Wednesday, October 19, 2011
For the past year or more I have been contemplating the purchase of a pressure canner.
I have mostly gotten the hang of canning things in a water bath.
But, I realized how much more I could grow and can if I could pressure cook.
So, after much price comparison shopping and reading reviews,
I purchased the silver pressure canner pictured below on the left.
I was quite intimidated by its massiveness and its buttons, knobs, and gauges.
But, it came upon conversation a few weeks ago with a friend of mind that we needed to learn how to use a pressure cooker.
And, wouldn't you know it...chicken was on sale for $1.39/pound at Ream's with the purchase of 40 pounds.
I'll spare you the disgusting details but this is what it looks like when you get the chicken into the bottles and ready to can.
Still quite intimidated by the knobs, buttons, and gauges, my friend and I called the neighbor across the street to come walk us through the process.
I was afraid I would do something wrong and blow something up and end up in an ambulance on the way to the hospital like Cliff Bingham who lived next door to me growing up.
They were pressure cooking beans, as I recall. And I have been freaked out by the thought of pressure cooking ever since.
Here is the chicken just after coming out of the pressure canner 90 minutes later.
The quart bottles were on the bottom and you can see the white film on them from all of the minerals and whatnot that is in our water.
All but one of the bottles sealed.
It looks quite gross and my house smelled like chicken for a day or two.
But, it felt like a great accomplishment to can my own chicken.
So much so that I decided to make chili a few days later.
I was at Sam's Club and I found a big package of extra lean ground beef that was marked down for quick sale.
I used that along with the 3 bottles of canned tomatoes that were in my fridge.
I had canned tomatoes a few weeks ago and I had 3 bottles that didn't seal, so I used those.
I also used the peppers from my garden.
And chili powder from the pantry.
I thought that turned out to be a pretty cheap project for food storage.
All of the bottles that I canned did seal. That was good.
I had one bottle worth that I didn't can, I just added more tomatoes and a can of beans from my food storage. The kids thought it was the best chili they had ever tasted.
It turned out to be more like a chili concentrate where you add more cans of whatever you have to make a meal. So, even thought it was only 8 pints.
I'm sure we could count it as at least 8 meals depending on who is eating and how much we add to it.
we had some potatoes that needed to be used that had come with our vegetable co-op thingy.
I had the carrots, celery, onions, and stew meat on hand, as well, and the next thing you know...we have lots and lots and lots of vegetable beef stew on the storage room shelves.
I'm pretty happy about that because these are things that Cole will eat and he is definitely the picky eater at this house.
I was worried that my investment in a pressure canner might have been pretty steep.
But, I can see now how easy (relatively speaking) it is to use a pressure canner.
And I love to grow things in my garden all summer and see them lined up on my shelves all winter long.
As this growing season is winding down (and I failed miserably as a gardener this year), I find myself already planning all of the things I want to grow...and can...for next year.