I remember with fond memory the summer days in a hot country kitchen when my mother canned fruits and vegetables from the garden on that old wood stove. We lived on a dairy farm then... a small one in Wisconsin... and we grew all our own vegetables and poultry and pork and beef and the best way to preserve all this food for the long, snow-covered winter was canning and smoking. We had no electricity and no freezers then.
We'd plant those vegetable seeds early in spring in little pots in the house, and set them out in the garden as soon as the last signs of frost had disappeared. We'd carefully tend those precious plants during the summer season. And there was nothing as good as a fresh, ripe tomato picked in the warm sun, or a fresh carrot pulled from the warm earth. Even more delectable was that same flavor in the dead of winter. The quickest way to preserve those precious morsels was using a pressure cooker on that hot wood stove.
The pressure cookers you find on the market today are safer and easier to use but the old-fashioned goodness is the same. Some people have used a hot water bath canning method for high-acid produce but have found that canning in a pressure canner results in peace of mind knowing that the bacteria has been safely eliminated.
The US Department of Agriculture recommends pressure canning as the only safe method of preserving low-acid foods that must be cooked at 240 degrees F or greater to prevent the growth of bacteria in the food. Low-acid foods include vegetables, meats, poultry and seafood. Though tomatoes and some fruits are high-acid foods, the only sure way to safety is to use the pressure canning method. You'll receive a manual with each new canner detailing canning instructions. If you've inherited a canner from your elderly relative, check the internet for instructions on the use of that older model, or your county extension center for assistance.
Another caution when canning is to be sure to use glass jars which are designed for re-use and are made of heat-tempered glass that will assure safety. Mason or Kerr or Ball are name brands that can be trusted. Most jars that you've purchased at the super market with mayonnaise or similar foods are designed for a single use and are not safe for re-use. Lids designed for the name-brand jars are for one time use. Lids that have been used previously do not ensure a tight seal and may cause spoilage and illness if the produce is consumed. Jar rings used with the trusted-name jars may be re-used countless times. Jars and lids and rings can usually be purchased at your grocer or big-box store. Acceptable sizes are half-pint, pint and quart. Half-gallon jars are not recommended as the contents may not cook completely.
You can be sure that the pressure canners of the this century are safe and easy to use. Become a healthier, preservative-free, economically-minded home with pressure canning.
Sue Wiskowski-Fair has developed a special site the provide a one-stop experience for the busy cook to assist in today's stress-filled lives. Check out the wide variety of pressure cookers and pressure canners and determine what fits your lifestyle. Cookbooks to help you. Check out http://www.pressurizeit.com/why-pressure-cookers/ for more information and assistance.