Hi. I've been cooking for most of my life, but have never tried canning. I've read about it, and watched countless cooking shows that talk about it. I like trying new things and always wanted to try my hand at "putting up" some of my favorite things. Preserved fruits and things of that nature are pretty easy to find information on, but what I'm looking for is a good reference guide for all sorts of canning and preserving. Something that gives me just the information I need to know to do successful canning projects.
I'm infamous for biting off way more than I can chew with these projects, but my goal is to eventually be able to have the freedom to can a few of my favorite recipes. For instance, I have an awesome recipe for baked beans from scratch. I'm sort of strict with my method, but not as strict with the full list of ingredients. But one down side to my method is that one recipe is enough to feed like 20 people. I always need to have a special occasion, or freeze more than half the recipe. But I hate freezing them because they get ruined. I'd much rather be able to make the recipe, and then can some of it! That way I'd have my home-made beans, at-the-ready, for months :).
I understand enough about food preservation to understand that there are plenty of sugars and a bit of salt in my beans to keep them from spoiling for a little longer, even just under refrigeration. But there's also a bit of fat, and along with spoilage, I'm concerned about how well the food will hold up physically over time (will it separate, will it turn to mush)... So yeah, I pretty much know nothing.
My own canned baked beans is just one of my goals. I'm always thinking of things that would be nice to keep stored up. I love learning, but I do NOT want a novel to read. Canning isn't simple, but I'm sure it doesn't have to be as complicated as learning a language or something. I'd much rather have something that was sort of like a field guide. Something where I could read through the basics and then look up methods and rules for specific types of canning as I needed them. I don't need to read about someone's individual adventures in canning, or like the history of canning in France. That might be interesting on some level, but I am looking for organized, concentrated information, not entertainment.
Thank you for any help!