In this post, I share my favorite canning books that are perfect if you’re new to Water Bath Canning.

Canning 101 - Canning Basics for Beginners Series - Canning Books Video
Watch the Canning Books – WaterBath Canning 101 video

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What is Canning?

Canning is a method of preserving perishable food without the need for refrigeration. There are basically two ways of processing foods—commonly referred to as “canning”—that have been approved as safe by the National Center for Home Food Preservation (HFP).

One method is known as “pressure canning,” which is for processing low-acid foods, including red meats, fish, poultry, and all vegetables, except most tomatoes.

The other form of canning is known as “water bath canning,” which is for high-acid foods. These foods contain enough acid to have a pH of 4.6 or lower. They include fruits, pickles, sauerkraut, jams, jellies, marmalades, and fruit butters. These high acid foods can be processed safely in a boiling water canner. Usually no additional acid, such as lemon juice or citric acid, needs to be added.

What About Tomatoes?

Tomatoes can be pressure canned or water bath canned. If you decide to water bath can tomatoes, the HFP and most canning books will recommend that you add some form of additional acid to the canning jar. When it comes to tomatoes, there is no way to know if your particular variety of tomato and its growing conditions can guarantee a pH of 4.6 or lower. Tips like this one make your canning books very handy!

When you’re ready to can tomatoes, watch my Canning Crushed Tomatoes with Water Bath Tutorial video.

Canning Books to the Rescue

When you first start, water bath canning can seem like a daunting task. However, thanks to the help of canning books, it will be a lot easier than you think. Most of the basic canning books that I recommend in the list below will provide you with step-by-step recipes regarding:

  • Exactly how much food you will need to fill your jars appropriately.
  • What type of acid to add—if any.
  • How long you need to process your jars in the water bath canner to make sure that the jars will be properly sealed and protected from air.
Three Citrus Marmalade Canned jars in the kitchen.

How Long Does the Canned Food Last?

Great question! As a general rule, water bath canned food, if unopened, has a shelf life from one year up to 18 months. Yes, there are a lot of folks who will say that their home-canned goods last a lot longer. And this may be true. However, it’s important to know the official rule from a food safety perspective. Once you know the basic information, you can do your research and decide what you consider is safe for you and your family.

Books and Other Resources

As I mentioned previously, I have listed some of my favorite canning books below, so be sure to take a look at all of those. But I will share that when it comes to being a beginner canner, you can’t go wrong with any of the Ball Canning Books. And if you are a beginner and only want to start with one or two books, I highly recommend the Ball Canning Back to Basics book. It’s a winner! The instructions are clear, and the recipes are simple.

If you want to make sure that you have the definitive guide to home canning in your library as a reference, then you will want the USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning. This is a government-issued paperback with no pictures, but it is filled with a wealth of information to the home canner. This book best serves the purpose as a reference guide, whereas the other listed books offer detailed recipes and an easier format for the beginner to follow.

More Water Bath Canning Videos

Now that you know about my favorite Water Bath Canning Books, learn about Water Bath Canning Supplies and Canning Salts, Spices, and Pectin. I also show you how to make Marmalade Jam with a step-by-step guide to water bath canning. Lastly, you’ll find videos for canning crushed tomatoes and a Ball Electric Water Bath Canner unboxing.

Download Your Free 36-Page Pantry List

For an extensive list of the traditional foods you can make and purchase to stock your pantry, be sure to download my free 36-page Traditional Foods Pantry List. This comprehensive eBook is full of links to recipe videos, helpful articles, and more!

And if you’re looking for a printed book full of my traditional foods recipes that shows you how to create a traditional foods kitchen, be sure to order your copy of my new bestselling book, The Modern Pioneer Cookbook. (My cookbook contains helps you get started water bath canning.)

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The Modern Pioneer Cookbook

Seasonal ingredients, traditional techniques, and nourishing recipes. Over 85 traditional, from-scratch recipes! Discover for yourself how you can use simple ingredients and traditional techniques to cook the modern pioneer way.

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I look forward to having you join me in my Texas Hill Country Kitchen!

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