Canning 102 – The Needs to Know When Pressure Canning
When you first get into canning, water bath, or pressure canning, you can get nervous. Mind you, not so nervous that the fear keeps you from doing any of it, but a healthy dose of caution at each point along the way. Beyond not getting a proper seal or spoiling the food I wanted to save, there were also those ill-perceived imagings that you with one wrong move could cause the pressure canner to explode and spread shrapnel to all your neighbors. That just can’t be the case, with modern pressure canners, they have the failsafe built right in.
Despite pressure canning being a bit intimidating when you first start out, with a little research and experience, you can allay those fears, and get on canning!
Water bath canning is generally used for preserving high acid foods (pickles, jams, and jellies, etc.) and pressure canning is for low acid (vegetables, meats, etc.). I would advise you to start out with the water bath canning first; it gets you used to go through the motions of preparing and getting the proper seal on the ar with the lid. Additionally, you can make mistakes at this stage and they are more easily remedied with another lid or another 20 minutes in the canner water.
Sure, there are risks when it comes to pressure canning. There are also risks when stepping outside your front door, lighting a propane grill, and plugging in your lamp… but as unlikely as those risks of injury have become doing those actions, so has pressure canning.
If you know what you’re doing and understand what you’re working with, the risk is considerably lessened. When it comes to pressure canning, the more I learned about canners and how they function, the less nervous I was. Worry turned into excitement as I thought about all the possibilities that can come from having this one item in my food preservation coffers.
There are several layers of safety built into pressure canners and you would have to take special measures to make them fail. I’m sure many of you are thinking about the Boston Marathon bombing that used pressure canners. Those boys went to some serious lengths to make it actually explode, the least of which was removing or disabling all the safety features that are built-in, shown below.
Getting to Know the Safety Features of Your Canner
1. The gauge tells you what level of pressure you are at but in the event, you stepped away and forgot, there is another feature called the knocker. Generally speaking, most knockers are rated for 15 pounds of pressure. When it reaches that level, the weight begins to rattle or ‘knock.’ This is an indication that “pressure is getting higher and you may want to check it.
The only time I have ever seen or known of something that actually needed that much pressure to the process was at higher elevations. Most people don’t need to go any higher than 12 pounds of pressure.
2. Pressure canner lids lock in place. Even if there is pressure inside, it will not blow the lid off or come undone.
3. For additional locking, once pressure has built up inside another lock kicks in which will not allow you (or anyone else) to open the lid while there is pressure inside.
4. The rubber plug is the last of the safety features and is the end-all, be-all of making pressure canning safe for just about everyone. Should your canner ever build up too much pressure to the point where it wants to burst, this handy little guy will come flying out and release the pressure instead.
I cannot say this enough: you would have to actually go completely out of your way to make a pressure canner or cooker explode. So, unless you are intentionally trying to sabotage your canner, or you have other nefarious objectives in mind, your worries can be laid to rest.
There is a lot of satisfaction when you are pulling out jars of food that you processed and preserved yourself. Another satisfying moment is when you are opening your cupboard to be greeted by clear jars filled with the bright colors of string beans, peaches, and black beans makes you feel you’ve certainly accomplished something worthwhile. At least for that day!
The best part? You know exactly how it was processed and what is it in it. Plus, you now have the skills to preserve food that can be stored and safely consumed even after a year or two. That is very empowering and liberating stuff!
When you get past the unknown, so many incredible things open up for you when you are Preserving your Food Stuffs! Once you get your Pressure Cooker, whether it is the All American or the Presto, you can search the Interwebs and get a collection of Canning Recipes that you can try and do yourself.
Take back your Food Independence and once you are ready to harvest, save a bunch of it for those months of either cold or economic want. You will be glad when you do, take it from me and my personal experience.