Tuesday, October 14, 2014

How to Use a Pressure Canner

If you have never used a pressure canner, let me assure you that it's not as scary, or as hard, as you might be led to believe.  In fact, it is so user friendly that you'll be kicking yourself for not trying it sooner.  I have a Presto 01781 Pressure Canner and I love it.  You can get a good Pressure Canner for around $75.  Some may be a little cheaper, but most of them will cost between $50-$100.  My Presto will hold 7 quarts at once.  I also have an older Pressure Canner that I bought off of my friend Ruth.  They are both wonderful!  The picture below is of the newer Pressure Canner.

Ok, so let's learn how to use this canner in what I would like to say is simple terms...

The first thing you want to do is READ the directions.  Yes, read them.  I don't like to do it either, and I didn't understand them when I was done, but I read them so at least I had a working knowledge of what parts and pieces my canner had.  Next, follow the instructions and clean it before using it.  Get familiar with it.

Once you are ready to start canning, you will need right at 3 quarts of water in the canner.  You want the water to be around 3" deep.  The first time I used my canner, there was an indention on the inside that showed me how far to fill the water up to.  However, after I used it 2 or 3 times, I could no longer tell where the indention was, so using the 3 quarts of water works about perfect for my canner.  

After you have filled your canner with water, I suggest putting it on the stove and turning it on the lowest setting, until you're ready to put the jars in.  Once you put the jars in the canner, twist and lock the lid in place on the pressure canner. Turn the stove onto the highest heat setting and wait for a steady steam to start coming out of the vent pipe.  When this happens, set a timer for 10 minutes and let it vent.  After the 10 minutes, put the pressure weight onto the vent pipe.  The pressure in the canner will now start to slowly rise.

This is the pressure weight on top of the vent pipe.


As the pressure begins to rise, the safety valve will pop up.  The lid is now fully locked.  You may notice that some water or steam might escape through the safety valve as the pressure inside the canner goes up.  This is perfectly normal and is an excellent safety feature of the pressure canner.

Safety valve

Once the pressure gauge is at the pressure you need it at...let's say 10 pounds of pressure for green beans...I would let it go over a pound to 11 just to be safe, you will want to adjust the heat on the stove to keep it at that constant pressure.  The processing time begins when the pressure gauge reaches the correct pressure.  When this happens, you will want to set your timer at this point for however long your items are to cook - for green beans it would be 25 minutes.  You will need to watch the pressure gauge the entire time and make adjustments to the heat accordingly.

Pressure Gage

When the timer goes off, turn off the heat and remove the canner from the stove.  Let the canner depressurize at room temperature.  Again, DO NOT TAKE THE PRESSURE WEIGHT OFF FOR ANY REASON.  You will notice that the dial will slowly come back down to 0.  Once the dial is back to zero, I usually weight another 10 minutes before removing the lid.  At this point, you can remove the pressure weight.  Be careful when removing the lid, as the steam will be hot and can cause burns. Lift the lid away and set to the side (I usually set mine on pot holders because it is so hot).  Again, I wait another 10 minutes before removing the jars and placing them on a clean towel on my counter.

What do you think?  Not that hard, but it takes a lot of patience.  I had pressure canned with my mother-in-law at one point, but wasn't comfortable doing it myself until a friend showed me.  Hopefully these instructions and pictures will help.  Happy canning!

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