Hey, That’s My Jam!

By Kristi S.

My deep love of canning and preserving started four years ago. It was the summer quarter of culinary school and I had just made a high-stress wedding cake when I decided I needed something more relaxing. I opened up The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook and instantly fell in love with the process. I spent a leisurely week stirring vats of fresh jams and sterilizing mason jars while humming a delightful song I’d made up called Kristi’s Jamboree. This was obviously a joy for my fellow students, as well.

Since then, I like to take a Jamboree week every year and can like a maniac. It’s so deeply satisfying to put a few days of labor into something that provides comfort all year. Whether you are a canning expert or newbie, there is always inspiration and advice to be found in books.

Can I can?

If you are new to the canning process, these books are a great place to start. Ball Canning Back to Basics is a perfect introduction as they are undeniably experts in the field. This book has helpful visuals and goes step-by-step to ensure success. Canning & Preserving is a cookbook by Good Housekeeping and is full of small-batch recipes if you’re not looking to feed a crowd. But, if you are a fan of very detailed tutorials, Foolproof Preserving by America’s Test Kitchen is probably the one for you. All of these books are great for beginners while still containing exciting and flavorful recipes.

Yes, I can.

Already an experienced preserver? Maybe it’s time to branch out and try some new and exciting flavors! Jam Session is written by a master preserver (I want that title) and includes 75 recipes with exciting flavors and variations. Though I tend to stick to canning in the summer, Seasonal Preserves has great ideas for canning across seasons that I might need to try. Her recipes are spot-on, but the instructions on canning are quite loose so this cookbook is not for the novice. Another favorite of mine is The Joys of Jewish Preserving. This is one of those rare cookbooks that is both gorgeous to look at and accessible. Her recipes work for even the novice cook, and her flavors are so fun.

Now What?

By now, your pantry is lined with cans of fresh jams, preserves, and pickles. So what do you do with them? Obviously, you can just take out a jar of whatever and eat it on the couch, as I often do. But, for more refined palates, feast your eyes on these books full of simple recipes and photographic inspiration.

I hope these gorgeous books have enticed you into a new hobby! Check out my list for more canning inspiration, and share your favorite canning recipes and memories in the comments. I am always looking for new ideas.

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