Thursday, August 11, 2022

My canning bible

"Recently a reader asked the following question: "Hi Patrice. In regards to your canning 'bible,' Putting Food By, do you still recommend it? I'm primarily interested in learning high pressure canning for meats, stews, etc. Some of the most recent reviews on Amazon for this book are very negative, saying there are printing issues, and/or it's too old (2010 I think is the latest edition) to have current safety information. I don't plan on buying it through Amazon but was wondering if the book was current enough for a beginner to pressure can safely. A lot of other more recent canning books seem to have mostly recipes and instructions for water bath canning. I'm not interested in that at this point. Thank you!"

I've used "Putting Food By" as my canning bible for decades, but there's nothing "sacred" about it. Guidelines change; and if the book hasn't been updated since 2010, then it would be better to find a more up-to-date reference guide.

The Ball Blue Book is a popular source. It's beautifully illustrated and more concentrated, and covers water-bath canning, pressure canning, freezing, and dehydrating.

Beyond these two books, I don't have any particular recommendation for another canning bible. Online, however, I found the "USDA's Complete Guide to Home Canning" which says: "The free, 196-page publication can be downloaded from the National Center for Home Food Preservation website. The publication is also available in a spiral, bound book format from Purdue University’s Education Store. Single copies are available for $18 per copy, and bulk discounted prices are available." (Please note the print version now costs $25.50, not $18. With shipping, it comes to $33.85. Inflation, I guess.)

The USDA is the most authoritative guide available, so my suggestion would be to download or order this book. I just ordered it myself. It's always a good idea to have the best canning guidance available, and my preference is always to have print version of anything.

Happy canning!


  1. I also suggest the USDA guide, as it has directions for low temperature processing of pickles, and other useful information. The Ball Book sometimes gives vague information that I find frustrating, but I do use it. I also have a very old version of Putting Food By, but only use if for curiosities sake. The processing times are much different in it for things like tomatoes.

  2. Patrice, thank you so very much for addressing this question. You’ve been a big help.

  3. Patrice, recently I purchased ($20.00) the USDA book from my local extension service. Also, Youtuber Rose Red had interesting comments regarding the new Ball Blue Book recipes. She explains on her channel the Blue Book isn't the same company anymore.

  4. The National Center for Home Food Preservation has a very good website:

    They also publish an excellent food preservation book - So Easy to Preserve. The most recent edition can be ordered here: The instructions are easy to follow and the recipes are very good.

  5. I've seen the Ball book at Walmart in the canning section . I didn't look at the price, but you may find it there if it's one of your shopping spots and save shipping.

  6. Patrice, just want to say thank you for your wonderful blog. I have been a "lurker" for over a year now and have followed your recommendations and love reading your blog. Thank you so much!

    1. Aww, thank you! That is much appreciated!

      - Patrice

  7. Novice canner question for you Patrice! I just bought (and want to use) a Presto Pressure Canner. Do I need to have the gauge checked at my local Extension Office before the first use, or just after each "season's" canning session? Thanks for the help!!