Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I'm learning to use a Pressure Canner

I've learned to use a pressure canner this summer. We had a truckload of beautiful tomatoes that we couldn't let go to waste and I didn't have enough room in my freezer.

I've always been a bit leery of using a pressure canner. I can remember my mother telling stories of families they knew when she was a child who died from eating tomatoes and green beans that were not canned properly. So, I've only water bathed fruit over the years and made jelly.  This is the first year I've canned tomatoes. I'm very happy with how they turned out.  I use canned tomatoes and tomato sauce a lot during the winter in soups and stews.

The tomato sauce recipe I used is a new one I received from a friend. The flavor beats the canned sauce hands down. I'm learning to make more and more things from scratch which helps lower my food budget.I also pressure canned a batch of chicken broth last week.  Since it's just my husband and I at home these days I often have to freeze leftover soup and stew but this winter I hope to pressure can the leftovers.

It's really not hard to use it at all.  I make sure the product being canned is hot and I put it in hot jars and lids. Be sure to add lemon juice to canned tomato products.  I place the jars in the canner and add 3 cups of water. I also add 2 tablespoons of white vinegar so that the jars don't end up with a white film from the water deposits. My husband puts the lid on the canner and makes sure it's lined up with the handles. We place the little weight on the top over one of the vents and set the burner on high. I watch the pressure gauge until it reaches the right pressure and then time it according to the directions in the book. The scary part is taking the weight off the lid because the steam comes out very fast. I always pray that my husband won't get burned as he lifts it off quickly. Once the pressure is down to zero then I take the lid off the pot and lift out the jars.


  1. I know what you mean, it can be scary. I used one for the first time last year. Haven't had to use it this year yet, just the water bath caner. Great tip about the vinegar. I always forget that.

  2. Great recipes!

    (about the lye for soap making - If it says it is 100% sodium hydroxide and it is in crystal form, that is the right thing). Let me know how you come out.


  3. My parents always used a pressure cooker when I was growing up, potatoes cooked quickly, soup and stews were wonderful made in it. I was always a little scared of it, the hissing, the rocking of the weight, so was married for many years before I purchased a pressure cooker. I love to cook beef in it, the meat is so tender and takes about 45 minutes to cook. I love my pressure canner too, it has canned many quarts of green beans, beets, peas, and other things over the years. The nice thing about pressure canners and cookers is that they last for ever, just make sure to replace the sealing ring every couple of years, more if you use them a lot.
    It is always fun to preserve the bounty from the garden and jars of veggies and fruit look so beautiful.

  4. Sounds great! Make sure you boil your home canned foods for 10 minutes. If you make soup-- don't add any pasta products before canning--they get huge and puffy and soggy. Its easy to put those in later when you are reheating.

    I also know of a couple of people who got sick from home canned tomatoes--my sisters Mom-in-law died--but she was already very ill so her system couldn't handle any kind of problem.

    Pressure cooked foods really should be very safe if you follow the directions.

    As for lye soap--my Great aunt died as a young child from drinking her mom's lye water--so truly be careful with that--never do it with the grand kids in the house.

  5. Hi Georgene - I left you this answer on my xanga blog but thought I would post it here too just so you would be sure to see it. Hope it helps.

    I have seen watery apple pies but have not had that problem. I do think it is important to use cooking apples that are tarter and less juicy than eating apples. I also think apple pies need plenty of vent space on the top crust so the steam and juice evaporate and don't get watery.

    my pies only have about 6 or apples per pie, scant 1/2 cup of sugar and 2 t of cinnamon per pie - no extra flour or cornstarch.

    Cooking is a funny thing though, sometimes recipes work great and then you can do the exact same thing again and end up with a flop.

  6. Hi Georgene, hope you are well. I bet you are canning up a storm and being very frugal. I've missed your blog posts. Take care.


  7. Hi Lyn,
    How kind of you! I've been thinking through the fact that I have 2 blogs and 1 website and how I can't regularly post on all of them. I've posted over on my Xanga blog a few times. Do you think you'd be interested in following me to Xanga? I think I can do a better job if I only have one blog. I'm hoping the other sweet ladies who are following this blog will follow me, too. Bless you!

  8. I'm glad to see you are busy and content. I've been frustrated with my diet and went off it for a while, but it's time to get back on. I really do feel better when I'm on it. Just wanted to stop by and see what you were up to. Linda

  9. RYC-I just wanted to say the thyme should come back next year,it's pretty hardy.I have some in the ground and it comes back every year. The problem is keeping it growing during the winter so you can use it fresh. If it's a mild winter I might have a chance to keep my pot herbs going, but if it's really cold it will go dorment. Where I lived in CA those things grew all year. You could also just harvest and dry what you have to use this winter and then wait for it to start growing again in the spring. What I'm doing is an experiment to see if it is sheltered if it will keep growing. I'm also concerned that the herbs in the container will freeze. I may have to put them in the garage if it gets really cold. I have a covered porch and I'm hoping that will protect them enough and esp. pulled up close to the house. Linda

  10. I noted you said you lift the giggler while the pressure is still in the canner. My instructions say to let the pressure drop ..then... take off the giggler {no steam will be escaping then}. This extra time to let the pressure drop is needed to finish the cooking too. Check your instructions please to make sure the giggler should be taken off when the steam is still in the prresure canner. I am so glad you have started usingthe pressure canner though! :) Sarah

  11. I'm new to your blog and hope you get this. You need to not put the Jiggler on until you have vented the steam for 10 minutes...then put your jiggler on...also you don't ever take the jiggler off until the canner is completely steam coming out at all. You need to check your directions again.

    Sorry to be so dramatic...but I ended up in the emergency room the FIRST time I used a pressure canner with 3rd degree burns. I have been using a pressure canner for over 30 years since and love them...they're safe it's the operator you have to watch out for.

  12. Thank you Lynda and Sarah for the caution. I will certainly pull out the directions and read through them again. Do you think that the tomatoes will be okay?

  13. Ask your county cooperative extension for an questions on canning. Some even give classes on food preserving every month! I go to one. Also you can call Ball or Kerr yourself. I have done so and they have even sent free recipes for things I had not known how to can or even known you can can! Since you changed the timing by taking off the juggler early it might mess up the timing and thus the preserving of the tomatoes. I know this answer is not much of an answer. ...and that it came way way too late as it is 2013 now, but maybe someone will read this later and find this. Sarah


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