If cooking is an art, then preservation is an an extension of that art. It tastes great, but will it last? Can you cook something to perfection now and enjoy it to the same extent in one year?
Two basic fears go alone with canning:
1. You will die due to botulism.
2. The pressure canner will blow up and that will be your demise.
The resolutions here are this. Follow the directions, pay attention, and don’t waste your money on a crappy canner. Read reviews. Do your research. I am a bubble head and no one has died yet.
It’s easier than you think.
a good book about canning (see bottom)
stock pot ( for most fruits, sauerkraut and tomatoes)
pressure canner ( for low-acid foods like veggies and meats)
Note: With out the lid, a pressure canner is a stock pot.
Nice, but not essential:
Jar lifter (like giant tongs shaped esp. for cans)
Same for the pressure canner, although more thought should go into this investment.
Pressure Canner Considerations:
Seal or no seal:
Personally, I prefer the no seal. seals wear out. I don’t want to discover the seal finally died, while my garden harvest rots, waiting for the new seal.
If you are familiar with pressure cooking, you will probably be fine without the gauge, watch the weight rock. If you are unsure, a novice or like the security of being able to read a gauge get a canner with one.
Small : 15- 16 quart canner – will generally hold 10 pint jars or 7 quart jars.
Pros: lightest available, good if your out of shape or have a bad back or canning for two. Take note: A pressure cooker is a very small canner. It might not fit quarts jars, but the little jars should fit.
Cons: small means less canning at once. When you see the unbeatable price for a bushel of peaches at the farmer’s market, it will take you a while to produce all your little Xmas gifts of Spiced Peach Jam.
Medium: 21-23 quart canner – will process about 19 pint jars or 7 quarts.
Pros: You can still lift it. It will process about twice as many pint jars, due to extra headroom
Cons: Getting heavier… You can still only process 7 quart jars at a time
Large: 30 qt. – will process 19 pint jars or 14 quart jars
Pros: you’ll be done soon
Cons: the price is really climbing now as is the weight. Think about it. Full– the filled jars alone will be like lifting 3 and a half gallons of milk. Oh and don’t forget the water in which they are boiling and the canner itself.
Giant: 41.5 quarts- are you insane?
Call in the Marines cause you are not going anywhere with this one filled by yourself. I inherited one. It barely fits in the bathtub. Yes, that is the only place I can fill it. Unless you like running pots back and forth forever. Also, your gonna have to wait for this beast to cool on the stove.
The beast does, however, hold 32 pint jars or 19 quarts.
Canning alone? I wouldn’t go bigger than the medium unless you’re very strong or like a lot of running around and waiting.
Canning with a partner? I still wouldn’t go bigger than the large. Unless you are wealthy and very strong.
Recommended Canning Books:
Ball Complete Guide to Canning by Kingry and Devine — popular, but not one of my favorite
Preserving Summer’s Bounty — focus on stuff you grow
Putting Food By — considerate of the small batch cook
Complete Guide to Home Canning and Preserving by The US Dept. of Agriculture — That’s right from your government. Wow! The basic textbook. Afraid to can? This will keep you from blowing things up or poisoning anyone. How, why and basic recipes. Click here to read the information online for free
Preserving (1981) Time-Life Books — My favorite is out of print so you may have to dig. Fantastic step-by-step pictures. Interesting recipes. I guard it with a carving fork and a 10″ Wüsthoff.
Holy Toledo! Thanks for reading all that. I need a nap, before I check how the maple sap is flowing. But that is another advenutre.
Maybe, I’ll go daydream at Well Preserved and drool at their pictures.
What would you like to try?
What will your first adventure be?