As an aside, the Wisconsin Foundry also sells a line of electric sterilizers (autoclaves). In a pinch, your pressure canner could be a substitute autoclave to properly sterilize instruments, equipment and bandages. Autoclaving sterilization works by steam and pressure to kill infectious organisms, which is the function of a pressure canner.
Many people are intimidated by pressure canning because of anecdotal stories of pressure canners exploding, causing burns and other injuries. If the manufacturer's directions are strictly followed pressure canning is a safe and practical way to preserve meats, vegetables and fruits for long term storage and an excellent addition to your personal knowledge skill bank.
Another benefit of pressure canned foods is that they are already cooked and ready to eat, minimizing the time and energy required to reheat (if desired). They can also be eaten cold out of the jar.
An unforeseen benefit in our home now that our children are grown and have left home is that it is easy to bulk prepare ready-to-serve meals of favorite recipes in servings for 2 or 4 by canning in smaller jars. It allows smaller families or singles to enjoy the cost savings of buying and cooking in bulk without the waste if large quantities are not consumed quickly and/or fall victim to "freezer burn". I was also pleasantly surprised at just how tender pressure-cooked meats are - saving me a lot of time not having to pre-marinate leaner or tougher cuts of meat.
They are also a great way to "gift" comfort food to away from home college students. Nothing is more soothing than Mom's version of beef stew or venison chili and it can be reheated in its packing jar by hot water bath in a pinch. They are also an ideal storage food for SHTF prepping as once processed they can be safely stored in the pantry without the need for refrigeration.
|Meatloaf, teriyaki meatballs, beef brisket, rosemary pork and fajita chicken are the most requested homemade meals by hungry homesick college students|
Jar manufacturers caution that the round sealing lids should be discarded after opening the jar, as should any metal sealing rings that are dented or otherwise not in good condition. I found the best price for my All American pressure canner on Amazon, but you have to price-shop within the site for the best deal.
Amazon Link to "All American" Pressure Cooker/Canner
Amazon Link to "Presto" Brand Pressure Canner (glass cook top compatible)
Amazon Link to "Presto" Brand Pressure Canner (glass cook top compatible)
Pressure canning helps you save money and reduce the urge to order in unhealthy and expensive take-out or fast food knowing there is a wholesome meal in a jar waiting for you at home. It is ideal for diabetics or others who are trying to control their sugar intake (all processed foods have added sugars to achieve the "bliss point" to drive sales) and avoid metabolic syndrome. Home canning bone broth is far more nutritious and flavorful than anything found on the supermarket shelf. It is an excellent way to process game meat, as the final product is very tender.
|Elk or venison, once dressed, is super-easy to pressure can!|
The Ball jar company website is an excellent resource for beginner canners (both hot water bath and pressure canning). In addition to how-to videos, they also have recipes and timing guidelines. (The owner's manual that comes with your pressure canner will also have instructions and guidelines on how long/at what pressure to safely process various items). In my opinion, it is worthwhile to buy a print copy of the published canning/preserving Ball book for home reference as it is more complete than what is provided on the website and you can make margin notes (remember - trial and error!) and has lots of good quality illustrative photos if you're a visual learner.
Free Resource: You can download the most recent and up-to-date USDA home preservation guide book with recipes for free HERE.
It takes some time to get the "feel" of how tightly to seal your jars - in the beginning, I stored my initial projects in the refrigerator until I was confident I had it "down" and a safe seal for storage in the pantry. Trial and error is to be expected.
You can not safely pressure can on a glass-top stove. You can safely pressure can on a wood stove however!
**Update: A Reader commented that the video does show the presenter pressure canning on a glass cooktop. I have an "All American" pressure canner, and the manufacturer states it is not safe for glass cook tops. Likewise, our glass cooktop user's manual at our vacation home states that it is not safe to use a pressure canner. Pressure canners can not be used on induction glass tops.
The Presto Pressure Canner manufacturer states that they believe that their products are safe to use on glass cooktops, which the following caveats, including verifying with your cooktop owner's manual whether or not pressure canners can be safely used:
Heat Source Acceptable: All Presto® Pressure Canners will work on electric coil and regular gas ranges. Current models of Presto® Pressure Canners will also work on glass/smooth top ranges.
Although Presto believes that current pressure canners are acceptable for use on glass top stoves we recommend that you check with the owner's manual for your range or the manufacturer before using. Please be mindful of the following tips for successful use of the canner on your glass top range:
- Use the largest element, making sure that the surface of the canner bottom contacting the element does not extend more than one inch outside the element.
- Do not place the canner on two heated elements at the same time.
- Make sure that the canner does not boil dry.
- Do not use the canner on the elements for several hours at a time.
- To prevent scratches to the glass top make sure that the bottom of the canner does not have scratches or areas that are rough, and do not slide or rotate the canner on the smooth top range.
- Clean the cooking surface with a ceramic cook top cleaner prior to and after using the canner.
Source: Presto Canning Basics Info Page
It is advisable to apply a thin layer of lubricant on the metal-to-metal seal edges to make it easier to open the canner when the food has finished processing. I use a thin coat of Vaseline petroleum jelly (you can also use vegetable oil but from trial and error I find the petroleum jelly works best)
It is recommended that the round seal that goes on top of the jar be discarded and not reused once the jar has been opened (they are inexpensive to purchase) but the metal sealing rings may be reused if they are not dented or damaged.
Once the jars have cooled (listen/look for the "pop" in the center of the jar lid to know you've successfully sealed it properly) remove the outer metal sealing rings before storing in your pantry.
It is also important to test your pressure gauge annually - many cooperative extension offices or community canning centers offer this service.
Discoloration inside your pressure canner is due to mineral deposits in your water and does not affect its utility. Depending on the source of the stain, you can try cleaning it with a boiling solution of either vinegar or cream of tartar dissolved in water. You can also safely scrub your aluminum pressure canner with a soap impregnated steel pad (like Brillo).
Pasta, dried beans, lentils and other pulses do not store well long-term and should never be processed uncooked. As a consequence, when I make soups for example, I do not add in the pasta or rice but cook that separately and add it to the soup when I am ready to prepare it. I have successfully canned beans and the texture did stand up after pressure cooking (ie: they weren't mushy).
**Thanks to a comment that pointed out my miscommunication I need to clarify - fresh garden beans can well ;-)
|Community Canners were a wonderful source of institutional knowledge and a vital community building resource throughout America|
Here are two lists for potential community canning locations; I can make no personal representations or warranties about the information contained within (ie: if still operational, costs, who may use them) but it could be a good starting point and an excellent group activity if you are developing a Prepper Network. Some are only open on specific days or times of year and require a pre-arranged appointment to access.
List of Community Canning Resources from Pick Your Own website
List of Community Canning Site from Frugal Living. published January 2016, so it should be pretty accurate and up-to-date.
Good Luck and have fun - now that I've learned how to safely pressure can, we've sold our giant chest freezer and I feel more secure with the knowledge that our expensive animal proteins won't be lost in a major power outage.
You may also enjoy reading my previously published post on things to think about when planning a garden to supplement your food pantry: Beginning a Prepper SHTF Garden - Avoid the hazards
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