Last weekend I spent a day canning veggies for winter. My mom gave me more GINORMOUS zucchini, and I had a lot of yellow squash from my garden that needed to be preserved. My awesome mom-in-law let me come over, take her kitchen hostage, and use her pressure canner!
This was my first time pressure canning, so I didn’t take very many photos during the process. I wanted to make sure I didn’t blow up my in-laws kitchen. I thought it would be a lot faster than boil canning, but it wasn’t! It takes a while for the canner to get up to the right pressure, and then it seems like forever for the canner to depressurize when you’re done. Maybe that’s because you JUST WANT TO SEE YOUR FINISHED PRODUCT.
Really, pressure canning is as easy as boil canning.
Basic logic behind which method to use:
Basically, if you’re canning fruit, acidic fruits/veggies, or anything pickled then you can use boil canning.
If you don’t have vinegar or natural fruit acid in the food you’re canning (or are canning meat or broth) then you need a pressure canner.
Reasoning: Food can spoil from three factors. One of those factors can only be killed by a certain acid level OR by a certain temperature (a temperature higher than the point of boiling water). Pressure canning gets your stuff up to a high enough temp to kill that tricky factor.
These cans of yellow summer squash and zucchini weren’t pickled, so I needed to pressure can!
Step 1: Read all directions that come with your pressure canner, and follow the steps on how to prep the canner.
Step 2: I washed my jars in hot, soapy water and rinsed them. Then, I turned the oven on 200, put the jars in there on a cooking sheet, and turned the oven off. That is supposed to keep them sterile while you prep the food and water.
Step3: Boil a bunch of water. Get a bunch of your biggest pots, get a bunch of water boiling. You’ll need boiling water for:
- Each jar of veggies
- A medium pot of boiling water for your lids and bands
- At least 3 quarts of water boiling to put in the canner with your jars
Step 4: Cut up the veggies. I had tons of stuff to can. I had 4 HUGE zucchini and 5 medium-large yellow squash. Wash the veggies real well, and even scrub them real well if they’re tough like zucchini. I sliced mine into rounds, and the pieces that were just too huge to fit in the jars were chopped. The chopped pieces can easily be used in soups or for toddler food. Any of it can be easily reheated for a side dish.
Step 5: Pack the jars. Pack the jars with veggies pretty tightly. They shrink up when they’re cooked.
Step 6: Fill jars with boiling water. Leave 1 inch head space. Pressure canning requires a bigger head space allowance to prevent the jars from breaking or exploding. Make sure to get as many bubbles up as you can by using your bubble wand. Slide it down the inside edges of your jars and bubbles will come floating up. You can also tap the side of the jar with a heavy wooden spoon.
Step 7: Put on your lids and cook. Put your lids on finger tight (don’t use your whole hand and palm to tighten because your jars could explode). Place your jars in the pressure canner with 3 quarts of boiling water. You can also add a tablespoon of white vinegar to the water to make your jars really shiny!
Step 8: Pressurize and wait. Turn your burner on high until your pressure gage is to about 5 psi, then turn it to medium-high heat. You kind of have to anticipate the pressure. Once your gage is up to 10 psi, start your timer and keep the pressure at 10. For pints, cook at 10 psi for 25 minutes. For quarts, cook at 10 psi for 30 minutes.
Step 9: Wait some more. When your timer goes off remove the canner from heat and wait and wait and wait and wait until the pressure goes down to zero on it’s own. THEN remove the pressure cap-thing and steam will come out. When steam is done coming out, then you can open the lid and see if you have broken glass and veggie soup or nicely canned veggie jars! It’s kind of exciting!
Wait for your jars to cool before tightening the lids. They pop as they seal!
Go can some food! It’s easier than you think, healthier than factory canned foods, and it’s a learning experience!