- Author: Sarah Arana
- Editor: Noni Todd
By Sarah Arana UCCE Master Food Preserver
I received a pressure canner as a birthday gift. What can I preserve in it? Anita M. Cayucos, CA
What a thoughtful present! Having a pressure canner gives the home preserver several more options for “putting up” food at its peak freshness. Pressure canning increases the variety of foods you can preserve. It's the ultimate tool for batch cooking! This piece of culinary equipment provides you the ability to make soups, stews, pasta sauce, chili, beans, broth, and meat ready for heating and serving in a matter of minutes on a night when your too tired or busy to cook. It's the ultimate in “fast food”. Set aside a day for pressure canning, and you'll reap the benefits all year long. Before you begin, get familiar with basic pressure canning principles.
Pressure canning is the only safe method of preserving vegetables, meats, poultry and seafood. They are low in acid and must be prepared in a pressure canner. Jars of food are placed in 2 to 3 inches of water in a pressure canner which is heated to a temperature of at least 240° F. This temperature can only be reached using the pressure method. Bacteria called Clostridium botulinum is the main reason why pressure processing is necessary.
A pressure canner is a specific piece of equipment for food preservation. It is a heavy pot with a lid that closes airtight. The lid has a vent, a pressure gauge and a safety fuse. The pressure canner also has a rack to keep jars off the canner bottom. Because each type of canner is different, read the manufacturer's directions before operating.
When looking for information on preserving food, don't use old pamphlets, outdated cookbooks, or untested recipes on the internet. Best sources for current information on research and processing instructions are publications made by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension Services, and home food processing equipment manufacturers. Taking a class from a certified Master Food Preserver is highly recommended if possible. The UCCE Master Food Preserver Program of San Luis Obispo County is offering an Advanced Canning class on Saturday, September 22nd from 10am-12pm, which will be highlighting pressure canning. This class is open to all levels of canners. Register here: http://ucanr.edu/advancedcanning