Browsed by
Category: Foodie Lists

Must Have Canning Cookbooks

Must Have Canning Cookbooks

Canning and preserving is one of my favorite cooking activities, which is why I want to share my must have canning cookbooks list with you.  I first learned how to can from my mom.  Many years ago, when I was an early teen, she and I went out to a farm, probably in some way out place like Brighton, Colorado, and bought pickling cucumbers and peaches.  These stand out in my mind because that Christmas, we had our own canned pickles to go with our Christmas Eve buffet.  I also remember the peaches, because I remember the taste of peach conserve that had maraschino cherries and walnuts.  I also remember that we used the Ball Book of Canning, which is the sort of the original bible of canning and ended up with a billion quarts of pickles and as many pints of peach conserve.  To say that these lasted us awhile is an understatement.

We were canning before small batch canning became popular.  I think my mom only canned for two or so seasons.  I remember doing more pickles, along with some watermelon rind pickles.  But beyond that, my canning memories are a bit fuzzy.  I didn’t pick up a jar until many years later, when I had one canning season in New Mexico.  I made some sort of crabapple jam, scavenging crabapples from just outside our neighbor’s trees.  Somewhere along the way, I’d picked up a cookbook on small batch canning, which was revelatory.  Instead of having to can thirty jars of something, I could do four.  And four jars of something canned can be a lot easier to get through, especially in a family of two.

I decided it was time to try it again when we moved to Oregon.  Oregon has some of the most incredible farmer’s market and U-Pick farms, and we were lucky enough to have both close by.  Around the same time, I discovered Marisa McClellan’s Food in Jars blog and then her first Food in Jars cookbook.   For several seasons, I canned just about everything I could get my hands on.  I loved having all the pretty jars lined up in the pantry and loved experimenting with more exotic flavors in some of my jams and preserves.  I also loved making pickles and canning tomatoes.  I discovered Dilly Beans, which are the absolute best snack food I’ve ever made.  I was a canning convert.  I even entered my preserves in the county fair for two years in a row (and even won a couple of blue ribbons, along with a couple of second and third place prizes).  We grew 60 pounds of tomatoes in our own yard in 2015 and I canned them all.

You don’t have to preserve 60 pounds of anything though to get the joy of canning in your own kitchen.  You can most definitely do small batches and enjoy the fresh tastes of fruits and vegetables all through the long bleak winter.  In this post, I’m going to run down my favorite canning books.  These are mostly all small batch books and cover jams, preserves, and pickles.  I’ll also share why each is a favorite.   Check back here in a few weeks, as I’ll also be posting about my favorite canning gear, along with a giveaway of one of my absolute favorite canning tools.

These first three books are all from Marisa McClellan. I love both McClellan’s lovely flavors, but especially the ethos of small batch canning.  These are so perfect for the home-canner who doesn’t have storage space, time, or the desire to eat jar after jar after jar of one type of strawberry jam.  Food in Jars is also the perfect introductory book for someone who hasn’t preserved before.


The Ball Book of Canning and Preserving is a standby for me.  If I want to make a large batch of tomato sauce, for example, this is where I’ll turn.  It’s a great book, too, for the novice canner with lots of great tips.  It’s updated often, so the flavors stay contemporary as do the tips for how to can safely.

Canning for a New Generation is a gorgeous book with so many yummy recipes.  One of the things I love about this one is that it also includes recipes for what to do with the stuff you’ve just canned.  Because I promise you, there’s not much worse than looking at a pantry full of jams and pickles and thinking – uh oh – what do I do with all of this now?  Most of the recipes here are also small batch, so really perfect for the weekend cook.

The Joy of Pickling is entirely focused on pickles, from fermented pickles to small batch refrigerator pickles, to freezer pickles, to chutney and relishes, to canning pickles.  I made my first batch of fermented pickles using the recipe in this book and munched on them all summer long.  This one is a cookbook I could just curl up with and read from cover to cover.

The Complete Book of Small Batch Preserving is another great book for beginners looking to try out some small batch recipes.  This one covers everything from jam to pickles and everything in between.  There’s also a chapter in the most recent edition about what to do with what you’ve put up.  There’s a chapter on low-sugar preserves, too.

Last, but not least, is Put Em Up!  This one covers all sorts of preserving topics, including canning in small batches, but also freezing and drying.  This is a great book if you are looking for ways to make use of produce from a CSA or if you are a farmer’s market fan.

This post contains affiliate links, which means if you purchase something linked here, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.  I only include products that I use and love.  Thank you for supporting Fix Me a Little Lunch. 

This post is linked up to Inspire Me Wednesday

And to Country Mouse City Spouse’s Monday Mish Mash

And it’s also been shared at Cottage Making Mommy,

Ravioli Day Roundup

Ravioli Day Roundup

It’s National Ravioli Day!  I get so excited about ravioli, it’s kind of ridiculous.  There’s just something so lovely about filling wrapped in dough.  Ravioli is particularly special, as it works so well with some of the best sauces out there (I’m thinking Alfredo, marinara, tomato sauce with vodka…you get the idea).  Did you know that the first written mention of ravioli occurred in the 14th century in Venice in the personal letters of a merchant?  Ravioli wasn’t served with tomato sauce, though, until the 16th century (because tomatoes weren’t introduced to Italy until then).  Prior to the 16th century, ravioli were served in broth.  If this doesn’t get you hungry for ravioli, I don’t know what will.  Maybe these ravioli recipes will do the trick.

Let’s start with Ravioli with Creamy Roasted Pepper Sauce from Confident Cook, Hesitant Baker!  The star here is the sauce – and it is such a quick sauce to make.  I’m holding on to this one for farmer’s market season when peppers are available in abundance.

Pumpkin and other winter squash is such a natural paring with ravioli.  Up your ravioli game by making these Pumpkin Ravioli with Browned Butter, Sage, and Walnuts from What a Girl Eats

Pumpkin Ravioli with Browned Butter, Sage, and Walnuts

Rabbit and Wolves prove that ravioli doesn’t have to be made using cheese for it to be good.  These Vegan Broccoli Rabe Pesto Ravioli are a perfect spring ravioli option for vegans and non-vegans alike.

Vegan Broccoli Rabe Pesto Ravioli

This Carrot Ravioli with Broccoli-Ricotta Filling from Caroline’s Cooking is another great spring ravioli option.

Carrot Ravioli with Broccoli-Ricotta Filling

This Balsamic and Garlic Mushroom Ravioli from Krumpli combines the great flavors of balsamic vinegar, garlic and mushrooms and wraps it all up in a neat package of yummy!

Balsamic and Garlic Mushroom Ravioli

Next up is Orange and Pecorino Ravioli with Rosemary Brown Butter from Use Your Noodles.  This looks like such a light and refreshing ravioli – just imagine how that bit of orange zest in the ravioli would complement the rosemary brown butter.

Orange and Pecorino Ravioli with Rosemary Brown Butter

Ricotta and Spinach Ravioli (With a Kick) from Slow the Cook Down gets its kick from the addition of a finely chopped red chili.

Ricotta and Spinach Ravioli (With a Kick)

Kitchen Sanctuary’s Spicy Burrito Ravioli takes the traditional ravioli and gives it a great twist with the addition of burrito flavors.

Kitchen Sanctuary’s Spicy Burrito Ravioli

Butternut Squash Ravioli Bake from the Girl on Bloor is a great quick meal if you have squash or pumpkin ravioli already on hand.  Ravioli pairs well with all the ingredients in this one dish meal.

Butternut Squash Ravioli Bake

Last, but not least, if you are still craving even more ravioli (which I always am), here’s a beautiful dessert ravioli: White Chocolate Mascarpone Ravioli with Raspberry Sauce from Pinch Me I’m Eating.

White Chocolate Mascarpone Ravioli with Raspberry Sauce

I’d love to be eating this right now – I’m starting to feel inspired to do a three-course ravioli dinner, with a ravioli appetizer, a ravioli entrée, and a ravioli dessert.  Maybe for next year’s National Ravioli Day!

Food Blogger’s Valentine’s Day Gift List

Food Blogger’s Valentine’s Day Gift List

Valentine’s Day is just a little less than a week away, so my Food Blogger’s Valentine’s Day Gift List is just in time.  Clay and I don’t treat this holiday with much seriousness, really.  We’ve been together for eleven years and though for the first few years I wanted a fancy card (which he obliged), in more recent years, we’ve come to the conclusion that every day in a good marriage is Valentine’s Day.  I know – totally sappy.  That said, we usually do some fancy cooking for the day, and I’ll use it as an excuse to get some fancy wine.  Menu plan this year is crab cakes (with fresh PNW Dungeness crab) and chocolate soufflés.   That’s the plan, at least.  We’ll see how reality plays out – could be a pizza night with beer.

Now all that said, I was thinking some yesterday about what the perfect Valentine’s Day gifts would be for a food blogger.  So if you have a food blogger or foodie in your life, check out the round up below.  I’m pretty sure you couldn’t go wrong with any of these items. #1 A Pasta Maker

Yep – absolutely – this is #1 on my list.  I don’t have one yet, which makes me very sad.  I also don’t have chickens or bees and that makes me sad, too.  Chickens, bees and pasta makers have something in common though – they all take up space and require some amount of time that I don’t currently have.  It doesn’t stop me from longing though (and honestly, I could use fresh eggs to make pasta – these things really do go together).

#2 Food in Jars

This is a must have for a foodie’s bookshelf, especially if you have any interest in preserving foods. Marisa McClellan is the blogger behind the site Food in Jars, as well as the iconic book Food in Jars.  She has several other canning books available, which are just as wonderful.  The best part about Food in Jars for me is the emphasis on small batch preserving.  As much as I love the Ball Blue Book and all the recipes therein, I don’t ever need to can 12 quarts or pints of anything (except for tomatoes).

#3 Ball Purple Jars

And if you are going to get your true love Food in Jars, you might as well bundle it up with some really pretty canning jars, like these.

#4 Copper Dog Biscuit Cutters

I am all for sharing the Valentine’s Day love with my dog, Daisy.  These are my absolute favorite biscuit cutter and I love that they come in three shapes.  While I tend to use the medium sized cutter for Daisy’s biscuits, I can see myself using the smaller ones to make a care package for my mom’s small dogs one of these days.  Daisy’s favorite dog biscuit recipe can be found here.

#5 Copper Heart Shaped Cookie Cutters

I’ve realized this year that to be a food blogger, I really need heart shaped cookie cutters.  It’s one of those things where I feel like I have every other cookie cutter in the world, including a pumpkin shaped one and a turkey, but I don’t have a single heart shaped one.  I love this set – they are just so pretty!

#6 Organic Mushroom Farm

We are so lucky here in the PNW to have access to bountiful varieties of mushrooms.  I’ve yet to go to a farmer’s market where there aren’t seasonal mushrooms and have been introduced to some edible varieties I didn’t know existed when I lived in Colorado (the lion’s mane mushroom comes to mind).  That said, I love the idea of growing my own mushrooms, which is possible with this great mushroom growing kit.  Just imagine growing your own mushrooms and then eating them in Triple Mushroom and Truffle Risotto. 

#7 Kombucha Kit

Like with the mushroom growing kit, I’m a foodie who enjoys homesteading type projects.  Learning to brew, whether it is beer, wine, or kombucha, sounds like a great way to spend some time on the weekend.  This kombucha kit includes everything you would need to get started on your own homemade kombucha, including the scoby (or mother).  Fermentation projects are the best – it’s so much fun to watch something transform.

#8 Mozzarella and Ricotta Cheese Making Kit

And of course, what could be better for a food lover than the tools to make homemade cheese?  Mozzarella and ricotta cheese are the gateway cheeses for the home fromager.  Once you get going on these, the next step is a cheese cave and molds (both the kinds to make blue cheese and the kinds to set up your cheese rounds).  If you love your food blogging sweetie, you’ll definitely enable him or her with this kit.


#9 Bar Set for Cocktails

I absolutely love my cocktail shaker.  Right now, though, my bar set is limited to a cocktail shaker and a shot glass.  Beyond that, I improvise. End of a wooden spoon as a muddler? Check.  Vegetable peeler for garnishes?  Check.  Anything fancier than that?  Forget about it.  I could definitely use a fancy bar set (along with a fancy bar cart – but that’s on another list for another day).  I love this one – it’s simple, not too expensive, and has just the right number of tools.  It also looks like it would fit in the cabinet where I keep all the liquor.

#10 Pusheen Mug

And what every food blogger needs is a cute Pusheen mug (especially for a food blogger who is also a cat lover).  I adore this one – because I need a catpusheeno in my life.  Plus, it’s got a heart on it – perfect for Valentine’s Day!

What are you and your loves doing for Valentine’s Day this year?  I’d love to read about it in the comments!

This post contains affiliate links, which means if you purchase something from this post, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.  I only include products that I use, love, or want for myself.  Thank you for supporting Fix Me a Little Lunch.