ball blue book

A Minnesota Canning Bee: How to Host a Home Canning Party

Two years ago on a sunny Saturday morning in October, my husband and I pulled up to a church in North Minneapolis with a flyer, some produce from our garden, and a carload of anticipation. Earlier that week, a friend had forwarded directions to a canning bee for anyone brand new to canning. There was one typed line in the email: “This sooo sounds like the crazy stuff you’re always trying!”


My friends know me well; I called right away to register for the last two spots in the canning bee. From 9:30 am to 5:30 pm that day, our group of 10 quietly listened and scribbled down the canning expert’s notes, poked our heads over steaming pots of pickles and salsas, and had silly full-teeth grins every time we pulled a jar from the hot water bath.

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Low Sugar Preserving For The Jam Lover

I love homemade jam. When we were kids, my brother and I used to stand outside next to the garage with steak knives, whacking the leaves off of rhubarb stems (in hindsight, this probably wasn’t terribly safe). Ever since then, I have delighted in standing over the pot, watching berries or peaches or rhubarb become a delectable condiment…with the assistance of a LOT of sugar. The sugar never bothered me then, and it usually doesn’t bother me now. But, as I’ve gotten older and my taste buds have shifted, I’ve definitely been using less of it. 


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Cranberry Apple Jam and the Last of Canning Season

Last May I started some serious planning for canning season. I had lists, recipes, and all the right plants for the community garden plot. Armed with the Ball Blue Book and a brand new water bath canner, I had dubbed it the year of the Mason Jar. This was going to be the canning season of all canning seasons, with more than 20 different recipes to try. It’s easy to get overly ambitious after being shut in the house for a long Minnesota winter.


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