Let the Canning Begin!

You know those horns that were blown when the king arrived in the arena for a jousting tournament? Picture that sound.
Let the canning begin! 
[I don’t know why the spacing in the rest of this article is not single spaced and I can’t figure out how to fix it. I’m sorry for the changing format.] I was excited this morning to know that today is the day that I started filling jars with food so I can fill my pantry shelves. As usual, I had so many things in mind that I wanted to accomplish today, that it is impossible to do in one day. Well, that’s okay. I did get a lot done, just not as much as I would have liked. I always start off a canning session, and especially a new canning season by reviewing the manual that came with the canner. We have highlighted the most important information to make sure we are using it correctly.
When I first started canning, I was afraid of the canner, feeling like it might explode or something. Now, I am not afraid. I am very careful, make sure I follow the directions, use all standard safety precautions, and just good ole’ common sense.
 
Our first harvest of Cushaw winter squash came to about 28 pounds from four squash. This is great! Not only is Cushaw a good keeper and nutritious, it tastes good. Since I have not included any winter squash in the articles on nutrition, I want to include it here.
  • calories 80 
  • carbohydrates 17.9g
  • protein 1.8g
  • vitamin A  10,708 IU
  • vitamin C 19.7mg
  • vitamin K 9.0mcg
  • folate 57.4mcg
  • choline 21.7mg
  • calcium 28.7mg
  • magnesium 16.4mg
  • phosphorus 41mg
  • potassium 896mg
 

 

I wanted to start off my canning day by putting these four squash into quart jars. I quickly realized that it would take more than one batch to can this much Cushaw, so I decided to get out our second canner. We have had it for a while, but basically got it for a back up, just in case we ever needed to replace the one we usually use, or like today, that we had a lot to can. We use an All American canner that does not have a gasket, and have been very happy with it. Until today. Well, I’m still real happy with our older canner, but for 

some reason, the new one will not seal well enough to produce 10 pounds of pressure. We tried and tried and tried and tried, about seven times, to get it to work. The first four times were with my seven quarts of squash in it. By that time the old canner with it’s seven quarts was finished and we moved the squash from the new canner into the old, and fired it up again. It worked like a charm.

If anyone knows what we might try with this new canner, please let us know. I recleaned and relubricated the sealing plate; re-read the manual for any indications of what to do; checked the pressure blow off valve, and checked the pressure gauge opening and they all appear to be functioning properly. The vent valve works great and allows a full spout of steam to escape during venting prior to adding the 10 pound pressure regulator weight. After the weight is put in place, the canner starts steaming around the lid instead of building up pressure. Frank finally got it to go up to five pounds of pressure the last time we tried it empty, but that is as far as it will go. I will try to call the company on Monday to see what their recommendations are.

 

I had planned to cook and peel the beets after the squash was finished in the canner, with plenty of time to can them with the few cowpeas I have. Both need to be pressure canned, the beets for 30 minutes and the cowpeas for 40 minutes. Since I don’t have very many of either, I will can them at the same time. Tomorrow. I did get the beets peeled, so they are ready to be sliced and put in jars. I shelled the peas I picked this morning while the beets were cooking.

 

I didn’t think I would get to everything, and I didn’t. So, now I also have carrots and green beans to can tomorrow. I’ll do the same thing with them since the carrots need 25 minutes and the green beans need 20 minutes. I finished snapping the green beans I picked this morning while the last batch of squash was in the canner.

Since there were about two quarts of squash left over after I filled the 14 quarts, and Frank was gone looking at some antenna towers a man had for sale, I baked the rest of the squash for lunch. And since the stove top was busy, I peeled a few of the small turnips I had harvested and baked them with some simple meatballs made from ground meat. That gave us a good meal without interrupting the canning process.
It has been a long busy day, but a very good one. I can see where we will have many more jars of squash on the shelf, both winter and yellow summer squash. They are both very nutritious and easy to use in many different dishes. We will keep some of the Cushaw to store fresh, but will wait and harvest the keepers later on in the season. For now, I will can as many as we harvest. 
Our beet harvest has been very small so far. I hope to be able to grow many, many more before winter sets in. I would like to have about 70-80 pints on the shelf. And the same with the carrots, and green beans, and…… Everything! I am glad the time has come to preserve the harvest. Like many folks around, I feel pressed to grow and store as much food as we can. The unprecedented rainy spring has delayed the harvest of many crops in our area. I sure hope we can make up for lost time. In the meantime, I am planning our fall crops and will continue to plant many more seeds before the year is out. And by the way, our greenhouse is about halfway finished, and it is beautiful. When I look at it, I don’t really see a greenhouse, I see food. This will give us the potential of growing food year round. I will show you the finished greenhouse and explain our plans before long. 
Find your calling in the hard times that come. We all have talents and abilities that will be needed. Be ready to put yours to good use. Frank and I have found over the past few months that there are and will be things that we don’t do together, which is different for us. We have always done things together. Building projects, homestead chores, washing dishes, everything. But now our roles are changing a little. Today while I harvested and preserved, Frank worked toward the communication abilities for our community network. Then this evening while I did the chores, he visited with a gentleman from his class, answering questions and discussing the capabilities of different kinds of radios and antennas. We talked about it after I came back in from the chores. You see, I feel like the time and effort he is putting into radio communication could very well save my life one day. Just as much as the squash I am putting in jars. Find your calling and increase your abilities as much as possible. It could save your life one day as well.
Until next time – Fern

31 thoughts on “Let the Canning Begin!

  1. Tomato juice? Our tomatoes are just now starting to ripen. I was beginning to wonder. I picked more Cushaw, green beans, cowpeas, yellow squash, Buttercup squash and tomatoes today. Yesterday I bought peeled garlic to mince and can. I don't have my own garlic to can, but I want to learn how and have fresh instead of dried to cook with. Then a friend gave me some plums last night at the radio class that I want to can. Since it is raining buckets this afternoon, I'm not getting any garden work done, or anything else. It seems like a good afternoon to read and relax. But it sounds like tomorrow will be another canning day, and that's great. Thanks for the inspiration on canning tomatoes, Ilene.Fern

  2. Have fun building your house, Vickie, I hope it progresses quickly. It would be nice if our canner difficulties resolve like yours did. Keep your fingers crossed. Thank you for sharing.Fern

  3. You're right about sharing your skills with others, Karin. After the SHTF, I think that will be a very important aspect of our lives. There are so many things others know that I don't, and I hope I will be able to learn from them. Thank you for sharing.Fern

  4. We have always used vaseline to lubricate the base before we put the lid on. That works great on the older All American, I don't know why it hasn't worked on the new one. When I called the company, they recommended lubricating the washers on the bottom of each black handle before tightening. They also said the metal portion of the lid and base that form the seal will still be a little soft until after the first few uses, then it should do well. I will try it again with only water inside and see if we can get it to work properly using their recommendations. Thank you very much for sharing your experiences.Fern

  5. Hi Frank and Fern, I also have two of the All American canners and had the same problem with one of them. Being a Mechanic on airplane engines for 30 years, USN, and looking at the mating/sealing surfaces I could see that there were a couple of high spots that would'nt let it seal. SO I went to a NAPA store and bought a small can of lapping compound. Took it home and put very small dabs on one of the mating surfaces and then rotated it back and forth quite a few times. Then clean off the compound really well, rub a very light coat of vaseline jelly around the mating surfaces and try it again. The literature says that the mating surfaces are a machine fit, and that is true but even a machine fit benefits from a good polishing!! Regards Everett R Littlefield ADCM, NO, AC, USN Retired

  6. Here I was sitting here so proud of my 7 jars of tomato juice about ready to come out of the canner, and you've put me completely in awe! What a powerhouse you have been today!

  7. Growing and preserving my own food gives me such a warm, fuzzy feeling. I know that with every pint and quart I put on my shelves, my chances of survival get that much better! I had problems with my All-American at first also, but finally something worked (for the life of me I don't know what or why) and it has done well since. Is it possible that the machined edge of the canner got scratched or nicked? My husband and i plan to build a greenhouse also, but we need to get our new home built first! I read through the comments – glad Fiona is doing better! Have a great day!

  8. I appreciate what you said about finding your calling and abilities. In everything I am learning and doing and preparing right now, I am aware that it is not just for me or my family, but for others who are going to need my skills and knowledge in the future. Please continue to post about your gardens and animals and greenhouse and canning and storage — the things I am learning from you I will hopefully be able to pass on to others in the future!

  9. Hi Fern! My suggestion for the canner is my answer to too much steam escaping. I touch my finger to coconut oil and rub the inside of the lid all around the \”lip\” that mates with the canner base. Sometimes I put a little coconut oil on the base as well. Just a touch. It makes the lid and base easy to move. Then, as I put the lid on, ready for canning, I can run my finger all around the lid/base and make sure that the position is secure and not wonky in one place or the other. Then I tighten it securely and I have never had a steam escape with this procedure. Try it and see if it helps you. I had quite a learning curve with my All American canner but now love it!

  10. Canning is a lot of work, Sandra, but the rewards are great. I have a lot of respect for anyone that cans their own food. Frank and I were talking a day or two ago about how much more we can get accomplished in the garden when we are not tackling major projects like we are this summer. That will be an interesting endeavor, concentrating on growing and preserving the harvest. I really look forward to that.Fern

  11. She is doing great, I am glad to say. It took a little over 48 hours for the scours to stop. I fed her all of the greens she would eat, including a lot of comfrey. Now she is eating grain again and acting normal. I will update the details Wednesday after the vet is here to teach me how to do the copper boluses. We are giving them to the whole herd. Thanks for asking.Fern

  12. It's good to know you have had good success with the folks at All American. I hope to talk to them this morning.A few years ago we tried about 6 or 7 different kinds of winter squashes to see what would grow best here. Frank likes acorn squash, but we have had no luck with it. Buttercup and Cushaw have performed the best, but the Buttercup is doing poorly this year. Looks like we will stick with the Cushaw.I am excited to begin canning, Fiona. We plan to pick up 5 bushels of peaches at a local orchard tomorrow. I hope to be canning all week. Thank you for sharing.Fern

  13. I'm not sure what is preventing the seal. It vents just fine, so I know that is not plugged up before we put the pressure regulator weight on it. I hope to find out today.The greenhouse should have most, if not all, of the siding on today. I hope to take some cuttings from our tomato plants to keep through the winter. That will be a very interesting learning experience. I tried it a few years ago in the house, but they all succumbed to aphids even though I broke down and used chemicals. But I will try again. Thank you for reminding me.Fern

  14. Strange about the canner…I have had learning curve issues with our All-American and find the staff there wonderfully helpful. As to winter squash, Cushaw is a grand squash and was my favorite until we grew the Pennsylvania Crookneck last summer. They keep extremely well and have great flavor. Your canning progress is wonderful to see.

  15. Fern – you will both very quickly realize how to get the best out of your greenhouse! and yes – being able to start seedlings earlier and get the best out of fall/winter gardening will keep you in beaming smiles all year round!i love canning stories – keep sharing! oh and can you please send me some of those delicious looking beets??? bahahahahah!

  16. Hi Fern,Just read your blog and wanted to let you know that you can take your caner to the Extension office…I took mine to the OSU Extension office and they checked my gauge for me a few years ago. If your caner doesn't have a seal, I don't know what would be causing your problem. It just isn't sealing down tight enough. Mine has a rubber seal that I have had to replace a time or two over the years I have used it but a new seal always makes it seal down tight.Looks like your greenhouse is starting to take shape. I'm sure you will enjoy it when it is finished. It is a learning experience but fun as well. I have two pieces I accidentally broke off my tomato plants that I stuck in some water in the green house. They have long roots on them and I am thinking I will put these in pots for the winter but may have to take some cuttings later in the year to have in the winter. Take care.

  17. That is a good idea, but I don't think that is our issue since the moisture and steam is escaping around the lid. It is not sealing properly. We have checked it for anything that would interfere with the seal, but haven't found anything. I'll let everyone know what we find out from the manufacturer. Thank you for the comment.Fern

  18. I am really looking forward to the greenhouse, Kymber. I don't know if there will be any chairs out there or not. I guess I just picture it as a growing/working place. If I know me very well, I will try to have it wall to wall plants, with things to eat all winter. I haven't even let myself think much of how wonderful it will be to grow our seedlings during late winter and early spring. That will be just great! Right now I am concentrating on our garden, but in the back of my mind I am thinking about all I need to learn to be able to grow food in the winter. I've read enough to know that I don't know very much. I know there can be bug issues, dirt issues, moisture issues, and other stuff I don't even know about. But in spite of any learning curves, failures or challenges, I am very excited about extending our ability to feed ourselves. Okay, I'd better stop now. I guess you can't tell that I am kinda happy to have the greenhouse under construction, huh?We canned the beets, cowpeas, carrots and green beans today. There aren't very many, but it's a start. It's good to hear from you, Kymber.Fern

  19. Sandy, that is what we plan to do next time. The type of canner we use doesn't have a rubber seal, it is metal to metal. Fern will be calling the manufacturer tomorrow to see if this is a common problem, or to see if there is a way to resolve it. But we are going to try switching lids. Thanks for the recommendation.Frank

  20. Just Me, the rain washed away planted seeds two or three times. Our entire beet crop contained maybe 5 pints. Half of our summer squash has rotted on the vine. We have lost the entire turnip crop to crabgrass. There are other things we can't find in the grass. But, we are thankful for what we do have, and are looking forward to planting again. We are just thankful for everything we have, because next summer instead of being the wettest on history, it might be the driest on history. We'll wait and see. Thank you for commenting.FrankP.S. I'm guessing that half of our topsoil probably washed away also. This affected our carrot crop tremendously. But I'm thankful for the carrots we got.Frank, again

  21. My only guess is that maybe something is stuck under the weight not allowing it to seat properly.

  22. Dr. Mom, in doing a little research, we found that commercially made canned pumpkin often contains Cushaw squash. We have tried to grow pumpkins for years with zero success. For some reason, the Cushaws grow here most years prolifically, and besides that, they look cool. Best of luck, hope you like them.Frank

  23. Hi, Bellen. This little greenhouse project was planned about seven years ago. Hopefully, the exterior will be finished Tuesday. It's only seven years late, that's not bad. There are other projects that have been waiting longer. Thank you for the comment. It's good to hear from you.Frank

  24. Fern – i am with Just Me above – those beets are gorgeous! i love beets but for the life of me can't get any to grow here! i think it is because of the heavy, salty air. i also can't believe you are canning stuff already – it's strange to think of canning anything before august for us. your garden is doing some fantastic stuff for you guys and i love the look of the canned squash! i can't wait to see the finished greenhouse as from the pic above – it looks like it will be gorgeous! and with it, i am sure that you both will enjoy one of our favourite winter activities – on gorgeous, sunny winter days when it is -10C outside – the greenhouse will be a beautiful 15-18C!!! a gorgeous place to go and sit and read, sew, fix fishing lures, dream and of course grow some food – bahahahah!keep the garden updates and canning updates coming! i love posts about other people's gardens! oh and also any new things that you guys are learning – i love those posts too! your friend,kymber

  25. Fern, and Frank,Beautiful looking vegetables.Regarding your pressure caner the only thing we (myself and Bulldog Man) can think of is your rubber seal may need to be totally replaced, or your lid doesn't seat properly on the actual caner base (a manufacture defect). If both caners are the same size, try swapping lids with the good caner and see if the problem moves. If it moves then you have a bad lid or seal. Hope this helps!Hugs,Sandy and Bulldog Man

  26. Food, glorious FOOD! Those beets look amazing. And the canned squash looks beautiful.After all that rain you had, you were so afraid that your crops were drowning and you'd never get ahead of the weeds…But, it looks like everything came through just fine! Now, I'm off to check my own garden. There must be something out there ready for the supper table. We're not quite as far along as you, but we're getting there.Just Me

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