Bookshelf Jam: References beyond the big blue book

13 08 2009

I collect cookbooks — at garage sales and in thrift shops and flea markets. Cookbooks from the 50s, 60s, and 70s, cookbooks that celebrate the tastes I grew up with and the recipes I learned to cook from are favorites. I enjoy most the way they’re written — the recipes tell stories; they are informative and fun to read. Here are some favorite cooking references from my preserving bookshelf, and (when they’re available) links to them at Amazon.

Every jamming kitchen bookshelf should have a copy of the standard preserving reference – the Ball Blue Book, which I discussed here. It’s inexpensive, available and only as far away as your nearest supermarket’s display of canning supplies:

Ball Blue Book – The Guide to Home Canning and Preserving, © Ball Corporation (various annual editions; I own three.)

When you’re ready to move beyond the big blue book, expand your bookshelf with these resources:

The Home Canning and Preserving Book, Ann Seranne, © 1975 Barnes & Noble Books (originally published by Doubleday, 1955, as The Complete Book of Home Preserving

Farm Journal’s Country Cookbook, Revised Enlarged edition, ed. by Nell B. Nichols, Farm Journal, © 1959, 1972 Doubleday & Co.

Putting Food By, Janet Greene & Ruth Hertzberg, 4th. Edition © 1988 The Stephen Greene Press

Jams, Jellies and More, Carol W. Costenbader (Storey Country Wisdom Bulletin a-282) © 2003 Storey Books

Trying to figure out which book to own, or just experimenting with your very first batch of jam? Kraft Foods, manufacturers of Certo (TM) and Sure-Jell (TM) pectin, include a jam-making pamphlet in every box or package or pectin. Since the 70s, I’ve saved various KF pamphlets on jam and jelly making. Each pamphlet includes at least two dozen recipes, suggestions (beyond toast and jam) to use your jam creations, and all of the basic jam-making information you’ll need to get started.

Can’t find one of the resources listed above at Amazon? Ebay booksellers often carry older editions of cookbooks, as well as the newest version – and on Ebay, you’ll only pay a fraction of the original price for a used edition. Happy bookshelf stocking!

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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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