Pressure canning help?
July 12, 2008 8:16 PM   Subscribe

Pressure canning recipes and technique?

I have more beans and cucumbers than I know what to do with, and I'll have an avalanche of tomatoes shortly. Can anyone point to recipes and techniques to preserve these veggies with a pressure canner.

I have the canner, jars and lids but not much of a clue beyond that. I'm looking for advice on the web or in print.

As a bonus, I will make kool-aid pickles for whoever can help me turn cucumbers into pickles.
posted by peeedro to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Great idea, canning is easy!

Everything you need to know is in the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, which is basically the canning BIBLE. If you don't want to buy it, your local library is sure to have it.

Pickles you don't need a pressure canner for. Since they are acidic you can do a simple boiling water bath. But you will need the pressure canner for the beans and possibly the tomatoes, depending on what you make.
posted by GardenGal at 8:41 PM on July 12, 2008

Best answer: There's a section in Joy of Cooking called "Canning, smoking, drying" (or something like that). There's a book called Putting Food By that was in every mom's kitchen when I was growing up. The Ball jar company also prints a cookbook.

Check with your State Extension Office -- that's part of what they do.

There's also the National Center for Home Food Preservation. Penn State has the USDA Canning Guide online here.
posted by jlkr at 8:56 PM on July 12, 2008

piggyback- how safe is canning? I remember my mother never doing it since she said "it'll blow up" so I've always been nervous to try.
posted by Kellydamnit at 9:15 PM on July 12, 2008

Second the National Center for Home Food Preservation. I just made a nice plum jelly from their recipe today, in fact, and cannot wait for breakfast toast in the morning. It's a great and exhaustive resource.

Kellydamnit, canning is pretty easy, if time-consuming and sometimes kind of messy (I have overboiled plum carbon all over my stove burners right now), but you really need to follow the recipe/directions, especially for pressure canning. Acidity levels have to be just right to produce safe results--botulism is your bugaboo here, not explosions.

In the case of high-acidity products (many fruits, tomatoes, some pickles, salsas) you can use a boiling method very safely, but most things require a pressure cooker to preserve safely. A lot of modern tomatoes aren't as high in acid, or rather I think it's that their sugar contents are so high nowadays, that pressure canning may be the safer choice for plain tomatoes. Heirloom varieties may not have this problem--you can easily test the pH of your foods though, and the information on what pH you need to hit to safely can is easy enough to track down.

Jars and bands can be reused pretty much indefinitely if they aren't damaged in any way, but you'll want to replace the lids each time (my grandma didn't, though, and I lived for years on whatever I could carry out of her cellar every summer. But my grandma may very well be magical).
posted by padraigin at 10:02 PM on July 12, 2008

I just wanted to add that Kool-Aid pickles, specifically, may have too high of a sugar content for a boiling canner, and would probably need to be pressure canned. I'm pretty sure sweet pickles/bread and butter pickles fall into that category, although regular sour dill pickles can be water-bathed.
posted by padraigin at 10:37 PM on July 12, 2008

I highly recommend the book Preserving Food Without Canning or Freezing - it's a collection of recipes from members of a French organic farming organization that focuses on traditional methods of keeping food fresh. Many of the recipes get into neat (and delicious!) processes like lactic fermentation (a process similar to the one by which kimchi is made - and a great one for green beans). Most of them involve canning in the sense that you put things in boiled cans with boiled liquid - but minus all the extra salt or sugar and so on.
posted by bubukaba at 12:34 AM on July 13, 2008

Bubukaba -- have you ever looked at 'old fashioned' canning recipes? Very few call for added sugar or salt. You're confusing commercial canning procedures with home canning procedures.

Most of them call for blanching the fruit or vegetable, then pouring into a hot canning jar, then sealing as necessary/desired. My mom and my mother-in-law canned for years, and the only time either one of them added sugar to anything they canned is when they were canning pie filling or jam or sweet pickles.
posted by jlkr at 5:59 AM on July 13, 2008

Along the lines of bubukaba, I recommend Sandor Katz's Wild Fermentation for lots of great things to do with boatloads of vegetables.
posted by ottereroticist at 8:43 AM on July 13, 2008

I just started canning (yesterday, actually) using a pressure cooker. My pressure cooker weights never really "jiggled" yesterday (10 psi for tomatoes). I'm doing a batch right now and after I let the steam escape for 10 minutes I added the 10 psi weight. It has taken 20 minutes for the weight to start jiggling, do I now set it for 25 minutes or should I have set it for 25 minutes as soon as I put the weight on? I don't think I processed it long enough yesterday if I needed to wait until it jiggled, do I have to throw them away or will they be O.K.? Also, how do I know if there's botulism? I read if I bring the tomatoes to a boil before using them that will definately kill the botulism? I really need help with this!
posted by snowmom at 3:19 PM on August 21, 2008

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