Canning without a pressure canner

 I grew up on a small farm. We canned everything — all kinds of meat and veggies, in all kinds of recipes. I remember my mother and grandmother talking about canning everything without a pressure canner. My question is how did they can meat and veggies without a pressure canner, I read stories and heard other people talking about that as well.


Albuquerque, New Mexico

 They water bath processed vegetables and meats for 3 hours. However, it was discovered that boiling, no matter how long, did not kill botulism spores, which produce a toxin in canned foods. To kill the spores, you must process the canned foods at a higher temperature than boiling. Therefore, you need to process vegetables and meats with a pressure canner to ensure safety. True, some folks cling to the boiling water bath processing for these foods today. But it just isn’t safe. — Jackie

 Canned corn and cherry tomato questions

 I just finished canning 5 quarts of fresh corn but completely forgot you need to pressure cook them. Instead I had them in a water bath for 1 hr 30 minutes. Will this be okay, if not is there a way to fix it?

 I also have an abundance of cherry tomatoes and wondered if you are able to can these? If so, how would you go about doing that?

 Chris Bekkering

Allegan, Michigan

 No, this is not okay. And no, there isn’t a way to fix it. You should throw the corn away in an animal-safe location.

 Cherry tomatoes can be home canned any way you would can larger tomatoes. I usually throw them, skins and all, in my Victorio tomato mill and make puree out of them. I use this for tomato sauce, chili, pizza sauce, etc. It is a little labor-intensive to peel them, as each one needs to be boiled for the skin to slip. You can also just cut them in half, then toss them in a saucepan to simmer until they are soft, then hang the pulp/juice in a jelly bag to strain off the tomato juice to can. My friend, Jeri, has a stainless steel juicer that totally cuts down the work; you just toss the tomatoes in, turn up the heat under the pan of water, then watch the juice begin to run out of the plastic tube! — Jackie

 Shortcut with pressure canner

 I have been reading your column for some time and really appreciate the wealth of knowledge you are. This week we just began homeschooling, our three chickens that we raised from eggs this spring began laying, and our garden has just gone gangbusters! We are thrilled, but also tired. I was wondering if I could take a short cut with my pressure canner. I saw someone spray cold water and pour ice over a pressure cooker after the timer went off to lower the temperature and therefore pressure more quickly. Is this a safe practice with pressure canners? Also, I can’t find information on canning spaghetti sauce with peppers in quart jars. How long should I process them in a pressure canner? Thirdly, as our chickens have begun laying, I wondered if the first eggs were safe to eat. I have heard that the first few are not good. What do you think? The three I cracked looked okay to me.


Fort Wayne, Indiana

 NO! DON’T TAKE SHORTCUTS COOLING YOUR JARS. That could result in broken jars or incomplete seals…and even damage your canner.

 There is a recipe for canning spaghetti sauce with peppers on page 84 of my book, Growing and Canning Your Own Food.

 Yes! Your chickens’ first eggs are fine to eat. They will probably be smaller (pullet eggs), but just as tasty and safe as hens’ eggs. — Jackie