Pressure Canning

I am getting better at this pressure canning thing! One of the features/challenges of the All American Pressure Canner is the metal to metal seal. There is no gasket to replace.

The metal to metal seal takes some getting used to. My first foray into pressure canning was pressure canning beans, while we were at the little house. I had a 100% success rate, the jars all sealed properly. But getting it done kept me hopping, and wondering, the whole time. There was some venting around the seal at that time, but it was not serious enough to drop the pressure. During that first experiment I was afraid that the canner would run dry, run out of water. When I opened it up I discovered that my fears were groundless, almost laughable. There was almost the same amount of water in the canner at the end of the process, as there was at the beginning of the process.

Yesterday I used the All American to pressure cook ten pounds of vegetables at a go. It worked very well. But there was a significant amount of venting in three spots around the seal. I thought about it, and decided it could be down to one of two things, or both of them. First, there might not have been enough lubricant applied to the area of the seal that vented. Second, the lid might not have been adequately levelled to ensure a good seal.

The first possibility was addressed by applying olive oil to the areas of the seal where venting had occurred. The second possibility was addressed by seeking out an object with which to measure the gap between the lid and the canner, to ensure the gap was equal all the way around. I tried a table fork handle, too thin. I tried a clothespin, too thick. I tried this and that, until finally I got out a bag of Ikea allen keys, and one of them was perfect. That allen key is now kept in the envelope with the weight gauge, so it will be handy for every canning session.

This morning Attila requested canned beans for supper. I agreed to postpone processing the last ten pounds of carrots, so as to focus on canning more Chili Beans.

When it came time to close up the canner, I measured the gap precisely, and very carefully applied equal pressure to opposite tightening screws. The proof is in the pudding as they say, and my hunches were correct, the added lubricant (olive oil), and the careful measurement of the gap, and tightening of the screws, succeeded in preventing venting around the seal.

I didn’t manage to get the heat turned low enough though, to keep the weight gauge rattling only several times a minute. That gauge rattled nonstop the whole 90 minutes of processing, as I kept lowering and lowering the heat, by small increments. The pressure gauge read 11 pounds throughout the entire process. The water level was down when I opened the canner, but it was not in danger of going dry. Five of the seven quarts sealed immediately after I took them out of the canner, the rest sealed sometime during the morning.

When I opened the canner the water inside was little bit murky. A small amount of the jar contents had siphoned out. This probably occurred at the end of the canning process, when I released the pressure in the canner by removing the weight gauge. Note to self, wait a half an hour or more to remove the weight gauge, after the pressure gauge reads zero. It will be interesting to see if that solves the siphoning issue.

There is one ten pound bag of carrots waiting to be cooked tomorrow in the pressure canner, and then all of the bulk produce that was purchased will be preserved for winter use, and Attila will also have his beans.

The “new” spice rack at the little house in the city. This rack was on the wall when we moved into our country house. We are not knick knack people, so it sat empty on the wall for a year or so, then we took it down. Of course, as we usually do, we stored it away in case we needed it someday. It works perfectly at the little house in the city, as our “new” spice rack. Attila painted it to match the kitchen cupboards, and it graces the unused wall space behind the bifold door in the kitchen, well out of direct light. The 500 ml tinted mason jars fit perfectly into the openings! Eventually I will replace the two piece mason jar lids with one piece lids, which will be easier to manage during a cooking session.
Spice rack

Worldly Distractions

Weather

18°C
Date: 12:00 PM EDT Tuesday 23 September 2014
Condition: Sunny
Pressure: 102.5 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 17.6°C
Dewpoint: 12.5°C
Humidity: 72%
Wind: W 17 km/h

Quote

“To lengthen thy life, lessen thy meals.”
Benjamin Franklin
1706 – 1790

This is not true for the vast majority of humans who live on our planet, quite the opposite. I wish it was true for all of us though, I really do.

Tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Pressure Canning

  1. Bex says:

    Wow, that is way more than I would ever be willing to do for vegetables. Why not just par-boil them and freeze them in zip-lock bags? Life seems too short for all that work for veggies. Wow. Maybe you should go by the name of the Pioneer Woman because I’ll just bee Ree Drummond doesn’t do half of what you do to survive!

  2. Maggie says:

    I know what you mean Bex! It does seem like quite a bit of bother just for a few vegetables. I am freezing the vegetables, just pressure cooking them first so that they are easy to heat and serve. Attila will eat them as snacks if they are ready to go out of the freezer. The pressure canner cooks them in minutes. The real time consuming part of the process is the peeling and chopping, which would need to be done before par-boiling them and freezing them in zip-lock bags. So I am really just going one extra step with the pressure canner, cooking instead of par-boiling.

    At 37 cents a kilogram, it is worth my time to process 20 kg of carrots, which will see us through the winter. The carrots are grown in Ontario, where we live, so we are buying relatively locally, as locally as you can get when you live on the Canadian Shield, which is mostly rock. The beans are organic and grown in Ontario, they are not only inexpensive when home canned from dry beans, but the convenience of canned goods does not include exposure to plastic can linings, which may or may not contain bpa, and whatever other nastiness that plastic might contain. There are no additives in the food I can and freeze, reduced salt, and the products are top quality going into the food preservation process. For us it is about control, and since I have the time, loads of time, I can focus on improving the quality of our food, and save money at the same time.

    But I will say that this interest has been with me since childhood. I grew up on a farm, where my Mom canned, and froze food for our large family, largely from what we grew on the farm. My Grandparents were rural, and the family maple syrup, jams, jellies, fresh fish, wild game, and home cooking were part of what I consider to be a high quality of life. For me, this is all lost with preprocessed foods. We do buy frozen vegetables, but commercially grown vegetables are not the same type of food that you grow in your garden. High quality food has always been a major interest of mine,

    Artisanal foods are now mimicking what used to be real food.

    Who is Ree Drummond?

  3. Hi! Ree Drummond is the Pioneer Woman, known for some very tasty recipes, among other things. http://thepioneerwoman.com/

    I can see where your interest in canning and cooking all these foods originates from, though I’m a bit confused with parboiling things in a pressure cooker/canner. Parboiling only takes minutes by definition, as you put the foods in and take them out almost immediately.

    Glad to see you figured out where your problem was with getting the canner to seal. It’s not a problem to have the jars leaking like that, is it?

  4. Maggie says:

    Thanks for the link Teri, she seems like a commercialized version of the women I knew while growing up, a bit too much of the smoke and mirrors for my taste, to each their own. Recipes look good.

    Bex suggested parboiling, I am taking the food one step further with pressure canning. The advantage of the pressure canner is that it holds ten pounds at one go and cooks it evenly and thoroughly in very little time. Next autumn I will pressure cook two ten pound bags of carrots all at the same time in the pressure canner. I want the carrots completely cooked, not parboiled, so that Attila can just grab them out of the freezer and they are ready to heat and serve. If they were parboiled they would need more cooking before they were ready for a snack or a meal.

    “It’s not a problem to have the jars leaking like that, is it?”

    It depends. If the jar seals, and keeps the seal over time, then then it is not a problem. My jars all sealed, so when I go to use them I will be checking to see if the seal is intact. If the seal fails over time, the contents of the jar will be discarded. It is very very easy to tell if a seal has failed, can’t miss it if you know what you are looking for.

    If the jar does not seal coming out of the canner, the contents can be refrigerated and eaten within a few days OR the contents can be frozen for future use OR the jar can be reprocessed in the pressure canner for the full amount of time, a second time. When and if I face having a jar that does not seal after processing, I will probably freeze the contents immediately after they cool.

  5. Just now got the chance to look at the pic of your ‘new’ spice rack. It’s cute!

  6. Maggie says:

    Thanks Teri, I am glad we kept it!