Archive for July 24th, 2008

Things Of Interest (at least to me)

Sharon July 24th, 2008

Before I head off to a weekend of guests and cleaning up from our flood, I wanted to let you know a couple of things.

1.Believe it or not, _Depletion and Abundance_ will be out next month!  I somehow find it very hard, while working on book #3 and getting ready to edit book #2, to believe that there’s actually going to be a book with my name on it, but since it is actually at the printers, I guess it really is coming out. I should get my copies by the end of August, and it should be in stores by mid-September. 

 If you’d like to pre-order it, New Society Publishers is offering a 20% discount for preorders here:

And, While they last, I will  have a limited number of autographed copies available directly from me for 18.95 USD (not as cheap as the above) plus shipping (which I do not yet know the cost of - I will figure it out early next week and let everyone who emails me know).  If you’d like one, email me with “Book Preorder” in the subject line, and bear with me while I figure out how to do this.  It will probably take me a few days to get back to you - I’m not ignoring you, just slow.  The good part of this is that you should get your book before the local store does, with luck, and if it matters to you, it will have my name (and if you want me to inscribe it a particular way, let me know) in it.  I don’t take credit cards, btw, so this requires paypal or a check.

2. Next week will be the second week on Lucifer’s Hammer of the Post-Apocalyptic Book Club, and after that, in August, our next books will be Susan Beth Pfeiffer’s _Life as We Knew It_ and Sherri Tepper’s _The Gate to Women’s Country_.   And this is sort of controversial, but if you are interested in working with a third text, I’d like to read them in conjunction with Derrick Jensen’s book _Endgame_ which ties interesting into the questions of gender, sex, resistance and what level of social engineering is possible or desirable. 

3. I still have several spots in the August class (which actually runs into early September) on Adapting in Place.  The class will focus on preparing for a lower energy, lower money life that works in a volatile climate either in the place you are now or the one you will be in shortly.  This is for people who aren’t going to get to their dream homestead anytime soon - or whose dreams have changed to include the place they already live in.

More info:

Week 1 (August 5 and 7) - How to evaluate what you have.  We’re going to concentrate on figuring out what the major concerns are for your place and your community.  We’ll talk about your region and its climate, culture and resources, your house itself, your community and neighborhood - the challenges you forsee and maybe ones you haven’t thought about yet, and your personal circumstances - how much money, time and energy you have to deal with it. 

Week 2  (August 12 and 14) Will focus on your house itself - we’ll talk primarily about low energy infrastructure for heating, cooling, cooking, lighting, washing, etc…  About costs and options and choices for both private homes and for communities.

***August 19 and 21 CLASS IS NOT IN SESSION (Eric and I are celebrating our 10th anniversary by going away - I’m teaching a Permaculture class, and we’re going to treat it as a second honeymoon)

Week 3 (August 26 and 28) We’ll focus on Community Issues - Sharing resources, Building collective infrastructure, cannibalizing existing options, security, privacy, consolidating housing, dealing with the brother-in-law on the couch.

Week 4 (September 2 and 4) - We’ll focus on larger regional issues, especially foodsheds and watersheds, and on employment and economic issues.  We’ll also try to pull together an organizational plan for each household with strategies for the short, medium and long term.

There are Four Components of the Class

  • 1. My blog posts - lots of other people will be following along, which means that you usually get a lot of good info in the comments. There will be 2-4 each day that the class runs. I’m assuming if you registered you know where my website is ;-) /
  • 2. The yahoo discussion group that I will set up a bit nearer - this is a place where I’ll post discussion topics and answer any questions, and we can share our knowledge and ideas. The group will be for the participants only.
  • 3. Email - I’m available by email for anything you want to discuss privately. I’m available most days all day Tuesday and Thursday and regularly thereafter. Do use this email [email protected] and put AIP in the subject line if you can, just so that I keep track.
  • 4. Phone - I want to do one 20 minute phone conversation so we can talk in person and deal with whatever you are concerned about. I’ll set up scheduling for that - my hope is that most can be done on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, but I’ve got some flexibility - more details on that coming.

Finally, payment.  The cost of the class is $125.  I do, however, have a couple of spots left for low income participants and one scholarship unfilled, provided by a kind person who wants to help.  So email me if you need a spot and can’t pay.



Everything You Need To Know, In Order - Part II

Sharon July 24th, 2008

Ok, I’m going to try and work some more on the list of necessary skills.  So five more entries on this subject - and more coming.  Last time was the absolute minimum - but I’m still working on a list of everything you might ever need to know.

1. How to have a sense of humor about stuff, and how to shake off your distress and go on.  How to be kind when you are pissed off and grumpy, but it isn’t anyone’s fault. 

We just had a massive flood here - 7 inches of rain in a few hours. My garden was under 2 feet of water - and I had just spent five days painstakingly planting all the fall garden in the blazing heat.   My basement was full of water and I was sumping at 2 am.  The unprintable people who fixed our roof 3 years ago and did a bad job, and came back this year after we threatened to sue and said they’d fixed it were wrong - we removed 17 *QUARTS* of water from various vessels in our dining room - and that doesn’t include what ended up on the floor.  So I have been practicing this skill set.  It really does make a big difference, both to the people around you and also to the person forcing themselves not to be a jerk (of course, I am not talking about me…;-)).

2. How to wring the most out of everything.  Extreme thrift

a. How to minimize waste and minimize expenditures - reducing need, using care and good management skills.

b. How to take care of your stuff so it won’t break, how to repair and patch it if it does

c. Repurposing of now useless things, making do, creative compensating for things you lack.

3. How to have sex well.

a. How to navigate sexual dynamics and power relationships so that everyone is safe, having fun and acting consensually.  Teaching children the same - when to, when not to, what consent means, etc…

b. The risks of pregnancy, how not to get pregnant when you don’t want to, and the simple fact that no strategy is perfect if it involves heterosexuals and the most commonly used orifices, so - how to be prepared to have a child.

c. How to make your partner happy, if you’ve got one - this will only help in tough times.

 4. How to Grow Stuff

a. How soil works, basic botany, plant identification, a general understanding of the conditions specific plants need and how to create them, a general understanding of plants that will do well in your conditions.

b. How to use basic tools - physical skills for gardening. Hoeing, shoveling - these can be done well or badly.

c. How to recognize diseases and pests, how to recognize when things are ready to harvest, how harvest correctly.

d. Seed saving and basic plant breeding and genetics.

e. Composting and maintaining soil fertility.

5. How to Handle Water

a. How store water, use it thriftily, reuse it safely and thriftily and not contaminate it

b. capturing water for use or reuse as many times as possible, and as efficiently as possible, using swales, run off, etc…

c. Source of contamination and how to purify water

Ok, more coming…handling wastes, cooking, health, arts, building…


Minimizing Waste With Preserved and Stored Food

Sharon July 24th, 2008

Ok, you’ve gone through all the work of growing the stuff, canning or drying it, or buying it and hauling it home - how do you keep from losing it to pests, age, lack of planning, etc…?

Chile has a terrific post on managing food waste in general here - we waste at least 1/4 of all our food. Now we probably can’t get that down to 0 - although if you have animals, a worm bin or a compost pile, you can at least ensure that your waste has an upside.  But it is still cheaper to feed your worms on banana peels than on chocolate layer cake you let go bad, and it is better for everyone if people food gets used as people food.

 So how do you handle and manage your stored and preserved food to minimize waste?

1. To the extent you can, try to minimize gaps between harvest time and preservation - the longer you wait, the fewer nutrients, the more spoilage, the lower quality the food, the more you risk one rotten berry giving an off taste to the whole batch, not to mention the swarms of fruit flies.  If you can harvest on the same day, do - it makes a difference.

2. Have a back up plan for edible parts of the food you don’t want to preserve.  The peels to those lemons can be dried to make lemon zest, or used to flavor lemon vinegar.  The apple peels can be used to make apple vinegar.  Watermelon rind pickles, corncob jelly, many things with zucchini - these are the products of excess and thrift.

3. When you are freezing or canning, pack the food in quantities that you can eat quickly. Yes, I know it is faster to can all that blackberry jam in quart jars, not half-pints, but if there are only two of you, you will be throwing out some jam if you can it in containers that are two large. Same with freezing - if you freeze all the chicken stock in one container, you then have to use it - if you can get only what you want, you have less chance of seeing things rot.

4. Expect to have to use some things up quickly - that jar of jam that didn’t seal, or the pressure canned soup that you weren’t quite sure about.  The bits of meat that didn’t fit in that last jar and you didn’t bother canning. 

5. Don’t get more than you can store.  It would be a mistake to buy more food than you can store correctly - if you don’t have jars or buckets, don’t get a ton of oatmeal until you do.

6. Less air, less heat, less humidity are always better.  Life isn’t perfect, but it is worth making some effort on these fronts if  you can.

7. Check everything regularly - open lids, examine sealed jars, take a sniff of the sauekraut.  Do it regularly - and schedule it.

8. In an emergency, get out the canner and dehydrator, and get to work.  Sudden early frost meant you had to pull in all the berries?  Power was out three days and now you have half a cow half-defrosted?  Bad storm took down the cherry tree, and the cherries with it?  Cold snap came too early to ripen the tomatoes?  Well, it is time to get out there with alternate methods - throw the frozen corn in the dehydrator, get the pressure canner running and can that beef as stew.  Food preservation techniques can save you from food losses.

9. Even in a non-emergency, food preservation should be used to extend the life of food that can’t be saved another way.  We can the slightly wrinkled apples in the root cellar as applesauce, we make sauerkraut and kimchi when the cabbage is fading, dehydrate the onions and garlic if they show signs of trouble.  A combination of strategies can work better than any single one.

10.  Once you’ve preserved it, don’t forget to eat it.  This sounds obvious, but it isn’t to a lot of people - things get crammed in the back of the fridge. You worked hard for this - so use it up, plan your menus around the leftovers, make sure you scrape out the jam jar (if you add a little water to a jar of jam and shake it up, you can make a popsicle out of it), and use that pickle brine to flavor your tuna sandwich or as part of salad dressing. 


Boozy Pleasures: Preserving With Liquor (and a Small Digression on Making It)

Sharon July 24th, 2008

Another one of those ancient ways of preserving food is with liquor - in alcohol, most bad thingies cannot grow, so alcohol is a great way of making things last.  The downside (or upside depending on your tastes and whether you are over the age of consent) is that the thing is imbued with alcohol (and the alcohol flavored with the thing).  Now this means that while it was once considered reasonable to preserve meat in wine, this is no longer in fashion, because neither winey chicken (not coq au vin, but really, really winey chicken) or chicken-flavored wine is in favor.  But there are many, many good ways to make this  work for you.

 The simplest way to do this is to buy inexpensive vodka (you want something palatable, but it doesn’t have to be fancy) and imbue it with the flavor of something you like.  Thus, cheap vodka is transformed into something kind of fancy, you get a flavoring or a beverage, and people get gifts.  For example, every year I make about a gallon of raspberry-cinnamon vodka.  I take a half-pint of raspberries and two cinnamon sticks, and a cup to cup and a half of sugar, and put them in a clean half gallon glass jar. I pour vodka over it, cap it and occasionally shake the jar a bit to dissolve the sugar.  3 months later, I have something that friends of mine have actually tried to steal from me ;-)

If you leave out the sugar, you will get more a fruit brandy taste, but this takes a bit longer to infuse.  You really can use any high-proof liquor, but it will taste more of the liquor and less of the stuff you add if you use, say, rum. Gin is already flavored, so you might not want that - or maybe you do.

 The better quality the liqueur you use, obviously, the better things will be.  That said, however, the beauty of these things is their power to transform cheap liquor into something better than you paid for.

You can do much the same thing with brandy, either pure brandy or a pint of good brandy to a pint of cheap vodka.  Any fruit will do.  One of my goals, which I forgot about this year when it would have been useful, is to remember to take some glass bottles and put them carefully over growing peaches, apples and quinces.  You slide the jar down so it covers the fruit, and then the fruit grows inside the jar, and you have this cool, fruit in a bottle effect and everyone wonders how it got there.  Then you can soak it in homemade pear or apple or quince liqueur and make something truly fancy.

Vanilla can be done this way - I like vodka better, but brandy is good too.  Macerate several vanilla beans that have been sliced up to get the vanilla out for some months, until it works like vanilla.

Herb liqueurs are good too - I like mixed fruit and herbs - apple-thyme, lemon-lemon-verbena, peach-mint.  But plain herbs are good, both as flavorings for baked goods and also as dessert drinks - a glass of rosemary thyme liqueur is very palate cleansing.  There is something of a fine line between this an herbal tincture - but what a pleasant way to take your medicine!

In his wonderful, wonderful book _Good Spirits_ Gene Logsdon suggests making lemon liqueur, getting it really cold, making lemonade and putting it in half and half.  I tried this, and it is very, very good.

Ok, other than finding new and improved ways to get drunk, what else can you do with alcohol?  Well, you can make rumpot.

 A rumpot (or Bachelor’s jam) is a bunch of fruit put together with alcohol to meld and make something that is syrupy, good and alcoholic.  You want a large stoneware crock or something like that is reasonably airtight but allows the venting of fermenting gasses.  You layer in fruits of whatever kind you have - peaches, plums, berries, currants, apricots, pears…chop the fruit, cover it with a layer of sugar (enough to cover) and pour cognac or brandy over it to cover.  Keep adding fruit as the season progresses, and then leave 3-6 months minimum. It is great on toast (for breakfast!) if you are the sort of person to eat this for breakfast, or it is wonderful over ice cream.

Any kind of dried fruit can be packed into brandy diluted with 1/4 water, and will keep indefinitely that way - the fruit is good to eat, and the now flavored vodka will be good too.  Nuts can be put away this way as well. 

Cheeses can be preserved in good quality wine - put the cheese in a jar, pour the wine over it, cover and store at room temperature.  The only problem with this method is that you might not want to drink the cheese-flavored liquor, and the cheese does get a strong taste.  But this might be ok if you like the taste involved.

Finally, there’s the making of alcohol itself, for food, medicine, fun and fuel. This is a bigger subject than I have any intention of dealing with at this point, so I will just say that everyone who uses alcohol should consider it - it is cheaper, in some cases the quality will be higher and my own limited experiences with home brewing and winemaking suggest that it is fun.  But I will leave you with two cool things.

1. Dmitry Orlov’s Grandfather’s Vodka recipe:

 2. How to make Applejack (apple brandy) - I have not tried this, but plan to.  For this you need unpasteurized apple cider.  My state recently went to all pasteurization ;-P, but you can still make your own or buy it occasionally if you plan to use it for “cooking.”  I get mine from a neighbor. 

Let the cider sit in a place warmer than a fridge but cooler than a sauna.  Keep a close eye on it - when it starts to go fizzy, check it more often or put it in the fridge, and keep testing it until there is a faint, sour taste that suggests it is about to go to vinegar.  Then, freeze it.  Because the alcohol freezes at a much lower temperature than the water, this operates as an entirely safe method of distillation.  Check it regularly and skim off the ice.  You can do this by putting it in a freezer, or leaving it outside in cold weather - the latter is traditional.  Do this two or three more times, until it is hard to get any water at all - you now have an apple brandy probably around 80 proof (estimate) and you may do with it as you will.

 Cheers, and happy drinking,


Pressure Canning 101

Sharon July 24th, 2008

Ok, Remember my emphasis on safety when talking about Water Bath Canning last week.  Did you think I was anal then?  You ain’t seen nothing yet.  With water bath canning, there are a few things that can be dangerous - but mostly, the acidity will protect you from botulism.  By definition, most of the things that you will be pressure canning can support botulism toxin - which means if you do it wrong, you and anyone who eats your food could die horribly. 

 Now I can imagine that there are some people who are just plain terrified, and don’t ever want to pressure can.  But if you eat food from cans, you are eating food using the very same processes - that is, the canned pumpkin or soup you are eating has precisely the same risks and benefits that home canned food has (and, in fact, there was a botulism outbreak involving commercial foods last year).  So the issue here is not “I should be afraid of pressure canning” but “I should be very wary and respectful of pressure canning, and make sure I do it *EXACTLY* correctly.”  Because the truth is that properly canned food is safe.  What I want to make clear is that cutting corners, or using older techniques your Grandma taught you, or just estimating is not sufficient in this case.  I’m one of those estimating type of people - but I don’t do that when I pressure can.

Here are my rules for pressure canning:

1. No one pressure cans until they have water bath canned.  Seriously, until you learn the basics of handling jars, filling them, creating a seal, etc… don’t start pressure canning.

2. Make sure you are up to date on your canning information - use only *CURRENT* canning instructions.  You can use older recipes - or any recipe - but make sure that when you can the food, you can it using currently appropriate techniques for the ingredient that has the LONGEST canning time - that is, if you have a family recipe for meat sauce, can the recipe based on the meat, which is probably the thing that requires the longest canning time.

3. You should have a copy of the Ball Blue Book - a current guide to canning.  I also suggest you take a look at this site for current, up to date instructions, but I strongly encourage people to get a copy of the CURRENT (or at least within the last few years - canning books written before 1994 are not safe!!!)  Ball Book (usually available anyplace canning supplies are sold, or online) or the book that the site mentioned above is selling,  because I think sometimes when you are in the middle of a big project, with your hands covered with stuff and water steaming out of a pressure canner, you might not stop to go online and confirm that it was, indeed, 12 lbs pressure, not 10.  This is not acceptable - so have the book so you can just look it up, or please swear  up and down that either you will look it up, even when it seems inconvenient, or just spend the $6 and get the book.

4. Please make sure you read through the instructions for pressure canning and genuinely understand them before you do it.  No shortcuts - don’t just wait until the steam is kinda puffing out, but wait until it is steady.  Don’t estimate times.  Don’t decide that a lid that doesn’t quite fit is good enough.  Do what they tell you.

5. Make sure your pressure canner (NOT a pressure cooker - you cannot safely can in a pressure cooker) has an accurate gauge.  This is not a big deal if your pressure canner has a weighted gauge (the kind that jiggle and make tons of noise), but it is absolutely essential if you have a dial gauge - take it to your county extension office and have them check it once a year, and make sure you know your elevation and use appropriate pressure for that elevation.  And if you have a dial gauge pressure canner, a study found that the standard should be not 10lbs pressure, but 11lbs - so if you see a recipe, even a recent one, that says “10lbs pressure” - put it at 11lbs.

If you buy a used pressure canner (and there are a lot of used ones out there), make sure you get a manual.  While old pressure canners are much safer than old pressure cookers, there is still a lot of pressure built up, and if you don’t use them as instructed, not only could your food not be safe, but you could get a face full of hot steam (which will burn you) or even be injured by parts going flying.  The companies that make pressure canners will have old manuals available, so if you buy a yard sale canner, the first thing you need to do is get the manual. The second thing is to have the gauge checked (worth doing once even if you have a weighted gauge) and to make sure that the gasket still fits tightly. If you see or feel steam persistently coming out along the gasket, you need a new one.  You can order a kit from the company to fix it, or find a different pressure canner.


1. No jars larger than 1 quart - the food can’t get hot enough to be safe.

2. Never reuse jar lids when pressure canning - ever. Make sure the bands aren’t too rusty and aren’t bent, because the jar won’t seal.  Check the rims of the canning jars very carefully - nicks or bumps will ruin your seal.

 3. Don’t use rubber jars or anything other than the 2 piece canning lids.  TEST YOUR DIAL GAUGE CANNING KETTLE ANNUALLY - DON’T CAN UNTIL YOU HAVE TESTED.  Test a new kettle BEFORE you use it.    READ THE MANUAL - details vary a lot by brand.

4. Don’t raw pack unless you are sure it is safe - ”raw pack” means put food in the jars that has not been cooked.  There’s a general move in canning towards hot-pack only.  That means that the food should go into the jars hot.   You’ll see mixed recommendations about this - but it is always unsafe to raw pack: beets, greens of any kind, potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, pumpkin, okra, tomato/okra mixes and stewed tomatoes, and honestly, it is safer not to raw pack at all.  Research has found that hot packed foods are often better textured and flavored as well.

5. Make sure that your heat remains even (if using a woodstove), that your stove is safe to can on (if using glass topped stoves), and that you don’t begin counting time until the steam has been exhausting for 10 full minutes, and that you are present to ensure that there are no sudden drops in temperature or other mishaps.

6. Remove jars carefully - don’t bang them or tip them. 

Honestly, if you find all this too overwhelming, no worries - human beings didn’t have pressure canning until fairly recently.  You can preserve a lot of food by root cellaring, season extension, water bath canning of high acid foods, dehydrating, lactofermenting, preserving in salt, alcohol and sugar, and freezing.  I encourage people to pressure can, I want people to try it - but if you don’t think you can do it correctly, you will be fine without it.

Ok, so here’s how you do it:

 Most of it is the same as water bath canning - you check the rims, you make sure the jars are have been cleaned in scalding water (boiling the jars is necessary if you are pressure canning for less than 15 minutes, and recommended anyway) and are clean, and that lids have been simmered. 

Make sure the food you are canning is really clean and dirt free (reduces the chance that you are putting a big helping of botulism, which lives in the soil, in your food).  Use the recipe you have chosen carefully.  You CAN safely reduce salt quantities when pressure canning - but not when waterbath canning.

Pack hot food into clean, hot jars (if you put it in cold jars you could have one explode on you).  Run a clean spatula (plastic or wood, not metal) along the edge of the jar to reduce air bubbles, and add more liquid if need be to compensate after the air comes out..  Wipe the rim with a clean cloth to make sure that no food gets under it.  Leave the recommended amount of headspace (ie, room for the seal to be made) - always a minimum of 1 inch when pressure canning, unless a current recipe says otherwise.

 Put on the hot lid, put the clean, hot metal band on, and screw down firmly, but not so tightly that no air can escape.

Put in the rack and and relevant amount of water (this varies by brand, so read the manual) in the canner.  Put the filled jars into the canning rack (never put any jars, using any technique, directly on the bottom of the canner).  Screw the lid on the cannter tightly. 

Make sure the petcock valves are open.  Turn up the heat - and PAY ATTENTION.  This is not something you can do while you do other things.  Watch for the steam, and then start timing when the flow is steady.  After 10 full minutes of steam steadily and rapidly coming out, the air trapped in the jars and canner should be exhausted.  If the air isn’t properly exhausted, the pressure may be inaccurate and the food may not be safe.

After 10 minutes of steady exhausting, close the vent.  Watch the pressure gauge until it reaches the correct pressure for YOUR ALTITUDE - if you live more than 1000 feet above sea level you MUST ADJUST THE CANNING PRESSURE to compensate.  Confirm your elevation before you begin canning and refer to the USDA chart for what is appropriate for your canner - if you have a weighted gauge, you can’t adjust it finely, if you have dial gauge, you can, so it matters both where you live and what kind of canner you have.

When you reach the desired pressure, adjust the heat on your stove to keep it at the same level - if it goes over, turn the heat down (or bank the fire) a bit, if it is under, turn up the heat.  Keep an eye on the gauge - I do dishes or other light work, but nothing very distracting. 

You begin timing when you hit the correct pressure, and you must be certain you were at the same pressure level the whole time.  When you have processed as long as required, take the canner off the heat, and let it cool.  Leave the canner alone otherwise - don’t vent pressure or do anything else.  It will take an hour or so to get down to normal pressure.

DO NOT open the canner until there is no steam coming out, even if you poke the regulator with a stick (not your hand).  A face full of hot steam can burn you seriously - don’t mess with it - make sure there is no more left.

Open the Petcock valve SLOWLY AND CAREFULLY.  Wait a bit, until the canner is even cooler.  Unlock the canner lid and remove it carefully.  Leave the jars alone for 10 minutes with the canner open, and use the jar lifter to carefully transfer them to a clean dishtowel, without tipping them.  Allow them to cool undisturbed.  You should hear the “ping” as the jars seal.

When they are entirely cool, check them for the seal.  If you press down on the center of the lid and feel any give or movement your jar is not sealed, and you can either reprocess the food (go through precisely the same procedure again with A NEW LID) or you can put it in the fridge and eat it soon.  You will lose a lot of nutritional value reprocessing, so I wouldn’t do this with anything like greens.

After 18 to 24 hours, wipe off the jars, remove the rings, label them and put them in a cool, dry place. 

When eating pressure canned food, check it when you open it.  If there is any reason for you to seriously doubt the safety of the food - if you don’t hear the popping sound that goes with a breaking vacuum when you open it, if there is an off smell, bulging around the lid, a vent of gas - throw it out, and not on the compost pile, but in the garbage.  DON’T TASTE IT!!!  Botulism has no taste or smell, but sometimes does cause bulging - but can exist simultaneously with other kinds of spoilage.  THROW IT OUT IF THERE IS ANY DOUBT.

There are some things - darkened bottom lids, discolored peaches, a pinkish color on some fruits that are normal - they are chemical reactions to canning and are not signs of trouble. I won’t list them all, I again, reiterate this is why you should read the books and websites carefully and several times until you are familiar with the information.

The USDA recommends that you boil any food that has been pressure canned, or anything that might conceivably support botulism (including tomato products without added acid) be boiled at at a rolling boil in a covered pan for 10 full minutes - and 1 additional minute if you are more than 1000 feet above sea level for each 1000 feet or fraction thereof (ie, if you live at 2200 feet you would boil your for 12 minutes).     Their recommendation is that it would be safest to do this every time, and that it should definitely be done if there is any doubt about your having used a safe canning technique.  It should not be necessary if you have done everything carefully and precisely.

Canned food will keep for many years, as long as the seal is intact, although there is a gradual loss of nutrients.  Jackie Clay at Backwoods Home regularly tests and uses canned food that is more than a decade old, but the general recommendation is no more than 3 years - but I wouldn’t hesitate to eat anything older, as long as the seal seems intact, there are no problems, and, more than five years out, I would boil it for the recommended time, just in case.

Happy Canning,