I bought some green beans and thought I'd show you what a typical canning adventure would look like for me. Maybe it's a more realistic view you can appreciate.
The first thing I do is look for a recipe. I found a basic simple recipe on the Ball Canning website. I follow Julia Child's advice to read the entire recipe, several times if needed, to get a clear picture of what I'll be doing and what will be happening.
Ball Green Bean Canning Recipe
Now I'm ready to start. I begin by cleaning my kitchen. This is best done by tricking some other family member into doing it but I usually have to do it. I like to have a completely clear space so things will stay organized and there's less confusion about what's happening in the kitchen and where things are at. This is a good time to gather supplies and ingredients.
Since I'm canning green beans I have to get them prepared and cut up. Food prep can often take longer than you might think, try not to take on too much. In your head you might think it's a great idea to can up all the green beans you'll eat in a year but you'll find yourself still cutting beans at midnight, unless you like to can at midnight, and that's o.k., too. It took me 45 minutes to get this standard sized colander filled.
My next step is to rinse the beans, get them into a big pot and cover them with water to cook. While they are heating to boiling I get my jars and lids ready. I wash the jars in hot soapy water, rinse and place on my cart. I keep the hot soapy water because I'll continue to use it by washing things as I go along. I put the lids in a saucepan of hot water and let simmer.
I have this wonderful kitchen cart that I love to use during the whole canning process. I'm able to arrange everything I'll need on top and can move it exactly where I'll need it. This speeds things along and keeps spills and accidents from happening.
Once the beans have boiled for 5 minutes I ladle them into the jars. I use a food funnel which I failed to have in the picture. I ladle in the boiling water and then top off with salt. I clean the rims of the jars, place lids and rings on the jars. I've had the canner getting ready on the stove by heating water in it. This will get the pressure needed quicker once the lid goes on.
I place the jars in the canner and lock the lid on. I push my little cart in front of the stove to block anyone from knocking the canner accidentally. Once the desired pressure is achieved I set my timer for 20 minutes and take a break! When my 20 minutes is up I turn off the heat and go take another break or work on something else since I won't be able to open the canner until the pressure drops. This is a drawback compared to waterbath canning.
When the canner drops pressure and I can take the jars out, I place them on my cart and then wheel them on over to the table. I move the jars onto a towel and let them cool. When they have cooled off I label them on the lids with a sharpie marker. The rings are reusable but the lids are not so I like to write on the lids. I'll write "Green Beans with Salt 4/7/13." I'll leave them on the table till the next day and then put them away till we're ready to eat them.
I finish by cleaning up the entire project. Everything is washed and put away. I keep all my tools and utensils for canning in the canner so they're easy to find. I even have a set of measuring spoons I use only for canning. It keeps me from having to search high and low for these things that other people can misplace. Then I'm finished!
This whole project from start to finish has taken me 3 hours.