In the Kitchen...Pressure Canners

Left:  All American 10 quart Canner,
Right: Presto 16 quart Canner
I’ve been asked more than once about what kind of pressure canner to buy.  Our mother had an early pressure canner back in the fifties, and I’ve been canning or helping can with one ever since.  Her early canner, from Montgomery Wards, which Myrna still has and uses, did need lid gasket replacements several times; I have only replaced one in 50 years.  Apparently the materials are less stretchy today and don't seem to get dried out and cracked as quickly.
Pressure canners are a must if you can meat, fish, poultry, dry beans and vegetables or other low-acid foods; and these products are the ones I can the most.  I like having jars of good food ready to use without thawing and it takes a load off my small freezer.
Don’t substitute a “pressure cooker” for a canner, it heats up too quickly and cools down too fast to meet the processing requirements for your recipe.  You can tell if it’s a pressure cooker; it is 8 quart or less capacity, and doesn’t have variable 5-10-15 pound weights.  The smallest CANNER available now is an All American 10 quart, which I have and like, it has both a dial and variable weight.  I use it to can smaller amounts, and as a second canner when I have more than my Presto will hold.  Some large canners don't have variable weights either, but have a pressure dial.  
I used to have a Presto 23 quart…it got too heavy for me to handle, and I no longer double-stack jars as I did when I canned larger quantities and had help.  I never have felt that having the bottom jars already cooking while I filled the top row was a good idea.  Because of that, I use single-stack canners.  If you can a lot and have help, the canners large enough to double-stack may be just the ticket.
Left:  Stainless Steel Stockpot
with rack for water bath canning;
Right:  Mirro 12 quart Pressure Canner
I have several pressure canners of different sizes, and I often can with two of them going, one after the other.  I now have an All-American 910-10, a 10 quart capacity and a Presto 16 quart capacity canner purchased from Walmart. Up until last year, I also had a newer Mirro 12-quart capacity canner.  
All of them have "jiggler" weights, which I prefer, because I don't want to be tied to watching a dial when I can listen instead. The larger Prestos have dial gauges and the weight is not calibrated for 5-10-15 pounds, so you have to watch the dial, which I hate. At our Iowa altitude (under 1000' but close to it) the weighted gauges work very well and your product won't be over-processed.  Many University extension service offices are no longer checking pressure canner gauges either.  I also think that you have a tendency to do less “fiddling” trying to get the pressure right with a jiggler weight, and prevent some bad jar seals that way.
Presto 16 quart canner
with single rack and book

Check with manufacturers websites to see what their jar capacity is for different models, keep in mind that some jars are larger in circumference than others; my old Kerr jars are the smallest, Ball are in the middle and I usually have to put one less jar in when I use all Golden Harvest jars.  The stated canner capacity is for filling it with liquid, not jars.
I think that of these, I would buy the Presto is fairly lightweight, the price is right, it’s a good size, I can use it on my glass-top range as well as a regular range, and it does a good job. I've never replaced the gasket but they are available and not expensive at our local True Value Hardware.   Our local Walmart was out when I wanted this canner and they shipped it to my door without shipping charges.  I see that this year, it is about the same price as I paid several years ago.
The All-American is great...but it's expensive, heavy to lift, and more complicated to use, with the screw-down seals, etc. You have to oil the sealing surfaces to keep it from locking on...some folks have had trouble with that. It doesn't have heat-proof handles. That said, it will probably last forever, and it has both a weighted gauge and a dial, and doesn't have a gasket that needs to be replaced.  I especially like the smallest size for smaller canning jobs.
All American handle
and screw-down detail
The Mirro has a gauge that spews rust...not as good as the older model I had 15 years ago, and I couldn't recommend it because of that.  I know of several other people who have had the same experience with their newer Mirros.
All of these newer pressure canners work on my glass-top stove as well as my previous types of stoves.
I don’t know that I would buy a large 23 quart canner to double stack jars on a glass top range – that’s a lot of weight when full.
I had my first pressure canner for years until I passed it on thinking I was through canning...big mistake on my part!  They last forever, and with a little care, they don’t cost much after the first investment.
I think you will enjoy pressure's a hobby that saves money if you garden or hunt or raise your own meat and poultry (or even buy larger amounts on sale) and it's satisfying to just open that jar of meat or soup or stew for dinner without thawing and to see all those full jars on your shelves.  

Sunday in Iowa...

Daylily Season by an alley garage in Kalona, Iowa
Yards and roadside ditches are filled with these "lilies of the field" this time of year in Iowa

Summer in Iowa...

At the Farmer’s Market on a Saturday morning, Myrna ran across this apron booth, and after I dropped off her homestead eggs from Don and Bonnie, it was early enough to stop by on the way home. 
Of course, I had to buy some fresh green beans and look over the other offerings, but I was drawn to the apron booth, just as Myrna was.  The vendor and her daughter are the seamstresses.  
The child with the sweet corn was at the big Sweet Corn feed downtown on the square the same day.

Family Favorites...Creamy Fruit Salad Dressing

I was looking for a salad dressing to serve with a tossed lettuce and fruit salad similar to one we enjoyed at a restaurant salad bar and decided to try this one from “The Honey Kitchen", a 1980 cookbook from the American Bee Journal.  I used the juice from some canned pineapple I added to the fruit salad.
It was perfect; I made it the afternoon before I used it, and it was delicious and a nice consistency.  You can substitute a heat-proof bowl over a pan of hot water (don’t let the hot water touch the bowl or upper pan) instead of the double boiler if you don’t have one.  I added the butter to smooth the tanginess a little, and I have tried it with cook-type clear jel instead of cornstarch one-for-one with good luck too.  This recipe also has the advantage of being gluten-free for celiacs like Myrna. 

 Creamy Fruit Salad Dressing 
  1        Large  Egg
  1         Tablespoon  Cornstarch or Cook-type Clear Jel
  2        Tablespoons  Honey
  1        Cup  Pineapple Juice
  2        Tablespoons  Lemon Juice
   ¼     Teaspoon Salt  
1         Tablespoon Butter (optional)
Mix slightly beaten egg, cornstarch, honey and salt in top of double boiler.
Add juices and cook slowly over boiling water until mixture thickens.
Stir in butter until melted and mixture thickens again; chill. 
Yield:  Approximately 1 ¼ cup.

Carrots with Marsala

 Sue has two Italian cookbooks and one of them had this recipe for Carrots with Marsala. It looked good, and simple to make. Since I had some frozen carrots and also some Marsala I tried it for dinner. The recipe said they would work well with the sweet Marsala as carrots are naturally sweet, I think a sweet Sherry would work also.
 All of us thought they were very good, I did use frozen carrots rather than the fresh the recipe calls for as I thought they would be less work and I always have some in the freezer. I will certainly make them again as I always am looking for new vegetable recipes as we aren't good about eating them. I am sure the fresh carrots would be good also. 
Carrots with Marsala
Serves 4
4 tablespoons butter
1 pound carrots thinly sliced
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup Marsala or sweet Sherry
 Melt the butter in a medium saucepan and add the thinly sliced carrots. Stir to coat with the melted butter. Add the sugar and salt and mix well. 
 Stir in the Marsala and simmer for 4 to 5 minutes. 
 Pour in enough water to barely cover the carrots/ Cover the pan and cook over moderate heat until the carrots are tender.* Remove the cover and cook until the liquid reduces almost completely. Serve hot.

*Mine took about 6 minutes to cook till done. This will vary on how thick your carrot slices are.

In the Kitchen...Scrapers, Spatulas and Turners

I couldn’t get along without “rubber” scrapers in my kitchen…I admit I use them instead of wooden spoons to stir mixtures and then scrape the pan or bowl.  The newest silicone ones are so much better than old wooden-handles ones that melted in the saucepan and couldn’t go through the dishwasher!
You can buy scrapers  or spatulas with plastic, wooden and stainless steel handles…I don’t have any wood-handled ones left…can’t go in the dishwasher.  Both the plastic and steel handles have their downsides, the plastic ones will melt a bit, and the metal ones can get hot in a saucepan…you take your choice, I guess.  
The silicone spoon in the crock is from Tovolo.  It's shallow, so it's good for stirring, not so much for serving anything.
I particularly like the Tovolo Jar Scrapers, they will scrape out a mayonnaise or peanut butter jar perfectly, as well as bowls, pans and measuring cups.  I also have some of their large scrapers…those are a little soft on the edges for heavy cookie or bread dough.  For that, I prefer the OXO silicone spatulas. I have both jar scraper sizes and large ones.
There are still old-style OXO spatulas around, where the handle joined the head right at the top of the handle…the newer ones like these with the joint half-way down the handle are a big improvement…junk doesn’t get inside the head.  
I keep mine between my stove and my “mixing area”, in this nice tool crock with an inside removable divider and a turntable.  I purchased the crock and turntable when the Chefs Catalog was going out of business…I don’t know if anyone else is making them now or not, but I can’t cook without a tool crock of some kind.  Myrna actually has two crocks as her stove and mixing area are separated.
Myrna and I both love our OXO silicone cookie spatulas, and my husband does too…he uses one for turning eggs; it is easy to get in the pan, so I have to have two - he won't let me use his egg turner!  They make a larger version…too big for our daily use but I use mine for fish fillets and on the grill.

Talking about spatulas or turners, I have a big collection of metal ones…large and small, for a cookie and brownie spatula, and for frosting and smoothing out batters, spreaders for sandwich fillings, etc.  Can’t do without them, they have their own place in a drawer in my mixing and baking area.  As you can see, I have had them many years, a couple since I married, and expect to never have to replace them.  Look for sturdy ones; restaurant supply houses are a good source.

Sunday in Iowa...

My son, Dave, took this photo just for the Sunday blog post in Colo, Iowa. 
And it's pure Iowa...the red barn, flag, clothesline, the garden phlox and rhubarb.  

Do You Remember?

Sue and our dad -Sue's husband John with his heavy stringers of fish

Remember when…?
When fishing was a Sunday afternoon family recreation?
When your fishing boat had to be rowed?
When you fished with a string tied to a trimmed branch?
When bamboo poles were still the fishing rod of choice?
When Dad bought you your first child size fishing pole?  
…At the hardware store?  From a selection of poles in a wooden barrel?
When guys wore white t-shirts and cuffed jeans?