This post may be somewhat anti-climactic.  The most important parts of it are links to a few previous articles because a lot of it is covered there.  I’ll risk the redundancy to share the mysteries of pressure canning because:

  • It’s a natural evolution from water-bath canning.
  • It’s nowhere near as difficult as it may seem – though it can be very intimidating.
  • It’s an essential technique for preserving low acid foods – i.e. most anything other than fruit, most vegetables and pickles.
  • It’s my party and I can if I want to.  (Yes there was a pun on ‘can’ there…)

The essence of pressure canning is simple: by using stem under pressure, the temperature of the pot gets hotter than boiling water (which can never get above 212 degrees farenheit as it turns to steam).  This extra heat kills the nasties.

The basics of caning stock:

  • Place a few inches of water inside the pressure canner, turn the heat on maximum.  Place lid loosely on top.
  • Clean your jars, bring your stock up to heat and fill clean, hot jars with hot stock.  2 cup jars must have 1 inch of head space (the ‘air’ between the stock and lid).  Place in the pressure canner (this is why you started heating the water first – so they will remain in a warm/ not environment).
  • Once your jars are in the canner, place the lid on.
  • Bring your canner up to pressure.  Since we have a weighted gauge (it’s a small weight that is placed on top of the main vent, creating the right amount of pressure in the canner – in this case, 10 pounds), we simply let steam escape from the main vent without a weight on it for 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes, we gently put the weight on the vent and begin our timer.
  • Lower the heat – but not too much.  The idea is that you want to keep the pressure (and the heat) consistent.  When the weight is bouncing around, rattling a little and the pot is hissing, we’re good.
  • Pint jars take 20 minutes while quarts take 25.

Two things I’ve learned the hard way:

  • Make sure to leave the recommended head space.  The heat is intense and you need more head space or you will lose product from the jar.
  • Let the canner cool naturally.  Forcing the lid off early will cause a rapid cooldown of the jar contents.  This process often causes siphoning of your liquid and will lead to partially empty jars (and messy outsides).

For a more detail, there’s 3 things you may want to check out:

  • We covered more details of the basics when we walked through pressure canned asparagus.
  • You can also find advice on buying a pressure canner.
  • All things safety related are handled by the National Center for Home Food Preservation.  If you don’t know them, check them out; I’ve linked to their pressure canning meat product section because of this post – but there’s much more there.

Let us know if there are questions we haven’t covered – the truth is that this process is so much simpler than many fear (and I remember when I did :)).

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