The Ball Blue Book

Last year I received an excellent book called The Big Book of Preserving the Harvest and it’s been a great resource on these canning adventures. I researched some basics of canning & found some good recipes too.

But our friend and neighbour Carolyn suggested that the best canning resource ever is the Ball Blue Book. Carolyn should know because she is one of the most prolific and formidable canners out there. Her black cap jam? Mmmmmmm…. And don’t get me started on the chutneys!

What do the Ball people know? Well, they have been at it 100 years, for one thing. They also make all the jars and equipment for canning so they know of which they speak.

The Ball Blue Book is no longer blue, incidentally. Their updated modern look is all lime green and black, looking both sleek and traditional somehow. Way to re-brand for a new audience, Ball!

What arrived in the mail last week but my very own copy courtesy of canning pro Carolyn. It is an excellent resource with clear instructions, good illustrations and troubleshooting tips. Hopefully between Carolyn and Ball we’ll get our act together and figure out why our jellies are more like sauces.

Mum found her old copy of the Ball Blue Book and so we’ll have to do some comparisons. My gut tells me previous editions may not have included recipes for guava and mango preserves…

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Joys and Tribulations of Canning

The Labour Day weekend bring the first thoughts of fall and with it the harvest. It seems appropriate to find ways to preserve the harvest and so Mum and I set about our second round of canning projects.

This weekend it was jalapeƱo-mint jelly and sweet and sour garlic jelly. The mint came from our local Amish produce stand but apart from that everything else came from the bounty of our land.

Ahem, right, what I mean to say is that we had a lot of garlic that somehow (well, I think I know how, actually. I think I harvested it too late) didn’t have it’s outer white papery skin. While this doesn’t present a problem for eating it, it doesn’t make it ideal for storage and so begs to be consumed all at once. While garlic pie and garlic stew and your standard vampire-repellant all seem like great ideas, we settled on a sweet and sour garlic jelly.

One if the best parts about canning is creating the roiling concoction of vinegar, sugar and spices that present both the promise of deliciousness and the risk of danger. In the case of the garlic jelly the recipe called for 50 cloves of garlic to be boiled with 3 cups of while wine vinegar and then left to sit for about a day. If you’ve ever wondered what a medieval doctor’s place of business might have smelled like my guess is that.

Apart from the overwhelming odor permeating the small cottage, everything else went as planned. Hey, we’re practically becoming pros at this! The boiling water bath, the sterilizing the jars, the careful ladeling of the boiling sugar syrup. Check, check and check.

Except for the actual jelly part. So far both jellies are still kinda just liquid in the jars. They look nice. They taste good. But they’re not jelly. They’re barely sauce.

It apparently can take 2 weeks for your jelly to set and I’m hoping this will solve our problem. If not it’ll be back to the drawing board for our jellies to try to re-set them.

Either that or… Garlic juice anyone?