Selecting Your New Electric Pressure Cooker
You’ll find many options when you start shopping for an electric pressure cooker. Right now, the most popular model—and thus one for which accessories and replacement parts are easiest to find—is the Instant Pot®.
But there are lots of others pressure cooker and multi-cooker choices. Here’s a brief comparison of four top electric pressure canners
As for which size to get, here’s a general guideline: A 3- or 4-quart model makes enough food for one or two people, a 6-quart model makes enough for three or four people, and an 8-quart model makes enough for four or five people.
But keep in mind that although you may be cooking for only one or two people at each meal, it’s often handy to batch-cook grains, beans, soups, and sauces so you can have enough for a week’s worth of meals—or to stock your freezer.
Electric Pressure Cooker For Canning Comparison Table
Understanding how the best electric pressure cookers for canning work
Pressure cookers work by increasing the boiling point of water. When you put a regular pot on the stove, the liquid inside will heat up until it hits the boiling point (212°F for water) and stay at that temperature. Any extra heat will just cause the water to turn into steam, which dissipates. The food inside the pot cooks at a rate limited by the boiling point (temperature) of the water. The boiling point of water is a constant—but one that changes depending on the surrounding pressure.
A pressure cooker has a sealed container, so the steam that’s created doesn’t escape. The steam expands until it reaches the maximum volume of the pressure cooker’s container, and then it starts to compress, which increases the pressure. As the pressure increases, the temperature of the steam and the liquid also increases—above the normal boiling point. The water and steam inside a pressure cooker can reach a temperature of 250°F. It’s that higher temperature that makes the food inside cook faster than in a regular pot on the stove. It’s also why pressure cooker recipes always need to include liquid.
As you can imagine, if we’re going to create that kind of pressure in our kitchen, we need to feel confident the pot will contain it. The old-fashioned type of stovetop pressure cookers could explode due to poor-quality materials and a lack of safety features. On top of that worry, you had to keep track of the cooking time so you’d know when to start releasing the pressure.
Modern electric pressure canners have improved drastically from earlier models. They have valves that vent excess steam to maintain the right pressure, backup safety valves, and better locking mechanisms to keep the lid secure. Furthermore, electric pressure cookers maintain the temperature and shut off automatically based on the setting and time you input.
Here are the three basic types of pressure cookers, listed in order from least to most safe and efficient:
›Weighted valve (jiggle-top) pressure cooker: This pressure cooker is the one your grandmother probably had. It’s heated on the stove, and the valve sits on top of a vent where it is lifted by the steam. Once it reaches a sufficiently high pressure, it makes a hissing noise as it lifts the valve slightly, and it will start to rock from side to side. Maintaining the right pressure involves keeping the heat at the right temperature to keep the valve rocking. You keep track of the time at pressure when it starts to hiss and rock and turn off the heat to start releasing the pressure.
›Spring-loaded valve pressure cooker: This cooker features the newer generation of valve, which is designed to keep the vent open until the pressure builds, pushing the valve up and closing it. If the pressure gets too high, the valve is pushed up further, which opens it to let steam escape and return to the correct pressure. The valve is integrated with the locking mechanism of the lid, so you can’t open the lid until the pressure comes down. On stovetop models, you need to maintain the correct temperature and keep track of the time at pressure.
›Electric pressure cooker: This cooker uses a spring-loaded valve but has an electric cooking base, so you can set the pressure you want, and the cooker will automatically maintain the correct temperature. It also has a timer, so you can set the time you want at pressure, and it will count down once it gets to pressure.
There are lots of accessories to help you maximize your electric pressure cooker’s functionality. Here are some that might come in handy:
›Most electric pressure canners come with a nonstick inner pot, which can get scratched. For your model, you might be able to buy a stainless steel inner pot, which won’t scratch and thus may last a lot longer.
›If you don’t have a stainless steel inner pot, you’ll want to have a variety of silicone-tipped utensils to help ensure that the nonstick coating doesn’t get scratched.
›Your electric pressure cooker will probably come with a trivet, which allows you to elevate a steamer basket from the bottom of the pot.
›Steamer baskets are sold in pressure cooker accessory packs, but you can use any regular steaming basket that fits inside the pot. The folding leaf–style version works well, or you can use a traditional bamboo steamer.
›Ramekins and other heat-proof dishes that fit inside the inner pot come in handy for vegetable dishes that you don’t want to get too watery, as well as for pies and crumbles.
›Accessory packs often come with a springform pan, which is great for making pies because you can remove the outer ring for slicing.
›Silicone “pinch” mitts are useful for picking up pans and steaming baskets because they have more grip than regular oven mitts.
›Silicone “helper handles” allow you to safely and easily pick up a pie or other dish that fills the inside of your pressure cooker pot. You can also make your own by folding a long piece of aluminum foil in thirds and placing it in the pot, with the ends coming up and over the top. Simply place the dish on top of the foil “sling,” and tuck in the ends so you can lock and seal the lid properly.
LOCKING THE LID AND RELEASING PRESSURE
Any time you use the pressure-cooking functions, you need to ensure that the lid is locked and the valve is set to seal. If you’re using functions that do not involve cooking under pressure, such as Sauté, Brown, Slow Cook, Simmer, or Keep Warm, you can simply place the lid on top—there’s no need to lock it in place.
Once the pressure builds and the cooking is complete, it’s time to release that pressure with either the natural or the quick release method. The biggest difference between the two release methods is that pressure and heat are maintained in the pot longer with a natural release, so the food will continue to cook a bit. Additionally, the quick release lets out the steam rather than condensing it back into the dish.
A natural release is perfect for beans and grains; a little extra cook time and moisture help soften them. A quick release is preferable for vegetables, which we don’t want to get too soft.
If you want a bit more cook time but also want to let off some of the steam, you can allow the pressure to decrease naturally for a certain amount of time and then quickly release the remaining pressure.
Pressure Cooking and High Altitude
Air pressure drops at higher altitudes, which means that the boiling point of water also drops. So, for any given pressure setting, food will take longer to cook.
Say you’re cooking brown rice and the recipe tells you to set the cook time for 10 minutes under high pressure. If you’re cooking in New York City, which is at sea level, you simply set your electric pressure cooker for 10 minutes. But if you’re cooking in Salt Lake City, which is about 4,000 feet above sea level, you need to increase your cooking time by 10 percent, which will bring you to 11 minutes. If you’re cooking in Cusco, Peru, which is about 11,000 feet above sea level, you need to increase your cooking time by 45 percent, so you’ll need to set the timer for 15 minutes.
Common Misconceptions about Cooking with Electric Pressure Cookers
It’s too expensive! Brown rice and dried lentils are some of the cheapest vegan food items in the grocery store, and they give you more protein and nutrients per dollar than animal foods.
It’s too difficult to figure out! At its most basic level, pressure cooking involves putting food and water in a pot and setting the time. This is actually the easiest way to cook!
Everything will come out mushy! You’ll soon find that pressure cooking helps foods such as brown rice maintain more of their texture than regular stovetop cooking. If you cook foods at the recommended pressure and time setting, they should come out perfectly cooked. You can also use a steaming basket to prevent vegetables from getting mushy.
I don’t want another appliance! The electric pressure cooker takes the place of a rice cooker and a slow cooker—and it saves you time.
Pressure cooking destroys all the nutrients! Because foods cook quickly under pressure, they retain more nutrients than they do when they are prepared using other techniques, such as boiling, steaming, baking, or roasting. And if you cook your vegetables in a steaming basket above the water, they’ll retain even more nutrients.
ELECTRIC PRESSURE COOKER UNIVERSAL SETTINGS
These settings are perfect for vegan cooking on busy weeknights and jam-packed weekends, or batch-cooking for meal prep. The beauty of the electric pressure cooker is that you can set it and forget it, as with a rice cooker or slow cooker, while also reducing the cooking time. With additional features such as Sauté and Simmer, you can use multiple cooking methods for a meal right in one pot, which cuts down on the amount of dishwashing you need to do as well.
If you want to make sure your machine works before trying specific recipes, do a test run with just water. Put 3 or 4 cups of water into the pot, close and lock the lid, and then set the cooker to High Pressure for 5 minutes. You should hear some steam release after a few minutes, and then the cooker should seal and start to count down the time. When the timer beeps, let the pressure release naturally (or try a quick release—see your user manual for instructions). When you hear the lid unlock, you can safely open the pot. You should find that not much of the water has evaporated.
Here’s a quick run-down of the various settings found in pressure cookers
High Pressure This setting increases the pressure inside the pot to increase the boiling temperature of water to between 240°F and 250°F, which decreases the time that foods need to cook. High Pressure is the setting most often used in pressure cooker recipes for foods such as beans, grains, root vegetables, and pastas.
Low Pressure This setting increases the pressure inside the pot to increase the boiling temperature of water to between 220°F and 230°F. Foods cook faster than on the stovetop, but not as fast as at high pressure. This setting can be useful for cooking more delicate vegetables, such as green beans or asparagus.
Slow Cook/Simmer This setting adjusts the heat to the equivalent of low on a stovetop and lets you slow cook a dish. You can also continue cooking something if the time at pressure wasn’t quite enough, or if you need to reduce some of the liquid after pressure cooking to finish a dish.
Sauté This setting adjusts the heat to the equivalent of medium-high on a stovetop so that you can soften vegetables, toast rice for pilaf, or reduce a sauce. Use some oil, water, or broth for cooking garlic, ginger, onion, and other vegetables on this setting.
Brown This setting adjusts the heat to the equivalent of high on a stovetop so you can sear vegetables. If you brown food before pressure cooking, it takes less time to get up to pressure, as the contents are already hot. Use some oil, water, or broth for cooking garlic, ginger, onion, and other vegetables on this setting, and leave the lid off.
Programmed Settings The Instant Pot® and some other multi-cookers also have several programmed functions that allow you to press a single button, rather than setting the pressure and time yourself. For example, if you press the Rice button, it will set the time and pressure for cooking white rice, which should be High Pressure for 3 to 4 minutes. The Multigrain button is for brown rice, which starts with 50 minutes on Simmer, then switches to High Pressure for 9 minutes.
Kitchen Safety Guide when working with electric pressure cookers
1.Each time you use your electric pressure cooker, before you start cooking, check that the lid’s rubber seal is in good shape and the vent is clean and clear, with no stuck-on food or foam.
2.Always use some liquid in the pot. If you want to cook a vegetable without submerging it, use a pan or a steaming basket elevated on a trivet, but make sure to have some liquid in the bottom of the pot.
3.Never fill the pot higher than the maximum fill line. In addition, limit the contents of the pot to half full for foods that expand or foam a bit (such as rice and pasta) and to no more than one-third full for beans and lentils, as they expand and foam even more. Adding a bit of oil to the pot with grains, beans, and pasta can help minimize foaming.
4.Always check that the valve is set to Seal before you set the cook time. If it’s set to Release Pressure, food won’t cook properly, and you may burn your fingers if you try to rotate the valve back to Seal while the heat is on.
5.To safely do a quick release, make sure your hands and face are not above where the steam will release. You can use a kitchen utensil to push the valve to release the steam if you want to be sure. Simply push to rotate the valve to Release, and let the steam vent until the lid unlocks. Never force the lid open—it will click to unlock when the pressure is low enough that you can safely open it.
6.When lifting the lid after cooking, tilt it away from you to avoid getting hot steam in your face or having anything spatter up toward you. This is especially important if you do a quick pressure release.
7.Read and follow your electric pressure cooker model’s user manual. Your model may differ in certain ways from these general guidelines, and you should always defer to the manufacturer’s instructions. Your manual will also list cooking times for various foods, and these may be more accurate than the general times listed here.
Canning is a safe, important method for preserving food. The canning process involves placing products in jars or similar containers and heating them to a temperature that kills microorganisms that cause food spoilage. During this heating process, the air is expelled from the jar and, as it cools, a vacuum seal is made. This vacuum seal keeps food fresh and safe to eat later.
General Canning Methods
There are two ways of processing food, the pressure canner method and the boiling water bath method:
- The boiling water bath method is safe for fruits, tomatoes, jams, pickles, jellies, and other preserves. In this way, jars of food are completely heated in boiling water and cooked for a certain amount of time.
- The pressure canner method is safe for preserving meats, vegetables, seafood, and poultry. Jars of food are placed in a special pressure cooker in 2-3 inches of water that is heated to a temperature of at least 240°F.
Water Bath Canners
This method requires a large cooking pot, a tight-fitting lid, and a wooden or wire rack that keeps jars from touching each other. The rack lets the boiling water flow underneath and around the jars for more even sterilization. The rack also saves jars from bumping each other and breaking or cracking.
If you don’t have a rack, you can use clean cotton dish towels to pack around the jars.
If you don’t have a standard canner, use any large metal container as long as it is deep enough for 1-2 inches of fast boiling water to cover the jars.
Fruits and vegetables perfect for water bath canning include:
- Jams and jellies
- Fruit juices
- Fresh tomatoes (with added acid)
- Pickles and relishes
electric pressure canner
This method requires a specially made heavy pot with a lid that can be closed steam-tight. The lid is fitted with a safety fuse, a vent (or pet-cock), and a weighted or dial pressure gauge. The new models have an additional safety lock as an extra precaution. It may or may not have gaskets. The pressure pot also has a rack.
Foods that are perfect for pressure canning include:
- Green beans
- Sweet peppers
Ball jars and Mason jars exactly designed for home canning are best. Do not use pickle jars, commercial mayonnaise jars, or baby food jars. Such jars are not made with heavy glass, the jars’ mouths may be inappropriate for the sealing lids, and they cannot be heat treated.
Quart and pint Ball jars are the most frequently used sizes and are available in wide-mouth and regular tops. When properly used, jars may be used again and again indefinitely as long as they are in good condition.
Most canning jars sold today use a self-sealing two-piece lid that consists of a separate screw-type metal band and a flat metal disc with a rubber-type sealing compound around one side near the outer edge. The flat lid is used only once but the screw band can be used over as long as it does not begin to rust and it is cleaned well.
Essential items for home canning and preserving:
- Jar funnel: helps in packing small food items and pouring liquid into canning jars.
- Jar lifter: necessary for easy removal of hot jars.
- Lid wand: a magnetized wand to remove treated jar lids from hot water.
- Clean cloths: handy for wiping jar rims, spills, and general cleaning.
- Flat, narrow rubber spatula: to remove trapped air bubbles before sealing jars.
Always start with a reputable and proven recipe. There is a science behind the amounts of vinegar, sugar, or salt and the processing time of each recipe. None of the processing time or ingredient amounts should be changed unless the recipe says you can do this.
- A proper recipe will provide the appropriate headspace amount and processing time. The headspace is the distance between the underside of the lid and the surface of food, which allows for bubbling up of liquid during processing or expansion of the food. The headspace is critical for proper sealing.
- Wash and sterilize your knife, cutting board, and any other equipment you ill use to prepare the recipe.
- Use unblemished, ripe products. This will not only give your finished product a delicious taste but will eliminate any bacteria living in the spoiled part of the vegetable or fruit and have the right color.
- Wash all products in warm water with a food-safe detergent. Your products can be contaminated with parasites, bacteria, and viruses anywhere from the garden to your table. This will protect your food from contamination before canning begins.
Store Home-Canned Foods Safely
Canned foods are versatile, easy, and long-lasting. But like many products, a lack of proper storage makes them landfills.
Here are three tips to keep your opened canned goods fresh:
- Use airtight containers. Canned products can last a very long time, but only if they are sealed.
- Keep the liquid and brine. After you have opened canned food, don’t dispose of the brine or liquid.
- Store in the back of the refrigerator. Keep resealed canned goods at the back of the fridge, where it is coldest. This also stops them from being subjected to temperature changes every time you open the fridge door.
It would be terribly shameful to spend so much energy and time canning jams, pickles, and veggies only to have spoil. Most homemade canned food can last up to a year in the pantry with proper storage.
To keep lovingly homemade canned foods from spoiling, it is important to keep them away from direct sun and store them in a dry, cool place. That does not mean that you have to keep your canned food in the refrigerator, but it does mean that they can be stored in the pantry to maximize their shelf life.
You will also want to remove the rings from your Mason jars when you store them. You need the ring while you are processing your canned foods, but once the canning is done, remove the ring. So, if the food spoils, your lid will pop up. Save those canning rings so you can use them to secure the lid if you do not use all of the jar’s contents the first time. Once you have opened anything canned, you’ll want to store it in the fridge and use it within a week of opening.
Good Things to Know about Syrup
Canned fruits often float if air remains in the fruit after processing, if the sugar syrup is too heavy, or if jars are packed too loosely. To avoid this, pack fruit tightly in jars without crushing, use a light or medium sugar syrup, and make sure fruit is ripe and firm.
It may darken during storage if fruit is not covered by liquid, but does not certainly mean it is spoiled. To avoid this, make sure fruit is covered with liquid while still leaving the recommended headspace. Also, remove trapped air bubbles with a kitchen knife, slim rubber scraper, or spatula. To do this efficiently, tilt the jar slightly by mooving the tool between the edge of the jar and the fruit and pressing inward against the fruit.
Canned apples, peaches, and pears may show a pink, blue, or red color change after processing. This is a natural chemical change that happen as fruits are heated.
A wooden spoon in the shape of a spatula that has a flat end instead of a round one, is good to have for mixing the sugar syrup in a flat bottom pan during the cooking process.
Avoid storing canned food near hot water pipes, a furnace, or water heater. Jars need to be kept cool to protect against spoilage and for longer storage life. Necessarily store in a dry place. Rusting of the band or lid can break the seal.
To prevent freezing in extremely cold storage environments, wrap the cans with newspaper and place in heavy cardboard boxes. If necessary, cover the boxes with a heavy cloth blanket.
|Light||2 cups||4 cups||5 cups|
|Medium||3 cups||4 cups||5½ cups|
|Heavy||4 ¾ cups||4 cups||6½ cups|
To prepare syrup: heat water and add sugar slowly, stirring constantly to dissolve. Bring to a gentle boil. Fill jars while the syrup is still boiling hot.
Frequently Asked Questions
When packing jars, is the headspace really important?
Yes, leaving the stated amount of headspace in a jar allows a vacuum seal during processing. If too little headspace, the food may expand and bubble out when air is being forced out from under the lid. The bubbling food can leave a deposit on the seal of the lid or the jar’s rim and prevent the jar from sealing properly. If too much headspace, jars may not seal and the food at the top is likely to discolor.
How long can canned food be stored?
Properly preserved food stored in a dry, cool place will retain optimum eating quality for at least one year. Canned food stored in a warm place in indirect sunlight, near a furnace, hot pipes, or a range may lose some of its eating quality in a few weeks or months, depending on the temperature. Moisture can corrode metal lids or bands and cause leakage that will spoil the contents.
Do I need to sterilize the jars before processing?
There is no need to sterilize jars if they will be processed in a pressure canner or if they will be filled with food and processed in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes or more. However, it is worth using the extra time and sterilizing them anyway. When it comes to food safety, one can never be too careful.
Jars processed in a boiling water bath for less than 10 minutes should be sterilized by boiling them in hot water for 10 minutes before filling them.
Is it safe to use the oven for food processing?
No. This can be dangerous as the temperature will vary depending on the accuracy of the oven regulators and the heat circulation. Dry heat penetrates into jars of food very slowly. Jars can also easily explode in the oven.
Why do you need to exhaust a pressure canner?
If the pot is not exhausted, the temperature inside may not match the pressure on the gauge. Before closing the valve, the steam should be allowed to escape for 10 minutes.
Should liquid lost during processing be replaced?
No. Loss of liquid does not cause spoilage of the food, although food above the liquid may become darker.
Is it all right to reuse jar bands and lids?
Screw bands can be reused unless they are badly rusted or the top edge is pried up that would prevent a proper seal. Lids should never be reused since the sealing compound becomes indented by the first usage, preventing another airtight seal.
Is it safe to use the canning method of an open kettle?
No. This method means that food is cooked in a usual kettle (an open pot), then packed into hot jars and sealed without processing. The temperatures obtained are not hot enough to destroy all the dangerous microorganisms in the food. Contamination may also occur when transferring food from the kettle to the jars.
What causes the undersides of jar lids to discolor?
Natural compounds in some products, particularly acids, corrode metal and cause dark deposits on the underside of jar lids. This deposit is harmless providing the contents have been properly processed and the jar has a good seal.
Why do jars break down during processing?
Canning jars will break down for several reasons:
- Putting jars of unheated or raw food directly into boiling water in the canner. This rapid change of temperature is too high and will crack jars.
- Using commercial food jars
- Putting hot food in cold jars
- Using jars that have chips or cracks
- Jars bumping against each other during canning
- Placing jars directly on the bottom of canner instead of on a rack
Can hard water scale or film be removed from canning jars?
This can be often be accomplished by soaking jars for several hours in a solution of 1 gallon of water + 1 cup vinegar.
Questions About Canning Fruits and Vegetables
Is it safe to preserve food without salt?
Yes. Salt is only used for flavor and is not necessary to prevent spoilage.
Is it safe to preserve fruits without sugar?
Yes. Sugar is added to retain the shape of the fruit, improve flavor, and help stabilize color. It is not added as a preservative.
If aspirin is used, can vegetables and fruits be canned without heating?
No. Aspirin should not be used for preservation. It cannot be relied on to give satisfactory products or to prevent spoilage. Adequate heat treatment is the only safe procedure.
If vinegar is used, is it safe to can green beans in a boiling water bath?
No. Do not shorten recommended processing times if vinegar is used for preserving fresh vegetables (this does not refer to pickled vegetables).
Should I precook all vegetables before canning?
For best quality, yes. However, some vegetables can be packed cold or raw into jars before being processed in the pressure canner.
What vegetables expand rather than shrink during processing?
Lima beans, corn, and peas are starchy and expand during processing. They should be packed loosely.
What makes corn turn brown during canning?
Most often this occurs when too high a temperature is used, causing caramelization of the sugar in the corn. Also because of some minerals in the water used in canning.
Questions About Canning Meats
Is it safe to can poultry and meat without salt?
Yes. Salt is used only for flavoring and is not necessary for safe processing.
Should chicken giblets be canned in the same jar with chicken?
No. Their flavor may penetrate other pieces of chicken in the jar.
Canning Fruit and Vegetables
Wash and assemble canning utensils, containers, and equipment. Before you start preparing the fruit/vegetables, make sure you have everything you need. Once you start the canning process, you need to work as quickly as possible without delay.
Ball Canning Jars
Use authentic Ball or Mason canner jars. Examine and discard those with rough edges, nicks, and cracks. These defects will not allow the jar to hermetically seal. All jars need to be washed in hot water with soap, rinsed well and then kept hot to prevent breakage when they are filled with hot food and placed in the pot for processing.
Jars that are filled with food and processed for less than 10 minutes in a bath canner should be sterilized in boiling water for 10 minutes. NOTE: If you are at an altitude of 1000 feet or more, boil an additional minute for each additional 1000 feet of altitude (i.e., 6000 feet=6 minutes longer).
Fruit and Vegetable Preparation
Do not use over-ripe products. Purchase or collect only as much as you can prepare within 2-3 hours.
Wash the products with a quick soak and/or rinse, be sure to remove all sand and dirt, including any chemicals that may be present. Dirt contains some bacteria that are harder to kill. The cleaner the food, the more effective the preserving process. Do not use damaged or decayed fruit. Do not allow the food to soak, as it will lose nutrients and flavor.
Water Bath Canners
Fill the kettle with the hot water and begin heating it on the stove. The water bath requires 1-2 inches of water above the jars’ tops. It may be difficult to determine how much water you need before the filled jars are in place, but after a batch or two you will find out how much water you need to add. It is good to have an extra small pot with hot water just in case.
Raw Pack (Cold Pack)
Place raw fruit into jars and cover with boiling hot water or sugar syrup juice. It is necessary to leave a headspace between the top of food or liquid and the lid. This space is needed for fruit expansion and the bubbling of liquids. If the jars are too full, it may overflow during processing. The amount of headspace is usually between ⅛ and 1/2 inch. Pay attention to the individual recipe for the exact amount of headspace.
Before packing, heat fruit in syrup, water, or steam. Tomatoes and fruits with a high juice content can be preheated without adding liquid and then packed in the juice that cooks out.
To Fill Jars
Pack each jar to within ¼ inch of top or as directed in the recipe. For non-liquid foods (i.e., peaches) it is essential to remove any air bubbles by running a table knife or rubber spatula gently between the edge of the jar and the solid product. If necessary, add more hot syrup. Wipe rim and screw threads with a damp cloth, place lid on top and screw bands on firmly and evenly to hold rubber sealing lid in place. Sometimes you may need to hold down the sealing lid while you tighten the band to make sure the lid is centered on the jar’s top. Do not over-tighten. The jars are now ready to be placed on the rack inside the hot water canner.
Water Bath Method
After packing, immediately place jars on the rack. Lower filled rack into canner. Jars have to be covered by 1-2 inches of water. If needed, add additional boiling water. When adding more water, pour between jars and not directly on them. Cover the pot with a lid. Start the processing time when the water comes to a rolling boil. Boil steadily for the time that is recommended for the food being processed. Remove jars when the cooking time is up and place on a rack or on towels away from any draft and away from heat.
Test for Seal
Check seal after jars have cooled, 12-24 hours after processing. To do this, press down on the lid center. The lid should be not concave when pressed. Another method is to knock the lid with the bottom of a teaspoon. It will make a high-pitched sound if the jar is sealed correctly. If it produces a dull sound, it means the lid is not sealed perfectly or food is in contact with the lid underside. Don’t worry if you hear a popping sound coming out of the jar for the first hour or so before getting cold. This is a good sound as
it most often means that the vacuum effect has taken place, which causes the lids to seal and pop down.
If desired, the screw bands may be removed after jars have cooled thoroughly. Label canned jars with processing date and contents. Store jars in a dry, cool, dark place.
Traditionally, tomatoes are usually canned by using the hot water bath canner method. Lately, however, more people are discovering that canning tomatoes in a pressure canner will give you a more nutritious product and result in higher quality.
Pressure canning is also needed for many canned tomato combination products since the pH value is above 4.6. The tomatoes themselves fall close to the low acid level, just slightly above 4.6, and when mixed with vegetables like peppers or zucchini or with meat for sauces, it increases the pH value above 4.6 and has to be processed by pressure canning to ensure food safety. Foods with a pH value of 4.6 or lower can be processed in a boiling water bath canner.
When canning tomatoes, it is recommended that you add acid to lower the pH level. You can do this by adding ¼ teaspoon citric acid or 1 tablespoon of lemon juice per pint of product. For quarts, add ½ teaspoon citric acid or 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. You can do this by adding directly to jars before filling.
With a knife, cut an X on the bottom of the tomatoes before putting in a pot of boiling water for 30-60 seconds. Fish out with a slotted spoon, plunge into a bowl of cold water (or an ice bath), lift them directly back out, and peel the skin with a knife or fingers. It will slip off like a charm.
Preparing jams, butters, marmalades, and jellies
- Sweet spreads consist of fruits conserved mostly by means of sugar and they are jellied or thickened to some extent.
- Fruit jelly is a semi-solid mixture of sugar and fruit juice that is clear and firm enough to hold its shape.
- Preserves are made of whole, small fruits or uniform-size pieces of fruit in a slightly thick, clear, jellied syrup.
- Jam will also hold its shape, but it is less firm than jelly. Jam is made from sugar and chopped or crushed fruits. Jams made from a fruit mixture are usually called conserves, especially when they include nuts, citrus fruits, raisins, or coconut.
- Fruit butter is made from fruit pulp and cooked with sugar until thickened to a spreadable consistency.
- Marmalades are soft fruit jellies with small pieces of citrus or fruit peel evenly suspended in a transparent jelly.
For the right consistency, jellied fruit products need the correct combination of sugar, fruit, pectin, and acid. Flavorful, good-quality fruits make the best-jellied products.
Sugar serves as a preservative, aids in gelling, and contributes flavor. Beet and cane sugar are the usual sources of sugar for jam or jelly. Honey and corn syrup may be used to replace part of the sugar in recipes, but too much will alter the structure and mask the fruit flavor. Use tested recipes for replacing sugar with corn syrup and honey. Do not reduce the amount of sugar in traditional recipes. Too little sugar may allow molds and yeasts to grow and prevents gelling.