Friday, January 28, 2011

Under Pressure

When I get gifts of cash I try to use it for something that is substantial and an investment in our future frugality.

The 2009 Christmas cash went towards buying our Fowlers Vacola preserving kit.  We love the Fowlers kit.  We've bottled lots of fruit and add to our bottle collection as we find them at op-shops and garage sales. 

At one garage sale (where we bought a second kit and lots of jars) we heard about pressure canning.

The water bath preserving method as used by the Fowlers Vacola kit, is great for things like fruit, but for low acid and protein foods, pressure canning is the way to go. 

So with my last birthday cash, we bought a Presto Pressure Canner via Amazon (for nearly half the price of buying one locally, including postage) and have spent a good deal of January canning soups, curries and casseroles.

With our combined food intolerances, we can shelf store our own dairy free, gluten free meals made from seasonal produce with no additives. It frees up freezer real estate, ensures portion control, and there are no excuses to get a takeaway when fast food is sitting on the shelf.  We see it as a win all round for a fairly small investment.

The canner will take ordinary glass jars with screw top lids.  We can re-use jars from store bought goods, although it is recommended we buy new lids.  We are using a mix of Fowlers jars because we have quite a few and because they make uniform canning and storage easier and larger screw top jars, which are really too big for jam etc.

A Fowlers size 27 bottle contains a smidge more than 3 metric cups of liquid.  This equates to two servings.  So far we've made about 200 servings of soup, curry, casserole and ragu.


louisa @ TheReallyGoodLife said...

Canning is definitely something I'd like to explore more. Up until now, all the things I've "put up" have been either packed with sugar or vinegar (or both) - jams, chutneys, pickled things etc -- but I'm hoping our garden is going to be so generous with tomatoes this year that I'll have to learn how to can properly in order to deal with them!

I hadn't thought about canning soup - we usually freeze it but that's a great idea for freeing up precious freezing real estate. I shall have to keep my eyes open in case any pressure canners/cookers come up for sale...

2paw said...

That's amazing, I have never seen anyone 'canning' in real life ( well internet life) before.

Taphophile said...

Louisa and Cindi - So canning turns out to be quite easy. How did we not know about it before? I always thought it was American for bottling, I guess, an I know how to bottle fruit so just ignored it. Shows me not to be so arrogant.

The health and safety booklet that comes with the kit is pretty freaky, but ToF and the self-sufficiency fora assured me it was a lot of arse covering and it was a very simple process.

I will say, I doubt I could regulate the temperature enough on an electric stovetop to succeed, though. Gas made it a lot easier to keep at the right pressure for the correct period to kill off the bugs.