All-Access Jam: The Ball Blue Book

12 08 2009
20 jars of jam!
Image by chrisfreeland2002 via Flickr

Chances are the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving is the first canning and preserving reference you think about when you think about jam-making. That’s no surprise – Ball Corp. began publishing their preserving reference in 1909, and the 2009 Ball Blue Book is the proud 100th edition of this handy preserving reference. It’s inexpensive – full price is under $10, and many places reduce the price during canning season. And it’s only as far away as your nearest supermarket’s display of canning supplies.

The big blue book is actually only around 125 pages; earlier editions were even smaller. But it’s more than a collection of recipes. Every edition (I own three) is packed with the most up-to-date recommendations for canning, pickling, preserving, and jamming. Editions since the 90s have included USDA recommendations for water-bath canning of jams; earlier editions described other sealing methods such as inversion of jars and covering preserves with paraffin.

The Blue Book describes everything from the materials you’ll need to the processes involved in jamming, canning, preserving and freezing. It includes conversion charts to help you purchase enough raw fruit and vegetables to make your canned goods, and illustrations of things like ‘head space’ (the amount of air you need to leave in a jar between the top level of food and the bottom level of the jar lid.) This year’s commemorative 100th anniversary edition includes more recipes and suggestions for your canned and preserved bounty that take jam beyond a spread for toast.

When you’re ready to take your jam-making beyond the recipes included in the box of pectin, or if you’d like a broader canning and preserving reference that’s fun to read and easy to own, it’s time to add an edition of the Ball Blue Book to your kitchen bookshelf.

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