Blue Ribbon Canning, by Linda Amendt (2015)

Blue Ribbon CanningIf you gave Andrea Bellamy’s Small Space Vegetable Gardens a try and are now finding yourself overwhelmed by your success, here’s a possible solution – canning and preserving. New canners will learn the equipment and processes needed to make jams and jellies, pickles and preserves, canned vegetables and relishes, whether from your own backyard bounty or as a result of overspending at a produce stand on your way home from the Okanagan. Amendt emphasizes food safety as she explains when to choose pressure canning over a water bath, and which old-school steps have been proven dangerous (inverting your jars). She explains how to choose the right measuring cups for your ingredients, and offers helpful tips on how to peel fruits with ease. There are nearly 150 recipes to choose from, organized into eight chapters: Jams, Jellies, Marmalades & Preserves, Fruits & Vegetables, pickles, Relishes, Sauces & Salsas, and Specialty Preserves. And these aren’t your run-of-the-mill strawberry jams. You’ll find blue-ribbon recipes that have earned top awards at various American state fairs – gems like Salsa Jam (a sweet jam featuring tomatoes, onions, lime and jalapeno), Cantaloupe Jam for melon lovers, Red Onion Marmalade, and one that is definitely on my list for trying this year, Roasted Roma Tomatoes. Interspersed among the recipes, each with a credit, are stories featuring some of the contributors whose recipes earned them blue-ribbon accolades. They range from children to grandparents, men and women, all of them sharing a love of canning and competition. Little fact boxes offer entertaining tidbits, such as the fact it took four days to create a 400-pound butter sculpture of John Wayne, featured at the 2001 Iowa State Fair (p. 48). In terms of the appendices, I particularly the guide to Blue Ribbon Canning for Competition, in which Amendt lets you in on what judges are looking for, common errors, and reasons for disqualification (unsealed jars take you out of the competition). The Fair Directory is primarily for American readers, though I was pleasantly surprised to discover entries at the end for BC, Saskatchewan, Ontario, PEI and Nova Scotia. Less useful is a mediocre guide to metric equivalents (cups, teaspoons, and oven temps), and the two-page index in the e-copy I had was difficult to read but it appeared to be for another book, so I won’t comment further on that.
My thanks to NetGalley for the advance reading copy in exchange for my honest review.
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