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Review: New & Updated Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving

10. June 2024

I recently received a copy of the New & Updated Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving from the publisher Robert Rose. THANK YOU! And I totally needed another canning book! Because 30 canning books on my shelf is insufficient. If you are a canner, you know what I’m talking about! You can never have too many recipe books, especially canning books!


New & Updated Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving |


For those unaware, Ball® and Bernadin® have the same parent company, Newell. They brand their canning jars and books differently in the US and Canada, but the content is the same. Ball is sold in the US and Bernadin is sold in Canada. So our Canadian readers can grab a copy of the New & Updated Bernadin Complete Book of Home Preserving.

I have collected several Ball canning books over the years. This one has 400 recipes for jam, fruit spreads, salsa, chutney, relish, condiments, pickles, and tomatoes. There were over 300 updates for the new release of this book. Updates were based on Ball’s “commitment to continuous improvement based on research by trusted experts”. So if you have the first published version of this book, it may be worth getting a new copy now. Canners refer to the Ball Book as “the Bible of home preserving” because of the wealth of information on canning safety. This content makes their book invaluable for novice canners. Expert tips for the experienced canner make it a staple in the home canning kitchen too.


Canning Safety

In the updated book you’ll find basic information on canning equipment (canners, jars, and lids). There's info on acidity and high-acid versus low-acid foods. Ball explains microorganisms, molds & yeasts, bacteria, and enzymes. You'll find step-by-step directions on how to use pressure canners and boiling-water baths. To ensure food safety, adherence to tested processing times is a must! You need to use the correct headspace when filling jars too. Clear illustrations show how to measure headspace and fill the canner. And finally, there are details on what to do “After Processing” (checking seals and storing jars).

When I first started canning two decades ago, my Dad would ask me if there was botulinum in the jars I had just gifted him. And since he asked a smart-aleck question, I’d give it right back to him by saying “I don’t know, I guess we’ll find out. Enjoy the salsa Dad!”  But seriously, canning safety is super important. Avoid old-fashioned canning methods like “inversion” or “open kettle” canning. Do not boil green beans for 3 hours instead of using a pressure canner (who has time for that anyway!?) And there are people who actually can their food in dish washers because their grandparents did. NO NO NOOOO! Stick to the tested methods in the New & Updated Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. Stay safe folks!


Home Canning Altitude Chart |



Low and High Altitude adjustment charts are in the book. Many people are unaware that they live at a high altitude. Living at a higher altitude affects home canning recipes, just as it does baking recipes. If you live at a high altitude, you’ll need to increase either your processing time or processing pressure. Most canning recipes state this info for elevations of 0 to 1,000 feet above sea level. If you aren’t sure what your elevation is, get more info from the National Center for Food Preservation. This Ball canning book does have a list of US cities with high-altitudes, but it is not a complete list of locations. So check resources online or call your local extension office if unsure.


Canning Jars with Lids Blown Off in Pressure Canner |

My first time pressure canning tomato soup! Ooops!



And what about all those times when your canning doesn’t go well? Not that that ever happens! Nope, never. Ahhhhmm, to our “new to canning” readers, I am kidding. Even the most experienced canners will sometimes have issues. Sometimes a jar doesn’t seal. Or a jam or jelly doesn’t set properly. Liquid can be lost during processing. The list goes on and on… and that list is detailed in Ball’s “Home Canning Problem Solver” section. You’ll find common problems, causes, and prevention/solutions. And now I know that the black spots that can occur on the underside of lids is just from natural compounds in some foods (and is harmless). THANKS Ball!


Apple Pie in a Jar Canning Recipe |


How Much Produce Do I Need?

Wrapping up the book is a “Produce Purchase Guide”. Ever wonder how much produce you’ll need for a recipe? Not sure if you’ll need to buy 5 pounds of berries or 10 pounds of beets to fill your jars? Then this chapter is pretty sweet. Ball lists approximate weights and volume yields of common produce. The actual yield will vary some of course, but this guide will help get you started.



I like the format of this updated book. The copy I have is hardback and spiral bound. That makes it easy to open and follow a recipe while busy in the kitchen. The book lays flat and doesn’t “flip” over when your hands are full, ha! The recipe pages are black and white with helpful tips for prepping fruits and veggies. There are sections of colored glamour photos throughout, but not photos of every recipe. I do like to see photos of finished recipes, so I wish more had been included.


New & Updated Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving |


So what’s in the book?

400 innovative & tested recipes! Choose from:

36 jams

24 jellies

15 salsas

17 relishes

51 pickle recipes

22 tomato recipes

+ fruit spreads, sauces, chutneys, & more!


Home Canned Tomatoes in Mason Jars |



The vast majority of the book is for water-bath recipes. But fear not, it goes well beyond basic jams! The Salsa, Relish, & Chutney chapter is loaded with recipes that I’m looking forward to trying. The Summer Salsa on page 202 sounds great! My usual salsa consists of the standard issue tomatoes, pepper, and onion mix. But this Summer Salsa recipe include peaches, pears, mint, honey, and balsamic vinegar. Doesn’t that sound great (and unique)?


Herb Infused Vinegar |



There is a chapter for making and canning vinegar. We’ve done recipes on our blog for Herb & Flavor Infused Vinegars and Violet Flower Vinegar before. But these Ball recipes include fruit that is smashed up, mixed with vinegar, then covered and stored for 1-4 weeks. It’s kept in a cool dark place and stirred every few days. You then taste it weekly until you achieve your desired taste. The Blueberry Basil Vinegar on page 272 is the first recipe I’m going to try in the updated book. A recipe variation calls for adding fresh whole blueberries to the final vinegar before canning. Each recipe shows you how to can the vinegar so it’s shelf stable. Then Ball shows you what to add to the opened jars to make a lovely salad dressing. You’ll end up with a dressing that is lower in calories. Plus you can avoid all the extra junk that goes into many store bought stuff. 


Carrot Cake Jam Canning Recipe |

Carrot Cake Jam


Jams & Spreads

Jams are one of the first recipes many new canners put up. There are classic recipes like Strawberry Jam and Apple Pie in a Jar. And then there are unique recipes like Black Forest Macaroon Jam and Carrot Cake Jam which we adapted for our blog (both reader favorites)! In the Soft Spreads chapter, the Cranberry Carrot Conserve would make a nice companion recipe. It sounds a little more fruity than the carrot jam recipe.

Something I have never tried canning before is kiwi. Ball has a Kiwi Daiquiri Jam recipe on page 33 that sounds great. And since kiwi is available year-round, you can make it any time. It will be nice to have a greenish jar on the shelf that doesn’t contain pickles!


Home Canned Pickles in Mason Jars |


And speaking of pickles…

There are over 50 pickle recipes in this book! That’s a lot of pickles. Now, if I could only grow cucumbers (without squirrels eating them). Sigh. But hey, the New & Updated Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving has recipes for pickled fruit and other veggies too. Pickled plums, cantaloupe, and pineapple pickles, oh my! Dilled carrots, mustard beans, and eggplant pickles too! NOPE, sorry Ball, eggplant is gross! But you-all might love eggplant pickles! Eggplants a-plenty! Just not for me.

I have been wanting to brew my own kombucha for some time. I put it off because I get overwhelmed reading directions for making it. But the Ball book has clear directions for fermenting your own kombucha. I can barely wait to freak my husband out with that wet pancake SCOBY.

There is a recipe for Mixed Mustard Pickles that I want to try. I have always wanted to make mustard pickles, but most recipes I see use flour or cornstarch for thickening. Those ingredients are not always approved ingredients for canning (unless a recipe has specifically been lab-tested for safety using them*). This updated Ball recipe calls for ClearJel® for thickening (it is optional for the recipe). ClearJel does not break down or clump during the canning process. It will not interfere with the heat penetration during canning either.

* NOTE: To be clear, there are lab-tested canning recipes that use flour or cornstarch for the thickening agent. Older Ball recipes may have used these ingredients too. This newer recipe has moved to ClearJel instead. So I will give that a try!

At the end of the Pickles chapter, there is a “Pickle Problem Solver” chart. Ball explains all the various ways your pickles can turn out, well, not so well! Cloudy or pink pickling liquid, ick!  Discoloration or shriveling, eww! Bitter, soggy, or settlement on the bottom of the jar, ugh! They give you the cause, prevention, and solution to those issues. Ball also explains why garlic may turn green.  I have personal experience with garlic turning green, so there’s no need for alarm folks!


Peach BBQ Sauce Canning Recipe |

Zesty Peach BBQ Sauce 



Condiments! YES! Are other canners as intrigued by condiment recipes as I am? Every year I threaten my husband that I WILL can ketchup. But every year I get stingy with my homegrown tomatoes. Homemade ketchup takes quite a few tomatoes to make. The Tomato Ketchup recipe on page 252 calls for 24 pounds of tomatoes and yields 7 pints. And it takes a bit of time to cook down too. I wonder if my husband doesn’t want me to use tomatoes on anything except his beloved salsa?!

The Victorian Barbecue Sauce on page 256 uses rhubarb, raisins, onion, sugar and spices. RHUBARB! In a BBQ SAUCE! That sounds tasty too. My neighbor gives me loads of rhubarb every summer, so now I have something different than butters to can. And if the Zesty Peach BBQ recipe looks familiar, that’s because we did an adaptation of it for our blog. Not only is the taste of this sauce fantastic, but the color is amazing too. Either of these two fruity barbecue sauces would be a standout at your next cookout.


Beef Stew with Vegetables Pressure Canning Recipe |

Pressure Canning

The pressure canning section is pretty slim. It goes over canning basic and plain vegetables, seafood, meat, poultry, and stocks. There are several soup recipes including a Beef Stew with Vegetables that we’ve done an adaptation of on our blog. There are traditional recipes for chili, spaghetti sauce with meat, and beef in wine sauce. I wish there were more pressure canning recipes! But these basic recipes are great for beginners. You can always can a basic veggie, then incorporate it into a casserole recipe once you open a jar.


Home Canned Tomatoes |



The New & Updated Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving has a chapter on canning tomatoes. They show you how to process basic tomatoes, sauce, and juice in both a water bath and a pressure canner. That’s handy for comparison’s sake. Pressure canning tomato juice is faster than using a water bath, but not every one has a pressure canner. You’ll learn how to acidify tomatoes for safe canning too. Home-canned tomatoes need acidified regardless if they are water-bathed or pressure canned. Besides the basics, there are recipes for pizza sauce, creole and chicken wing sauces, and stewed tomatoes with vegetables.

The Moroccan Spiced Tomato Sauce on page 368 sounds interesting. It calls for savory toasted spices and brown sugar, yum! Ball suggests it is good with grilled meat, fish, or used as a dip for pita or breadsticks. It sounds like it may be tasty on corn chips as well. I will add this recipe to my “Must Try List.”


New & Updated Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving |


Speaking of which, do you all mark your recipe books with post it notes for everything you’re going to try? That’s the first thing I do when I crack open a canning book for the first time. I’ll look for unique recipes that I haven’t tried or seen before. If I stumble upon a produce sale, I will thumb to my pre-marked recipes.

Go to the publisher’s website to see where you can buy the book!


New & Updated Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving |

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