The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

The Big Book of Preserving the Harvest

The Big Book of
Preserving the HarvestKayla recommended that I check out Carol W. Costenbader's The Big Book of Preserving the Harvest, and since the text was available at my local library, I figured I didn't have anything to lose.  With chapters on canning, drying, freezing, jams, pickles, vinegars, and cold storage, this initially looked like the go-to reference for every well-rounded homesteader to have on her shelf.  Closer scrutiny, though, showed that the recipes included are more fancy and less basic than you'd want if this was your single reference guide.

On the other hand, The Big Book of Preserving the Harvest shines in the chapter introductions, where Costenbader walks you through all of the basic techniques for each preservation method.  I was particularly taken with the canning section since I haven't canned extensively and didn't know that people at higher altitudes might need to leave more head space (so that's why my peach sauce erupted!) and that minerals in your water can cause the top layer of canned food to turn brown or gray even though it's still perfectly safe.

When I first started the book-learning part of my homesteading education about 15 years ago, Stocking Up seemed like the best option for an all-around basic preservation guide, but since then I've mostly gravitated toward websites.  What resources do you use when you want to know how long to blanch your green beans before freezing and how much head space to leave on top of your canned tomatoes?

Our chicken waterer keeps your hens happy so you can have more time to make jam.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Still mainly use the Blue Book and then Google after that.
Comment by Jeremy Tue Sep 10 07:54:55 2013
I have canned and jammed for awhile, and I can not recommend highly enough Linda Ziedrich's books "The Joy of Jams, Jellies, and Sweet Preserves" and "The Joy of Pickling". She gives fancy recipes as well as the bare bones ratios for diy style preserving.
Comment by nicole Tue Sep 10 09:18:14 2013
I use Stocking Up pretty regulary, and also the Ball Blue Book, and some of the grat publications from my local Cooperative Extension office, which are available online as PDFs. If all else fails, I will google, but usually need to spend way more time wading through stuff I don't need to find the one thing I do need when I Google (like, for example, a canning recipe for mild salsa that does not use store-bought tomato paste. That's like the holy grail of canning recipes for me; very elusive)
Comment by Jen Tue Sep 10 10:02:31 2013
Our go-to canning (freezing, drying, etc) book is So Easy To Preserve from the University of Georgia ag extension service. The chow-chow and relish recipes alone are worth the price of admission.
Comment by Dogwood Road Farm Tue Sep 10 10:53:28 2013
Sounds like a wonderful book,my friend-and as much as I enjoyed reading your own e-books,I know I'll enjoy reading/learning from books you recommend,look forward to finding/buying this one :)
Comment by Stephen in Eastern TN Tue Sep 10 13:35:34 2013

I've got the Ball book, but I find i most often go online to look for something specific, and for basic canning has canning instructions for just about any fruit or veggie you might want to put in a jar. I dont have very much freezer space, and here in NM, it is paramount, a d maybe even required by law :-) to have a good stock of roasted green chilis in your freezer, so my freezer space is taken. Canning, and dehydrating are the biggest ways I preserve, also fermenting and pickling. My new favorite is to dehydrate tomatoe slices till they are super dry, then grind them to a powder in The food processor. This powder is a fabulous addition to sauces or soups, and serves as instant tomato paste with the addition of a little water. I throw one of those dessicant packets in ghe jar with my dehydrated stuff, just to keep it really dry.

Comment by Deb Wed Sep 11 01:56:56 2013
I've used the preserving information found on The website is kind of hokey but there is good information.
Comment by Mike Gaughan Wed Sep 11 13:12:17 2013
I like Put 'em up by Sheri Vinton. The begining is full of information and techniques while the back is full of recipes.
Comment by Chad Thu Sep 12 22:04:05 2013

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