I spent Labor Day working for the winter, putting up some butternut squash. I loved, loved, loved having jars of squash on the shelf in 2012-13, so I'm very pleased to have pulled 7 quarts out of the pressure canner early this afternoon. They're cooling on the counter now, and I think I've already heard a few of the lids pop down with their seals.
Speaking of lids, Ball appears to have changed their instructions regarding preparing lids for use. I've followed some bouncing links around the home canning blogs, and some bloggers are freaking out that the website says one thing, while the packaging on this year's deliveries of lids says another. The "new" instructions are to "[l]eave lids and bands at room temperature for easy handling," but the instructions we've been using for decades taught us to heat the lids in water, but don't boil 'em, to soften the sealing gasket compound. Ball's put a little explanation for the change at the bottom of their general instructions for water bath canning, along with a note that, yeah, dudes, chill: it'll take a while for all the old packaging to circulate off store shelves and the new packaging to appear.
Not having yet heard of this wild controversy before I geared up this morning, I heated the lids as usual for today's batch. I've seen some anecdotal reports of increased rates of seal failures when the compound isn't pre-heated. I'm not convinced that I should use the lids I have on hand, which I bought in 2013, without pre-heating them. My jury will be out until I get a pack of lids with the new instructions, I think.
More important, though, than the ridiculous brouhaha over the lid instructions is that my vegetable peeler gave up the ghost early in today's project. Since I didn't want to go shopping on Labor Day, I ended up peeling the squash with my chef's knife. A little clunky, and my knife-wielding hand will be protesting tomorrow, I'm afraid, but the results look pretty darn good.
And cheap, too! Though we splurged on organic, local squash so it was a little more spendy than I usually like, each quart jar will work out to about $3.75 (including lid and energy). Tossing the contents into the crockpot or a saucepan and then adding stuff to make it a soup -- bouillon, pasta, rice, sautéed onion, etc. -- means a $5.00 dinner for myself and the resident teenager. My favorite kind!