I own a few different books on canning, drying, freezing, and other food preservation techniques. But Putting Food By is the one that everyone interested in home canning and food preservation should own. The first edition was published in the year of my birth, 1973, and it has been fully revised and updated three times in the (gulp!) 35 years since then.
The authors, Ruth Hertzberg, Beatrice Vaughan, and Janet Greene, put years of research and experience into this book (consulting home economists, master food preservationists, extension agents, and the like throughout Canada and the United States), and it includes not only the “how,” but the “why” of safe food preservation techniques of all kinds.
While there are lots of “old time-y” recipes and methods (that have been tested and are safe), there is also information about how to use the more modern conveniences such as microwave ovens and how to reduce salt and/or sugar in recipes.
This book is where I find information on making pickles in a crock in my basement, and where I learn about the finer points of pressure processing mixed-ingredient soups, as well as meats and meat broths. It gives suggestions as to the best ways to preserve foods–some things freeze better than they can, and vice-versa, and some things retain their quality well if dried, while others are best pickled or root-cellared.
In short, this book is a veritable treasure-trove of valuable information and recipes, and it should be on the bookshelf of anyone interested in preserving the harvest. It is written in a lovely, friendly voice–like your old homemaker great-aunties passing on their wisdom and experience to you in book form.
I would recommend that if you are a beginner to home food preservation, also pick up a copy of the Ball Blue Book (handily packaged with PFB on Amazon’s site, linked to above) because it contains more diagrams that may be helpful to you in envisioning the processes described in Putting Food By (as well as containing additional yummy recipes).
A side-note about this text–I have found older editions in used bookstores, and I highly recommend them to food preservation geeks alongside a newer edition of PFB. I have found the older versions contain all kinds of obscure and wonderful recipes for preserving different fruits, vegetables, and meats that may not be as commonly eaten or used today.