I've been preserving for over 15 years now and I've probably collected half a dozen preserving books; most of which feature beautifully photographed jams and jellies on every other page, because I thought I'd need pictures to inspire me. The Joy of Jams, Jellies and Other Sweet Preserves (TJJetc) proved to be inspirational with none of that. In fact, in the four months since I've gotten it, I've been preserving nonstop on the weekends (much to the exasperation of my dh, LOL, who is sick of that stockpot always cluttering up the stove). Guess what all of my friends and family will be getting for Christmas this year :D ?
The way I see it, the trouble with the same-old same-old preserving recipes is, you can find most of them already in the grocery store. Strawberry jam, raspberry jam, grape jelly, yawn!! Never fear, TJJetc does have these in case you just need a basic jam or jelly. But while you're taking the trouble of hauling out your jars, lids and rings, why not try something exotic? This Autumn, I've made:
Caramel Apple jam
Fig jam (a favorite)
Fig and Peach jam
Banana jam (with a naughty hint of rum)
Strawberry syrup (rave reviews on that one from my pancake lovin' family..real sugar really is better than corn syrup!)
Quince paste (a European delicacy to eat with cheese)
Pear Preserves in syrup with ginger
There are so many more to be tried this spring, I can't wait for my peaches and plums to start ripening.
As others have mentioned, these recipes rely less on sugar than most traditional recipes. I like that. Even better, none of them call for commercial pectin. The author explains how to coax out the natural pectins in your ingredients: some, such as raspberries, will set quite nicely with little time or effort. In the introduction she provides a chart which lists which fruits are high, medium or low in pectin and acid, and how the recipes are manipulated so that you can take advantage of that for really fresh tasting jams and jellies with minimal cooking time. Brilliant!
One more thing to be aware of, is that the recipes in TJJetc are mainly small batch (between 2 half pints, up to 4 pints yield). I think this is an advantage, especially when you are trying something new. It saves money and time as well.
I recommend this book to beginners and more advanced preservers, with the caution that you will be hooked...and that your jams and jellies will suddenly be in demand!