In Praise of Pressure Canners
The canner exploded for me today. Brad and I were downstairs studying in Mom's Sitting Room enjoying a cozy fire when we heard a loud clattering overhead. My first thought were that the girls were doing something unwise with serious results of a wall falling in or something. Which proves that my thought processes were not entirely logical.
What we found upon arriving at the scene was a messy kitchen... floor to ceiling. There was glass, broth, and venison remains all over and in places too wonderful to explain. I reached around keeping my nose away from the top of the pot where there were still five potential bombs and turned off the burner. The girls showed up about then and in a body we decided that the first thing we needed was shoes on our feet. The glass everywhere was incredible.
An hour into our cleaning project Elv called me. I was still on the verge of tears. He even offered to come home and help! Wow! So I reassured him that the crisis was quite past; the girls were helping nicely. We were soon going to be back to normal here.
Here's how it happened. In the first place we couldn't find the seal for the pressure cooker. We all looked high and low for it. I'm still convinced that it is down there in the pantry somewhere hiding just beyond our reach and sight. Why did it become separated from the lid in the first place?!
I prefer pressuring over boiling any day and today proves my point exactly. Meat has to be thoroughly cooked/canned. There are two ways to do this: boil your meat filled jars in a water bath for three hours, or use ten pounds of pressure for one and half hours. Because of the missing seal, I was forced to use the water bath method.
The problem with boiling is that it takes three hours of a rolling boil to ensure a proper job. In three hours you can boil a lot of water into the air, the levels drop dramatically in the pot and the whole thing has to be watched with an eagle eye. I failed the eagle eye end of things today. I had just checked the pot before going down to study with brad and calculated that this canner would be done in one hour. It was! At exactly the three hour mark the explosion took place.
Now if I could have used the pressure method I would have gathered my work about me within hearing of the pot and everything would have been perfect. It would have been over in half the time and the little pressure gauge would have made all the proper sounds for me to know what's what. In about four hours time I would have had 13 cans of venison cooling on my counter.
As it is? I have 5 jars of canned meat that will take me awhile to clean up once they've cooled. And I have 6 more jars of raw meat sitting on the counter. Elv and I have agreed that freezer bags will do nicely in this case, at least until we find the missing seal.
So that's what is happening at home today. Moral of the story: Watch your canners and don't lose important things.