First of all, let me stress to you: FOLLOW PRESSURE CANNER MANUFACTURER INSTRUCTIONS!
I can’t tell you how important this is. For when you do this you avoid many accidents and mistakes. I should follow my own advice sometimes. Just because I do mine one way doesn’t mean its always right. I would not want to jeopordize your safety.
One of the most farmiliar sounds I could hear when I was growing up was the sound of my Grandmothers pressure cooker. My grandparents grew a garden until finally their health just would not allow it. I can remember shelling butter beans til I thought my thumbs would fall off. We use to pick corn by the truck loads. All that shucking, shelling and picking, I wouldnt trade it for nothing. This is my grandmothers pressure cooker and it got handed down to me. I use it with pride and usually have to wipe a few tears first time I use it in the summer. The noise brings back memories.
Many years ago, my husband bought me my first pressure cooker. .I could remember how my grandmother used it and I got mine out proudly and here we go. Remember when I said I should have followed my own advice? Well, to my horror, I made the mistake of opening the lid before jars cooled down and saw there was no water in the bottom. So I thought I should just add a little water. Thank goodness the Lord was watching over me, because 7 jars blew up right in my face. Some how I managed to get out of the way, but they did not miss my ceiling, walls, kitchen counters, and floor. I was picking up green beans and picking out glass from my kitchen for weeks. Needless to say, I packed that sucker up and didn’t touch it again. I was scared to death of pressure cookers.
Well, years went by and here I was gardening again. I really needed to use a pressure cooker. All this stuff would not fit into a freezer. So, I asked my mother in law to re-teach me how to use a pressure cooker. I went to her house one day and she was canning my favorite…green beans. It was really nothing to it she said. Humph! I thought, but after she walked me through the steps…turned out, it really wasn’t. She said those magic words, “Just follow the directions in the manual.” Well, there you have it people. lol She made it look so simple. And really, after doing it for so long, it is. I count it a joy to use mine all the time now. I’m so confident that I can run two at the same time with many prayers sent up. lol
I will walk you through a few simple steps. Let me also say that everyone has their own style of canning, from their set up to, how they pack the jars, to the finished product. You have to try different things until you find that pattern that suits you. You can do these steps in any order you want to.
First, I begin with preparing my food. After you have shucked or shelled your produce, you need to wash it really good to get rid of any dirt or debris. There are two ways to pack jars. There is the cold pack and the hot pack. Cold pack is when you put the produce in your jars washed and raw. Hot pack is when you blanche your produce and then put into jars. Blanche is when you just boil or cook it a little in a pot on the stove. I like the cold pack myself, this cuts out a step.
Second, I prepare my jars. I like to just throw mine in the dish washer. Inspect them after they are washed to make sure there are no nicks or cracks. I check my lids and bands. I throw away any that are rusted or have nicks in the seal or around the seal on the lid. The lids are reusable, but to a certain extent. The key to making your lids last longer and not damage them is to be very careful not to lift up too high on the lid as you remove it for the first time after sealing a jar. Also, if you will put your lids in a little pan of water and heat them on low on the stove this will create a better vacuum seal on the lid. It swells the rubber seal, then you fill the jar, screw the band or ring on and wholah. Some people like to keep the jars warm in the oven on the lowest setting and take them out one at a time while they fill another jar. oh, when its time to wash lids, I do so in warm soapy water and dry with a towel so the seal does not rot. Any damaged lids gets thrown away.
Now, I start filling my jars with the produce to about the neck, do not pack all the way to the top. Add water if its things like green beans, peas, beans, etc. If its sauces then fill jars with liquid to about the neck also. Wipe the mouths of the jars off to make sure there is no food on them. Then place the lids on and then the bands. Wipe your jar off really good. Set aside until you have all jars filled and capped.
Third, before I use my canner, I wash it with soap and water. Warm water helps the seal to swell a little which in turns helps you create a better safer seal when you put the lid on. Pressure or steam will not escape when you have a proper seal. I like to lubricate my seals with a little oil also to help keep them from cracking and splitting. I do this step before each use too, especially if my canner has been stored somewhere over the winter.
This is where it gets tricky, you will need your instruction manual for this because every pressure cooker is different.
Most pressure cookers will tell you to fill the bottom of the canner with a qt. of water. Then you put your jars in, making sure you only put the amount in that your cooker says to put in. Do not over crowd. Then carefully put the lid on and by all means, make sure its locked good. Turn the eye on. You will then start to see steam come out the little spout on the top. Let this come to a steady, continious stream. Then place the bobbler on top according to the lbs. of pressure that is called for the produce you are canning. For ex., my green beans needs 10 lbs of pressure for 45 min. I will put the bobbler on my cooker in the 10 lb. hole. Make sure you follow the lbs/per minutes in your book. When the bobbler starts making a jiggling noise, then you start timing. That means it has reached the desired pressure. You don’t start timing until you hear or see the bobbler jiggling. You have to let it get to the lbs. of pressure first. Then start timing. Time for the minutes indicated. Then turn off eye or move canner carefully to the side, if you need to keep the eye on for another canner. “UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES, DO YOU OPEN A CANNER UNTIL IT IS COOLED” please. That is a good way to blow the lid off and burn yourself really badly. NEVER REACH IN AND JUST GRAB JARS.Get a towel or a jar lifter and lift the jars out and set them on the counter to finish cooling and seal. When you hear “pops” your jars have sealed. You can check the seal on our jars by tapping them. You will hear a sound difference in a jar that is sealed and a jar that is not. The sealed jar will kind of make a thud sound, the jar that is not sealed will kind of echo or sound hollow. I know that may not make sense but once you learn to listen for the difference then you will understand.
Some canners have the lb. gauge on top. This is easier since you can “see” if its reached the pressure limit or not, instead of looking for a steady steam stream. I have both types. If the pressure goes over what you need, then just cut the eye down to med. or something to reduce the heat.
I told you it was pretty simple, but you still need to follow the manual. Sometimes I take shortcuts but thats only because Ive done it so many times. Until you get into this routine, don’t try that.
Soft things like, tomatoes, peaches, pickles, sauces, I will use a water bath. This method is easy. You fill the jars the same way. Put the jars in and cover jars completely with water. Turn the eye on, bring water to boil and process for the minutes indicated in the manual. Then follow the steps for removing jars as mentioned above for pressure cooker. Not isn’t that simple.
When storing your canners or cookers, put in a cool dry place if you have room in your cabinets. As for me, I have to pack them into a box and seal it up and put them somewhere. I don’t have enough cabinet space yet. You can also use your canners to can any time of the year. If you can’t grow something, go buy it in bulk and have a canning day. You could do this in the winter time to help heat the home.
Another great book I use is the Ball Blue Book, guide to preserving. I love this book. It has alot of great recipes too. They are also on face book. You can check them out at http://www.freshpreserving.com
We got tired of working so hard and putting things in freezer bags just to get freezer burnt. So now, we don’t have that problem. It creates that vacuum tight seal, also works good on meats. Look at all the fun stuff I put in the freezer.
There is a sense of pride knowing you worked hard and put all this up for winter use.
Another way to preserve food is to dehydrate it. I don’t use this process but you can google it and come up with so many helpful websites.
Here is a great link to some e-books for preserving your food:
Remember, don’t just take my word for it, USE YOUR MANUALS AND SAFETY PRECAUTIONS. If you have a few mishaps don’t let it discourage you, keep trying.
Here are some more links to websites or blogs on some great canning and preserving tips. All articles are printed with permission in exchange for helping promote each others blogs and websites. All original authors get full credit for their articles. If you have any trouble with any links just copy and paste into your browser.
Step one: take cabbage head and cut it up however you want to. Whether it be with a knife and cutting board or in your food processor. I preferred my food processor or my hands would have been killing me. Then put in big container.
Step 2: With clean hands, thoroughly squeeze the cabbage til it will start making water. Seriously, squeeze the juice out of it. lol
Step 3: Using a food funnel, start packing your jars.
Step 4: Take your fingers and tightly pack and push down as much down as you can in your jars. Leave a one inch head space in your jar because as the cabbage ferments it will foam and rise to top.
Step 5: you can add a little salt if you want to, no more than a teaspoon. Then make sure around jar mouth is clean and put your lids on. Store jars in cool dark place to ferment for several weeks. Fermenting takes time and the longer it sits the better the flavor.
This is how I process my tomatoes to get them ready to make spaghetti sauce:
First, I washed all tomatoes and let them dry. I got an assembly line going. You can go ahead and get you a dish pan and start heating up some water on stove. While my water was heating up I got my trash can ready and cored them. I do not peel them yet. I took them over to my stove. I stared putting them into the hot water gently. Only for a few seconds enough to loosen skin. Then I remove them from the hot water and immediately put them into cold water. I take them out and put on a cookie sheet to cool and then I peel off skins. I then put them into ziploc bags to save for making spaghetti sauce and salsa. When it is time to make spaghetti sauce I will take out bags and let them defrost, drain and I will cook them down with my seasonings. Then I will laddle into jars and process in a water bath.
If you want to go ahead and process whole tomatoes in jars after you peel them, you just put them into jars whole or crushed and process in a water bath. Make sure jars are fully submerged past lids in water. Process for 45 minutes I think. You can google that just to make sure. Then remove from water canner and let cool and you should start hearing……POPS then youll know jars are sealed. Wholah! Hope you enjoy them.
Now I will tell you how I make my spaghetti sauce and can it.
I will get all those wonderful tomatoes out of my freezer the night before and set them some where to thaw out overnight. Uh…I had 19 ziploc bags so I put them in my tub. lol
The next morning I got all my jars ready and caps and lids. Then I set up an assembly line. I put a strainer in the sink and I would take one bag at a time and strain any left over juice and water out. If you want to keep the juice just remember to use a thickener like tomatopaste or corn starch when cooking down or you will have watery sauce. You might can reserve the juice and do something with it. Google it.
After straining, I put in blender and blend til I get a puree. Next, I pour that into a stainless steel pot and cook down.
One year I had so much sauce, I used my roasting pan to cook down in. It worked great.
I add my spices. I just use salt, pepper,onion powder, garlic powder, Italian seasoning and sugar. Ooops, I forgot to put that in the picture. My bad. The sugar is to cut down on the acid taste in the tomatoes. People also use a little lemon juice to cut down on the acidity. You can use any spices of your choice. Just note that if you add vegetables like onions or peppers or even meat you will then have to pressure can it.
Um…I just eyeball everything. I don’t really measure. I have tried many different recipes and tweeked here and there til I found what I like.
I will let that cook down to the desired consistency. Then I remove from stove or roaster and laddle into warm jars. I put the caps and lids on making sure tops of jars are wiped clean.
I will put my jars into my water bather and then pour water in until it covers tops of jars. When the water starts to boil then I will start timing. I let them process for around 30 to 45 minutes.
I then remove jars from water very carefully with a jar lifter and pot holder. Caution jars will be extremely hot. Just set somewhere for them to cool and after a while you should start hearing….POPS!!!! This is to let you know jars are sealing good. Wholah! You have spaghetti sauce.
Salsa: I process the tomatoes the same way as for my Spaghetti sauce and I use Salsa seasoning packages and follow directions for processing.
I also tried another recipe for salsa. I used my tomatoes, bell peppers (all colors), onions, cilantro, fresh minced garlic, cumin, sugar (to cut down on acidity) and lime juice. No, once again I didn’t measure anything, sorry. I used my big roasting pan again and eye balled everything. I cooked it down most of the day and overnight on very low. Like simmer. Then laddled into jars and water bathed for 45 minutes. Wholah! Heavenly.
CHICKEN OR TURKEY STOCK:
Making Stock is easy. This year I made Turkey Stock from the carcases of two turkeys. All you need is the carcass of a turkey, any desired vegetables you want like onions, celery, carrots, garlic, peppers. Is actually added some butternut squash to mine. Then spices like salt, pepper, rosemary, thyme, parsley, etc. I would not add too much salt due to some recipes call for extra salt as well. Then your water. That’s it. Here are the directions:
Step 1- chop/dice desired vegetables. Put in stock pot with spices and turkey carcass. Cover with water til carcass is fully covered. You can simmer this on the stove for most of the day or you can transfer to crock pots or roasting oven and simmer overnight. It needs to simmer for at least 18 hrs.
Step 2-3- after stock has simmered and cooled down, strain carcass and vegetables, reserve liquid stock.
Step 4- ladle stock into jars and put caps and lids on jars.
Step 5-prepare canner and place jars into canner.
Step 6- pressure can 25 minutes under 10 lbs pressure for quart jars.
Step 7- pull canner off to cool, remove jars onto towel to cool and seal. When you hear each jar pop they have sealed.
I washed, rinsed, cored, seeded and sliced my apples. I put slices into a stock pot and filled with just enough water to cover apples. Then I cooked down the apples to get the juice. It will turn to kind of a mush like consistency. Strain the apples in a colander and retain juice. Now, at this point you can pour into a container or pitcher and store the juice until you can complete the process. It’s alot to do in one day.
When you do get ready to process, pour juice back into a stockpot, gather all your ingredients, which will be your sugar and Sure-jell like I use or Jell-Ease etc. Prepare your jars by washing jars and lids and drying. Don’t freak out when I say I reuse jelly jars or any kind of jars with the pop top lid. They are perfect. However, you can only use them a few times due to the seal eventually wearing out. Now, I follow the directions to the T inside the box of Sure-Jell. I remove the cooked juice, and ladle into jars, wipe jars off around rim and sides, tighten on lid and put on a towel to cool and set. Now, don’t freak out again because you can set them this way. You turn them upside down making sure they don’t leak. You also can follow the directions to process them in the water bath. If you do them the way I did, by turning them upside down, work quickly cause the liquid needs to remain very hot in order to make the seal pop in the lid when it is cooling. After a while you should start hearing the jars pop. This is a good sign, it means your jars have sealed. Check them after several hours to see if they are setting, which means they are getting thicker like Jello. Wholah! You have made Jelly.
Now for my Jalepenos’:
I prepare my jars by washing and rinsing jars and lids and dry. I fill my jars with peppers and then water up to the neck of jar. I tighten on lid and ring. I put my water bath on stove and place jars into tub. Fill with water, enough to cover jars, even over the lids. Put lid on canner and bring to rolling boil. Process for 30 minutes. Remove from canner and set on a counter or somewhere to cool and seal. CAUTION: please remember the jars and water are extremely hot so use a hand mitt that goes over hand, and use grippers to grab jars and lift out of hot water while using a pot holder to hold onto the bottom. After a while of cooling you will start hearing pops which lets you know the jars are sealing. Store in your pantry. They should keep for a long time if sealed properly. Homemade canned jalepenos’.
Freezing green beans:
You can freeze green beans too. You wash, rinse, and string your green beans. Transfer them to a stock pot and cover with water. You just want to blanch them at this point for about 3-4 minutes. You don’t want to bring them to a boil. You still want them a little crisp. Remove from the hot water and immediately put into ice bath to stop the cooking process. Remove from the ice water and put into ziploc bags and seal or you can use a vacuum sealer like we do. They should keep in the freezer for a long time.
Canning Green Beans:
We pick, wash and snap our green beans and raw pack them into jars. I fill with water to the neck,and tighten lids and rings. I process them in the pressure canners according to my Ball Blue Book directions.
This is how we process our corn. I tried canning it but didn’t like it as well. The jars and lids got really sticky after processing and it was hard to open jars. So we like to freeze it. I will start from harvesting cause I already had this picture fixed up and thought it was helpful. Plus, I liked seeing father and son shucking corn. Lol
First, we pull our four wheeler and cart to the garden and just park it in front of the stalks. We pick and drive and throw it in the cart, pick and drive and throw it in the cart. We fill out cart and bring it under the shade trees and shuck it. We bring it in the house to be washed and silked. Now, if I run out of room on my counters and kitchen, I will take them and dump them by bucket fulls into my tub. It will be clean of course. This helps especially if I can’t do all these in one day. I will fill my tub with water over the cobs to keep the moisture in. Corn starts drying out so if you can’t do all in one day make sure you keep them in water somewhere. But on that next day you work quickly, corn spoils quickly.
Next, after washing and silking I will pick out good cobs and section them into meal proportions. Then vacuum seal the bags.
Then, I will cut the rest of the cob and use as cream corn. I have the cutter that gets milk and all or I have the cutter that just gets the kernels for whole kernel corn. My husband is partial to cream corn so I do that. I spread out a big sheet in the floor and gather all my stuff I use to cut off the cob and a bucket. I can sit and watch TV. Goes pretty good.
Next, I get it ready for the freezing process. I was going to use freezer boxes but they take up too much space. So I put my vacuum sealer to use again. I put corn in the bags by quart fulls. A quart feeds four or five servings. Then we put the bags standing up in a tub as not to fall over and spill, we partially froze them over night. We have found that by doing this the juice from the corn will not try to come out in my sealer during the vacuum process. It worked good. Now they are all nice and neatly stacked in the freezer. You can also use Ziploc bags but remember they will get freezer burned quicker.
We are always finding new ways and tweeking old ways of harvesting and preserving our produce. That’s the joy of it.
The day before, I will soak the beans over night. This is very important because beans swell. If you put them in the jars dry and add water and pressure can right away, you might have some jars explode. So please soak beans first. Some people will fully cook them first and then pour into jars and can, but I don’t.
I will take soaked beans and fill jars only about 3/4 full. They will swell a little more when cooked in pressure canner. Then I fill to the neck with water. I wipe the jars off around the rim, tighten on lids and caps, and place in canner. I follow the Ball Blue book for processing which is 10 lbs pressure for an hour and a half for quarts. You can do any dried beans this way. Follow direction though.
After I was and scrub my potatoes I lie them on my counter on a sheet so they can dry just a little. Then I get my jars, lids and caps ready. (You can find out how to do this further up in my post.) I cut up the potatoes into cubes, fill the jar to the neck, and then add water to the neck also. You can add a little salt but it’s optional. Then I follow the instructions in the Ball book. It’s 40 minutes with 10 lbs pressure. When they are done, I remove cooker to cool. Then I remove lid and take out jars with lifter and pot holders. Extremely Hot. Then I put them on a towel to cool and wait for the “pops”.
Here is another way to put up potatoes.
Buy potatoes when their on sale, wash and dry, cut into desired pieces wether it be French fries, cubes, or hash browns, partially cook just to almost soften and to keep from turning brown, place in storage bags in meal proportions and freeze. Wholah! Just pull out of freezer, defrost and cook.
We freeze our Bell peppers with our vacuum sealer. I bring them in and wash them and cut them up in strips. Put them into the bags and seal them. Perfect for easy meals.
We also freeze our broccoli. I will bring it in and wash he heads. Then I cut the flowerets. I even cut up some of the stalks for extra crunch especially in broccoli and cheese soup. Then I use our vacuum sealer. I will open up a bag and put in a pot of water and boil it some or I will put it in the microwave in the bag and steam it. It’s also great steamed in a stir fry.
You can use any recipe you want to, to make your baked beans. I start with soaking dried navy beans over night in my roaster. Next morning I drain the beans and place back in cooker then I will add my ingredients from my recipe. I let them cook on low or you can cook on high. Then I ladle in my jars and process in pressure canner.
Homemade Enchilada Sauce:
I use Pioneer Womans recipe for her sauce. We love it. You can google her recipe from Food network.
I process my tomatoes the same as I do for my Spaghetti sauce and salsa (see above directions). I cook the sauce down and ladle it into jars and process in the water bather.
Rolls and Buns:
I make up my rolls or hamburger buns using this recipe and then i place them on cookie sheets and flash freeze to keep from dough sticking together. Place by meal proportions into Ziploc bags and put in freezer.
We pick, wash and slice or spear our pickles or we leave them whole. We raw pack in jars fill with hot brine from packaged seasoning mix, and tighten lids. You can do two different ways. You can water bath just long enough to seal jars or after filling jars to the neck with hot brine and tightening on lids, you can turn upside down and let cool. Jars will still seal this way and they turn out crispier.