I had such a high yield of tomatoes from the two plants that I had grown from seed that I decided to try my hand at canning fresh tomatoes this season. I also love strawberry jam, and if I can grow enough strawberries, I'd like to can them, too.
Canning was something that my grandmother always did, and when I was a little girl, I would help my grandmother with the food preparation. But I never knew what the recipes were for a successful batch of preserves, nor how to can fruit and vegetables. After doing a little research online, I discovered the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, which is the bible of home preserving recipes. Most of the 400 different recipes can be cooked with a water canner, which is much less expensive and easier to use than a pressure canner, and a good place for a beginner to start.
After a brief introduction and discussion about home canning equipment, the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving gets you started with five simple canning recipes, the first of which is strawberry jam, my favorite, and surprisingly simple to make. The second recipe chapter is devoted to soft spreads, and includes different recipes for jams, fruit butters, preserves, conserves, marmalades and jellies. The third chapter includes recipes for preserving fruit in syrup, as pie fillings, as fruit juice, and as a fruit syrup. The fourth chapter has recipes for different salsas, relish and chutney, and the fifth chapter has recipes for canning condiments such as ketchup, barbecue and chili sauces, mustards and different vinegars. The sixth recipe chapter has recipes for more types of pickles than I ever knew existed, and the seventh recipe chapter is devoted completely to different tomato canning recipes. The eighth chapter has recipes for pressure canning low acid foods such as vegetables, seafood, meat and poultry, and soups and stews.
The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving concludes with a chapter about the art and science of home preserving, an altitude conversion table and a troubleshooting guide if the preserves don't look right. This softcover recipe book is well illustrated with many full color photos that will make you hungry for a taste just to look at them. And I am really excited to try my hand at some of these canning recipes with the produce that grew in my own backyard garden.