Hi everyone...I have been water bath canning for a few years, jams, relishes, tomatoes and such but I would really like to can other less acid foods. I'm trying to decide if I should take the plunge and invest in a pressure canner. I guess what I really want to know is can I pressure can my own home recipes or do I still have to follow a recipe book to get the right consistencies? I make a lot of my own soups, stews, broths, and other things that i would love to can but I don't want to have to change my recipes too much and sacrifice the flavors that my family loves. As it is, I freeze some things but the texture of a lot of veggies is kinda off when I defrost them. It also takes a huge amount of space in the freezer to keep stocked up on things. Thanks for any thoughts or tips anyone has to offer on this. I really appreciate your time since a pressure canner seems to be a big investment. :)
Questions about Pressure canning
I took the same route and finally took the plunge. I haven't regretting it. You can actually use a pressure canner either way...with our without the pressure. And you can pressure can things you would normally do in a water bath, so it does double duty.
You're likely to have issues if you can already cooked soups...the pressure canning actually cooks the stuff in the jars. So if doing things with vegetables, I'd just barely blanch them, then do a hot pack and process them. Meat's okay...it just usually gets more tender, but if the veggies are cooked twice, they tend to get quite mushy.
Broths are excellent pressure canned, and so is chili. One word of warning...definitely DO leave a generous headspace. I found out the hard way the first time I did green beans...only had about an inch or 2 of liquid in the jars when it was done. If I leave more room, the contents don't boil over.
For the most part you should use approved canning recipes, I tend to find a similar recipe to mine and make sure my amounts are close, dry spices of course don't matter. Just make sure you time the ingredients appropriately, say if your using meat in your spaghetti sauce, can it for the appropriate meat time, or say the lowest acid ingredient with the longest cook time is how long you would can a say soup recipe for per canning book guideline. Hope that makes sense, you won't regret getting a pressure canner!
Watch Youtube pressure canner videos, watching someone else do it will build your confidence doing it and changing recipes to suit your needs.
Those are a few of my favorite reference sites for times, directions, etc.
Other than that, I can quite a few of my own recipes. Processing time, as stated in previous comment, should be the correct time for the ingredient requiring the longest time. If I can a quart of soup with meat in it, for example, I would process it for 90 minutes...the correct time for quarts of meat. (Since I don't like mushy veggies, I prefer to can seasoned broth with meat and add veggies, noodles, etc. at serving time). I can a lot of meats and things like taco filling, sloppy joes, pasta sauces with meat. Nothing beats being able to pop open a jar and have dinner on the table in 10 minutes with no big mess! Having ground beef ready for a casserole without having to brown it first....the ultimate healthy convenience food!
Ok, so I ordered a Presto canner from Amazon this evening. I checked out my local stores and couldn't find what I was looking for and this was the best price. Now I'm reading more about pressure canning and there's all kinds of warnings about using a canner on a glass top stove, which is what I have. My stove has an extra large burner on it, more that 11". Should I be worried about it? Thanks for all the great information and I'm so excited to get started. I hope I can still use it with my stove.
I also have a glass top stove and haven't had a bit of trouble with the pressure canner...except that I have to use the front burner cuz the canner is so tall it won't fit otherwise, LOL. I got a large one...it will actually hold 2 layers of quart jars which doubles the amount you can process at once.
LOL, I'm lazy so if I'm gonna do it, I wanna do it all once rather than make and clean the mess 2 or 3 times. If I'm doing chili, I make a triple batch at least...then with one processing we have plenty. If I'm doing jam, I use all the fruit and can process it all in one go rather than have some sitting waiting till the previous batch is finished. If I can get everything in one pot, I can get the mess cleaned up while it's processing and then have a minimal amount left when it's done.
Tomatoes are the worst! We usually end up doing 3 or 4 cases and I really hate having all the stuff around for days. I finally invested in a food mill this year and what a blessing! No blanching, peeling or cutting...just rinse, toss 'em in the hopper and turn the handle. I can then strain the juice and can that, take the pulp and can some as just tomatoes (to add to chili and such) and make the rest into spaghetti sauce. It's a long day but at least it can be done in just one day :)
I use a glass top stove with the 15.5 qt. All American canner, it says not to but I have not had a problem The Presto is much lighter with grooves on the bottom (from what I have been told) so it should not be a problem according to many others who use them. I also have an outdoor 3 burner stove that I use for bigger batches and that keeps the heat out of the kitchen which is a great option, especially if your a renter worried about ruining your landlords stove.