I was raised to fear canning.
After an exploding pressure cooker engraved circular grooves on my aunt's kitchen ceiling, the women spoke in hushed tones about What Could Have Happened. I wasn't supposed to be listening, but I knew what they were saying; Canning could be Dangerous to your Health. Whenever I visit, I still look at the faint circles on her ceiling feel a little fear.
My grandmother, who lived just down the road, came of canning age before the pressure cooker. The boiling water bath was good enough her and she canned prodigious quantities of fruits for wintertime desserts. This was probably safe as the fruit had a lot of bacteria-resisting acid and sugar. Yet, on the dusty shelves of her basement pantry, there lurked a stockpile of deadly jars. You see, before I was even born, in the summer of 1961, her garden had produced a bumper crop of green beans that she had put up in the old-fashioned way. The product was, according to my mom, a botulism time-bomb.
We children were frequently warned not to ever eat any canned beans at my grandmother's house. In fact, we were not supposed to even touch them. Every once in a while we were supposed to check and see if they were still there. My brothers and I would creep into the canning room, wipe the dust off the labels that said, "green beans, 1961," and suck in our breath with dread.
So, once I decided to can, I opted to skip everything associated with pressure cooling or low-acid foods. I can't read all those USDA guidelines because they make me loose sleep at night. I just make a lot of jam.