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.