This past year has been filled with learning to pressure can food. Anything and everything we could think of, that we knew we would eat, we have tried.
I will say, some of our attempts were a bit disappointing, but for the most part, we have been pleased. As we are still learning new things all the time in this department of our lives, Minister QuietBuck and I are very happy with our decision on taking on this endeavor.
One item in particular that I am grateful for is learning to can milk. Though most canning sites only share canning information for fresh goats milk, I was lucky enough to begin a conversation with someone who had canned milk from the super market. (Which, by the way, began a beautiful friendship with much sharing in food preservation and other wonderful things)
An important note that she shared with me, is the lower the fat % the whiter the milk is after being canned. The higher the % the more color it will have like condensed milk from the super market shelves. She stated how simple it is, so we took the dare and canned several gallons of 1% milk. To this day, they are fine.
How does one can milk from the grocery store?
After sterilizing all the jars, let them cool down before pouring in the milk. This prevents the jars from cracking. Once the jars are cooled pour the milk to about 1″ from the top of the jar. (Refer to photo above) Always make sure to wipe off any drippings with a sterile cloth before applying the lids and rings. This is extremely important when canning any food item. If anything is left upon the rim it can cause bad seals or even cause bacteria and mold to grow. Also, if one touches the jars and does not ensure they are sterilized, bacteria can form and ugly ugly things can happen!
Once the above steps are taken, ensure the lids are sealed tight, but not too tight that you can’t twist them off.
Depending upon your altitude, you will need to learn the pounds for pressure. For us, it is 10 lbs on the weight.
I put 2-3″ or so of water in the pressure canner. Once all the jars are in the canner, the water should not go over the lids. When I have finished placing all the jars into the canner and the water level is proper, I seal the lid. I turn the heat on high and wait for the famous whistle to go off for 10 lbs. I then place the weight for 10 lbs on the steamer nob while watching the needle rise for the correct pound amount. (Again, due to altitude, your lbs may differ) Once it hits the 10 lb point, I adjust the heat to keep it at 10 lbs. You do not want to go below or above the level of your altitude. It must be kept steady.
Initially, I canned milk in quarts, however we decided that was too much for our needs. Now I only can milk in pints.
If you choose to use quarts, what I did was put the timer on 5 minutes after the the canner went to 10 lbs. After the timer went off, I turned off the heat, not removing the pressure canner from the burner until it was time to remove the weight and canner lid.
For pints, however, once it begins to whistle then weight placed on; as soon as it reaches 10 lbs, I turn off the heat immediately. Again, not removing the canner from the burner. Once the lb arrow goes down to zero, I first remove the weight to insure all the pressure is let out. (We don’t remove it sooner) I then remove the cover and jars, placing them on towels on the counter to cool off. (The towels prevent cracking as well) Soon the plink plink plinks will begin, sharing with us that they have been properly sealed.
Once they are cooled off enough, remove the rings and wash the jars. Especially around the threads of the jars. Leave the lid alone, as that may still be a bit sensitive, but most likely not. You can clean that later after they are all cooled off. The milk can dry up and create a super glue effect that can make for some difficulties later on. Always test the lids to insure they are truly sealed before putting them away.
We then date them and store them away until needed. Simple as that!!!
•Another side note, inside the jar, there will appear to be tiny white balls. Those are fine. Nothing to worry about. You may have noticed them in the photo above.
I use the milk when making breads mostly or scrambled eggs and omelets. We’ve also used them in cereal if we run out of milk from the fridge. I must say, none of us have gotten sick nor died, so we know they are good!
This is the All American Canner we have in our home. Initially I felt quite intimidated by the idea of canning. That big ole cooking thing with some whistling numbered whatchamacallit had me in the stages of…well, we can do this tomorrow. (There is nothing to fear but fear itself came into play as tomorrow became almost a week.) I was quite overwhelmed by this monstrosity! I avoided it for as long as I could for fear of the lid exploding off, something bad happening, hearing in my head “be careful, you might poke your eye out!” However, we were Successful!!! No traumatic events happened at all! No cracked jars, no burns on us, not a single thing went wrong! It was an expensive item that we thought long and hard on, and I believe it is one of the best tools we have in our home for preserving food!
Here is an illustration from a great site on canning all kinds of food.
One thing to note is how very important it is to insure to adjust the burner temperature accordingly for anything you can. If you keep the heat on high, it can affect the lbs/time. You want the weight to stay at the lb limit for your altitude. I find that when I turn the heat to a tich above Medium heat it holds the 10 lbs perfectly.
Our very first project was canning meatloaf of all things. We are still enjoying them. They do end up looking like canned dog food, but the flavor is amazing!
My daughter’s friends always ask for the meatloaf when they come over! So, even kids enjoy it.
Other items we have canned are potatoes, carrots, squash, sweet potatoes as a few examples. Our potatoes had mixed outcomes. (as revealed in another post titled Canning Potatoes ) Some were fantastic, others not so much. We believe the amount of water in the jar effected the outcome.
In conclusion, for anyone interested in canning…do not be intimidated by it. It is rewarding, fun and beneficial during these times. It is a huge money saver, even after the investment of the Pressure Canner itself. We have cut our grocery costs more than half. Now we only run for milk and a few basics more than anything. I encourage everyone to learn this wonderful technique for storing food.