I’m going to combine 2 individual canning cookbook reviews into just one post today, because if you aren’t a canner, you aren’t going to be interested in my thoughts at all on any of these books.
Jam On: The Craft of Canning Fruit by Laena McCarthy
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I’ve been obsessing over canning for quite some time now – I think this is the 3rd year I’ve been talking about it. I finally landed some canning equipment for a song at a yard sale, so it’s time for me to step up and actually start canning, instead of just dreaming about it. I’m looking at it as more of a hobby, something to do once in a while with some extra veggies I might have, but we’ll see where canning takes me.
This was one of quite a stack of books I took out from the library. I’m honestly not terribly interested in making a whole lot of jams/jellies/preserves; I’m more interested in making picked everything I can get my handles on, salsa, relishes, etc… in small batches, but it doesn’t mean jam isn’t in my future, either.
This book by McCarthy starts off talking about her experience with canning. Though it’s an interesting tale, it reminds me a bit of all the people in my life who are lacking self-confidence & in order to make up for that, they have to brag about themselves an awful lot to compensate. It just gets old, rather quickly, in the book.
McCarthy has some interesting recipes in the book, but I get the impression it’s not aimed towards a beginner like me. That’s OK: I’ve been reading everything in site for a while now and can get beginner information elsewhere. That being said, most of the recipes aren’t anything i can see myself making – I’m not much of a cook, and like I said, I’m not planning on making 100 jars a jam a year, so I’m not going to invest in 900 different ingredients that I’ll never use again. A lot of the recipes call for vanilla bean – I don’t even know what one looks like or what part of the grocery store one would find a vanilla bean! That being said, something like “I Eat NYC Hot Pepper Jelly” makes me drool, and the only special equipment needed is a food processor which *gasp* I actually own. But the majority of the recipes I’m just never going to make.
There’s also a definite slant towards NYC and NYC ingredients, and also uses a type of pectin not found in my area, making the recipes impractical.
This book goes into the “I’ll get it used if I find it at a yard sale for a couple of dollars” pile and not the “must buy used on amazon and pay shipping to own it now” pile.
- copy borrowed from the library
The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving: Over 300 Delicious Recipes to Use Year-Round by Ellie Topp
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I’m a little in love with this book, which covers jams, jellies, marmalades, conserves, pickles, chutneys, salsa, flavored oils and vinegars (the latter two I’ll never make). By far this one is my favorite canning cookbook I’ve read so far, ever.
It focuses on small batch water bath canning – exactly what I’m looking to do. Make small batches of food, using ingredients mainly from my garden, with maybe a couple of things added (like peppers, because my garden right now is just not producing peppers). Another reviewer mentioned the book had a “vintage” feel to it – the recipes, that is, not the book itself – which is probably why I like the recipes so much.
There are a lot of freezer / fridge “canning” in here, but the name of the book is small batch preserving, not small batch canning, so it’s to be expected that there’s a variety of prserving methods included.
- copy borrowed from library, now on my must buy list