Not to count the chickens prematurely, but…

I just successfully pressure canned four pints of garbanzo beans!  Woooohoooo!

Last week, my mother sent me a new pressure canner as an early birthday present.  It’s a 23 quart Presto model, which is enormous but wonderful.  I just moments ago turned the heat off of the stove after a successful 75 minutes at 12 pounds of pressure (it was a little high the whole time–I was really aiming for 11–but better too high than too low).  Now I’m just going to let the canner depressurize over night and hope that they seal properly.  No explosions.  No scary safety vent action.  I’M SO EXCITED!

Also, my sauerkraut came out quite well.  I promise to post pictures later.  Now it’s time to go to bed!

I am officially terrified of my pressure canner

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.

Pressure canning

For those readers out there who don’t know me personally, this will be a new story.  For those of you who do, you already know this one.  Feel free to skim.

Last summer, I was canning some pickled asparagus I had made (using a recipe from Ashley English’s Homemade Living Canning 101 book) in my brand new-to-me canner my grandmother gave me.  It’s an 8 quart Mirro-Matic (does that brand even exist anymore?!) pressure canner, and I was soooo excited to use it!  The thing is, I didn’t really understand that you can do water bath canning in any large pot with a lid, basically.  I thought you had to use a canner.  Like the pressure canner I had just received.  Disaster ensued.

An 8 quart canner really isn’t large enough to hold enough water to completely cover three pint jars and not be at risk of boiling over.  And locking the lid in place over all that?  Terrible idea.  Naturally, I got scalded.  Badly.  Badly.  My right arm, stomach, and right breast all received 2nd degree burns, and I still have the scars (at least) six months later.

So I’ve been a little afraid to actually try pressure canning.  Of course, now I know why what I did was wrong, but it still makes me a bit nervous.  And yet, here I am, pressure canning some black beans for the very first time.  So far, I’m injury-free, but I’m definitely still nervous.  I’m currently venting the pot and am going to start timing it pretty soon.  I’ll post an update on my beans (and well-being) later.