The second best purchase you can make is a canner.
Some people are scared of canning. “What if I get botulism??” ” How will I know if my jar is bad?” “What if a jar explodes?!” “What if the canner explodes!!?” Well I had those same fears honestly so let me put your mind to rest first.
What if I get botulism?– There is still a potential for this but it’s nothing you should worry about. Use proper canning techniques outlined in your canning book and remember…the pressure in the canner is so high that it will kill all that stuff anyway. Always make sure your jar is good… ** Make sure your children know how to spot a bad can if they help you cook!**
How will I know if my jar is bad?– Your lid should not pop when you push down on it. If it does its bad. In fact when you bring your jars out of the pressure canner and set them to rest, the lids will pop and that sound is wonderful because it means it’s sealed. Always inspect the food in the jar too. This is important for water bath(certain foods only boiled under water, not pressure canned) items because they don’t go into a pressure canner and sometimes bacteria grows. If it looks gross in there don’t eat it. If you open the lid and it doesn’t look right…don’t eat it.
What if a jar explodes?- Well if it’s in the canner..no biggy..just pull out your jars when they are done and clean the mess carefully as to not cut yourself. If it’s in the water bath that means either your jar wasn’t hot enough to put into your hot water or you have an old jar. Let me tell you that 99% of the time it won’t break and you just have to tell yourself it won’t. This was the hardest for me to get over because I actually had one break the first time I water bathed. It doesn’t really explode..most of the time the bottom falls off.
What if the canner explodes?- Well first of all there are safety features on all the canners now to help stop that problem. They have this extra piece that if pressure gets too high it will pop out or off to let out pressure. Second of all.. DON’T Leave your canner unattended!! Don’t start your canner and go hang laundry outside. Don’t start your canner and call your friend to talk for an hour. Start your canner, make sure to pay attention to when it comes up to pressure, and adjust the heat so it stays where you need it to. Then you might, might be able to do something like the dishes quietly, or start a load of laundry while it’s going. Keep your ears on and it wont happen. Now I have to say I absolutly hate the temperature control ones…if you can help it don’t get it..get the one without it. To me it’s much easier to regulate and you don’t have to babysit it as much.
Canners are a great tool to have. I can all the veggies I possibly can and also meats like chicken and deer. It’s really nice to be able to open about 5 cans and make a quick soup on the stove. It’s all cooked already you just have to warm it up. You really should boil all your canned items anyway when eating them. The best part about buying a canner is that not only can you stock a pantry for years without the food going bad, but I actually use mine to water bath certain items. I simply take off the lid and I don’t have to buy another pan!
Whatever type you choose, be sure you read the manual and understand how to work it. If you don’t know how to can, watch youtube, buy a canning book, and don’t be afraid to start. I like the older canning books from like 1980’s or so, but that’s just me. You also could ask around in the circle of homesteaders you’re finding. Many can as a way to preserve and would be happy to show you. Even if you don’t have a big yard, canning is possible with farmers markets and in season items. It’s worth the money to buy one and get started. In fact I wouldn’t even waste my money on a water bath canning unit, just save and use your canner. Happy Homesteading!! 😀