In addition to all the work involved in canning, perhaps my mother was put off by her recollection of stories of women whose pressure canners malfunctioned. She told us about the canner lids that blew off which impacted faces, tore off fingers and scalded skin...it was enough to scare me out of ever wanting to use a pressure canner.
When I had four young children to feed and a large garden, however, I did venture into the safe world of water-bath canning...a process that may only be used for high-acid fruits and vegetables. It was tiresome work, but the resulting jars of goodness used to fill my pantry like summer gold. .
Years later, as an empty-nester living in rural Missouri, I made friends with a group of wonderful Mennonite people and one of them, a dear woman named Emma, volunteered to show me how to use a pressure canner...she assured me that the process was quite easy and that today's canners were very safe.
One summer afternoon, I helped Emma prepare green beans and jars for my canning lesson. I could not believe how easy it really was. The jars did not need to be sterilized...the packing was almost effortless and only about and inch and a half of water was needed to pressurize the canner. We set the canner on the burner, loaded it with jars, sealed the lid, turned on the heat and waited for the pressure regulator weight to jiggle and then adjusted the heat to maintain the correct pressure. Timing was easy and the unit was not moved or opened until it had totally cooled. The jars of beans came out beautifully and neither of us was scalded or maimed and we both had all of our fingers!
Since that day, I have pressure canned beans, carrots, zucchini, corned beef, chili sauce and spaghetti sauce. I have loved preserving some of the foods that make up the flavors of my life...
1 ½ quarts homemade spaghetti sauce with ground beef (Post #41)
6 pint jars
Put 1 ½” of water in bottom of pressure cooker, add rack. (Canner lid edge should be lubricated lightly following manufacturer’s directions). Place pot on largest burner.
Cook spaghetti sauce and keep warm or hot; meanwhile prepare jars, lids and bands by washing with hot water. Set clean, empty jars on a paper towel. Place a jar-funnel in jar and fill clean hot jar with sauce; leave 1” of head space. Remove funnel and place lid on top of filled jar. Seal tightly with band. Place jar on rack in pressure canner. Fill remaining jars and place inside cooker.
Place lid on top of pressure canner and seal according to manufacturer’s directions. Place regulator weight on top of vent pipe on 10 # pressure. Turn up heat and watch gauge. When gauge reaches 240 degrees F, weight regulator will jiggle. Adjust heat to maintain heat level. Cook for 75 minutes. Turn off heat after cooking time is up. Do not move canner. Let unit cool down. Carefully remove weight with a pot holder. Steam may escape. When pot is cold, unfasten lid and remove jars. Set jars on a towel and wipe off. Make sure all lids are sucked downward…this indicates a good seal. When contents are cold, remove the bands. Wipe edges if necessary. Store as you would any other canned food.
Easy Spaghetti Soup for Two
1 C left over spaghetti sauce
1 C chicken broth
Thin, cooked spaghetti
Parmesan cheese, finely grated
Combine broth and spaghetti sauce. Add more broth if necessary to bring mixture to a lovely consistency. Heat gently. Add hot pasta to two serving bowls. Ladle soup over each serving. Garnish with finely grated Parmesan cheese. Serve.