I haven't canned with mine yet, but I saw the DVD that came with the cooker and it looked pretty simple. After having used it quite a few times I think it shouldn't be more trouble than regular canning. The only thing is mine didn't come with a canning rack and I don't feel like splurging for a canning set since I already have everything I need except for the rack. I read somewhere that you can use mason jar rings upside down on the base of the pot instead to keep the bottoms of the jars from having direct contact with the heat source and I think I'll just try that. I'm really itching to get canning, might just try it the next few days! By the way, the first dish I tried with my cooker was risotto and it got done in 15 minutes! It was very reassuring after seeing how simple it was to make.
I've been reading up on canning and it seems that you can only hot water can foods that have an acidic PH. Last summer I bought a ton of red bell peppers and wanted to roast them and can them, but I had to preserve them in a marinade because their PH too alkaline to just can it. Pretty much everything but jams and maybe tomatoes (which are borderline on the PH) has to be pressure canned in order to kill all the bacteria and preserve safely. This summer I'll load up on peppers! Plus, I've been thinking about canning beans, and I can even can my own cream of mushroom soup. Here are a couple of websites that have been very helpful to me:
Sounds good! Roasted peppers, ymmm. Good point about tomatoes. I grew up seeing tomatoes canned in a BWB, but suspect tomatoes "these days" are less acidic than in the past, to make more acceptable to general population. Too bad...
Nice to be able to expand repertoire with a pressure canner. Saw the Macy's price. Wow!
When you say 'beans' are you referring to green beans or legume? If legume, what I do is to cook a batch of them in my pressure cooker (about 3 cups of dried legume), put them in mason jars and freeze them. 3 cups of dried beans results in half a dozen or more 12oz mason jars. Since it's not seasonal, I feel this is a good way to go. Just remember to put enough liquid to cover beans, and leave head room (at least 1/2 inch or so) because the contents will expand when frozen. A very basic notion but I forgot to do so my first time, and it expanded enough to push the lid to bend. (had to throw away the lid - not a zero waste way! oops!)
Thanks for the tip! What I am thinking about canning is dried beans. I do try to stay away from the freezer, though, because it's usually stuffed up with all my other food items. I like to load up on meat when it's on sale and freeze it for future use, so my freezer is pretty cramped! That's actually what motivated me to start canning on the first place :)
Another alternative I've seen for the canning rack (in this Le Parfait video for "Tuna in Oil" at www.leparfait.fr) is lining the bottom of the canning pot with a folded dishtowel and squeezing another dishtowel in between the jars. Bea seems to do a variation of this in her tomato canning tutorial. I plan to try out this method once I receive my pressure cooker. I'm hoping it works, it would be great not to have to buy additional equipment for canning. I wonder if I can also get away with using tongs instead of a jar lifter.
Andrea, if you look at the rack in the Fagor "canning set", it's not a traditional canning rack anyway, which would hold the jars away from each other. Your method, or towels are probably just as useful as the rack shown.
I was reading through Bea's tomato canning post, and noticed she did BWB; the extra touch I really liked, never thought of, was to put a weight on top of the jars. She used a rock, but whatever... I've occasionally had trouble, when canning smaller jars, with the jars floating, then rattling. This ultimately stymied my attempts to stack the 'lil jars, which was a bit annoying. I like small jars of jelly/jam. So,anyway, duh, a weight to keep jars from floating! Don't know how that would work in pressure canner; what do you all think??
The weight would probably also work in a pressure canner, but you most likely would not need it since most recipes call for a water level of only 2-3 inches for pressure canning. Just in case, I'll be on the lookout for a good canning rock ;)
While the www.uga.edu website calls tomatoes a borderline low-acid food, they still endorse the boiling water bath method for canning tomatoes, provided you add an acid to the jars. They recommend adding bottled lemon juice* (not fresh juice b/c bottled offers a more consistent pH) or citric acid to decrease the pH to <4.5. They also seem to hot pack the crushed tomatoes, whereas Bea raw packs hers. Bea's method is almost identical to the one outlined on the Le Parfait website. So I guess it just depends on whose instructions you prefer to follow. I just started to read the instruction booklet for my Fagor pressure cooker, and they also mention the low-acid thing and suggest pressure canning tomatoes.
Update: Just learned that hot packing the crushed tomatoes is beneficial for a number of reasons. It prevents air bubbles from getting trapped in the jar, reduces shrinkage of the final product, and most interestingly, it stops the separation of tomato pulp and juices that can occur after processing. Crushing the tomatoes releases enzymes that cause the pulp and juice to separate. Heating the tomatoes breaks down this enzyme.
* Just found an article from Linda Ziedrich, author of "The Joy of Jams, Jellies, and Other Sweet Preserves," that debates the need for bottled lemon juice over fresh lemon juice. Worth a read through if you'd rather use fresh lemons instead of buying bottled juice.
Over the weekend, I tried out pressure canning with my new 10 qt Fagor. It was easier than I had anticipated.
I canned some crushed tomatoes using the directions outlined on the National Center for Home Food Preservation website. Also helpful were these instructions on how to use pressure canners. Substituting tongs and folded dishtowels in place of the jar lifter and canning rack worked out just fine. Another helpful guide is this pdf from the Ball website, freshpreserving.com.
The process is very similar to the boiling water bath method. You prepare the tomatoes and fill the jars in the same way you would for boiling water bath processing. The only differences arise once you put the jars in the pressure cooker. With the filled jars and folded dishtowel placed in the cooker, you add hot water until it reaches a level of 2-3 inches. Close the lid, set the gauge to the "steam release" position, and allow a steady flow of steam to vent out of the cooker for at least 10 minutes. This allows air trapped in the pressure cooker to release, so that when you switch to the pressure setting, the correct temperature will be reached at that pressure. Once this is done, turn the dial to the pressure setting, and process for the amount of time listed in the recipe's directions. The Fagor Futuro has a dial gauge that can be adjusted to a pressure of either 8 or 15 psi. I used the 15 psi setting, with a processing time of 10 minutes. When the jars are done processing, I turned off the heat and allowed the pressure to release naturally from the cooker (don't open the "steam release" valve or force-cool the cooker with cold water). Take the processed jars out of the cooker, and let them cool on a towel or cooling rack.
I should also mention that I used the Le Parfait jars for canning. Didn't experience any issues with the jars not sealing correctly. Actually, the seal is VERY strong, so strong that I had a hard time opening one of the jars until I figured out that you just pull the gasket tab. It makes a very loud and distinct "wphfff" noise when you break the vacuum seal.
Well, it's been a month or two since I got my 10 qt Fagor and I've already adapted several of my recipes to it. Also canned barbeque sauce, crushed tomatoes, green beans, beets, and pickled beets; everything without a problem at all. It was just as simple to do, except that it got done sooooo much faster than hot water canning. I mean, just waiting for the huge pot of water to start boiling took for ever the regular way. Also used the dishcloth at the bottom of the pot to keep jars from clinking and it worked just fine. Thanks for that tip! Looking forward to more canning! I'm so glad I got this cooker.
Jay: For the 10 qt Futuro, I was able to get 4 Ball quart jars or 5 wide mouth pint jars in at a time. The Le Parfait jars are wider and take up more room, so it is 3 Le Parfait 500ml or 750ml jars, or 4 350ml jars (single stack, but I think you could fit more in on top). I've been prepping small batches of each recipe, the ratio usually being a pound of veggies per pint.
Andrea: I completely agree! Pressure canning is so much faster when you don't have to wait for a giant pot of water to boil. Glad to hear the dishtowel method worked out. I'd also love to hear recipe suggestions, if you don't mind sharing:) I've been following two canning blogs, Food in Jars and Saving the Season, and the books of Linda Ziedrich and Christine Ferber. There's also a feature in Bon Appetit this month on canning and pickling, with the author of Saving the Season, Kevin West.
For the pickled beets and pickled zucchinis, I don't feel too confident giving the recipe yet because it was the 1st time I made them and I haven't tasted them yet. But here's the bbq sauce:
1/4 lb butter, 3/4 cup minced onions, 1/2 cup minced garlic, zest of 2 lemons, 5 tb lemon juice, 4 1/4 cups ketchup, 1 cup tomato juice, 3/4 cups brown sugar, 6 tb molasses, 1/2 cup worcestershire sauce, 1/2 cup chili powder, 4 tb white vinegar, 1 1/2 tb chipotle puree, 3 cups water and a pinch of salt. Saute onions and garlic in butter 5 mins, add lemon zest and juice. Add ketcup and tomato juice, sugar & molasses. Add worcestershire sauce, chili powder, vinegar, chipotle puree and water. Finish w/ a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and simmer 30 mins. Then I ladled it into pint jars and processed for 20 minutes. My cooker only has one setting and I think it's 15lbs of pressure. Some jars didn't set but it keeps for a very long time in the fridge any way.
Yesterday I made pulled pork (in just 45 mins!) and I used this sauce for it. It's pretty good :)
Thanks Sandra for the links, will check them out right away. I'm really into jam making and preserving whatever I get my hands on.
I agree, your BBQ sauce recipe sounds delicious. Thanks for sharing, Andrea!
I was wondering, has anyone found a source for either powdered pectin or citric acid in bulk bins? So far, I've been using non-pectin jam recipes, but I know that certain jams, like cherry, won't jell if you don't add pectin to the recipe.