As an experienced canner I have become skeptical, if not outright alarmed by a number of the recent books on canning that dismiss safety precautions as something unnecessary and old fashioned, when in fact they represent modern methods established to eliminate potential dangers - an improvement of methods that our great great grandmothers used. No point wasting time and money or possibly putting our friends and loved ones at risk. If just starting out or in doubt, check with your county extension service which usually provides safety information and canning information/recipes at no cost designed for the part of the country in which you reside.
Being safe does not have to be complicated and this book is a perfect example of clear, straightforward instructions that incorporate proper safety methods. I would add that before use jars first be washed, either in the dishwasher or by hand, as an initial step although sitting in hot water would probably take care of most issues.
Instructions on how to properly preserve food are a necessity and, in this book, done as painlessly as possible, but the fun part are the recipes, and this is where the book truly shines. The author has taken some usual canning recipes and re-invented them. If you look at enough canning books you see many of the same recipes presented almost in identical form over and over again. Corn relish recipe, dilly beans and peach jam are just a few and granted are a good starting point, but now I want more complex flavors than those I was satisfied with when I began canning.
This book is the perfect example of why I keep searching out new recipes -- the author has created interesting combinations like Salted Brown Sugar Peach Jam, Pear Jam with Chocolate and even Pickled Nectarine slices. These are recipes not found in every book on preserving, and they create special canned goods not found sitting on every shop shelf.
More examples -- I have a go-to recipe for a tomato based Mango Salsa that I like very much but tried and liked the one in this book which does not use any tomatoes. The pickled garlic recipe I prepare year around does not use red wine vinegar like the one in this book, so I tested it and found another winner.
And since the batches are small, so is the risk just in case something is not to the user's taste. Oh, I did notice the recipe for Blender Salsa did not mention the required head space but the author's general directions found at the front of the book permit the user to handle any minor problem - and according to those instructions, since this is a thicker product, 1/2 inch head space should be used.
Note there are a number of refrigerator canning recipes which are preserved and stored in the fridge, rather than the pantry shelf. I appreciated that there was not any weird pectin required that is only available by mail order, or recipes filled with other difficult to find ingredients. Almost everything in this book is readily available when in season.
About the book -- there are color photos sprinkled through the book which is generous and not nearly as important with canning recipes as with other cookbooks where the final appearance of the dish is sometimes hard to predict . Black ink is used throughout the book which makes reading the recipes from the distance of standing height to the counter top possible, although the font size is a small 9 point but mercifully the font is bolded for the ingredient portion of the recipe. The headings a muted red color ink. Reasonably sturdy paper is used but spills should be wiped up quickly because the paper warps almost on contact. A cookbook holder might be a good idea to protect the pages.
Organized by season the focus is logically on the availability of produce. Canning is not just about the preserving, but also involves the experience of picking your own fruits and vegetables or hand selecting items at farmers markets and farm stands, buying locally when items are in season. So, the user can turn in the book to the appropriate season and search out recipes to try and watch for the items as they appear at market.
Looking ahead and planning what to make for each season is an enjoyable anticipatory activity. Homemade jam and pickles are favorite gifts to give because people always seem happy to receive a jar, and it is such a small gesture that it seems to avoid any need the recipient might feel to reciprocate. For me, this is the best kind of gift - one without strings. I can show my genuine appreciation or affection and not create any obligation.
The book is full of fresh and new ideas. The project is obviously carefully crafted and I am so impressed with the final result. Highly recommend.
on April 3, 2014
I am new to canning and have acquired about 8 or so books of recipes and such already. This was my latest acquisition. I just made Raspberry Habanero Jam using up some our last summer's bounty of frozen berries. My son had habaneros from his garden we also froze whole. The recipe makes 2 half-pint jars from 1 1/2 lbs of berries and one habanero to infuse the berries while heating. It was to be left in there the whole time but I took it out after 5 mins to my taste. The recipe was very easy and sealed right away. I didn't think I would like to make any jam/jelly that didn't use purchased pectin, bc some recipes I have seen w/o pectin were too time-consuming, using cut up green apples, seeds, etc., as a natural pectin source. I have too many other food projects taking up my time to do that. Marisa's jam recipes ALL exclude pectin too, but with no need to mess around with apples. This recipe used sugar (1 1/2 cups) and a bit of lemon juice, that's it. It worked up in the pan in 15 mins, simple occasional stirring. This week I made a 'spicy mango salsa' using about 3 small diced Ataulfo mangos, a small diced red pepper, cider vinegar, brown sugar, shallot, etc...it all goes into the pot at once. Simmer 5 mins or so to reduce liquid. It makes 3 half-pint jars. I will be serving that with a pork tenderloin soon! I just yesterday made Carrot Relish (the Easter Bunny is coming soon), and that made 3 half-pint jars. Uses shredded carrots, red pepper, onion, vinegar, sugar, some spices, etc...easy. Add solids to the liquids, simmer a few minutes. Done. Made Corn & Tomato Relish and today making Red roasted peppers.
Then there are many savory dishes using cauliflower, zucchini, asparagus, even pickled mushrooms, and too many more to mention. None of her recipes are complicated nor have a huge list of ingredients; and the procedure steps are very simple and straightforward to follow, all directions basically on one page. I also appreciate that Marisa's recipes have included metric measurements. I prefer weighing most of my ingredients on a digital kitchen scale...the amount of red pepper, onion, etc., is never in question as to whether it is big or small enough. With weight measurements, no guesswork.
I have many pages tagged. Most recipes use 8 oz jars, some 4 oz, and a few using 12 ounce (for the Pickled Asparagus I made by the way). I like the variety. Most recipes make up 2 to 4 jars per small batch. Not every recipe has a pic, but there are enough. An additional advantage of small-batch canning is that invariably not all jars seal in which case you have only one or two to keep refrigerated, not many, for short-term use. Small batches also lends itself to trying more recipes. Also, small batches means you use up or gift away what you have quickly and don't tire of it. I will write more when I try more recipes.
Update: I have to say, that the red marinated peppers I made at the time of the review, I just opened, a yr later, OMG, great. I want to make more this summer when red, orange, yellow peppers are on sale. I want to put them in larger jars too. Like my Italian grandma used to make, with a little EVOO in it, I haven't seen many pepper recipes using some olive oil. This one does, and acid too making it safe for water bath canning. That recipe alone is worth the price of admission.
on April 14, 2014
I love this book. I started canning maybe about eight years ago, starting with the requisite strawberry jam. It was fantastic, but who really wants eight pints of strawberry jam? We live in an age when most of us are no longer feeding large families. And, even though I have a backyard garden, I am unlikely to grow enough of any one thing to need to preserve on that scale. But, I want to be able to pick up produce from the farmer's market and lay in by, particularly to have something interesting and locally-based for the barren winter months.
One of the big challenges of canning is that, barring tomatoes, dill pickles, and jams, a lot of recipes for preserves ended up less appealing that whatever you could buy shipped in from the grocery store. So, a lot of work goes to waste. This book, the perfect follow-up to Food in Jars, starts to change that. It's preserves that you're actually going to want to dive into, mid-winter.
So far, given it is just the beginning of the growing season, the only thing I have tried is the rhubarb chutney. This has been such a huge hit that I am going to have to make another batch. My pickiest friend devoured it at dinner last night! If I never made another recipe out this book, this chutney is worth the price of the book. Next, pickled asparagus!
on March 27, 2014
As a long time reader of Marisa's blog, Food in Jars, I knew that her book was coming out in the spring. I wasn't certain if there would be anything offered that hadn't already been posted in her blog. I shouldn't have worried, because this book is chock full of new offerings that are fun and different, and promise a great season of canning and preserving. One of the greatest features of Marisa's book is that these recipes do not require a huge outlay of cash for massive quantities of ingredients or huge blocks of time to process. This artisanal approach to preserving should go a long way to attract more people to a rewarding and satisfying past time. Great job, Marisa!
on March 25, 2014
For someone, such as myself in particular, who has always been fearful of attempting a canning experiment, this is just the book to get you started. It contains detailed instructions about the equipment needed, outlines how-to recipes, and these are designed for small batches. It takes the fear out of taking on a large project and failing. I still do not think I am ready to tackle a large food canning project, but with this book it will give me confidence for what I can do in the future. It is a great instruction that I never learned in Home Ec class. Thank you, Marisa, from Food in Jars!
on March 29, 2014
This is the second book I have purchased by this author. I was not disappointed. Love the concept of variety in the pantry vs. 10 jars of the same item. The Candied Lemon Slices in syrup was fast, easy and delicious.
on September 21, 2014
I was really intrigued by the idea of small spaces and small batches, having my own organic garden, a small kitchen, and also not having done any canning or preserving for many years. My pros and cons are based on the whole idea of small batches vs weird recipes and measures.
Overall, I would have much preferred having basic recipes for things like ketchups, sauces, jams, etc. w/o the taste-forward odditys. Believe it or not, those of us who need to preserve our food, especially those of us who grow our own food and have small kitchens, don't need odd flavors, just a quick and easy way to preserve things.
I was really disappointed in the book. It was my own fault, I should have paid more attention to the blog. That said, I should note that even those books I've found most useful use extremely large amounts of produce. I'm hoping that someone will eventually realize that home canners/jammers, etc. are using their own produce, which doesn't come in dry quarts or 25 pounds.
Broad coverage of items, some interesting
What is a dry quart? At least it isn't 25 #, but ....
Weird ingredients such as Aleppo Pepper, w/o expl.
No Table of contents to figure out which recipes are useful
Little description of process for canning, jamming, etc.; this could really be refined
Extremely disappointed, but I looked at Marisa's "Food in Jars" and found it avoided many of the problems in this book: good basic recipes, many of them use cups of produce rather than high numbers of pounds, extremely good instructions at the beginning, and a good TOC. I've only checked it out from the library, so cannot rate it, but I'd give it 4 stars at least.
on July 7, 2014
Excellent recipes for a small batch of berries or other produce. If, like us, you have a smaller household, pick a few items up at farmers' market or from your home garden, and want something creative, this is a neat resource.
Complete directions at the front are informative without drowning the reader in details. Using
typical kitchen tools, not huge vats of boiling water and bubbling too, you enjoy saving some
nice additions to family fare. I always hated
canning. Recipes were too big and mostly jelly or jam we did not need. I love this book, as well as the author's " food in jar".
on June 29, 2014
I love that this book has recipes and instructions on small batch canning. I think a lot of people, myself included, have been intimidated about canning because we imagined it involved cooking a giant batch of jam all day. That being said, I would say I am interested in about 1/2 of the recipes in the book. Not bad, that's generally the case with most cookbooks. She does include some "weird recipes" that seem really trendy. I also like that there are a few non-canning options like herb preserved sea salt, refrigerator pickles, and flavored salt.
on May 3, 2014
I just got this and I already see several recipes I want to try. I have learned that Marisa McClellan and I have different palates. I enjoy the bulk of her sweet recipes, mostly jams and jellies. I find that I do not enjoy the bulk of her pickle or savory recipes. That said, I am willing to try some of them in this book as it does not take too much product to try them out and several look enticing.