Wednesday, October 5, 2011

She Blinded Me With Science

This past Friday was my first foray into the world of PRESSURE CANNING canning canning canning (those are echos, by the way). Let's start off by saying that pressure canning is pretty epic. Luckily I had a brave lab partner, Ashley, who gracious lent her new ALL AMERICAN pressure cooker/canner to its first trial run.

For those of you have canned before and haven't yet ventured into the uncharted waters of pressure canning, I'm going to walk through some basics. When you do start pressure canning, maybe you will think about this post and not have as many panicked questions as we did- that's my hope for you, at least!

So here's what a standard pressure canner looks like:

Q) What is the difference between a pressure canner and a water bath/boiling water canner?

A) Several main differences:

Pressure canners reach a higher temperature, which low-acid foods (like meat and most veggies) need in order to be safely canned.

A boiling water canner only gets up to 212 degrees, which is the temperature at which water boils. This is only safe for canning most fruits, and some tomato products, which are higher in acid and have a lower risk of developing botulism if canned correctly.

Pressure canners are hella expensive compared to boiling water canners. Just sayin'

Things to know about pressure canning:
  • First of all, get the Ball Blue Book of Canning or some other reliable book that includes recipes for pressure canners. 
  • Choose the recipe you'd like to make, and make sure the recipe is suitable for a pressure canner (should say so at the bottom). For the purposes of explaining, we'll be talking about canning corn.
  • Prepare jars before filling- make sure they have been cleaned and sterilized
  • Prepare food for canning- make sure you follow directions as far as amount of headspace required; headspace is amount of space between top of jar and fruit/veggie contents
  • Once the jars are full, screw on the lids and rings- tight and secure but doesn't have to be a death grip!

Pressure/Temperature Gauge

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