My first introduction to “putting food by” was with a 1969 edition of the Ball Blue Book. So in reading this post by Ashley I was thrilled to see the inclusion of fermentation in the new edition. If you are on the fence about spending $15 for this new edition, read Ashley’s review to see what might be in store.
You’d be hard pressed to find a modern canning book that even makes a passing mention at fermenting. Or so I thought. The All New Ball Book of Canning and Preserving actually lives up to its name and reviews ferments in depth. A full chapter begins with step by step pictorial instructions on fermenting your own sauerkraut for the beginning fermenter.
Generally, Ball canning books stick to the basics of jams and jellies, so this new concentration on fermenting is an exciting step, as they expand their understanding of preserving to include methods that have been around since long before the advent of home water bath and pressure canning.
The All New Ball Book of Canning and Preserving
A Book Review
I imagine many of the people who purchased this book didn’t expect to find information on fermenting at all, and may not even know about home fermenting as a process. Given that it may be someone’s first introduction to fermenting, I’m glad that beautiful and surprisingly detailed photos are there to take the new fermenter through every step in the process.
Beyond the basics of fermenting, I was delighted to find inventive new ways to ferment with fruit flavored kimchi, probiotic mustards, homemade Worcestershire sauce, and salt-preserved lemons. I was even introduced to completely new fermented foods such as harissa, an intense North African condiment based on chilis and spices and tepache, a fermented South American pineapple drink.
Outside of the fermentation chapter, I’m impressed that the authors also work to explicitly promote probiotic foods in their preserves.
For example, their recipe for a vinegar-based fruit shrub involves soaking crushed fruit in vinegar and sugar before straining and placing the drink into the refrigerator to cure. They explicitly note that a natural, unfiltered vinegar should be used, which in most cases means a raw vinegar that contains natural cultures. The natural cultures will go to work on the fruit and sugar, creating a natural vinegar ferment in the preserved shrub.
For other foods, however, such as vinegar-preserved ginger, they instruct you to boil the vinegar and apply it hot over the ginger—even though it’s going to be placed in the refrigerator rather than be water bath processed. In truth, a raw vinegar without cooking would have been sufficient to pickle the ginger without making heat pasteurization necessary.
Similarly, there’s a recipe for miso-pickled vegetables that incorporates a live miso culture to pickle mixed vegetables such as cauliflower, onion, and cucumber. While a miso-based solution could be used to naturally ferment those vegetables on the counter, rather than water bath process them with heat, the authors choose the mainstream route of canning, leaving the miso as nothing more than flavoring without any live probiotics.
So all in all, while I am impressed at the inventive inclusion of ferments into a mainstream canning book, there is more the authors could have done to promote probiotic foods as a preservation method. Heat canning is used in many instances where it’s not strictly necessary for preservation, meaning that nutrients are lost that could have been preserved if all natural fermentation methods were used instead.
At Fermentools, we believe in education. That is why we frequently review books about fermentation for you. Check out more book reviews on our Book Review category page.
Ashley is an off grid homesteader in central Vermont. She is passionate about fermentation, charcuterie and foraging. Read more about her adventures at PracticalSelfReliance.com.