What is Pressure Canning and what are its Benefits?

The value of pressure canning goes far beyond the monetary value of the food that is processed. The true value of canned food is the love and care that goes into the preparation each jar. Today’s home canner usually does not can food out of necessity, but because of the benefits it brings to the family. On a practical level though, pressure canning can provide your family with enough fresh food to last throughout the year without constantly spending money in the grocery store.

Pressure Canning Basics

The two types of food that used for canning are low-acid foods such as vegetables, meat, poultry and seafood, and high-acid foods such as fruits and tomatoes. The United States Department of Agriculture announced many years ago that the only way to safely can low-acid foods is with a pressure canner. Pressure canning procedures are designed to interrupt the cycle of food spoilage.

Food spoilage is caused by bacteria, enzymes, mold and yeast. Enzymes, mold and yeast are destroyed at the boiling temperature of water which is 212° F, but bacteria are more difficult to kill. Since bacteria are able to grow in low-acid foods, they are much more susceptible to bacteria growth. Pressure canning low-acid foods brings the cooking temperature up to 250° F at a pressure of 10 to 15 pounds per square inch, for up to 100 minutes depending on the food and the recipe. Under these cooking conditions, bacteria are utterly destroyed making the food absolutely safe as long as the lid seal on the canning jar remains unbroken.

Once a canning jar is opened, the food must be immediately consumed or placed under refrigeration below 40° F. Food stored at a temperature range of 40° F to 120° F will spoil rather quickly because of bacteria growth. If you are new to canning, but would like to get started, take some time to study-up on safe food cooking temperatures and safe food storage procedures. The important information to take away from this article is that low-acid foods can only be safety canned with a pressure canner.

Canning Ideas

Many people remember the beautiful jars of fresh vegetables grandmother had on the shelves in her kitchen. In the days before the modern grocery store, the jars of vegetables grandmother canned each fall represented the only source of vegetables for the family table until the next harvest season. However, there are many other wonderful foods that are a great option for pressure canning.

Fresh fish can be canned, or even a whole chicken. In the early 20th century families living on farms in the Midwest would butcher and can an entire steer, several hundred pounds of beef! Canned foods will be available to meet your family’s need if the power goes out for a long period of time, and you do not have refrigeration. Canned food can be taken on long hunting and fishing trips when keeping ice in the cooler will be a challenge.

Family Traditions

There are many young people today who have little or no idea where the food they eat comes from. Many people do not know how to harvest and safely process food for long term storage. The decision to purchase a pressure canner may be one of the best family decisions you can make. A family that takes the time to gather up some fresh meats and vegetables, and processes the food in a pressure canner will create some memories that will last a lifetime.

Pressure Cooker/Canner Selection

If you plan to use your pressure cooker/canner primarily for canning, then you should consider one of the larger size units. The smaller size pressure canners of 2 to 6-quart capacity will limit the size and number of canning jars you will be able to process. Pressure cooker/canners of 8-quarts up to 23-quarts size will provide you with a much wider range of canning options. Always consider the safety features of the pressure canner you plan to purchase. Finally you will need to decide on an aluminum or stainless steel unit. Aluminum pressure canners will be lighter, but may not be dishwasher safe. Stainless steel pressure canners will cost slightly more, but most are dishwasher safe.

Using a pressure cooker/canner to prepared healthy and good tasting food for your family can be one of the most rewarding activities your family will ever embark on.

About the Author Chris

I'm a Chef and my name's Chris. I now run a culinary school and consultancy, however my first love was the type of cooking my Mom taught me when I was growing up. That was using a pressure cooker to create delicious, nutritious meals quickly and efficiently. I'm now using this site to pass on my tips and advice to you for buying and getting the best out of your new pressure cooker. Happy Cooking!

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