lacked vital information and contained numerous typos that should have been caught during editing. While I understand a typo may slip by even a careful editor, the ones I noticed were numerous and glaring. While the pictures are pretty, it does not make up for lack of substance with the actual information. Also, this novel-style binding is highly inconvenient while cooking. One has to either break the spine to lay it flat on the counter, or make a copy of a recipe to use it.

Like many other readers I would urge prospective canners to check out the Ball Complete Book of Preserving instead. The information is excellent and thorough. If you would like to move beyond that, I would also highly recommend Put 'Em Up!, which is arranged by type of food you wish to preserve, and includes recipes for canning, freezing, drying and fermenting. That book was clearly tested and edited before being dropped on the public.
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48 of 53 people found the following review helpful
on May 21, 2012
I have been following Marisa for quite awhile on her blog. Her instructions in this book and on her blog are easy to follow and all recipes are "GREAT." I have found since getting "Food in Jars," I do not need any other recipe book on preserving. What I really like about this book is that the recipes are just enough....for a nice bunch of jars and not an overwhelming amount. The book is clear and concise with a sturdy binding and wonderful pictures. I also like that fact that it is in pounds and ounces and also the metric system so it enables more than people in the U.S. to use it. Great job on your first book out Marisa!!
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65 of 75 people found the following review helpful
on May 21, 2012
The flavors in this book are just wonderful. I made the rhubarb jam with strawberries and oranges a couple days ago, and it is hands-down the best jam I've ever tasted. The perfect balance of sweet, tart, and spice. So far this is the only recipe I have tried from the book, but I'm eager to try many others.

While I trust that the author knows a heck of a lot more about canning than I do, and I trust that she tested the recipes, and I trust that an unsafe book wouldn't have been published (well, maybe I'm naive on that one, but I'd like to think it's true)...maybe I'm just too new at canning to be relaxed about the process. I've only been canning for a year (the rhubarb jam was my tenth project), but I've read a lot of canning recipes and these are the first I've come across that don't ALWAYS use bottled lemon juice, that don't specify the headspace in EACH recipe, and that don't direct you to skim the foam from your jam before you fill the jars (I don't know what that last thing has to do with safety, but surely the other sources tell you to do it for a reason?). Also, this is the first time I've seen curd recipes that can be processed in a waterbath canner--I'm grateful for it, because I love curd and am eager to can it, but I can't help but be a little apprehensive about canning something that has eggs and butter in it. I also dislike that most of the recipes are written for pint jars...is it ok to can them in half-pint jars? Does that affect processing times? I mention this because the author discusses using different jar sizes, but only mentions how this affects the processing time if you can tomato sauce in quart jars instead of pints.

I do love this book, and I appreciate that most of the recipes use produce that I can easily find at my farmer's market or co-op here in the Midwest (unlike a lot of other modern canning books that use produce I've never even heard of). Unlike another reviewer, I am not concerned that these recipes are going to make me or my loved ones sick. If the author has chosen these methods, I believe it's because she knows them to be safe. But as a beginner, I think I'd like just a little bit more hand-holding to walk me through the process.
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51 of 58 people found the following review helpful
on July 5, 2012
I started canning a little over a year ago, and I've tried a number of resources since then. I've enjoyed the Food in Jars website over the past year, so this cookbook seemed like a natural fit.

On the whole I think that the tastes that Food in Jars creates are good, and for that I'll absolutely keep this book. But I've noticed that for some of these recipes, especially those in the jam/jelly section, that the quantities are never right. Some have made too much, but most of them don't come even close to making the amount mentioned on the recipe; usually only about 75% of the suggested yield. And while I'll admit that I'm a relatively new canner, this is not a problem I've had with recipes procured elsewhere (other cookbooks, Alton Brown's on Food Network, or family members).

Still, like I said, the tastes are fantastic. Just make sure that you've always prepared extra jars (just in case it makes way too much) and brace yourself for not getting as much as you'd expected, and you'll be good.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on November 24, 2013
Almost every recipe I've tried from this book has been a huge let-down. The Basic Tomato Salsa recipe was so heavy on vinegar that it's almost inedible. The Cantaloupe Vanilla Jam is FAR, FAR too sweet. The Marinara - though we cooked it down even a little longer than recommended - is still like watery tomato soup. Once settled, a full 1/3 of each jar is translucent liquid. It's heartbreaking to see the produce I cared for & grew all summer long see such a miserable end. As some other reviewers have noted, the yields are often off in the recipes as well, lots of half-jars left at the end.

If only the author & editors had put as much time into content development as they put into the aesthetics of the book. Wish I could get my money back for the book AND for all the seeds, starts, soil, fertilizer & effort that went into growing everything her recipes ruined.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Adding another positive review. I own the pickling bible - The Joy of Pickling: 250 Flavor-Packed Recipes for Vegetables and More from Garden or Market (Revised Edition), but this is an interesting second book in the same genre. Part of the reason for the big five star rating is that while Ziedrich focuses more on pickles, this book focuses more on jams, jellies, butters, spreads, relish, and other little recipes. Don't get me wrong, there are still 17 recipes for pickles as well.

The other interesting aspect is that McClellan does give good instructions for safe preserving. Granted, you probably want to invest in a pressure canning system if you are preserving often, just to ensure no botulism contamination. But the instructions in this book, if followed properly, will reduce the risk of botulism down to nearly zero. Plus, high acid preserves prevent the bacteria from forming as well as low temperatures. So if you're not sure, get those preserves in the fridge!

Most of the recipes are vegan. There are a few using eggs or honey, but honey is easily substituted. Eggs not so much... I wouldn't know what egg substitute would thrive well in a preserve (flax egg?). But the egg is only in one or two recipes. Some of the recipes have high sugar additions, so if you don't have a sweet tooth, you can just reduce the level of sugar in the recipes.

I would recommend this as a backup preserving book. It is a solid book, and a great deal for $14 for hardcover. But the first and best pickling/preserving book anyone should buy should be The Joy of Pickling. It might be enough for you (as it is for me), or you might want two books. Each person will have their own preference of course. But luckily I was able to check this out from my local library and test several recipes. The jams, jellies, and chutneys are the real stars here.

Jams: 21
Fruit butters: 6
Jellies: 6
Marmalade: 5
Curds & conserves: 6
Chutney, ketchup, mustard: 9
Pickles: 17
Salsa and relish: 6
Syrups: 4
Whole fruit: 8
Granola: 5
Nut butters: 4
Other (mix, salts, butter, extract, stock): 8
Sections on freezing in jars, pressure canning, index, and a short (12 pg) introduction to canning.

Hope this helps!
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on July 18, 2012
I have over a dozen preserving cookbooks, so you would think that I wouldn't need another one. But I think Food In Jars fills a unique niche: the recipes are human in scale, (no need to procure 6 quarts of strawberries or 20 lbs of peaches), classic basics are updated for the way we eat today (you won't see "9 cups sugar" anywhere in this book); and while there are interesting flavor combinations, like nectarine-lime, pear-ginger and cantaloupe-vanilla, you won't need to search out random, hard-to-find ingredients to get the job done. There are great flavors here, like vanilla rhubarb jam with Earl Grey, sweet cherry butter, mimosa jelly, Cara Cara ginger marmalade; the list goes on. I'm really tempted by grape ketchup, caramelized red onion and lemony pickled cauliflower. The recipes are neither aggressively modern nor strictly traditional: some use commercial pectin, some do not; some are low-sugar, some are not; some employ classic flavor combinations, some are inventive and personal. All are clearly those recipes that work best for McClellan, a home-canner fitting preserving in and around everyday life, producing jars of goodness, one season at a time, in her tiny Philadelphia kitchen.

Truly, I think any canner, absolute beginner to seasoned veteran, can find something to love in Food in Jars. I know I have.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on March 11, 2014
I've been doing basic canning for a few years (mainly jams & marmalades) using recipes online and on the Food in Jars blog. So my husband gave me this book for my birthday and I was thrilled. But after following a few recipes and winding up with bad results, I really think it's this book and not user error. Some instructions are unclear and I'm not sure the recipes were tested before publishing.

My most recent mishap was with the blood orange marmalade. Despite cooking it for longer than recommended AND using powdered pectin, I still wound up with jars of liquid. When I went on the blog to see what others thought about the recipe, I find a completely different recipe -- which makes me think it was changed precisely because the old, book one didn't work. Very disappointing, and I'll be looking to other sources from now on.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on May 21, 2012
Having followed Marisa's blog for the past year, I eagerly anticipated the arrival of her cookbook. This book is beautifully photographed, well-organized, and includes lots of delicious recipes. If you are new to canning, the first section of the book will help you get started. A short bit on equipment and a very well explained section on the water bath canning process, accompanied by great pictures, as well as couple of pages on how to tell if your jam has set, address many of the issues new canners may have questions about.

The recipes themselves are a great balance of basics (peach jam, concord grape jelly, dilly beans) and some new twists on classics (rhubarb vanilla jam with earl grey tea!) Inspired by the lovely pictures to get right into it, I had a "rhubarb-palooza" yesterday and made the following: rhubarb vanilla jam with earl grey, rhubarb jelly, rhubarb chutney, and rhubarb syrup. All came out beautifully and all are delicious!

Regarding the comment made by one reviewer about the safety of the recipes, I know that Marisa and the publishing company worked together very carefully to insure that the recipes are safe for the home canner. The recipe for apple pumpkin butter clearly states that this recipe should be kept in the refrigerator rather than go through the water bath process. In addition, the introduction to the section on curds and conserves explains that the recipes for curds are cooked for longer periods of time and are identified as having a shorter shelf life than the pickle and preserve recipes.

In short, this is a great book and should be considered an essential resource for canning. I look forward to trying many more recipes in the coming months!
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