I learned to safely use a pressure canner as a child, putting up dozens of jars of garden-fresh green beans. I love the convenience of ready-made side dishes, but a few years ago I changed my approach to save food storage space– and now use my canner almost exclusively to prepare ready-made meals.
Two favorite recipes for the pressure canner are chili con carne and beef stew. I also love Jackie Clay-Atkinson’s book Growing and Canning Your Own Food. Her Meals-in-a-Jar recipes include several stews, soups, bean combinations, goulash, meatballs, meat sauces, shredded barbecued beef, Sloppy Joes, stuffed green peppers, steak entrees, and taco filling.
Considerations for Pressure Canning
- Make sure your pressure canner is in good condition. Over time, rubber seals need to be replaced and pressure gauges need to be tested to make sure they are still accurate. (One reason I love my All American Pressure Canner is because it doesn’t have a seal and the gauge is only for reference. It uses a weigh system to verify that the correct pressure has been reached.)
- Follow the directions in your pressure canner manual. Make sure you also adjust the settings for your elevation. If you live in the US, you can call your local government Extension Office for the correct settings for your elevation.
- The importance of safety limits recipe creativity a bit. It’s important to ensure that the amount of pressure and processing time is appropriate for the acidity level of the food, the density, and the consistency. Even some favorite canning recipes such as apple pie filling and stew have been altered in recent years over concerns that thickening agents will prevent the food from getting consistently hot during processing.
- Check out available resources to avoid common mistakes. In addition to the book mentioned above, Jackie Clay-Atkinson has great information on her blog. You can also check out safety information provided by the National Center for Home Food Preservation. You can also download the USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning for free.
Do you have a favorite pressure canning recipe or story you’d like to share? We’d love to hear about it! Send an email to Editor@HomesteadLarder.com, and we might just feature you in our Your Stories section.