The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving

Print Friendly - The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving, by Ellie Topp and Margaret HowardIn a moment of weakness I snagged this book off a table at Costco a few weeks ago, as if I really needed another book on canning and preserving. I blame the title for luring me in because many home cooks make jams, jellies, and other preserves in small batches, unless you are like my friend Sean who canned 200 pounds of tomatoes this year. I believe that amount is more than most of us have time to tackle, but kudos to Sean and his crew for a job well done!

The book explains the basics of high-acid canning (the boiling water method) then presents over 250 pages of recipes from all the standard categories plus a few extra: jams, jellies, butters, marmalades, conserves, curds, low-sugar spreads, pickles, relishes, salsas, chutneys, savory sauces, oils, vinegars, and mustards. The chapter “Fresh From the Freezer” covers freezer jams and other ways to preserve foods in the freezer. Then the authors have a chapter at the end called “Let’s Open the Lid and Use What’s Inside” which has over 30 pages of recipes that use canned items from the book. The Marmalade Fruit Muffins, Light Chocolate Brownies (made with Prune Butter), and the Spiced Fig Jam Bars all sound terrific to me.

Many of the recipes make only a cup or two, thus making it unnecessary to go to the trouble of processing in a boiling water bath. We’ve tried several of the recipes with great success, and I highlighted a few here.

Andrea Meyers - Ginger Plum Jam

The Ginger Plum Jam is my favorite plum jam ever. It only has four ingredients, but the candied ginger gives such wonderful flavor. It is fantastic. I also like that it is relatively low in sugar compared to others I’ve tried. I’ve even reduced the sugar on occasion just to see how low I can go.

Andrea Meyers - Caramelized Red Onion Relish

The Caramelized Red Onion Relish is my husband’s new favorite condiment, topping steak, burgers, hot dogs, you name it. I even saw in the last chapter how they use it on pizza, something we’ve not yet tried will. Again, this is a recipe with only a few ingredients that’s easy to make. The recipe only makes two cups, so it’s not worth processing, and it doesn’t last long around our house anyway. I just put it into a pint size jar and keep it in the refrigerator.

Andrea Meyers - Spiced Plum Butter

Spiced with cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg, this Spiced Plum Butter is beautiful and smooth, a delicious accompaniment for toast, scones, biscuits, and muffins. And just like the others, it’s easy to make.

The books covers the seasons, so you can make Strawberry Kiwifruit Spread in the spring, Blueberry Jam with Cointreau in the summer, and Pear Amaretto Jam in the autumn. I found the book has plenty of variety for home cooks, and offers interesting combinations of flavors. The instructions are easy to follow and typically only require a few steps. If you have never canned food, I highly recommend reading the Introduction which serves as a primer on boiling water canning. The book does not approach the subject of low-acid pressure cooker canning.

For beginning home canners or those wanting more variety in canning recipes, I think this book is a good one to add to your collection.

[From my personal collection.]

Price: US$29.95

Publisher: Firefly Books

[Disclosure: This blog earns a small commission through affiliate links.]


  1. Dianne Eckstein says

    Maybe you can answer a question I have. I am making the nine-day icicle pickles, and being fairly new to canning, I need specifics.
    Today was the first day of brine, but since the brine did not cover the cucumbers, I doubled the brine to cover. Was that the right thing to do?
    Also, the recipe does not say to remove the bag of spice, but I did so. Was that the right thing to do? And lastly, I realized that I will be out of town on day nine and will need to do the final canning step on day 10. Will that be alright?
    I do like this book a lot. So far my favorite is Raspberry jam with Chambord. Everyone wants a jar.
    If you can help me out with these questions I will be very grateful.
    Dianne Eckstein

    • says

      Hi Dianne. It’s ok to add extra brine, though you should leave in the spices because they give the pickles their flavor. And yes, it should be fine for you to do the canning on day 10.

      • Dianne Eckstein says

        Just one more question. Really! I hope anyway. Do you leave the spices in with the pickles for the 24 hour period or remove them? Thanks again, Dianne

        • says

          No problem. I’m sorry, I need to clarify, the spices are used to make the brine on Day 6 and are in a tea ball or a piece of cheesecloth, so those will not go into the jars with the brine.

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