Ball Blue Book

"You want to what?"

"I want to can."

"I heard that, but WHY do you want to can."

"Look," I said, "it's weirder to me than it probably is to you, but I just want to."

"I hate canning," my aunt said before hanging up and after promising to send Auntie Alice's, Ball Blue Book - Easy Guide to Tasty, Thrifty Canning and Freezing.

The book arrived yesterday. It's bound with three staples and a display of plastic fruits and vegetables doused in water to convey freshness. The book was published in 1974 and it's like new.

My great aunt, Alice, made notations by the pickled beets and mint jelly. The jelly for the lamb Uncle Henry raised I'm sure.

There are tips on destroying molds, yeast, bacteria and enzymes with cartoon illustrations that do nothing to reassure me.

There are recipes for marashino cherries, pear mincemeat, dixie relish and a victoria sauce made with rhubarb that call for alarming amounts of sugar but set my imagination whirling none-the-less.

I will not be making carrot jam or rummage relish. But I do like the sound of a kumqut marmalade. It's poetry if nothing else.

The cute guy likes the recipe on the back cover - How to Preserve a Husband .... sweetened with love and seasoned with kisses.

There are conversion tables, troubleshooting spreadsheets. There are tips to can without sugar or salt, instructions for freezing which I've already negated (they call for scalding). There's a chart for altitude, a list of vocabulary words, canning time references.

There is everything except Grandma or Auntie Alice in the kitchen stirring and explaining. Yet they'll inform the canning more than the Blue Book. An invisible circle is being drawn and while I move forward I'm also stepping back for inspiration and instruction.

I've even convinced my aunt who hates to can to do it with me for a day. "It'll be fun," I keep telling her. Grandma and Auntie Alice would get a kick out of it. That's for sure.


valereee said...

Of course it'll be fun! I used to can strawberry jam with my folks (the freezer jam was never as good) and while I have memories of sitting on a stool in a steamy kitchen stirring and stirring and stirring that jam before we packed it into jars, I do remember it being fun.

Several places around here are offering canning classes this summer -- I bet you've got some there, too!

Kim said...

I canned for the first time last summer and had a blast. We have two small jars of chopped tomatoes left and I'm trying to save them until I spot the first tomato in the farm stand. Have fun!

Anonymous said...

The picture is incredible. Life bursting forth.

I remember that book! I learned to make preserves from it in 1980.

And I'll take some of those Husband preserves you're thinking about!

Anonymous said...

You'll have so much fun! Every time I canned last year it brought back memories of preserving the harvest when I was a kid. My grandmother, grandfather and aunts were right there with me the whole time.

I just had luck putting a "wanted" ad on Craigslist to score some more used jars - just a thought if you want to reduce some of the start up costs. I got 5 dozen for $35.

Chile said...

I hate to put a damper on the old book, but all canning advice now says you should get a current canning book. No, this isn't just to increase sales. Canning guidelines changed for increased safety and less risk of deadly botulism. Keep the book for ideas but get yourself the latest edition for the recipes.

This site has outstanding information on food preservation, too.

Donna said...

I want to second Chili's advice -- buy the most recent Blue book. You don't want to mess around with the safety stuff.

I canned for the first time last fall and had a blast. A friend helped me, and I'm still not quite confident enough to do it myself, so I'll twist her arm to can with me again this summer. We had so much fun canning and giggling late at night after the kids were in bed that the goodies we preserved were just an added benefit!

Kale for Sale said...

valeree - That's a great idea although I do have several folks who have volunteered to can with me and know what they are doing. Thank goodness. I have steamy kitchen memories too and then the ritual of waiting for the lids to pop. Good stuff.

kim - Those first and last and tomatoes are going to taste so good. Will you can again this year?

tq - Wait - She who doesn't boil water used to make preserves? You're an endless well of suprises. I'll copy the husband preserve recipe for you. It's 100% corn.

laura - Good deal and idea on the jars. Thanks. I also like that your Grandfather was in the kitchen too. Mine only came in for the eating afterwards. but he did go out and buy the fruit.

chile - Thank you. I did think about that after the scalding recipe to freeze the veggies. And the first person I talked to at work this morning told me a story about a woman who killed her mother in law with home canned green beans. Whatever book I have I made myself a promise to stay away from canning green beans.

donna - That's exactly my picture - lots of laughter and the food is a bonus. My aunt who sent the book is a doctor and gave me a safe canning talk. But I'm not going all the way by canning high risk vegetables. Only flirting with the fruits, jams, jellies and maybe a bit of chutney. I could see her shaking her head. Thanks for the encouragement.

Anonymous said...

I like your thinking! Thanks for the post -- this is the perfect time to get think about canning with the garden just going. I'm eager to hear what you try. Up here, a friend's plum tree drops about five thousand yellow plums every year, most of which rots. The preserves are to die for, and I'm looking forward to more of those in a couple of months. I also love making jalapeno jelly.

Kale for Sale said...

Audrey - Jalepeno jelly? I'm afraid I'd eat it from the jar with a spoon. In one sitting until it was gone. I've got a neighbors plum tree to play with too. I'll look up a recipe for preserves. Thank you. After my jam making today I seem to be set. First lesson learned - use less sugar. And I could have got a much smaller canning pot. Not that the store had one but the one I got is big enough to bathe in and the little jam jars were lost in it.

Lucy said...

How wonderful. What a treasure!

I love little pieces of the past, books that encompass those less hurried forms of cooking.

Shocking those old amounts of sugar, though...Quite like the sound of rummage relish, myself.

Just gorgeous.

Anonymous said...

For a number of years I made cumquat marmalade each year, from a friend's tree. And it was simply the best marmalade I have ever eaten. Nothing to do with my cooking and everything to do with the wonderful flavour that is the cumquat.

Sounds like a wonderful book and I'm sure your aunt will have fun with you on the canning day. There's nothing like those days spent cooking with other people. Sharing thoughts and stories over a production line of food prep.

Kale for Sale said...

lucy - Thanks. It is a treasure. You could make your own rummage relish! You're a cook. It would be so fun. A version for the new century and you have complete license to do as you please because no one would ever know what was in the original. I could tell you if you wanted to know though.

kathryn - You are so lucky. I got a tree this year but it will be a very long time before it produces more than I can eat. I'm going to watch the farmers markets to see if anyone makes it.

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