Dudes. I bought a used pressure canner!
In case you don’t know, a pressure canner is different from a pressure cooker, which is a smaller pot used to quickly cook beans and stews. Pressure canners are usually much larger–my behemoth comfortably holds eight quart jars.
Betty MacDonald, author of the sometimes funny homesteading opus, The Egg and I, famously hated them. In one of the chapters from Egg, she writes: “Canning is a mental quirk just like any form of hoarding. First you plant too much of everything in the garden; then you waste hours and hours in the boiling sun cultivating then you buy a pressure cooker and can too much of everything so that it won’t be wasted. Frankly I don’t like home-canned anything, and I spent all of my spare time reading up on botulism…”To her I say, girl, you’ve never tried my dry-farmed canned tomatoes. But like Betty, I do worry about botulism, and that’s where the pressure canner comes into play.
The beauty of a pressure canner lies within this formula: PV=nRT where R is a constant and n has something to do with quantities, pressure (P) is conversely related to temperature (T). When pressure goes up, temperature goes up too. Canning jars in a pressure canner increases the pressure and thus increases the boiling temperature. Harold McGee in his bible, On Food and Cooking, says it can reach 250 degrees F in a pressure canner. This higher temperature effectively kills all the spores which cause botulism in the jar.
It also means canning my tomatoes this summer will use much less energy, the water bath method that I’ve used in the past required one hour to process, using the pressure canner will cut that time in half. Wahoo!
By the way, I bought this gem from a gem of a guy named Dan at the Old Oakland farmer’s market. He’s usually there with a table of awesome cast iron cookware. Check him out. The Old Oakland Farmer’s market is held on Friday mornings.