Pressure Canning - What is it and is it worth the investment?
I have been using a pressure canner for 11 years now. My Aunty bought me a Presto Pressure canner for my birthday around the same time as a friend gave me Sally Wise book a year on the farm and I fell in love with the process of preserving food for the larder. A Pressure canner is a special stove top unit that can reach high temperatures and pressure. It is a small compact version of the machine used commercially to can foods. This process is different from waterbath canning, which is used for preserving high-acid foods like fruits and pickles or by adding sugar and vinegar to help preserve. Pressure canning is necessary for low-acid foods like vegetables, meats, and fish, which can harbor dangerous bacteria like botulism. Using the pressure canner means we can preserve our fruit, veg and meat by using only water and no additives like sugar or salt unless for flavor.
The main difference between pressure canning and waterbath canning is the temperature and pressure required to safely preserve food. water bath canning involves boiling jars of food in a large pot of water for a specific amount of time. This process is effective for high-acid or sugared foods because the acidity/Sugar prevents the growth of harmful bacteria.
However, low-acid foods require higher temperatures and pressure to eliminate any potential bacteria growth. Pressure canning involves placing jars of food in a special canner that can reach temperatures and pressures of up to 15 PSI. This high heat and pressure ensure that all bacteria are destroyed, making the food safe for long-term storage.
When pressure canning, it is important to follow specific instructions for each type of food. Each canning unit has easy to follow guidelines for pressure canning different foods, including vegetables, meats, and fish. These guidelines ensure that the food is safe to eat and that the canning process is effective. It is recommended you only use specific canning jars but we have never had any issues using recycled jars and water bath fowlers jars in our units.
One of the benefits of pressure canning is that it allows for the preservation of a wider variety of foods. Low-acid foods like meats, beans, and soups can be safely canned using this method. Pressure canning also allows for longer storage times, with canned foods lasting up three years or more.
Pressure canning is a safe and effective way to preserve low-acid foods for long-term storage. Its not as scary or complicated as it seems units can be expensive these days but ours has never missed a beat in 11 years so a worthy investment particularly for those off grid who don't have refrigeration. While waterbath canning is great for high-acid foods and we still use it regularly the pressure canner allows for preserving a wider variety of foods. It is great for making quick convenient meals like our own soups and sauces that we can grab on busy days. We even use it to make our own canned beans from cheap dried beans saving us time and money at the grocery store.