Thursday, January 28, 2016

Good News for Home Canners

If you're a canner like me, you know there's two types of canning methods that are deemed safe; pressure canners, for low acid food like meat and vegetables, and water bath canners for high acid food like fruit and pickles.  Most home canners use their water bath canners the most; jellies and pickles are fun and easy to make, afterall.

Some of you might have heard of a third method of canning that's kind of been on the fringe of canning for almost a century, and that's steam canning.  Basically, it's just like water bath canning, except instead of surrounding your jars in boiling water to kill bacteria, you surround it in steam.  It makes sense, since steam actually gets hotter than boiling water.  The problem is that the government has never done any real tests on steam canning to deem them safe, so we've been told for a very long time not to use that method.  Which is a shame, because steam canning uses a lot less water and energy that water bath canner.

However, I just found out to day that the National Center for Home Food Preservation (NCHFP), with the help of a researcher at the University of Wisconsin, conducted a study on steam canners and found them to be perfectly safe for high acid foods


I actually knew for a long time, maybe a year and a half, that the government was conducting a study on steam canners, and I've been waiting patiently to see what the results would be.  I'm disappointed that it took me five months to finally see that they released the data; clearly, canning news isn't really exciting to most news agencies.  The study was also testing the safety of reusable Tattler lids; I haven't checked to see if they released that data yet, though. 

So since I knew they were doing the study and that they were having pretty good results, I went ahead and bought myself a dual-purpose canner last year.  It's a Victorio steam and water bath canner.

It looks like a regular water bath canner, but it came with a reversible grate that can be used for both water bathing and steaming, and it has a cool dial in the lid that tells you what temperature it is inside so you know when to start your timer.  I have to tell you, out of all my canning gear I've ever gotten or owned, this is my favorite!  Steam canning is so much easier, faster, and simpler than water bath canning.  Do you know how long it takes for a giant pot full of water to boil?  FOREVER.  But it only takes a few minutes for a few quarts of water to start steaming.  Plus, it's big enough for quart sized jars, which is great if you're into canning fruit.  Those old fashioned graniteware blue speckled water bath canners said they were big enough for quarts, but if you actually tried to process quart jars, you'd get water spurting out all over the place. 

So yay for progress!  We can finally officially steam can!

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