Maybe you shouldn’t.
Then again, maybe you should.
Yes, I am a Gemini – a very tired, punchy one at that. I’ll try to keep this post intelligible and somewhat comprehensible.
We’ve been having a lot more conversations on Twitter and through our Facebook group lately. Part of that is due to a 2-week business trip and extended time in hotels and part is the growing community that is coming here is becoming far more vocal (perhaps we’re being more inviting or perhaps the crowd simply is deciding to have its turn). Nothing could make me happier – the most confounding part of this project (for us) has been figuring how to turn this space into a multi-way conversation that we can all join in together. If your on Twitter or Facebook, we’d love to have you come along and join in the conversation (or use the comments below).
Travelling makes daily writing difficult (I often to try to get a few posts ahead of the game) – coming up with ideas seem even more difficult. I turned to Twitter and was gifted a bounty of ideas in reply to my plea – the idea for this post came from Aagaard Farms (farm, Community Shared Agriculture Program and Market) from Brandon Manitoba (a city I’ve been through 5 or 6 times).
The question(s) revolved around pressure canning – Is it worth buying one? Which one? How will it change my canning life?
I’m going to combine #1 and #3 and cheat on #2.
Is it worth buying a pressure canner?
I say yes, yes a thousand times yes. But it’s not for everyone. From my perspective:
- I love to put things in cans. I love the pop of the lid, the process and how they look on the shelf (I am that vain about my vegetables).
- I like the ease of giving them as a gift. No one expects canned peas or beans as a gift. It’s also a nice reminder of how much we’ve forgotten about storing and eating food.
- I believe that some ingredients benefit from this treatment over all others. Peas change texture but their taste is absolutely stunning in February (and better, in my opinion, than freezing).
- We have almost no freezer space. We freeze pesto, pepper purees and more but our fridge-top ice chest will only take so much. We keep some more goods frozen in my parents deep freeze but it’s almost 30 kilometers away.
- I don’t have to eat local food *only* as a pickle or sugar-added product. Low acid foods that aren’t pickled have to be done this way. This includes meats or stocks.
- The leftover water in the jar is a great start for a stock. It can also freeze so you can mix it with others later.
- It is the closest ‘real’ taste of the produce when compared to pickles and jams. Both are yummy and our water-bath canning tastes yummy – but pickled asparagus is a faint reminder of the real deal. Pressure canned is much closer. (Thanks to Sasha on the Facebook group for the reminder!)
- The texture changes – depending on what you are canning this can be good or bad. I’m not thrilled with my beans yet.
- Pressure cooking could result in lost nutrients due to high temperatures. We will be doing a lot of fermentation this year which will provide super nutritious meals and yummy food too – just have to be careful I don’t turn in to a pickle. So this may be a necessary tradeoff – use the broth to cook pasta or rice (especially if stir frying that rice with the veg from the jar).
- Many products (i.e. vegetables) for this purpose are ready in the heat of summer. Freezing avoids using hot water and may be prefered – pressure canning uses less water, takes shorter to come to a boil and can create less heat than water-bath canning. (So this is a good compared to water-bath canning – thanks to Janice for this reminder on Facebook as I was thinking it was only a disadvantage compared to freezing)
- It’s a moderate-expensive investment depending on the canner you choose and your canning budget. Do not use Grandma’s canner from 1971.
- We are eating far more seasonally. More than% of our home cooking this winter has all been using cellared vegetables from our network of farmers and Community Shared Agriculture Program. For those who continue to argue that local food is expensive, we spend less than $100 every two weeks (including the cost of preserves from summer that we eat) for 14-22 meals for one (this is lunches and dinners). For those who say there’s not enough time – I am very empathetic but also am out of the house 12+ hours a day for work and Dana is just as busy (sorry, rant).
- Sometimes a jar freaks me out. There’s no good reason for this – a jar of jam can be just as dangerous but thinking that there’s beef stock in that jar, I can’t believe it keeps on the shelf (which is ridiculous because commercial stock does the same).
- We jar a large amount of food a year for personal use. Almost 700 cans. About 150-250 will be pressure canned. It becomes a bigger percentage of my canning each year as I begin to move away from mass canning with sugar (we dehydrate a lot of seasonal fruit).
I am sure there are other reasons (add them to any of our community areas mentioned above) – what do you think?
At the risk of sounding cheeky and the need of being practical, check an article we wrote last year (improving the accessibility of the archive is a prime goal for me). It has some similar themes to what you see above but direct advice on things to think about when buying one for yourself. I hope this isn’t too bad a cheat. 🙂
If the idea of dehydrating was interesting, check out our advice for buying a dehydrator.
So, is it worth it?
Let us know why you do it, why you don’t, won’t or will..