Putting Food By: A Timeless Guide to Home Canning


“Putting Food By” is a well-known and highly regarded book on home canning. Since its initial release in 1973, it has become a staple for individuals interested in safe and educated canning practices. With its fifth revised edition published in 2017, this comprehensive guide continues to offer valuable insights.

The importance of “Putting Food By”

Although “Putting Food By” is not included in our core recommended list of sources, it holds significant credibility among experienced canners. Many seasoned individuals consider it a reliable resource for safe canning practices. Given its popularity in online discussions and groups, sharing observations about this book contributes to the overall knowledge and education of home canners.

Unveiling the Latest Edition

To fully benefit from the book’s recommendations, it is essential to have a 2010 edition or later. In 2010, the authors made significant updates to align with USDA safety guidelines. Therefore, it is crucial to avoid using outdated copies obtained from rummage sales or older editions you may have at home.

The Authors and Their Sources

The authors of “Putting Food By” possess a wealth of knowledge in home canning. While the book is not in our core recommended list, we appreciate their expertise and occasionally refer to their insights on this platform. They consult with USDA experts and frequently cite the USDA as a source. Additionally, they draw inspiration from the scientific knowledge found in the commercial canning industry, which garners tremendous respect from the USDA.

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Exploring Key Questions

“Putting Food By” delves into information that goes beyond what is widely known by the general public, resulting in intriguing queries. Let’s explore some of these thought-provoking questions:

1. Pressure Cookers vs. Canners

The USDA strictly prohibits the use of pressure cookers that are not certified as pressure canners. However, “Putting Food By” offers instructions for using pressure cookers, albeit with certain stipulations. They emphasize the importance of using specific pressure cookers and following additional steps to ensure safety. This approach may surprise conservative canners, but it is worth debating the benefits and drawbacks of such an open-minded perspective.

2. Wire Clamp and Bail Glass Lids Jars

Contrary to the USDA’s firm stance against wire clamp and bail glass lids jars, “Putting Food By” provides directions for using these containers. This can be seen as a harm-reduction perspective, acknowledging that some individuals may not adhere to recommended practices. It is intriguing to explore the rationale behind this approach.

3. Pressure Canning Process Times

“Putting Food By” includes pressure canning process times for certain foods that the USDA and Ball do not offer recommendations for. Despite the absence of official guidelines, the authors provide instructions for canning celery, eggplant, Jerusalem artichokes, and salsify. Examining the origins and validity of these process times adds another layer of intrigue.

4. The Vinegar Mystery

In an unusual twist, “Putting Food By” suggests adding vinegar to pressure-canned peppers for safety reasons. Although Ball and Bernardin endorse this practice without explanation, the USDA does not require acidification for pressure-canned peppers. Unraveling the history and reasons behind this approach could be a fascinating exploration.

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5. Thickeners: Tradition vs. Authority

While safe canners have been strictly instructed to use Clearjel as the only authorized thickener, “Putting Food By” includes directions for making pie fillings with tapioca. They attribute these directions to Nebraska University Cooperative Extension Service. However, it appears that these thickener directions are no longer part of Nebraska’s current recommendations. Investigating the transition from tapioca to Clearjel and the reasoning behind it adds another layer of interest.

6. Unearthing the Inversion Method

“Putting Food By” refers to the inversion method, an outdated practice of flipping jars upside down after canning, as “newish.” However, this method has been in existence since the early 1900s and was already cautioned against by Kerr in 1947. It is worth noting that the USDA ceased providing recommendations for canning in tin cans in 1988, while “Putting Food By” and the University of Alaska Extension Service continue to include them.


“Putting Food By” has received recognition and endorsement from various University Extension Services. Here are a few notable endorsements:

  • The Cornell Cooperative Extension Service recognizes it as a classic paperback book that provides detailed and easy-to-follow instructions rooted in years of experience in home food preservation.
  • Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station lists it among other esteemed resources as a trusted “how-to” recipe book.
  • The University of Missouri Extension acknowledges “Putting Food By” as a valuable reference for root cellar storage.

As an SEO specialist and copywriter, I hope this revised article captures the essence of the original content while presenting it in a refreshing and engaging manner. The world of home canning is fascinating and challenging, and “Putting Food By” serves as an invaluable companion for anyone venturing into this rewarding culinary adventure.

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