Well, since hubby was gracious enough to go out into our very small garden yesterday and bring me in over 6 lbs of green beans and a dozen largish cucumbers, I've put some of my baking tasks on hold to get some canning out of the way. My MIL is thrilled, because she was worried that we wouldn't have any canned goods at the fair (I haven't actually canned in about 3 years, as it took that long to get hubby to dig up a garden here!)
So, after making 4 pints of dill pickles, 4 pints of dilly beans and 5 pints of canned green beans, here are my tidbits of advice:
1) When deciding to pressure can for the first time, it is REALLY NOT A GOOD IDEA to do so on the same day as terrorists attack your country. You will be so high strung that you will put your pressure canner away and not use it again for 7 years. Then, you will decide that since you don't have that much room in your freezer at the moment, and since you are just about out of vinegar and don't want to run to the store, that you will can green beans in your pressure canner. The seven years of neglect will have worn out your gasket...and you'll spend the whole time they are canning wondering if there is enough pressure inside (since steam is escaping through the sides, rather than jiggling the weight). You will decide that your family is pretty healthy to begin with, and what is that $300,000 life insurance policy on hubby for if we don't live dangerously??
2) No matter how full you THINK you have packed your jars when doing a raw pack (as I did with the dill pickles and dilly beans) when you are done canning, there will be about an inch of space at the bottom where no produce will stay. You will curse the fact that you couldn't even manage 1/4 of the jars to look good, and prepare to ask the judge how to prevent that from happening again next year. Then, you will sincerely hope that you have better luck getting 1 nice looking jar out of 5.
3) Although you just spent two days complaining about your aching back/feet/wrists/whatever and how much you are sweating, wasting on air conditioning, how little you are saving over grocery prices...when you get to the end of the produce you will secretly wish you had more to do!
So, I guess I'll just have to look forward that much more to canning with Katie in August! Oh yeah, and Katie, if you read this...is your stovetop a flat top, or raised? Important information for the sake of my pressure canner...my MIL blew it up once trying to use it on a flat top stove!