Under Pressure

I have vivid memories of a giant silver kettle rattling away on the stovetop, letting off steam like a rocket about to head to the moon. But I was likely too young to be involved in actually running this pressure canner. And by the time I was old enough, my mom had acquired a vacuum sealer and exchanged the steamy heat-of-summer process for extra chances to open the freezer door.

When I inherited my mom’s canning equipment more than a decade ago (with the caveat that I fill both our shelves with its results), I also inherited “the beast”: the heavy pressure canner capable of holding 7 quarts. I promptly broke it before I could even get its old seal tested. It now makes a lovely open kettle for cooking down applesauce and other large batches. I’ve never replaced it, and I’ve never missed it. And here’s why. Read more about (not) pressure canning

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Botulism and Canning Safely

When I mention this blog, it rarely takes noncanners long to reveal they are afraid of making their family sick and to ask for the secret to canning safely. Their fear is of the big, scary B word: botulism. But what strikes me is their belief that they need to be let in on a secret to avoid it.

Honestly, there is no secret to safe canning. Everything you need to know is in every decent book and on every decent website that covers the topic. Canning is a process, but it’s not a mysterious one: If you can follow directions, you can get it right. Or, in the words of Kevin West, author of the fabulously informative Saving the Season, “If you can safely prepare chicken, a potential vector for food-borne pathogens such as salmonella, then you can handle home canning.”

Unfortunately, botulism has become a boogeyman, the arch villain of a cautionary tale who peers over the rim of a boiling water bath at many home canners. It doesn’t have to be that way. Read more about botulism and canning safely