You have a bunch of fresh produce from your garden and it has you thinking about food preservation. Is now the right time to buy a pressure cooker canner and start preserving that glorious bounty?
It could be, at least if you're ready to make the investment in equipment and supplies, and do all the work with all appropriate precautions.
You won't need a pressure canner for all kinds of food preservation. High acid foods can do better being canned in a water bath canner. But if you have low acid foods to preserve, the pressure canner is an absolute must, for your health and safety. Improperly preserved foods can grow botulism and other poisons.
Be prepared to deal with the fact that there's more to the cost of home canning than just the cost of the pressure canner. There's also the cost of all the jars you're going to need. These do add up if you had a really good harvest.
The great part about buying a good sized pressure canner is that it may also be large enough for water bath canning. You will still need to use a rack to keep the bottoms of the jars off the bottom of the canner, so that water can flow all the way around it.
If you're preserving low acid foods, such as most vegetables, you must switch over to the pressure canner, as water bath methods won't be enough to kill all of the deadly bacteria which could grow as your food sites on the shelf. The pressure will allow the heat to reach a point that will kill the bacteria, making these foods safe to consume later.
Take some time before you get started with any kind of canning, and read up on how to do so safely. You can also talk to any friends you may have who do canning themselves. You do not want to get this wrong. If you get a recipe, there are often good reasons things are done the way they are in it. Make sure you know what you're doing before you make changes.
That said, let's remember the most important reason of all to can your own produce. It feels great! You know that you'll be serving your family healthy produce even when the season to enjoy it fresh is over. You won't have to worry about strange additives or junk like high fructose corn syrup being added to everything. The only things in your foods will be what you put in there.
Stephanie Foster gives tips at her page on how to buy a pressure canner for your home.