Friday, September 16, 2022

How to Make a "Homespun" Preserving Notebook

“There was no rest and no play for anyone now. They all worked from candle-light to candle-light. Mother and the girls were making cucumber pickles, green tomato pickles, and watermelon rind pickles; they were drying corn and apples, and making preserves. Everything must be saved, nothing wasted of all the summer’s bounty.”
~ Laura Ingalls Wilder, Farmer Boy

I used to keep my canning recipes in my recipe book but the more recipes I accumulated, the less space I had for the seasonal canning ones. Then I switched them to my herbal but that also grew in size. This summer, I began gathering all my canning notes, recipes, etc., and placing them in their own dedicated binder. I call it my "Preserving Notebook".

After much deliberation (yes I think hard on such things 🤓), I decided to use alphabet tabs (affiliate link) to organize everything. That way, any canning recipe would have a home alphabetically. Apple recipes would go under “A”, blueberry recipes under "B", strawberry recipes under “S” and so forth. I also inserted a few other things that are useful to my preserving needs.

Here is what I included in my notebook:

(These first few items I keep in the beginning of the binder, prior to the tabs since they don't fit a certain "produce" theme. I consider them informational.)

- my food preservation planner pages (free printable here) In the autumn and winter months, as I go through my canning books, I make note on the recipes I would like to try. I input the recipe, book and page number in my planner pages. That way, when the season hits, I already know what I want to make with a certain fruit or vegetable. It is very useful. 

- pressure canning instructions (I don’t do it enough to rely on my memory so these steps are helpful and always conveniently located) I keep these at the front of the index tabs and have it covered in plastic as I take these in and out more. I copied these directions from The Prairie Homestead where she gives a great in-depth tutorial on how to use a pressure canner. Here is the link in case you are interested.

- pressure canning vegetable and meat charts (with time and pressure amounts) These I photocopied from the pressure canner manual (not shown).

- preserving articles I read from the canning authorities and find useful (such as “how to can without sugar or salt”, etc.) Here is the link in case you are interested in this particular one.

(The remaining items I insert in the tabbed section according to the alphabetical order of the produce I am preserving.)

- photocopies of my favorite recipes from my canning books (this way I don’t have to search them out), any handwritten recipes and so forth. Of course, these are placed alphabetically by "produce".

- themed recipe articles from State extension offices (they’ll have printable pages on how to preserve foraged fruits, etc., and list various preserving ideas and recipes which are very handy - here is a sample of the foraged fruit and here is the how to preserve peppers booklet that I included as well)

- individual preserving recipes I print from websites (once again these are placed in alphabetical order according to what is being preserved) Here is the apple pie filling recipe I use. I did do some fall decorating on the page as it was a little bland :)

- fruit leather recipe (here is the one I printed out from Chocolate Box Cottage) Something like this I would file under "F" for "fruit" in general.

- any food preservation recipes in general (including freezer jam recipes, fermenting recipes, dehydrating, etc.) Here are a few from my blog which may be printed for your notebook:

(All my food preservation tutorials are shared HERE but all do not include printable recipes.)

To add interest, I covered my notebook with a floral fabric to give it a cozy feeling. I am quite embarrassed to show this up close as I am not a great seamstress and quite an impatient one. I just used the remnant fabric from an old sheet (which had lots of piling but was still a cute print). I used the remnant gingham border from another project as ribbon (it still had a frayed side but I thought it added to the charm). Next, I cut off a rose from a retired duster-housedress and used that as a little embellishment. I also added a strip of lace to the back cover for more interest (pictured below).  I made the cover in the same way we used to have to cover our school books but used fabric instead of a paper bag. And I used a sewing machine instead of tape. It took 10 minutes to make because I obviously did it quickly (to be honest, I was supposed to be doing something else that day and I was feeling quite guilty for making this!).

I’ll be fine-tuning my binder over autumn as our garden has faded and I’ll have extra time to work on such projects. In fact, as I was typing this up, I thought I would add a food dehydration chart to this. I am always looking up the degrees and length of time for each piece of produce and it would be nice to have it handy here.

This project cost me a total of $3.76 because I had to purchase the alphabet tabs. Everything else was used from foraged materials around the house. This is a great way to use an old, ugly binder since you can cover it. Do you think you would ever make something like this? How do you store and keep track of your food preservation recipes? Is there anything else you would place in this binder? Please share!

Happy homemaking,



  1. Love your creativity and how you used what you had on hand. Turned out very nice!


  2. You are amazing to me! I have come "very late to the party", but at least I have arrived! I got rid of a lot of paper products and use cloth. I started a garden and canning for the first time. Who said you can't teach a dog new tricks? Learning from you had been inspiring and challenging.
    Always putting God first...

    1. Oh my goodness! I love hearing all the new things you have begun! This makes my day :) Thank you so much for sharing your homemaking adventures :)

  3. JES, what a wealth of information you have gathered for all of us. I read everything with much interest and appreciate how you've laid it all out to make it easy. I've done much water bath canning in years past, and finally bought an All American pressure canner (like yours!) last May. Alas, this beauty is *still* sitting in its box under my desk because I am, well, scared of this new venture. I loved your comment in your pressure canning instructions that "this venting period is a good time to take a deep breath ..." I imagine many deep breaths will be required as I learn this new skill, but I hope only a minimum of chest-clutching. :) Again, this is a wonderful post chock-full of helpful information. Thank you.


    1. You could do it Nancy!!!! :) I just pressure-canned 3 dozen jars of home-caught tuna. The skill is such a blessing to our household. Just follow step by step. Don't look into the future directions. Focus on the present step and go to the next. This is the way I was able to accomplish it :)

  4. Very pretty and a good way to make something useful. Thanks!


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