Today I was reading Backwoods Home Magazine. There is a regular writer there that is quite brilliant: Jackie Clay. She says to not use them because it is not certain how much heat reaches the center of what you are trying to can.
of course your primary goal in preserving food is to actually..well.....preserve it. That is to prevent spoilage and maintain a product that is safe to actually eat. In order for us to safely can anything...at home or in a business setting....proper reliable and reproducable testing must assure us that adequate temperatures have been achieved for an adequate amount of time to kill any pathogenic organisms and that the food in question is simultaneously sealed from outside sources of contamination until such time as we would like to consume it. this has apparently been somewhat of a problem for steam canners.
since water in water bath canners can be reused I have trouble seeing why to take the risk with steam canners when there is so much reliable tested guidelines and recipes out there for WB canning. it appears that the people who sell steam canners are the only ones who think they are acceptable
I really liked it. It would be ready far faster - thus more energy efficient. Steam is gonna be much hotter than water. I would think it would be much better in many ways.
When I was using it, I was certain is was way better than a boiling water bath. And then I read this from Jackie Clay saying to not use it. If somebody else said to not use it, I would dismiss it pretty easily - but Jackie Clay?
Steam canners are only good for high acid foods, a quick and dirty solution. I have used a pressure canner for canning high acid foods, quick and easy, the time the pressure valve jiggles is very short for high acid foods, I think about 10 minutes for canning 4 quarts in an 8 quart canner. Follow the instructions that come with the pressure cooker. I found this was the fastest way to can. Biggest problem is always making sure the pressure is maintained at the proper setting during the canning process.
The objective for acid foods is to get the core temperature of the food to boiling, 212 degrees. The steam bath canner can do the job, but leaves some gray area when it comes to timing and measuring. While steam can get hotter than boiling water, pressure is needed to contain the steam. A problem with both steam and water bath canners is vague instructions. Do you start the timer when you close the lid or when it starts to boil?
Rather than hunt for shortcuts and trying the latest gadget, more time can be saved by sticking with what works and has been proven effective for decades. A big pot able to cover the entire jar and a good rolling boil for 30 minutes.
If you are going to feed your kids with this stuff, is it worth trying to shave a couple minutes?
That's my obnoxious opinion. Just call me the Canner Nazi.
Seed the Mind, Harvest Ideas.
I need to add a bit more about my canning. I use an 8 quart Mirro Pressure cooker for canning. It will do 4 quart jars at one time. For doing tomatoes, the manual recommends 25 minutes at 10 lbs pressure. For 4 quart jars in the canner, add 1.5 quarts water to the canner. These instructions are only for an 8 quart canner. I found this the easiest and quickest method for canning tomatoes. To me far better than the water bath method. Less heat and steam in the kitchen during the hottest time of the year.
For tomatoes ONLY, I can them in the oven. Mostly quarts, some pints. I bring the toms to a boil for 10 minutes in a big pot on top of the stove. Then I fill the jars leaving an inch of air. I put the lids on just barely finger-tight so high pressure could escape should that occur. I put them in a hotel pan with an inch of hot water in the bottom so the jars don't crack where they touch the pan. I bake with the temp at 250 til I see the contents boiling again. (10-15 minutes but they must boil) Remove the whole pan from the oven and tighten the lids tight. It's been working for the last 25 years, your mileage may vary.