A Vintage Ball Blue Book from 1974

Ball Blue Book 1974

Traditional vacations don’t really float my boat. I don’t really like hot, sunny beaches (though I’m always delighted by chilly days walking along the Oregon Coast) and I don’t do any of those snow sports.

My ideal vacation involves used bookstores, junk shops and exploring new-to-me cities. Through a stroke of colossal luck, I managed to marry a guy who’s idea of heaven is several hours in a bookstore. We vacation well together.

Ball Blue Book 1974

And so, we try take a long weekend at least once a year to explore a new city or cluster of little towns through their thrift stores, book sales and the occasional museum. This last weekend, we spent three and a half days in Harrisburg, PA.

We took the tour of the state capital building, wandered through the state museum, checked out Midtown Scholar and the Atomic Warehouse and played miniature golf. Our friends thought we were crazy to vacation in Harrisburg, but we ended up having SUCH a nice time. The City House B&B was our home base for the weekend and it was a fantastic place to stay.

Ball Blue Book 1974

I found a particular treasure at one of the bookstores we visited during the trip. A copy of the 1974 Ball Blue Book. The original cover price was $1. I paid $4 and still felt like it was a steal. It is so charming and bursting with personality, which is such a difference from the impersonal voice that the current versions of this book assume.

And as you might have guessed, I love the fact that it has a pint and a half jar on the cover! Seems eerily timely, doesn’t it?

Ball Blue Book 1974

It’s filled with pictures like the ones you see above. It looks an awfully lot like the photo spreads that bloggers often post these days. We’re not nearly as original as we once thought.

Make sure to check out that nifty jar lifter, too!

Ball Blue Book 1974

I had no idea that the quilted jars only dated back to the mid-seventies, but that’s what this book seems to imply. A fun little tidbit.

As much fun as it is to flip through a vintage canning book, do remember that it’s often not safe to follow the recipes in these volumes exactly as they are written. Canning methods and processing times have evolved a great deal over the last 35+ years and it’s important to always use the most up-to-date techniques. If you find a recipe you like in a vintage book, it’s best to use it as a starting point to search out an updated version.

How to Preserve a Husband

Finally, on the last page of the book they offer a recipe for “How to Preserve a Husband.” A relic from another time, to be sure.

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26 Responses to A Vintage Ball Blue Book from 1974

  1. 1

    Good point in warning about using dated canning techniques, I never would have thought of that (being the rookie canner that I am). I remember the canned goods from my great-grandmother sealed with paraffin. My mom would always be fishing out little bits of wax for what seemed like forever before we were allowed to have whatever goodies were inside the jar.

    I too love looking through vintagey shops like that and have lucked out with someone who also enjoys it once in awhile. Nothing beats the thrill of finding something that’s awesome & perfect! I was thinking to myself this afternoon actually that I hadn’t been in awhile & need some more cool old jars for storing my pantry staples in.

  2. 2
    DK says:

    I love the husband banner especially since I just finished some canning with my husband moments ago! I preserve him with food and friendship sugar packed with kisses :)

  3. 3
    Sherry says:

    I can remember canning with my mom using this book and I still have it!

  4. 4
    Todd says:

    That’s so cool you went to the Scholar! A good friend of mine is one of the managers there.

  5. 5
    Jennifer says:

    This post brought a smile to face this morning! I have the exact same booklet from my grandmother, who passed away in 2007. It also little notes and markings by recipes she liked and didn’t like. Her favorites appear to be the chow chow relish on 66 and the pear relish on page 67. I always look through it at the beginning of canning season for inspiration.

    I posted on your FB once if you had made icicle pickles (pg 62) and this is where I got the idea. You replied you hadn’t, so I vote you try make a batch of icicle pickles for the blog! I think the recipe intrigues me so because it seems to incorporate fermenting and canning in 1. It’s a 14 day recipe!

  6. 6
    Dree says:

    I remember fishing paraffin out of jars forever too! Funny, but don’t miss it at all.

    I love your mini-vacation is Harrisburg. We spent 3 days in Carson City last summer, and everyone we know asked “Carson City?!” It was great. State capitol, evening free jazz fest on the capital square, kids museum with lego exhibit (1 kid is a lego nut), state train museum, lots of walking all over downtown. Great cafe for lunch, brewpub for dinner. We stayed in a neighborhood bed & breakfast-like place (continental breakfast only), and only had to move our car once. Kids are begging to go back LOL.

  7. 7
    Emily Rae says:

    The old canning stuff is so interesting. I just picked up some half-gallon vintage jars that came with glass tops and zinc rings.

  8. 8
    Helen says:

    The 1974 was the 1st edition of the Ball Blue book I bought, along with some of the new quilted jars. My Mom had books going back to the late 1940’s; she always bought the latest version to stay current on canning requirements. Our local State University Extension services has wonderful information on canning and everything else you can think of to ask. They even do pressure canner tests every spring to make sure the equipment is safe to use before the start of the canning season. I love this site–keep up the good work. BTW–I’m very happy that the pint and a half jars are being made again, always has been my favorite size.

  9. 9

    I love the last picture! How cute.

  10. 10
    Pia says:

    Great recipe for preserving a husband! It’s nice to see vintage humor as much as vintage recipes.

  11. 11

    I recently came across this Preserve a Husband recipe in an old cookbook a friend just gave me.

  12. 12
    Kate says:

    That’s a neat find and it’s funny you vacationed in Harrisburg- that’s my hometown! It seems odd that anyone would want to vacation there when I spent 18 years waiting to leave. I assume that you played miniature golf on City Island? That is a fun place to visit.

  13. 13
    Becky says:

    I grew up just down the road in York and I’ve heard Harrisburg is a cool place to spend time in these days – I know it was when I was a kid.
    I have a similar vintage Ideals Family “From the Garden” Cookbook that has the best bread & butter pickle recipe ever. It was my mom’s and when she gave up canning, she passed it along. I’ve checked the processing time and it’s still the same as it was back then, at least for that recipe.

    • 13.1
      Marisa says:

      I find that the recipes for pickles, jams and jellies from the older books are more reliable than the ones for things like tomato products. It just pays to always cross-check (which you did!).

  14. 14
    catherine says:

    My husband works in a used bookstore and someone a few years ago brought in a box with a photocopied Blue Book from 1943. He couldn’t sell it so he brought it home to me. It is charming and also sobering: “Government regulations based on rubber and metal shortages prohibits the manufacture of the complete BALL line during the war…” and “People must eat well to be well, and be well to do the work that must be done for Victory.”

    • 14.1
      Leah says:

      Of all things, I have a book titled “Cooking Without Cans” from 1943. I’d love to see the canning book, I’ll have to look for it.

  15. 15
    Lisa B says:

    I love this book! My mother bought it for me off Ebay three years ago.

  16. 16
    Kitty says:

    I am desperate to see those decorative flats come back. I bought some jars (they look like Golden Harvest jelly jars, the bell shaped ones) at the flea market and they had lovely flats with a peach pattern printed on them. I braved them on some marmalade and they sealed just fine. The only current decorative flats I can find are the Better Homes and Garden gingham lids. Has anyone else found anything?

    Also, I bought another box of jars and some are a state flower series I had never seen before. Pretty cool!

  17. 17

    That is so great! And, sounds like a perfect vacation to me! Bookstores and junk stores =) Love it!

  18. 18
    Alicia says:

    That is too cute! I have a vintage ball book from the 40’s that I like to look at now and then.

  19. 19
    Mama Urchin says:

    My copy of the ball blue book is vintage 80s. I like how they call 12 oz family size.

  20. 20
    Angie says:

    “Finally, on the last page of the book they offer a recipe for “How to Preserve a Husband.” A relic from another time, to be sure.” Maybe I’m hopelessly old-fashioned, but perhaps our divorce rates would be lower if we followed this recipe a little more often. Men haven’t changed all that much and still benefit greatly from a little TLC! :)

  21. 21
    Evangeline says:

    I was so excited to see this post and the picture of the vintage Ball Blue Book. I also have a vintage Ball Blue Book Copyright 1966 and the Kerr Home Canning Book Copyright 1952. Both of these vintage canning books were my initial references when I started bottling. I bought these books from a used book fair in 2008 here in Cebu, Philippines. Of course I have also own and read so many updated canning books including the USDA Guidebook. And your blog has always been an inspiration and a very helpful guide.

  22. 22
    Don Walls says:

    Look for the Red Pepper Relish recipe. It turns out more of a jam. It is a family favorite since the 1950s. Unique flavor for turkey. Good on grilled, baked or poached salmon. Great as a sweet sauce for stir fry pork! It is on page 67 of the 1974 edition. It also appears in 1938 edition on page 48 in half the amount. Interesting that the 1974 edition sold for a dollar while the 1972 edition went for only 50 cents cover prices on each.

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