Blue Ribbon Canning provides plenty of process and safety tips to get you started, plus easy standards and interesting creations from award-winning canners across the United States. There’s strawberry jam, but there’s also canned mushrooms, vegetable soup and caponata for the brave.
Linda Amendt is a decorated canner – she’s won more than 1,000 awards at state and county fairs across the U.S. and now acts as a judge. Her reverence for the topic is clear – the recipes also come with short bios on the blue-ribbon all-stars who invented them. Shirley Rosenberg of Utah offers up recipes like carrot cake conserve; Anna Mayerhoffer of New York presents us with cinnamon pickled watermelon rind; Brenda Bustillos of Texas serves up red onion marmalade.
The bios are helpful – canning can be a little daunting at first because of the safety concerns, so it’s nice to read about confident, passionate canners; it’s easier to picture yourself doing the same.
So you’re not going blind into a world full of pressure (literally, since pressure canning is a regular technique!), there are also chapters on food safety and very clear step-by-step guides to water bath and pressure canning – though, oddly enough, no troubleshooting info. There is a short list of common mistakes made by canners entering their goods at state fairs, which is useful, but you really need to have the proper methods down pat before you enter your goods at the county fair.
The recipes are clear and detailed, down to instructions detailing how to crush fruit (for a kiwi-pineapple jam, crush fruit with potato masher, but don’t mash – only crush to remove excess air). Breakout boxes offering tips and fun facts about state fairs and canning could be better-organized, but overall, if you’re already into canning, you’ll find some great new recipes to try. And if you’re thinking about packing up some preserves this summer, you’ll definitely be able to use this book as you get started – though you should definitely do some independent research on troubleshooting and safety beforehand.
We’ve picked out a recipe for you to try: Strawberry Margarita Jam.
Blue Ribbon Canning: Award-Winning Recipes
By Linda J. Amendt
272 pages. Taunton Press, April 28, 2015