I selected these canning books because the recipes are for smaller batches, only a few pints rather than filling your pantry with gallons of jam that you'll have trouble giving away. I've read all three of them and can't wait to make small batches of BBQ sauce, pickles, marmalade, dessert fruit sauces, etc.
- The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving: Over 300 Recipes to Use Year-Round
- Well-Preserved: Recipes and Techniques for Putting Up Small Batches of Seasonal Foods
- The Big Book of Preserving the Harvest: 150 Recipes for Freezing, Canning, Drying and Pickling Fruits and Vegetables
Tip #1 - Cool Before FreezingWarm food takes longer to freeze than chilled food, the slower freezing gives the ice crystals time to grow into large jagged chunks. So cool the items first before freezing since it'll form smaller ice crystals, resulting in a better texture later.
I think for everything I am going to freeze, I'll chill the item in the fridge for a while (overnight probably) before putting them in the freezer.
Tip #2 - Blanch Produce Before FreezingBlanch fruits and veggies before freezing because it gives you a chance to kill off the bad beasties like bacteria. Freezing doesn't kill them, it just slows them down, so it's better to blanch and take care of it right away rather than give them time to grow on your food when you go to defrost it.
I always skipped the blanching step when freezing fresh produce at home, mainly because that's a whole additional step that I was too lazy to do and I figured it didn't matter much. I had understood the blanching to result in a brighter color and better texture, but I usually cook the frozen veggies so the texture was always going to be softened anyway. Plus who wants to heat up a huge pot of boiling water in the middle of the summer to only use it for a few minutes? But I had never heard this reason of general food safety. Makes sense though.
I don't think I'm going to freeze much produce this summer since it takes up a lot of room in my freezer and we want to have room for things like Jack's Rising Crust pizzas and gallons of ice cream. I'll likely preserve more things by canning if possible. Some items like corn can't be water-bath canned since they aren't acidic enough and I'm not interested in pressure-canning, so I'll definitely freeze a lot of sweet corn. I guess I will can most items and freeze what I can't.