3 Great Books for Canning and Preserving Food

Canning is back and the new twists to this centuries-old tradition make it a heck of a lot more exciting than it used to be. Once reserved for grandmas, canning appeals to the growing number of people wanting to take responsibility for their own food supply by growing it themselves or sourcing it from local farms. Canning, though, is a skill that needs to be taken seriously to avoid contamination from improper technique.

A good canning book is vital for every canner, beginning or seasoned. In addition to recipe ideas, you will also get the essential science behind preserving food so that you can do it correctly and feed your family safely. Today's canning books include not only the basics but fun new twists that bring modern health and a gourmet flare to this homesteading practice. Here are three of our favorites:

Put 'Em Up

Sherri Brooks Vinton (Storey Publishing, 2010)

The clear and simple step-by-step instructions accompanied with illustrations make this book a good confidence builder for hesitant newbie canners. Sections like "Things That Will Surely Get You into Trouble" and "Things That Look Bad but Aren't Dangerous" will give readers key pointers on producing safe preserved food products. From apples to watermelon, the table of contents is organized by food item followed by recipes for each. The author's involvement in organic farming and the Slow Food movement infuses the book with a farm-to-table healthy approach.

Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving

Judi Kingry and Lauren Devine (Robert Rose, 2006)

What the Joy of Cooking is to cuisine, the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving is to canning and preserving. This 448-page tome is filled with more than 400 recipes for canning and preserving just about everything, including whole fruits and vegetables, chutneys, salsas and jams—many of which will please the gourmet and health-conscious reader. The book takes the reader through the science of canning, along with information on heat processing, contamination and food safety. For the eager reader new to canning, the "Getting Started" chapter will give you the essentials to get you going. This is a great reference book to begin any canning book collection.

Canning for a New Generation: Bold, Fresh Flavors for the Modern Pantry

Liana Krissoff (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2010)

If you're interested in going off the canning beaten path, Canning for a New Generation is for you. The fruit recipes are low in sugar and most don't rely on commercial pectin, as Krissoff prefers the consistency and flavor of unadulterated fruit. The book is organized by season, which inspires you to can what's currently ripe. In addition to canned foods (from jams to pickled carrots), you'll find recipes for dried and frozen food, many with unique spice and herb pairings.