So I was just thinking I should get a Pressure Canner.
What you are saying is that I could take some tomatoes, cut them up and put them in a jar. Process them and that is it. NO ADDING ANYTHING?
Sort of... please allow me to explain a bit more.
First, pressure canners are used to process food under a certain amount of pressure and for a certain amount of time called... processing time (who'd a thunk it
). Processing times and pressure used varies and is determined by what you are canning. But, don't worry... the owner's manual that comes with your pressure canner should have all the information for you. So, it's easy to figure out.
Second, depending on the brand and model, the pressure under which your foods are processed is measured one of two different ways. One way is with a dial gauge. It is the most accurate type. And, is usually the most expensive. The other way is with weights that are built into the jiggler. The jiggler can be made of three parts that can be assembled in a manner that will achieve the proper pressure. Or, the jiggler can have multiple holes in it. The desired pressure is achieved by mounting the jiggler using the appropriate hole. (I know that probably doesn't make sense... but, it will if you see one.
The ones with the jiggler and no dial gauge are the least accurate and the least expensive. However, they work very, very
well!! I have first hand knowledge of this because that is the kind that I have. And, as I said earlier, I've not lost a single jar of anything
since I've been using it!!
While I'm thinking about it... DO NOT
process pickles, jams, or jellies in a pressure canner!!! They need to be done in a hot water bath canner. And, one of the neat things about a pressure canner is that it can double as a hot water bath canner... just don't put the lid on it... or, don't lock it down!!
Here's how to can tomatoes in a pressure canner...
Choose good quality, ripe tomatoes (duh). And, it is best to use tomatoes that are not low acid tomatoes.
Wash the tomatoes in cold water.
Scald the tomatoes. Begin by filling a large pot (say... 8 to 10 quart size) with water. Bring the water to a boil and leave on the stove on "HIGH" heat. While the water is heating, fill one side of your sink about 1/2 or so full of COLD water. Once the water has come to a boil, add a few of your tomatoes... just don't overflow your pot! Watch the tomatoes closely so as not to overheat them! As the skins on the tomatoes begin to crack, using a large slotted spoon, remove them from the hot water and immediately place them in the cold water. The cold water stops the tomatoes from cooking too much. Make sure you remove ALL tomatoes that were added before adding any more! Between "batches" allow the water to come back to a rolling boil. And, when the cold water in your sink is no longer cold, change it out!
Once all of your tomatoes are scalded and cooled enough that you can handle them, prepare them. Begin by peeling the skin off the tomatoes. The scalding process makes them very easy to peal. Once pealed, remove ALL of the core. I can't stress enough that you MUST remove ALL of the core!! Also remove any green flesh, insect damage, bruised or otherwise blemished spots. At this point, you can leave the tomatoes whole. Or, you can cut them in half. Or, quarter them. Or, cut them however you wish.
Once all of your tomatoes are peeled, cored, and all green flesh and blemishes are removed, you can proceed one of the following two ways:
1) You can put them into a very large pot. Place the pot on a large stove eye on medium to medium high heat. Heat the the tomatoes thoroughly. Make sure to stir frequently as scorched tomato is not very good tasting! Once the tomatoes are heated thoroughly, fill your clean, sterilized jars with them. Make sure to leave the amount of head space (space between the top of the vegetable and the top of the jar) that is recommended in the owner's manual that came with your pressure canner.
2) You can simply fill your jars with your tomatoes. Once again, make sure you observe proper head space!
Either way, unless you want it, YOU DO NOT HAVE TO ADD ANY SALT OR ANYTHING ELSE TO THE TOMATOES!!!
I've canned tomatoes both ways. And, I really can't tell the difference!
Place your lids on your jars. Screw the rings onto the jars... very tight! Make sure to use rings that are in good condition and do not have rust on them. Make sure to use new lids! NEVER use a used lid to can anything!!!
Prepare your canner according to the directions in the owner's manual.
Side note: Every time I get my canner out to use it, I remove the rubber gasket, dip my finger in a small amount of cooking oil, and apply a thin layer of cooking oil to the entire gasket. It seems that this helps it seal better. And, my grandmother told me it would make it last longer. When I am finished with it and have washed it, I DO NOT put more cooking oil on it before I store it. Doing so can make the rubber break down quicker. And, the oil will go rancid!!
Place your jars in the pressure canner. Fill the canner with water according to the directions in your owner's manual. DO NOT OVERFILL IT!!! Place the lid on the pressure canner and ensure that it is securely locked into place. Place the canner on a large eye on the stove and turn the eye on "HIGH" heat. Once the jiggler on the canner begins jiggling (kind of dancing back and forth), reduce the heat to just maintain the jiggling. Or, for a canner that has a dial gauge, reduce the heat until the desired pressure is maintained. Process the jars for the amount of time recommended in your owner's manual.
Once the jars have been processed for the prescribed amount of time, carefully remove the canner from the heat. Be careful... the canner will be very heavy!! Allow the canner to cool in a spot where there are no drafts, fans blowing on it, or air conditioner vents blowing on it. It needs to cool slowly so that the pressure inside each jar has time to drop at about the same time that the pressure inside the canner drops. If the pressure in the canner drops quicker than it does in the jar, juice will pour out of the jars and into the canner. Since the juice will have passed between the lid and the jar, it is probable that they will not seal good and that bacteria can enter the jar resulting in spoiled tomatoes!!
That's it... you now have tomatoes that you can store for a year or more! And, you
canned them yourself
A few words of caution:
First, If care is utilized and directions are followed, using a pressure canner is as safe as using most anything else to cook in. But, if you are the least bit careless, the end result will be at the least a huge
mess!! And, it can result in DEATH
!!!! So, always
be careful!!!! Always
check your pressure canner and it's gasket for any cracks, breaks, or other defects!!!! And, always
follow the directions in your owner's manual!!!!
Second, if your stove has a glass cooktop, DO NOT
place the canner directly on the glass!!! At the same place that you got your stove, there should be a ring available to use when cooking with large pots and canners. If you do not use this ring, your glass cooktop WILL
Finally, if you have never used a pressure canner (even if you've used a pressure cooker), I would strongly
recommend that you buy a new one instead of a used one!! That way, you are 99.99% sure that there are no problems with the canner. And, you know you'll get the owner's manual with it! But, if you insist on getting a used one (did I mention that I don't recommend a first timer doing this?), DO NOT
buy it "sight unseen"... such as off of Ebay!!! Buy it "in person!" That way, you can thoroughly inspect it before
any cash changes hands!! And, make darn sure to get the owner's manual!! Not only will it have the necessary directions for using the canner, it will probably also include a bunch of great recipes!!
If you get a pressure canner and decide you like it, you may find yourself canning lots and lots of things. If so, you can speed the process up a bit with a second canner! While one is cooling down, you can have the other one on the stove processing another batch of jars!!!
Heck... I even know one lady who uses three
when her veggies are coming in!!!
If you would like to print all of this out, feel free to do so!
But, all of these instructions (along with many others for processing all kinds of foods) will bin included in the owner's manual that comes with your new
One final suggestion... if you have any older... mom and pop owned type of hardware stores... the kind that always has oddball, hard to find "thing"... you might check them out. That's the kind of hardware store that I got mine from. And, it was cheaper than I could find it anywhere else! Also check out any farm supply stores you have close to you. Sometimes they will have them... and, at a good price!
If I can be of any further assistance, all one has to do is ask! I love canning almost as much as I love growing my own tomatoes!!
Now... go have some fun canning your own veggies... brag a bunch about them... and, enjoy eating them... knowing that they only contain what you
want them to contain!!!