Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Canning... Canning... Canning!

For the past several years, I have really wanted to can jam.  I grew up eating homemade grape jelly and I loved it.  My favorite kind of jam was Fig 'n Walnut.  I've never found any since, but it is a food that reminds me of the foods I loved best as a child.  

Having little kids in our home for the past 7 years has precluded me from attempting much in the way of canning. I have been so afraid of having them near a boiling pot of water or hot jam cooking.  But, they are getting older and I've been thinking that it is time to journey into the world of canning.

I have started, of course, with a book.  I am one of those people that has so many questions that I want a book to remind me of what I've learned from other people.  Here's the book I'm reading this summer:  

There's all sorts of recipes in this book.  Everything from chili hot sauce to berry leather to dried herbs.  I loved the illustrations and introduction at the front of the book. The author, Sherri Vinton, is very thorough about explaining each step.  It reminds me a lot of an America's Test Kitchen Cookbook.  The recipes cover a very wide range of fruits, vegetables, and herbs.  There's even a recipe for summer squash pickles.  

One thing the author does specify in the front of the cookbook is that all recipes must be made exactly as they are written because they were written to comply with USDA Food Safety Standards.  

Some of the jam recipes do not require pectin, while others do.  Ms. Vinton uses Pomona's Universal Pectin. On the website, it says that one 1 oz. box will make 2-4 batches of jam.  Pomona's is known for giving a bit of a citrus flavor to jelly or jam so that would be good to keep in mind.  

Surprisingly, jams and jellies are a much smaller portion of the recipes in this book than I expected.  There are so many recipes I look forward to trying.  Last summer, I let all of our tiny peppers go to waste because I had no idea what to do with them!  This book gives directions on how to dry them as well as several recipes on how to can them or make hot sauce.  Squash is another ingredient that is very inexpensive around here during the summer.  There is a yummy sounding squash pickle recipe that I intend on trying soon.

I'll keep you updated on how my cooking and canning turns out!

Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this cookbook for review from Storey Publishing.

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