This year has probably been the best year for us as far as canning, and what has really enabled us is learning how to use a pressure canner. There is a scientific relationship between pressure and temperature – they are directly proportional, meaning as one increases, so does the other. The pressure canner basically facilitates water boiling at a higher temperature, which means your canned food inside is kept at a higher temperature during processing. Water normally boils at 212°F (100°C), but with the pressure cooker, it is increased to 250°F (212°C). This can kill more bugs than just water canning.
I started pressure canning last year, I think. I did some of our marinara, but that was about it. This past spring, though, I canned about 15-20 quarts of chicken stock on one cold and snowy day. It was awesome and the best tasting stock I’ve ever had. This year I have done two batches of marinara (with more of our tomatoes in the freezer waiting!).
My mind was limited, though, to what I had already done. I hadn’t thought of what I could do. As in, what we normally eat, why can’t I just can that? It is such a basic question, and I feel pretty stupid not realizing it, but I did not grow up canning things, or having a garden, so this is just another step on my journey!
We love this, and cook some sort of variation on it a lot. Saute some squash, eggplant, maybe beans with onions and peppers, add some tomato and balsamic vinegar, season accordingly, then simmer.
I can CAN this, I realized! I can just do this throughout the summer! Really, I look at my brain and I’m like “where have you been!?” And with Google, it is just really easy to find directions.
I used this recipe and only deviated by adding balsamic vinegar to taste. Sadly, I did not have any more summer vegetables to cook with, but found what I needed at the farmer’s market. I got enough to make 5x the recipe. This batch is just proof of concept – we make it and like it. Then, next summer, I can plan and we will make this with what comes straight out of the garden.
The recipe called for broiling the vegetables for 5-10 min, and so I did that.
Then combined them all with the proper seasonings and herbs.
I then prepped the canner, got my quart jars hot, and then just canned like we have learned. I left an inch of headspace, but I re-read the post and it said 1.5 inches. I did notice a that some of the juices seeped out during processing and 1.5 inches is better.
Below is the final product. I was afraid all the vegetables might break down during processing, but I looks good! 14 quarts in all!
So, this is definitely eye-opening. Right now we have some potatoes that are starting to sprouting, and I was thinking, “Geez, we need to roast them and eat them up!” But now, I am thinking differently. I am going prep a bacon onion potato soup that I found on Google and pressure can that! You can basically do anything you want EXCEPT have dairy. That there is a No-No. But I think about retirement and this practice right here will be instrumental in growing and preserving as much food as we can to live on, and then to share the excess with family and friends.
So, overall, I am happy with the product, and it has opened up my mind to way more possibilities than I had previously thought.
Well, thanks for stopping by! Happy Gardening!