Canning 101: How to Use a Pressure Cooker
You’ve done all of the hard work: planning the garden, planting, weeding, and now harvesting! Are the fruits of your labor coming in like a flood? Have no fear, with our help you can enjoy those fruits and veggies all year round! Not sure where to start? We’ve laid it all out for you, beginning with prep work followed by tips and tricks for using your pressure cooker!
Different foods have different needs when it comes to canning with a pressure cooker. Keep this in mind as you begin creating the boiling water bath. Foods such as salsa, pickles, or fruit jams are highly acidic and a water bath can be created in a high-walled pot or dutch oven. However, food that have lower acidity levels such as meats or vegetables, you may want to give a pressure cooker a try! Heat it up to 240°F to prevent any foodborne bacteria from making itself a home. If you’re mixing both high and low acidity level foods such as spaghetti sauce with hamburger, go ahead and use the pressure cooker to have peace of mind! After all, you don’t want to do all of that work for spoiled sauce, right?!
Prep the Food for Canning
Let the prepping begin! You will often have to blanch and skin soft-skinned fruits and veggies, like peaches and tomatoes. To do so, place them in boiling water for 30-60 seconds until the skin starts to split. Then, place them into an ice water bath to stop the cooking and cool them enough to handle.
Remove pits from stone fruit. Remember to wash and dry all produce before canning.
Most recipes will give you further instructions as to how to prepare your fruits and veggies for canning. Many will require and little slicing and dicing!
Ready to Can
When you’re ready to get down to can, ensure you have all of the proper tools: wide-mouth funnel, jar lifter, tongs, measuring cups, and jars with lids (preferably the two piece screw on lids). Now that you’re all prepped and ready to go, it’s time to get to work!
- Find a recipe that fits your taste. Whether you’re looking on social media or at a canning guide, select a recipe that suits your tastes to preserve your hard work this summer!
- Warm up the jars. Wash the jars and then place them in hot (not boiling) water until you’re ready to begin filling. Bring water to a simmer in a large stockpot and add the jars, ensuring that water fills the jars and prevents any floating. Curious as to why? The jars must be hot until you’re ready to beginning filling them or they will shatter when hot food is added.
- Start filling jars. Take 2-3 inches of water and fill the pressure canner and place on stove to simmer. Begin filling the jars with the prepared food mixture after using a jar lifter to remove from hot water bath. Be sure to use a funnel to prevent any large messes! If necessary, a bubble remover or headspace tool can be used to remove any air bubbles.
- Clean jars. Take a damp washcloth to remove any spills down the side, rim, or threads of the jars. Next, it’s time to seal each jar and add more water to the pressure cooker.
- Begin cooking. When sealing the lid to your pressure cooker, be sure to keep the vent pipe open. Steam will begin to escape through the vent. Plan to allow it to vent for approximately 10 minutes to completely release any air that remains and then safely close the vent. Check your recipe for the proper heat and pounds of pressure and adjust your pressure cooker as needed.
- Cool down. Once your cooking has completed, cool your pressure cooker by removing it from the heat source. Hold on until it safely returns to zero, wait ten minutes, and then remove the weight and unlock the lid. It’s best to wait an additional ten minutes before removing your jars. Allow jars to sit on a flat surface such as your counter for 12-24 hours to completely set.
- Inspect lids. Once all jars are cooled and set, remove the bands from each jar. Check each jar’s seal by lifting with your fingertips. If you can’t lift the lid, you have a successful seal! Plan to store your jars for up to a year in a cool and dry place.
Yes, You Can!
Ta-da! You’ve done it! You’ve officially preserved your hard work and effort for a chance to enjoy the benefits all winter long and even into following years! With the proper tools, a bit of patience, and the help of your local Runnings Store, canning isn’t near as intimidating as it appears. You’ll be savoring those fruits and vegetables when they aren’t in season and filling your pantry with nutritious options.
Bonus Recipe: Homemade Canned Salsa
This salsa stays “canning friendly” because it has a higher proportion of fresh tomatoes than most salsa recipes. It also includes vinegar to lower the pH. Additional herbs and hot peppers give this salsa a little something extra. Left with extra herbs? Maintain their freshness in an herb keeper.