Pressure Canning

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Pressure Canning

Post by GeneralDiscontent » Sun Apr 06, 2008 4:20 pm

Hey all -

The fiancee & I (okay, mostly her :wink:) have been doing some pressure canning lately, so I thought I would do a brief write up.

**DISCLAIMER** **DISCLAIMER** **DISCLAIMER**

I am a rank amateur when it comes to canning. It is entirely possible and probably likely that I'll make some mistakes , omit some details, or make some typos. My intention here is to give a BRIEF overview of the canning process and possibly inspire some ZS'ers to try it for themselves. This is not meant to be a step-by-step, be-all-end-all guide to canning. Messing up with canning is a good way to make yourself really really sick - the MOST IMPORTANT THING is to follow the instructions in your canner's manual and the guidelines in the Ball Blue Book of Canning.

**END DISCLAIMER**

Pressure canning is a great method for preserving fruits, vegetables, meats, or poultry. She had done some water bath canning in the past few years, but that is only suitable mostly for pickled vegetables and tomato-based items. With food prices rising steadily, we decided to stock up on as much meat as we could when it was cheap, but we live in a townhouse and don't have room for a chest freezer. However, we were able to clear out some room in the utility closet for a makeshift pantry to store jars.

We bought a 23-quart Presto pressure cooker & canner from Amazon for $70 - the finacee assures me that this is an awesome price for a pressure canner this size. We asked around in our family and everyone used to have a pressure canner, but apparently it's becoming a lost art, 'cause they all disappeared over the years. You might have luck at garage sales or thrift stores.

**WARNING** BE VERY CAREFUL IF SHOPPING FOR A USED PRESSURE CANNER! There are lots of finicky seals & parts that need to be in good condition for the canner to be safe to use. There are also a lot of safety features that make new canners fairly idiot-proof that won't be present on 20- or 30-year-old models. I wouldn't buy a used pressure canner unless it is coming from a friend or family member you trust who can vouch for it's condition, or you're ABSOLUTELY SURE it's new old stock that's never been used.

So anyway, here's the pressure cooker:

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Basically a big 'ol aluminum pot. The lid looks like this:

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In the center of the lid is the pressure gauge, to the right of that is the stem that the pressure regulator attaches to, and in the front is the air vent that will "pop up" when the unit is pressurized. If you're buying a new canner, these items will have to be assembled before you use the unit for the first time - follow the instructions in the manual (most companies have manuals available online if you're missing yours).

I highly recommend you buy one of these, too:

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It's a canning accessory set that contains a jar lifter, magnetic lid lifter, tongs, funnel, and jar wrench. These will make your life a lot easier. About $10.

You'll also need jars - these are available lots of places. We bought some today at Big Lots - $7 for a case of 12 quart-size jars. We also have pint-size jars (which you'll see here).

The first step is to wash your jars & lids. Keep the jars filled with hot water until you're ready to fill them. Lids and bands need to be sanitized by boiling them.


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Put the funnel in your jar. This day we were doing beef broth & chicken broth, so it was already cooked. Follow the directions in your canning book for whatever you are canning - my fiancee says that the Ball Blue Book of Canning is the unofficial "bible" of home canners.

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Start filling your jars...

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Leave 1/2" - 1" of space in the top of the jar. Use a rubber spatula and run along inside of jar to remove air bubbles, wipe off rim of jar with a damp towel.

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Put a lid & screw band on the jar & tighten it down (finger tight).

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And put the jar in the canner. In a 23-quart canner you should be able to fit 7 quart-size jars or 10 pint-size jars. After all your jars are filled...

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...put 'em all in the canner. Fill the canner with water to the indicator mark on the inside wall of the canner.


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Lock the lid on the canner according to the instructions.

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Turn on the heat. After steam vents for 10 minutes, attach the pressure regulator.

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And the pressure gauge will start to rise. Your goal is to get the gauge to a certain pressure and keep it there for a certain amount of time, depending on what you're cooking and what elevation you're at. In this case, we are going for 11 PSI for 90 minutes.

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Bingo!

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Now we wait...

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After the proper amount of time has passed, turn off the heat and the gauge will start to drop. Around this time you might smell whatever was in the jars cooking - usually this is a bit of overflow from the air getting sucked out of the jars and is normal, so don't freak out and assume one of your jars broke - just let it go until it's safe to open the canner.

After the pressure drops to zero you can remove the pressure regulator. On our model, it won't let you unlock the lid until it's safe to do so.

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Done. The liquid will probably still be boiling inside the jars for a while - this is normal.

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Take the jars out of the canner with the jar lifter...

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...and put them on a towel in a safe place to cool. Around this time you'll start to hear the jars go *ping* when the vacuum forms as they cool (this is my fiancee's favorite part :)) After they are completely cooled, wipe 'em down and write the date & contents on the lid with a Sharpie.

Today we got some more quart jars and were doing:

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Chicken (drumsticks were on sale for 99 cents a pound!)

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Ham (we bought a 13-lb. ham to feed 5 people at Easter dinner, so there were plenty of leftovers) :) You can see where the jars are still boiling in this picture - they will continue to boil for quite awhile afterwards...

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...taco meat & sloppy joe (ground beef was $1.50/lb.)

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...and a big batch of my homemade chili that will be canned after it cooks overnight.

We like the idea of canning because we know exactly what's in it, and you don't have all the salt that comes in commercially processed cans of food. We'll also be able to can plenty of produce from our garden for use in the winter.

Remember, the most important thing is to follow your manual/Blue Book. That being said, there is lots of info available on the Internet - my fiancee pointed towards the following as good resources:

http://www.missvickie.com" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

forums at http://www.mrssurvival.com" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Last edited by GeneralDiscontent on Thu May 29, 2008 1:51 am, edited 5 times in total.

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Post by Bubba Enfield » Sun Apr 06, 2008 5:05 pm

Excellent post, thanks! I've been a boiling water canner for eight years or so, but I've been wanting to get a pressure canner to do meat. Right now pickled eggs is the only way I can protein.

Again, inspirational post! Pinging lids is my favourite, too.
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Post by Allen » Sun Apr 06, 2008 5:46 pm

Excellent report!

That's a nice canner for 70.00 too.

Thanks for the post :)
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Post by Kathy in FL » Sun Apr 06, 2008 9:04 pm

Love your pressure canner. I love canning but only sporadically have time for it.

I pressure can most of my meats "raw pack." My ground beef and ground bulk sausage I brown up and wash/rinse (to get rid of as much grease as possible) before I pack hot with hot broth.

I also enjoy making my own spaghetti sauce but I cheat and use commercially canned and processed tomatoes and then add my own seasonings and re-can.

Soups are really good too. I especially like canning my own bean soups. Really, really convenient.

And I make up some of the ethnic food that my hubby grew up eating and can what I can from that. Or at least get it to a point that there are only one or two ingredients left to add.

I boiling water preserve fruits, butters, sauces, pie fillings, etc. I used to boiling water bath my tomato stuff but the new tomatoes simply don't have enough acid in them to prevent spoiling ... better safe than sorry.

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Post by ArtfulDodger » Wed Apr 09, 2008 4:39 pm

Kathy in FL wrote:
Soups are really good too. I especially like canning my own bean soups. Really, really convenient.
This is an awesome idea.

Winters, I make soup at least once a week. I don't do as many in the summer because of the heat, and my boyfriend, who is a soup fanatic, winds up buying a bunch of canned soups then. If I canned a bunch of mine, it'd eliminate the need to buy them.

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Post by GeneralDiscontent » Wed Apr 09, 2008 8:28 pm

ArtfulDodger wrote:
Kathy in FL wrote:
Soups are really good too. I especially like canning my own bean soups. Really, really convenient.
This is an awesome idea.

Winters, I make soup at least once a week. I don't do as many in the summer because of the heat, and my boyfriend, who is a soup fanatic, winds up buying a bunch of canned soups then. If I canned a bunch of mine, it'd eliminate the need to buy them.
Funy you should mention it - we did three quarts of homemade vegetable soup tonight:

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We keep a large tupperware container in the freezer, and every night after dinner any leftover beef or vegetables go in the "soup bucket". When it's full, we make up a pot...

I'd love to do bean soups, but she won't touch beans :lol:

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Post by ArtfulDodger » Wed Apr 09, 2008 8:40 pm

Your soup looks delicious. :)

I don't own a pressure canner yet. I did freeze about four quarts of soup today, though: two of my Mean Green soup, and two of vegetable.

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Post by Horror Chic » Wed Apr 09, 2008 10:06 pm

I think that's the exact same canner my sister bought me for Christmas this past year. (I loooove my sister!)

I've been water bath canning for about 15 years (I started young), but I'd never used a pressure canner. I finally got up the courage to use it a couple of weekends ago. (Remember how I said my sister had given it to me for Christmas? I'm slow sometimes.)

I made beef stew and canned about two-thirds of it. We ate the rest. Five quarts was all that would fit in the canner, so that's what got canned. I stored four of them, and gave one to a co-worker of mine, along with a loaf of homemade bread, for her birthday. (She says it was wonderful.)

Here's the best part (don't read this if you're squeamish) -- it was mostly FREE. I rescued almost five pounds of beef stew meat from a grocery store dumpster (I ONLY take meat in the winter when it's cold). Ditto for the potatoes, the tomatoes, and the carrots. IIRC, I bought the celery. And the spices. Hard to find spices in dumpsters. Possible, but not usual.

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Post by LilDaemon » Thu Apr 10, 2008 2:02 am

very cool,thanks! I had been talking to the other half about this very thing, so your post is just in time for me.

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Post by herbalpagan » Thu Apr 10, 2008 8:50 am

I used to love "end of the season stew". If you have canned a lot of meat and veggies you will want to use them up as you start canning again for the next winter. Take your cans of veggies and meats and combine them together in a big pot to make the most delicious of soups and stews!
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Post by GeneralDiscontent » Thu Apr 10, 2008 10:53 pm

More supplies arrived today!

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...we have been waiting for canning supplies to show up at the store (they are "seasonal items" and aren't usually in stock year-round, most of the time they show up in spring). The fiancee was in Wal-Mart today and they had them out. We picked up two dozen pint-size jars, two dozen half-pint jars and 4 boxes of lids (we don't like to re-use lids). The quart-size jars at Wal-Mart were more expensive than the ones we found a Big Lots, so she went back to Big Lots and bought another two dozen of them there.

If you find new jars too expensive, my mom said that when she used to can she had good luck finding jars at Goodwill/thrift stores. (I would run them through the dishwasher first to sanitize them, as well as buying fresh lids).

We just started planting the garden yesterday too, so we will have pics of us canning produce when it starts coming in... we also found some recipes for canning some things you wouldn't usually think of... I'll update this thread when I have pics!
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Post by Shadowsbane » Thu Apr 10, 2008 11:46 pm

Oh average what is the shelf life of the canned goods?
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Post by herbalpagan » Fri Apr 11, 2008 7:18 am

According to all the "experts", home prosessed foods have ashelf life of one year. However, I feel that jams and such can last two. BUT, if you are canning what you need, this shouldn't be an issue as new produce will rotate to the back and you should finish up last years about the time the new starts coming in.
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Post by ZombieGranny » Thu Apr 17, 2008 8:57 am

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Post by dogbane » Thu Apr 17, 2008 12:04 pm

ZombieGranny wrote:NO, NO, NO, NO, NO!!!

Home canned jars can be good for years! Don't let anyone tell you they are only good for 1. Even the gov states longer.
You try to can enough of one thing to last 3 years. Harvests are not steady, some years you have tons of peaches and the next year hardly a one.

I used to try for 3 years worth, so that I could concentrate on something else the next year. Tomatoes one year, pickles another, and so forth.
My wife found a jar of home-canned pickles from 1972 in the closet at her late grandmother's house. We have it sitting in our kitchen as decoration. I love pickles, though, so someday, I might try them. :wink:
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Post by GeneralDiscontent » Mon Apr 21, 2008 12:56 am

ZombieGranny wrote:NO, NO, NO, NO, NO!!!

Home canned jars can be good for years! Don't let anyone tell you they are only good for 1. Even the gov states longer.
You try to can enough of one thing to last 3 years. Harvests are not steady, some years you have tons of peaches and the next year hardly a one.

I used to try for 3 years worth, so that I could concentrate on something else the next year. Tomatoes one year, pickles another, and so forth.
The general rule I always see tossed around is 1 year, but I can guarantee you that my Mom served us home canned stuff that was waaaaay older than that :lol: Until recently, she had some jars of pickles in the basement that were dated 1974 (older than me!)

Ground beef was on sale the other day, so we bought five pounds and canned it:

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(Oddly enough, the ground beef seemed to "absorb" most of the liquid that was in there when we put the jars in the canner... guess we'll just have to wait until we open it to see if that affects anything...

The other day we tried one of the things you wouldn't usually consider canning: cheese sauce. Looking online, opinions are split pretty evenly between "no, you should never do this" and "I've been using it for years with no problems", so you'll just have to make your own judgment. We have also been working on dehydrating potatoes, so the plan here is to have dehydrated potatoes + canned cheese sauce = scalloped potatoes. Here is the recipe, via the fiancee:
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
A lot of people won't can cheese, but here's the recipe for doing cheese sauce using Velveeta.

http://www.alpharubicon.com/primitive/cheezecanpyro.htm

The shelf life is reported to be 2 years plus. The recipe is simple, just make you do not burn it. Stir continually.
One Pound of cheese will fill one pint jar (*I used half pint jars, since we are a family of 2) depending on how close you scrape the pan.

1 12oz can of evaporated milk
4 T. Vinegar
2 tsp Salt (* I used 1 tsp salt and it tasted fine)
4 lbs Velveeta cheese
2 tsp Dry Mustard
Mix all the ingredients in a saucepan except the cheese, stirring it all together. Break the cheese into small chunks and place in the saucepan. Melt over a medium heat, until creamy smooth. Make sure you stir throughout the melting, you do not want it to burn.
Fill the pint jars, leaving about a half an inch of headspace. Process jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Remove from water and let cool. Don't forget to date the lid before putting away.

Yield: 4 pints (*using half pints jars, my yield was 7.)
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Here's the results:

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We also did a dozen or so half-pint jars of corn (sweet corn was on sale, $2 for 10 ears) so we bought twenty ears and canned it... I forgot to get pics, though :?
Last edited by GeneralDiscontent on Tue Apr 22, 2008 5:03 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by ZombieGranny » Mon Apr 21, 2008 8:31 am

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Post by Allen » Mon Apr 21, 2008 11:55 am

Can You can spaghetti? Not just sauce, but sauce and pasta.
Like Chef Boyardee canned spaghetti, but better.

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Post by GeneralDiscontent » Mon Apr 21, 2008 4:10 pm

Allen wrote:Can You can spaghetti? Not just sauce, but sauce and pasta.
Like Chef Boyardee canned spaghetti, but better.

Cheers!
You could, but the noodles would get really mushy. Spaghetti noodles are easy enough to cook even in a power outage, so you'd probably be better off just canning the sauce and stockpiling some pasta...

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Post by ZombieGranny » Mon Apr 21, 2008 5:10 pm

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Post by Allen » Mon Apr 21, 2008 7:56 pm

GeneralDiscontent wrote:
Allen wrote:Can You can spaghetti? Not just sauce, but sauce and pasta.
Like Chef Boyardee canned spaghetti, but better.

Cheers!
You could, but the noodles would get really mushy. Spaghetti noodles are easy enough to cook even in a power outage, so you'd probably be better off just canning the sauce and stockpiling some pasta...
Thanks! :)
I may try dehydrating some instead.
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Post by GeneralDiscontent » Tue Apr 22, 2008 12:06 am

ZombieGranny wrote:I'm one of the 'never can dairy' folks.
Botulism spores are easily surrounded by fat molecules and can and will survive, if they are present during the canning session. You can't see the darn things, so you are taking more chances than I am willing to take.
I'm usually EXTREMELY picky about food safety, too. The only reason we tried this recipe is that it used Velveeta - that stuff isn't real cheese, it's made to sit on a shelf without refrigeration in a supermarket for years without spoiling :lol: We did see some recipes that used heavy cream, we said "no way".

We actually made some mac & cheese with the cheese sauce tonight, and it was okay - nothing spectacular. We did the math, and price-wise it's only a few cents cheaper than just stockpiling some Campbell's cheese soup, so we'll probably just do that from now on... but that's the whole point: we're learning! :)

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Post by rik_uk3 » Tue Apr 22, 2008 12:42 am

Great post, something I want to try, but the big home pressure canners like yours cost a fortune in the UK :cry:
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Post by ZombieGranny » Tue Apr 22, 2008 9:25 am

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