Now let’s consider the canning containers.
It’s not just the food; the jars must also be clean. Some mothers employ children for this chore because they think their own hands will not fit through the mouth of the jar. Actually, a wet, soapy, adult female hand will usually fit into a very warm jar. It is not a bad chore for a careful child, though.
We must take extra care to examine the jars for chips on the rims. Chipped jars will not seal and may even further chip or break altogether, so are useless for canning. You need one flat (or lid) for each jar of food you process and about a dozen or so screw bands (or rings) that aren’t too rusty.
The pressure pan consists of the pan and lid themselves, the rubber gasket (unless it is the metal-to-metal type), the over-pressure plug, the vent tube, the pressure regulator, and the cooking rack. These parts help cause, contain, and control the pressure and temperature of the food. To can the food, we add water to the pan, close it, install the pressure regulator, and apply heat for the recommended time.
The extreme benefits of canning foods are not obvious to us, but before the advent of canning it was usual and quite acceptable that people would die of starvation, malnutrition, or poisoning. With pressure canning we have long, safe storage of any food we need or desire.
Since we’re accustomed to canned foods, the benefit we notice most is how easy it is to use! Who hasn’t reached for canned pintos to make quick chili rather than soaking and cooking dried beans all night and day?
Canned foods also are timely–you may, in one afternoon, pressure cook 10 pint jars of raw green beans for 20 minutes and have them for a quick Monday dinner vegetable for 10 weeks. Compare that to shopping, rinsing, snapping, and cooking for an hour every Monday night for 10 weeks and you see the difference.
My favorite advantage, though, is the gift-ability of canned foods. People love to receive this kind of stuff, it can be so pretty, and it does not thaw on the way to meeting.
Tomorrow: Canning Failure and the Moral of the Story!