As promised, here is an installment for the Of Course I Can! Blog Hop. Please note that I am not an expert nor a professional in the field of food preservation. My expertise comes from personal experience that has been passed down generationally. Always refer to published, up-to-date guides for cooking times. If you need help finding a resource for your area, please let me know. Also, this is meant to pique the interest of the novice and assuage fears and insecurities. I won’t be going into much of the science behind food preservation methods.
Now that we have taken care of the disclaimer, let’s get down to the question of the day: pressure canning or boiling-water bath canning? I say: both! There are many people out there, possibly you, who are deathly afraid of meth lab-like explosions happening in their kitchen thanks to those intimidating-looking pressure canners, but let me assure you, this is very nearly impossible. Do you feel better? I hope so. In all seriousness, the pressure canner is essential. If you don’t have one you can kiss your dreams of home-canned green beans and tuna fish goodbye. Why you say? Because you would have to boil quarts of green beans for 4 hours, that’s why. My maternal grandmother was one such anti-pressure canner and she, in all actuality, boiled batches of green bean for 4 hours at a time. No thanks.
The first point that needs to me made is that a pressure cooker is not a pressure canner. You may do pressure cooking in a pressure canner, but not the other way around. It does seem that you may can some high acid foods in a pressure cooker, but you should never try that with low acid foods. Pressure cookers typically look like sauce pots with locking lids and have a pressure valve. Pressure canners look like giant stock pots and have a valve and a gauge. The gauge is the essential piece here because it allows you to keep a precise pressure. If you get your gauge checked regularly, that, coupled with your safety valve are what prevent you from blowing your house up. You would have to turn it on high and then not look at it all afternoon for the pressure to build to the point of explosion (disclaimer: timing not calculated scientifically).
The boiling-water bath is pretty much a no-brainer. They are typically giant ceramic stock pots. You put in your jars, cover them with water, bring it to a boil, and let ‘er rip for the allotted time. Easy-peasy. Most items I can are done this way. Just make sure that you have an A/C or windows to keep the air flowing because your kitchen is going to get HOT.
The hows and whys and what fors can get all sorts of technical, so if that is what you are looking for, you’ll have to poke around some of the links posted at the bottom. My main goal with this is to get you comfortable with giving the good ‘ol pressure canner a try.
Do you have any questions about the methods? Is there a specific topic you would like me to address in a future post? Let’s get talking because canning season is only about three months a way!