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Preserving / Canning Gear

Samuelinthekitchen Mar 10, 2009 10:49 PM

I'm looking at starting preserving / canning food. Has anyone tried the Fowlers Vacola all in one system? It just seems conveniant to be able to simply place your jars in a unit, switch it on and walk away? Is it as good as it sounds or am i better off learning to use a pressure cooker method?

thanks
Samuel

  1. Demented Mar 14, 2009 09:51 AM

    Pressure cookers have been used for home canning in the US since around 1910. In 1917 the USDA determined, pressure canning to be the only safe method of canning low-acid foods without risking food poisoning.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Demented
      Zeldog Mar 20, 2009 06:32 PM

      So the last word in home canning from the USDA was written 92 years ago?

    2. a
      anniemax Mar 11, 2009 08:37 AM

      I did a quick Google search and it looks like its only for hot water bath canning, as we call it here in the states; which is only good for some acidic fruits for the most part, or for canning some marmalades/jellies/jams/preserves. It doesn't work for canning most vegetables or any soups, stocks or meats- for that, you would need a pressure canner. I'm not sure what is typically available down under, but in the US, we can get a basic water bath pan set with all the gadgets needed (wire rack/lifter, individual jar lifter, funnel, etc) for $40-50US, less if you're willing to go with used. So I guess first of all, you need to decide what you're going to can....but it wouldn't be my first option, especially if the money could be better spent on a good pressure canner when the time comes- usually after you master water bath canning.

      4 Replies
      1. re: anniemax
        Zeldog Mar 12, 2009 07:08 PM

        Anniemax, either you are mistaken or I have been tempting death for many years using my big stock pot to can vegetables. I'm not familiar with the Fowlers Vacola system, but the main difference between pressure canning and old fashioned (boiling water) canning is you can can (no pun intended) low acid foods in a pressure cooker as they are, while with boiling water method all you need to do is add citric acid or lemon juice to up the acid level a bit. Does the added acid have an effect on the taste? Maybe, but Ultra-pasteurized milk is heated to a very high temperature under pressure for a few seconds, while pasteurized milk is heated to a lower temperature for a minute or two, and I've heard ultra-pasteurized milk tastes inferior, so maybe pressure canning has a negative effect on taste as well.

        Samuel, you might want to check out this link for more info:

        http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/publications...

        1. re: Zeldog
          billieboy Mar 12, 2009 08:06 PM

          I agree with the link. I took that course and it is quite complete. You will learn everything you need to know.
          It is the U of Georgia, but they allowed me (Canadian) to take the course at no cost. Should do the same for you. Takes about a week to hear back from them after you apply.

          1. re: Zeldog
            a
            anniemax Mar 13, 2009 01:29 PM

            "...I have been tempting death for many years using my big stock pot to can vegetables.... but the main difference between pressure canning and old fashioned (boiling water) canning is you can can (no pun intended) low acid foods in a pressure cooker as they are, while with boiling water method all you need to do is add citric acid or lemon juice to up the acid level a bit."

            I'd say you have been tempting fate & I wouldn't want to eat any of your canned good- sorry. Even right in the link you including, it clearly states that the only things that can be waterbath canned are high acid foods- look at the picture graph on page 1-4 to see where various foods fall. Adding a little citric acid or lemon juice is not going to to lower the Ph enough for vegetables, unless you add enough to pickle them. And the main difference between a waterbath canner & a pressure canner is the how hot the water is when it boils...we can't get past 212F in a waterbath, but pressure canner ups the boiling temperature to 240-250F, which is high enough to kill most bacteria.

            Straight from U of Minn Food Safety Education & Research:
            "Canning low-acid foods, which include red meats, fish, poultry, and ALL VEGETABLES (except for most tomatoes) requires special care. Low-acid foods can support the production of the deadly botulism toxin if these foods are not processed properly in a pressure canner. A pressure canner heats food to high temperatures (240 ° to 250 ° F or higher) and destroys the spores that produce the botulism toxin. A boiling water bath canner, which can be used for canning pickles or fruit, heats food to boiling temperature (212 ° F) which is not high enough to ensure safety for canning vegetables and other low-acid foods.

            Clostridium botulinum bacteria are the main reason why low-acid foods must be pressure-canned to be safe. Clostridium botulinum is a common soil microorganism that produces a very deadly toxin or poison... called botulism, which is the most deadly food poisoning known. Home-canned foods are responsible for over 90% of all cases of foodborne botulism." http://www.extension.umn.edu/FoodSafe...

            If you are in the US, I recommend getting the latest copy of the Ball Blue Book of Preserving (around $6-8, usually wherever canning supplies are sold), as it has the most current guidelines. If you are using older books, its advisable to not use any canning recipes/recommendations pre-1990, as that was when the latest major changes were made.

            1. re: anniemax
              Zeldog Mar 20, 2009 06:08 PM

              You can indeed add acid to adjust the pH to 4.6 or less, which is what the CDC says is safe for boiling water canning. And pH 4.6 does not make pickles. Granted, you need to use a pH meter or test strips to make sure you're in the safe zone, but I still consider adjusting the acid a safe alternative to pressure canning.

              Whatever method you use, know the rules and follow them carefully. To be honest, I mostly can tomatoes and other relatively high acid fruit, but if I routinely canned lots of beans, greens, okra and such, I'd invest in a pressure canner.

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