In my searching, I learned that pressure canning is safer than water bath canning. I also learned that the pressure cooker not only does it faster, it does it hotter. And that lovely bochulism bacteria like to live in food until it gets to 238 degrees and a pressure cooker magically goes to 240. Perfect.
I've read so much conflicting stuff, my head is ready to explode faster than the pressure cooker could. It seems that even the marvelous pressure cooker can make everything safe, according to some. This means that you should follow a USDA approved recipe to make sure you don't kill anyone when you give these gorgeous gifts at Christmas.
Well, I debated and debated all summer. I finally caved and bought a pressure cooker from Fagor that also had the canning tools necessary so you don't burn your fingers trying to juggle the glassware. And there some weird plastic "tool" that you run around the inside of the jar to get rid of bubbles before you put the covers on. This mystifies me because it's not even flexible. It's like running a butter knife around the jar. And I don't know how it's getting out any bubbles. But, anyway.
My original intention when making this hefty purchase was to make grape jelly from the luscious bounty that nature gave me this summer and to somehow can my favorite raw salsa in a way that still allowed for some crunch when I open it later.
I'm not even a fan of grape jelly, but I figured if nature wanted me to do it, I better get cracking. I think k-ster has a deal with nature because he LOVES grape jelly.
|Well, that takes care of that.|
|Some of the things I read online said you must sterilize the jars and lids. Other places said if you are pressure canning, don't bother sterilizing. I might be a tad bit of a worrywart, so I sterilized them.|
|While I was waiting for the sauce to cook and jars to sterilize, I removed all of the lace from this shirt because it look ridiculous and made my hips look a tad large.|
|I got 2 loads of laundry out on the line.|
Good Housekeeping called and wanted an interview, but I told them I was far too busy with my domesticity for that.
|The part about wiping the tops before putting the lids on always seems vague to me. Do I dip the cloth down the inside of the jar a little to get any residue away from there too? I wish I knew all of these answers for sure!|
|After making up some of my own rules about what was not clear in the directions, the process was over. Here are my first two little jars of bochulism.|
Sadly, when the jars came out, they had some residue on them. I wasn't sure what to do. Again, conflicting reports online. Some places said no way, you must reprocess them. Some said they were fine if the tops were definitely sealed.
I waited until they were cool and one was definitely not sealed. The top came right off. The other was definitely sealed, but I'm a little nervous about this, so I popped the top and redid them.
The second time through, they seem to be perfect. I think I did not leave enough headroom the first time. Everything said one inch, but the second time, I lift like 1.5 inches and it seems to have worked.
There are lots of scary parts to this. Like, I'm not sure at which point I am supposed to start the timer. And I'm not sure what sounds my pressure cooker should make.
After going through 2 processes with the tomato sauce, I think I know what sound is right on the cooker. And my brain says to start the timer when a little steam comes out of the steam thing once I add the weight. There should be some steam, just not a large white cloud of it. And i think it should be slightly hissing the whole time. It just doesn't make the ch ch ch of my mother's.
Now I'm running around wondering what else I can can! I am not really a canned vegetable person. In fact, I am not at all a canned green bean person.
I definitely want to can applesauce. But first I need the apples. I will be on the hunt for the next couple of weeks to find local apples that are not too sweet.
In the meantime, I decided I should can the winter squash that Irene made me harvest.
I've been debating what to do with these. They all had a little nick or two or 8 from some ambitious squirrels, and I wasn't sure how far they went down. I didn't think I wanted to store them anywhere for very long because there might be some rot from the nicks.
I am not overly in love with winter squash, but I do need it to complete the Thanksgiving and Christmas meals, so my plan was to keep them for one or both of those.
I found directions to can them and decided that is the way to go. This way, they won't rot. At least, not if I did them right.
Did you know that UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES should you EVER can mashed squash? Click the link. You have to go read it. I can't explain why it makes me laugh so hard.
That's what I did. So they were in hot water for like 6-10 minutes. Blanching is another of those mysteries that no one seems to be able to answer to my satisfaction.
Then I found out that I had enough for 4 quarts, but I only sterilized 3 quarts and 2 pints. That meant I had to do 2 separate processes because I didn't have room for 5 jars at once.
90 minutes of actually cooking for the quarts and 55 minutes for the pints. And each time, you have to wait for the steam to all release before you are done. And you can't do the forced method of cooling it down.
It took me two tries with one of the jars of squash but the rest seem fine. I think my problem is that I wasn't tightening the lids enough. It says not too tight. But what does that mean?
So, it looks like we might have just enough for Thanksgiving(minus the spaghetti sauce, of course).
Now if I can convince everyone that we will all be fine if we eat it....
There really is a science to it. I do not know how people did it back in the old days. I don't think many people were really killed by the bacteria. So just how did they do it?
Now that I've done it, I think I get how it works. If not, the body numbing paralysis will take over within 4 days of eating, so I will certainly know at that point.