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Thursday, June 4, 2009

Pressure Canning


As you may know, I went to the Vintage Park building this morning to attend a Sac Stake "how to preserve food" little class. There were about 15 of us, so it was a nice group. The teacher, a wonderful woman named Kathleen Frawley, was a delight. She has been pressure canning for years, and has also taken the Master series through the UC Extension (see my blog for a list of a bunch of them coming soon!).

First Angie talked about our last meetings and we each visited about how we have used the Wonder Oven. Angie said she will be starting to sell them, so if you know anyone who would like one, let her know. I can make some also, but I'm sure I would charge the same amount as Angie, and I'm sure anyone who wants to make one themselves can just ask her/us how!

Meanwhile, here is what the class entailed:

Angie said she cooked beans using the Wonder Oven, by putting some beans in a pot that was small enough that after the water was on top of the beans, there wasn't a lot of space above it..which is what makes it work. She let them cook for about 10 hours or so after boiling them for 10 minutes. I'm anxious to try this myself. Last time I made the beans this way I only let them "cook" for 5 hours, and I can see now it wasn't enough.

Some of the sisters also mentioned making bread (whchi is made in an empty juice can and "cooks" for about 5-6 hours), and other items...the intention being to save fuel. How cool is it that we can start a meal, like stew or whatever, boil it ten minutes and have it cook the rest of the time without fuel at all!

Our next meeting is in August, the 2nd Thursday instead of the first. I will be teaching about solar cooking, and

I asked Kathleen about steam canners, since I have one and had heard they weren't tested so not sure they were safe (see, and she said she uses one just fine. So I will take that advice and use my steam canner for jams, and some fruits, etc., but will still get a water bath canner, and of course a pressure canner as soon as my finances allow.

Kathleen started out by showing us the Ball Blue Book as an excellent resource for our canning instruction. Pressure canning can be done either hot pack (meaning the food is cooked up and then canned) or cold pack (meaning the food is raw when you put in the jar before canning). She will make her soups and stews, etc., this way by laying out the produce and meats she plans on putting in the jars so she controls the contents of each jar, then she processes them using the longest time and highest pressure required for the ingredients. For example, if you are processing a stew, you use the required time and pressure for the meat being used, since that requires the most.

To keep the bottles hot and clean before using, she uses the sterile setting on the dishwasher and keeps them inside before use. Put towels out on all the counter tops so you will never put the jars directly on the cold counter. Wipe of the rim carefully before putting the lids and bands on, to make sure there is no break in the seal. When putting the jars in and taking them out, be sure to pick them straight up with the tongs, over straight to the canner, and down directly, so there is never any "sloshing"inside that may hit the rims.

In the pressure canner, fill with two inches of water, put the jars in, turn on the heat and put the lid on the pressure canner, but NOT the weight. When steam pours out vigorously from the top, keep it going for ten more minutes, THEN put the weight gage on. Wait again until the weight vibrates and clicks, THEN start to time.When the canning is finished, wait 10 minutes, minimum, take the weight off the top, and wait one hour before undoing the lid clamps. When you take the jars out, resist the temptationi to adjust the lid, wipe off water from the top, or do anything at all except putting the jar on the towel. Make sure this is an area they will not be disturbed, because you want to leave them there for 24 hours.

After that, take off the bands and try to push off the lid of the jar with your thumb. If you can do that, they did NOT seal, and you must reprocess or eat right away. Remove the bands, because it's always possible they will unseal and you won't know it. (Long story, but trust her).

That's it.

We also discussed how to preserve seeds for the future. She always saves her seeds, and said that you can save them very easily by just removing them from the best fruit you can find (best plant, best fruit on the plant) and drying them. For tomatoes, you take them from the tomato and put them into a glass of water for about 3 days until it becomes scummy. (Do in the garage so it doesn't smell up the house). Then rinse them out, spread out paper towels until dry, and then put into a jar or Food Save them. She said they will keep for a long time if cool and dark One caution, you need to do this with NON HYBRID seeds, meaning they are heirloom type so they stay true each generation. Her favorites are Jubalee, Mule Team, Isis Candy, Opalka, and another one who's name escaped me!

The most important thing to look for in seeds is that they do NOT have the F-1 designation, which means they are not "organic" natural seeds.

All in all it was a very productive meeting. Kathleen said she liked our group and plans on coming to future events. Meanwhile, there are several UC Extension classes I'll be going to in June/July. Let me know if you want to join me.

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