Days Gone By - stories from the past

RECIPE WEDNESDAY: Tips for Properly Canning Food from 1946….

During World War II, the US Government encouraged food preserving, so pressure cookers were essential tools for every household. These tips for canning are from a 1946 cookbook.


Remember that canning will not improve food: canning will only hold the food in the condition it is when the cover is put on the containers. Therefore, all food should be sound, and of first quality. If you wouldn’t serve it tonight for dinner, it is not fit to can. You can take out of a can next winter only what you put into it now.

Then, for best results, grade foods according to both size and ripeness. Canning is in the science of even heat penetration to the center of foods; and the speed with which this occurs differs between small and large, green and ripe foods.


If the food is hot when cover is put on the container, a good portion of the time heat takes to penetrate to the center of the can is saved. That is why we recommend hot packing for all foods.

Make Your House Do the Housework by Don Aslett 

Pre-heating sometimes called “exhausting” is done in several ways. One method for vegetables and fruits is bring them to a boil in their own juice and flavor with sugar or salt, but a more modern method is to follow the lead of commercial canners. Pack the raw food loosely, without adding liquid, into containers. Then place open containers into vessel, having one inch of water in the bottom. Put a tight fitting cover on vessel and allow the steam to flow around containers until food is heated to 150 to 180 degrees. When a pressure cooker is used, the time is shortened. Put the open containers into pressure cooker, close cooker and bring up pressure. Pre-heating time varies with the density of the pack – from 5 to 25 minutes at 10 pounds pressure. If you are using glass jars, it is not necessary when pre-heating to allow pressure indicator to return to zero before opening cooker. Open valve, reducing pressure immediately.

Cold Packing is not recommended although it has been tried with some success in recent years. The advantages of Hot over Cold Packing are:

  1. Shorter time required for processing
  2. Pre-heating expels air thereby conserving can space
  3. Pre-expansion aids in preventing liquid loss in glass jar canning
  4. Pre-expansion assures a good vacuum after final cooling


Glass jars are made airtight by vacuum. the product, liquid, and air expand during heating and contract during cooling. Contraction sucks the cover inward and this suction makes the airtight seal. Our whole effort will be lost if some little slip-up on our part prevents suction from pulling the cover inward. We urge close attention to the following details:

  1. Use only new, resilient rubbers. Synthetic and reclaimed rubber are less resilient then pre-war rubber. When using gasket-type lids, be sure the material is fresh and of sufficient thickness.
  2. Be sure jar rims are smooth, even, and free from nicks.
  3. Check carefully to see that the lids of both pre-war metal and wartime glass are not warped. Many failures are due to warped lids.
  4. Sudden temperature changes break glass. Never put a hot product into a cold glass jar. Wash jars and heat them by placing in warm water and bring to a boil. Keep jars hot until product is ready.


The above precautions need not be taken if canning is done in tin. Simply have food hot when cans are sealed before processing. After final cooling, each can will have a partial vacuum.

RIBBON OF LOVE: 2nd edition – A Novel of Colonial America Inspired by actual people and historical events! Based on the Cottingham ancestors of Bibb County, Alabama.

About Donna R Causey

Donna R. Causey, resident of Alabama, was a teacher in the public school system for twenty years. When she retired, Donna found time to focus on her lifetime passion for historical writing. She developed the websites www.alabamapioneers and All her books can be purchased at and Barnes & Noble. She has authored numerous genealogy books. RIBBON OF LOVE: A Novel Of Colonial America (TAPESTRY OF LOVE) is her first novel in the Tapestry of Love about her family where she uses actual characters, facts, dates and places to create a story about life as it might have happened in colonial Virginia. Faith and Courage: Tapestry of Love (Volume 2) is the second book and the third FreeHearts: A Novel of Colonial America (Book 3 in the Tapestry of Love Series) Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1) is the continuation of the story. . For a complete list of books, visit Donna R Causey

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  1. Alice Chamblee

    WOW! Does that bring back memories of my country life!

  2. Carol Long

    Just bought a pressure canner can’t wait to use it. But kind of afraid

  3. Karol Taylor

    Follow ball instructions.

  4. Sandra Day

    My mother hated pressure cookers so after the first one exploded, Mama and Granny went back to canning the old fashioned way, They had a huge cast iron pot, started a wood fire under the pot, filled it with hot water, placed the jars of veggies and fruit in to the pot with every dish towel, rag, quilt scraps we could find around each jar and kept that fire going all day long to can the jars of food put in there. It went on from early, early morning before the sun came up till after dark but the canning got done. I remember Mama and Granny listening carefully for each jar lid to make that popping sound which meant the jar of veggies or fruit had sealed properly.This went on all summer long but oh the goodness of those veggies and fruit when it got fall and winter time. Best soups, pies, cakes made from those veggies and fruits kept our tummies full and I especially remember the aromas coming from the kitchen. in the summer and the winter months.

    1. Alabama Pioneers

      Thanks for the story Sandra!

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