So last night’s foray into pressure canning went almost as badly as these things can go. Almost. No one got injured, so it wasn’t a complete disaster, but it was still pretty bad. Here’s what happened.
I heated up my jars and cooked my beans, per the directions. I filled the jars and got ready for processing. I put the jars into the canner and locked on the lid. Then I let the steam vent for 15 minutes, per the instructions. And then I was too terrified to close the vent myself with the weighted gauge, so I got Michael to do it for me. I have a hilarious photo of him in his “safety gear” because I spooked him so badly by being terrified of doing it myself. I’ll post the photo later, I promise. Then I waited a few minutes until the gauge started rocking. That took about five minutes, and then I started the timer. 75 minutes of processing time. I finally felt pretty relieved at this point, as nothing had blown up yet. I just needed the pressure to maintain at that level for 75 minutes, and then let the canner cool (overnight, it was pretty late), and then I’d have tasty beans, yay!
Wrong. So I stayed in the kitchen the whole time just to make sure the gauge was still rocking, so I could know for sure the pressure stayed at the right level. Unfortunately, at about the 50 minute mark, the canner dropped pressure. The weight wasn’t rocking anymore. I wasn’t really sure what to do. I emailed the lovely Marisa McClellan of Food in Jars about the issue, and she suggested it might be an issue with the gasket. I turned up the heat on the stove to try to bring the pressure back up. It worked for a few minutes, but then the pressure dropped again. I turned the heat up again. Same thing. And then my safety vent blew and steam shot out of it like a volcano. That is not an exaggeration.
So, that was terrifying. Turns out the gasket was cracked. I’ve decided to replace my canner, however. I’ve had a few too many terrifying experiences with this one. Yikes.