We’ve shared considerations about buying a dehydrator (and then shared some more) and we’ve shared some do’s and don’ts when looking to buy a pressure canner. Earlier this week we even showed you two types of pressure canners to avoid and two to consider. These posts are all intended to help guide you to the right ‘model’ or piece of equipment that will suit your kitchen and your home. Today’s article is different than those.
The following list isn’t a guide on acquiring a canner – it’s meant as a list of questions to ask yourself before choosing a model. I’m hoping it will help you determine if pressure canning is worth your time and investment. There’s no right or wrong here but I hope the list will help you decide what’s right for you:
- Do you have a deep freezer?
A deep freezer will store a LOT of food and will generally preserve it’s texture and nutrients better than pressure canning. We don’t have room for a deep freezer so this makes it a good option for us.
- Do you have a cold cellar?
If you do, fermenting and learning to store vegetables (tomatoes can last for weeks and even months is treated right) can be kept in a cold room. It takes less energy and can be more affordable (if you have a cold room).
- Do you grow your own? Have you considered winter crops?
Many crops, including kale and spinach will last into early winter and reduce the need for processing as you can keep them in the ground. It’s less work and saves energy.
- Do you grow your own? Have you considered building a hoop house?
A simple technique to preserve autumn veg is to cover your gardens. It won’t last all winter but it will extend the harvest and cut into your need to preserve food via canning or pressure canning.
- Are you doing this for health benefits?
A lot of people are surprised to find out that many nutrients are reduced during pressure canning. Freezing, fermenting, and dehydrating can all preserve food with high nutritional values. But, compared to buying cans of peas or commercial broth, pressure canning is far superior.
- Do you have room to store the canner?
It does take room as it’s rather large (we have 1 closet in our entire house so we live with it on display).
- Do you have room to store the jars?
A small amount ofpressure canning (i.e. 12 pints of peas, 12 quarts of asparagus, 12 quarts of stock) starts to take up a lot of storage room very quickly. Thankfully we have the Great Wall of Preserves to stow it all away.
- Do you know what type of canner you are going to buy?
Don’t make this decision lightly; you’ll want to be sure that you’re choosing a dial gauge or a weighted gauge canner with open eyes.
- Chose a dial gauge canner? Do you have a place to have the gauge checked every year?
A lot of people feel more comfortable with the perceived accuracy and easy of a dial-gauge canner. Make sure you have access to have it checked before committing to buy one.
- Do you enjoy preserving?
This may seem like a silly question but if you don’t enjoy it, you probably won’t get as much out of this as you can (pun intended!)
If these questions seem negative, they’re not meant to be. I love our pressure canner and frequently use it. It’s most common use is to preserve a few liters of stock at a time to get us through the winter months. I love the ritual of making stock, filling the canner and having them on the shelf.