Rutabagas are members of the turnip plant family and are a fall root crop. Larger and firmer than their smaller turnip cousins, rutabagas can be hard to peel and may develop a strong, bitter flavor in storage. Because they are low-acid vegetables, canning rutabagas involves heating them to the boiling point and processing them in a pressure canner, which is the only safe way to destroy any bacteria that may follow them into the jars.
Use one large kettle to boil and sterilize your jars, bands and lids. Fill the pan so that the water completely covers all items and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and keep hot while you proceed with the food preparation.
Peel and cut rutabagas in small cubes measuring no more than 1 inch and place in the second large kettle, being careful to keep all pieces roughly the same size. Cover with water, bring to a boil and cook about 5 minutes.
Use the long-handled tongs to lift the hot jars from the sterilizing kettle and place on a cutting board or towels. Fill the jars with drained rutabaga pieces, packing them down lightly, leaving about 1 inch of space at the top. Use the ladle to fill the jars with the hot cooking liquid, leaving about 1/2 inch of space at the top. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt to pints or 1 teaspoon to quarts, or omit if desired.
Run the long knife or spatula between the rutabagas and the inner walls of the jars to remove any air bubbles. Press lightly to eliminate bubbles between the pieces. Remove the lids from the sterilizing kettle and place immediately on the jars. Repeat this step for the bands and screw on just hand-tight.
Place as many jars on the rack as it will hold, allowing for about 1/2 inch of space between them, and lower into the canner. Add 2 to 3 inches of very hot water to the canner unless the instructions you are using advise a different amount, as this will produce enough steam to destroy any bacteria present in the food.
Place the canner on a large stove element and put the lid on securely. Turn the burner heat to the highest setting and wait until the water boils and steam escapes steadily from the open vent pipe. Let the steam escape to exhaust all the air, and after 10 full minutes, place the weighted gauge on the vent pipe, or close the petcock on models equipped with one.
Start watching the canning time when the pressure on the gauge reaches the correct pressure, which is 10 pounds. Process pints for 30 minutes and quarts for 35 minutes. Maintain the 10 pounds of pressure by adjusting the burner heat setting during this time, lowering the heat if the pressure climbs over 10 pounds and raising it if it falls below 10 pounds.
Turn turn the heat off when processing is done and leave the canner on the stove to cool down on its own. Allow the pressure to drop completely to zero (0) before removing the weight, and do so carefully in case any small amount of steam remains. Wait 10 minutes, then remove the lid carefully with the underside facing down to prevent facial burns from the steam.
Remove the jars and place on towels to cool for 12 to 24 hours, listening for the popping sound made by the lids sealing completely. Remove the screw bands, wash the jars and lids and store in a cool, dark, dry place.