Sunday, December 22, 2013

Presto 16 Quart Pressure Canner

It's finally jiggling.

And I've been talked back off the ledge.  Thank you to Kathie, my canning hero(ine)  for being the calm sounding board I needed after the first fail, and for her "I knew you could do it."

And I am doing it!

I thought I knew I could do it until the first attempt had to be aborted after the very screaming sound coming from the valve lock thingy.  That rattled me, truly.

We purchase a $64 Presto 16 quart pressure canner recently with money I gleaned from the grocery budget by being frugal, a challenge to myself to see how low I could go one week from the usual amount.  The All American was our first choice, but the Presto has its fans, too, and the price was right, which ended up being our determining factor.  The other determining factor was that it is safe to use on our glass stovetop.

I've NEEDED to can for years.  Why I've been this resistant I don't know.  It's mental.  I just was not ready.  I was "stuck" with too little direction for too many projects I wanted to do, and a lot I needed to complete.  Money has become more of a factor right now, and I need to use every batch of food to its utmost.  Too many times I'd make a large batch of this or that, such as chicken stock or soup, just to have the leftover amount languish too long in the fridge between other incarnations.  Not only was it perfectly good food, it was perfectly delicious food sometimes wasted and oftentimes inconvenient to reheat, always having to take a small amount from a larger pot to reheat and so on.

Part of my resistance has also been that I really don't need more kitchen contraptions.  I'm a less is more contraption person...I'd rather do without.  The ones that have found a home here are ones that get really used and are worth the headache of finding space for.

I've taken years to get to this point of wanting to begin canning since the few years in my childhood when my mother taught me how when we had an overflowing garden.  I've taken days to leisurely (read Not Stressfully) read all the enclosed instructions, various other canning sites, and sending private emails to a few folks who are already pros at this.  And I chose a day I had few distractions and nobody else going to and fro through the kitchen.  It's 2:39 and at 3:05 I will turn off the stovetop and wait a little longer to hopefully take out the first batch of canned goods I've made since 1981.

I made soup yesterday, a big batch that was really good (to us) and got the kitchen ready for a new project.  I followed each instruction to the T, with the one hiccup of forgetting to stick a plastic knife in each filled jar and jiggle to remove air bubbles before wiping the rims and adding the heated lids and then screwing on the rings.  I had them all the way in the canner, water included, when I saw I'd skipped that step, so I undid them all and got the air bubbles out (or the invisible air bubbles out, I never saw any) and rewiped/hot lidded/screwed rings on and replaced in the canner.

I had meticulously gone over the whole canner with a fine toothed comb (figuratively) and given it a good washing and drying, checking that all holes were no clogged, etc.

Even after all that, something happened after the exhaust phase (steam blowing out the valve for 10 minutes before attaching the rocker) when I attached the rocker.  It didn't begin rocking.  The other valve atop the canner is the pressure lock valve which sticks up from the surface of the lid when pressure is present.  I made the MISTAKE of pushing on it a couple times with my finger.  Oh MY.  It screamed.  SCREAMED.  And wouldn't stop.  One long screech that lasted longgggg minutes before piping down.  I mean the kind of school fire alarm squealing all through the house screaming.  My husband who is sleeping in preparation for tonight's 12 hour shift at work sat bolt upright and asked me to shut the bedroom door.  The door was closed already.

I turned off the burner and took the canner and set it to the other side of the stove, off the heat.  It still SCREAMED.  Until pressure went down.  Mentally I knew there is an additional rubber plug that, in the case of a pressurized emergency, would blow off and release the pressure so the thing would not blow up.  Knowing that was little comfort during the screaming incident.  The dog hid.  I consulted Kathie and a couple websites and the Presto guide.  And started all over, taking everything out, pouring out the water, measuring again, taking needle and thread and making SURE nothing was plugged up anywhere and re-oiling the gasket.

This time it worked.  WHEW.

No screaming.  I'm sure I'll get the knack of this before long.  If at first you don't succeed, and all that.  I'm just relieved.

I was going to bake bread and other things, but I'm just applying cups of coffee to my jangled nerves and waiting till 3:05.  It's now 2:58  (I'm a slow typist)  And nothing yet has blown up.

I think we'll rack this up to a "get to know your equipment" day.  Note to self, the rocking stays steady at number 4 of the stovetop dial.  Second note to self, it takes about ten minutes with this one, at least with quarts, to reach rocking.  Third note to self, steam does escape from both valves, and I need to start counting "exhaust time" when I FEEL the steam coming from the main valve instead of SEE it.  That's all for now, Self...

IF nothing is broken and there is no more excitement in the next few minutes, I may have my first 5 quarts of homemade CANNED soup to put in the pantry instead of a big stock pot in the fridge.

HOOOOO freaking RAYYYYY !!!!!!!!!!!!


(Smiling victorious Rosie the Riveter smile) long did it take for YOU to not be terrified of YOUR pressure canner?? :)


Sandy said...

Fear of using a large pressure canner happened to me. Once you get over your fears, things will work out wonderfully. Before you know it, you'll have a pantry full of processed stored foods.

Wendy said...

I'm still terrified of my pressure canner. But it's necessary, and so I do it ;).

JoyceP said...

27 years! In 1977 I bought a Presto Deluxe pressure canner from Sears and it sat on a shelf for 27 years before I worked up the nerve to use it. For my mom, her pressure canner was practically her right hand. She used it every day so I was surprised that I absolutely froze in terror when I tried to use mine for the first time. I was so embarrassed that I never told anyone I was afraid to use it, and as I constantly did can fruits and jams in my water bath canner, no one ever questioned me during that whole length of time about using a pressure canner. You will find yourself laughing at yourself once you get used to using your pressure canner. They are really so easy to use and so very useful. Good for you!

Michelle said...

I have a pressure canner I have yet to use. Does that answer your question? ;-)

Robbyn said...

Sandy your pantry and your canning projects I saw on your blog are wonderful! i have to get the courage to actually eat the canned food without worrying I'm poisoning us all...sigh... :) just made me feel better, ha! :)!!! use it, girl!!

Practical Parsimony said...

My mother bought me a pressure canner when I was about 30-yrs-old. I was 36 when I got up the nerve to try it. Even then, I peeped around the door and then cowered in another room while an 18-yr-old friend laughed. She stayed in the kitchen while I feared an explosion.

Then, I got over it. That was about 31 years ago. I feel your terror! You, too, will live through it and become calmer.