Scared of pressure canning? I feel ya.
The thought of pressure canning intimidated the shit out of me for like a year after I got the cooker from Trap for Christmas, so it sat there gathering dust until I finally felt ready. Yeah, OK, I read tutorials I found at Pinterest and collected recipes for “someday” but it still didn’t feel right until I did some canning with an experienced person who patiently walked me through everything while I took notes and asked dumb questions. I highly recommend you do the same, if possible. Was I still nervous doing it by myself the first time? Let’s just say I made the dog and cats wait outside in the yard in case I blew the house up. I goofed up some steps, but everything turned out alright in the end: nothing blew up, the jars all ping-ed, and now I’m pressure canning like a mofo. Here’s why:
1. The sky is (almost) the limit on what you can can (ha ha, I made a funny), as opposed to water bath canning, because you can get the temp high enough to kill whatever’s in the jar that could kill you: soups (no dairy or pasta noodles allowed though), stocks and broths, veggies, meats/fish, soaked beans, the list goes on. I was, I kid you not, singing “A Whole New World” on the way home after my first pressure canning session (black bean soup and carrot coins for Trap’s beef stew).
2. It’s faster. The average water bath canning time for tomato sauce is like 45 minutes at a rolling boil. Depending on your jar size and altitude, it’s like 20 minutes to pressure can (at the required pressure–which, albeit, does take time to work up to). Still though…
3. You can process a lot more at a time. I double stack my jars using a rack I got on amazon for less than $15 and it doesn’t add to the processing time (don’t ask me how that’s possible–my guess is magic). Doing that, I can process 16 pints of homemade veggie stock in one go.
One important caveat is that canners really have to pay close attention throughout the process so they can keep an eye on the pressure gauge to start the timer when it gets up to the required pressure and to adjust the stove temp as needed so it stays at the right level (this is how you keep from blowing up your house). Until the time is up and you take the canner off the heat source, which will start dropping the pressure, stick close by. But hey, when balanced against the pro’s, it’s a pretty small price to pay–I just do dishes or sit with a magazine or something, glancing over now and then.
Disclaimer: I am not a canning expert and have no business teaching people the fundamentals of safe pressure canning. Here’s a link that can get you started, though your best bet is to try it with an experienced canner the first time and to follow all the instructions that come with your canner. If you blow up your kitchen, don’t sue me (I’m poor as hell).