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Cookbook for Making Jams and Preserves


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I just bought the River Cottage Handbook on making preserves, and I'm interested in getting one or two more. Can anyone here recommend a decent book on the subject? Ideally they would discuss a natural process, with as few unsavory ingredients as possible, or they would spend a fair amount of time discussing traditional ways of making jams (as opposed to modern ways that utilize newfangled equipment).

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Stephanie Stiavetti

Food blog: http://www.wasabimon.com

Twitter: http://twitter.com/sstiavetti

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I highly recommend Christine Ferber's Mes Confitures (the title is French even in the English translation). The flavour combinations are beautiful, and all the recipes are predicated on using apple jelly as a pectin base, rather than commercial pectin, so it sounds like it's right up your alley!

Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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I'm just beginning to explore The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving bu Ellie Topp and Margaret Howard; Firefly Books.

The "small batch" part really appeals to me, as I live in a small-ish urban apartment with limited cool storage space. The book contains recipes and techniques for canning, freezing, and drying.

Karen Dar Woon

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I bought "the complete book of Preserves & Pickles: jams, jellies, chutneys & relishes" by Catherine Atkinson and Maggie Mayhew a few years back & I have to say I haven't wanted to buy any more preserve books since (despite looking). This book seems to cover just about everything you need - starts with long introduction of basic methods, setting qualities of different fruits etc. then has lots of different preserve recipes as suggested by the tittle, includeding lots for marmalades and curds. The methods are easy to follow step by step with plenty of photos, great for the novice, but also includes some more unusual recipes for more seasoned preservers.

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I canned last year for the first time, 2 books that really helped were "The Ball Blue Book" and "Blue Ribbon Preserves: Secrets to Award-Winning Jams, Jellies, Marmalades and More".

I also found the Ball website: http://www.freshpreserving.com/pages/home/1.php and the harvest forum on gardenweb http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/harvest/ very helpful.

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Thanks, everyone! I'm really excited to give this a try, and hope to have a fair amount of reading under my belt before fruit rolls out this summer. I have this paranoia of screwing it up or contaminating the whole batch... any tips from personal canning experience? Caveats?

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Stephanie Stiavetti

Food blog: http://www.wasabimon.com

Twitter: http://twitter.com/sstiavetti

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Thanks, everyone!  I'm really excited to give this a try, and hope to have a fair amount of reading under my belt before fruit rolls out this summer.  I have this paranoia of screwing it up or contaminating the whole batch... any tips from personal canning experience?  Caveats?

I have not made jams, but have done a ton of savory and pickled things. Follow the Bernardin (Ball Blue book in the USA) instructions for safety and you will not kill yourself.

You can fool around with sugar and salt and substitute foodstuffs but NOT repeat NOT!!! with the acid/food ratio

Like most of us, you are probably allergic to Botulism :wink:

Oh also, there is a new book not yet released which interests me. "The Farmer's Wife book of Canning"

Edited by billieboy (log)
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is there really any need to worry about botulism? I mean as long as you steralise the jars in an oven (or even dishwasher), & besides preserving generally involves cooking things to high temperatures anyway. but then perhaps things are different in the canning processes?

Have to say I often adjust vinegar/sugar levels to personal taste (particularly in chutneys), as whilst the vinegar can mellow during maturing I found that if its overpowering the other ingredients before it'll probably still be overpowering after several months!

I think the only really difficult thing with preserves is making sure you've reached setting point for jellies and jams, but it's easy to check this as long as you've got some plates chilling in the freezer to test for the wrinkle stage (personally I find this more reliable than thermometers).

other things to watch for, perhaps more obvious, are that jams etc involve boiling hot sugary liquids, which can:

- occasionally spit so watch out as jam burns!

- catch on the bottom of the pan (mainly jams) which can ruin a batch (although if this happens you may be able to save most of the pot if you don't stir once you've noticed it's caught on the bottom, instead just transfer any untained jam into a clean pan)

- sometimes boil over, creating nasty, sticky, clean up jobs - worse if you've left it to caramelise onto the hob :wacko:

apart from that most preserves tend to be good easy one pot cooking where, to be honest, the most labour intensive part is in the preparation - especially slicing citrus fruits for marmalade which for some reason seems to take forever & involve lots of knife shapenings.

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Wow, thanks for all of this! I've ordered a few books and I'm excited to get started. There are two Ball books, the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving and the Ball Blue Book of Preserving. Any idea what the difference is or which it better? They were only published two years apart from each other, so I'm not sure what the major difference can be.

And is the acid/food ratio really that important is everything you're using is sterile? I've had preserves that vary across the board as far as sweetness/tartness go, so I'm not sure how this works.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Stephanie Stiavetti

Food blog: http://www.wasabimon.com

Twitter: http://twitter.com/sstiavetti

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I've canned a lot in the past few years.I do my jars in the dishwasher and the lids in the boiling water for 10 minutes. My fruit always comes to a boil. I do a lot of playing with the sugar. I don't like that much. I haven't had a problem. I gave out over 60 jars of jams, jellies and so on and no problem at the holiday. I tell everyone if it looks bad, smells bad, get rid of it! That is the one thing I will say, about anything. Trust yourself and most of all have a great time. I can over 200 jars each year. This year I'm hoping for 300.

Jane

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And is the acid/food ratio really that important is everything you're using is sterile?  I've had preserves that vary across the board as far as sweetness/tartness go, so I'm not sure how this works.

I'm not sure what you mean by acid/food ratio, but yes, the pH of the contents of your jar are all-important if you want to avoid botulism. C. botulinum spores are not killed in a regular boiling water canner, so you can't count on that to make you safe. Just keep in mind that "tart" and "high-acid" are not the same thing; most fruit is sufficiently high acid to be safe, even though jams don't taste tart.

Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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