Testing the pressure canner now.... unsure...Help!

serenaskye_txApril 11, 2009

Ok I am firing up the pressure canner for the first time ever. The steam started coming out the top, I let it get up a steady stream of steam and put on the weight(on the 15 lbs slot) Now I am unsure.... Its hissing and the weight is rocking ccasionally... should it hiss???????? its kinda scary! Since the weight is rocking I have left it going but its a steady loud hiss... scaring the crap out of me cause i have no clue what to expect!!! I am about to turn off the burner I think and wait for replies!

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ok I turned the heat off and as it cooled it stopped the steady hiss and started rocking steadily..... so I turned the heat back on and turned it down quite a ways. It rocked steadily and seemed to be working like it should. I think I just had the heat too high maybe? I am itching to figure this thing out, I have 30 pounds of venison shoulder and hindquarter thawing in the fridge to be processed. My husband hid behind the bedroom door fussing at me the whole time I did all this... He is scared poopy of this canner exploding. I did have to stop the test about 10 minutes after I had it rocking steadily so we could run outside and put all the animals in the barn, we have nasty tornadic storms coming this way... Not gonna be a dull easter here!!! If anyone has any pointers for everything I have noted please let me know. I am such a scaredy cat!!!!

    Bookmark   April 11, 2009 at 6:46PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

OK, you can tell your husband the canner isn't going to explode!

Hissing is normal. If the weight is rocking very vigorously and the hissing is quite loud, then you do have the heat too high.

Once the canner is vented and the weight has been placed on, then it's a good idea to turn the heat down a little. You want a steady gentle rocking.

Learning your stove is very important. Sometimes you end up gently bumping the heat down several times. Don't lower the heat radically. Sudden drops in pressure will cause liquid to siphon out of the jars and may lead to seal failures.

Take notes about what heat setting is best on your range, what you started at, what you ended up at to maintain a steady pressure.

Doing a test run or two is a great idea. That way you can get comfortable. Fill a couple of canning jars with water as a pretend canning batch. If you add some food coloring, you'll be able to tell if there's any siphoning of liquid from the jars.

You'll get there. It's just a bit of a learning curve.


    Bookmark   April 11, 2009 at 7:03PM
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Linda_Lou(SW Wa.)

You didn't say if you are using a dial gauge or weighted gauge canner. If you are using a weighetd gauge, are you processing at 15 lb. due to high altitude ?
If not, you use 10 lb. pressure. A dial gauge must be tested before you use it. They can be off by as much as 4 lb. out of the box, meaning it would not be safe to use tha dial gauge.
You also did not say if you vented the canner for the full 10 min. before the weight went on.
If you have a dial gauge, that is not a weight, but a counterweight, only meant to hold pressure in, not regulate the pressure. It will also depend upon the brand as to how much the weight should rock. A Mirro should rock a few times a minute. A Presto will rock the whole time.
We need more info to help you out.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2009 at 2:38AM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

As mantioned in may other previous posts. Its not recommended to go by a pressure gauge as to accurate readings. They are farly cheap and have no way to internally calibrate. The only thing that can be done is to check them and see if the dial numbers match up with true pressures. Once that correlation is done, you would have to use a chart that converts actual pressure readings to whats shown on the dial. The more accurate way to control pressure is done by using standardized weights supplied by the PC companies. These never go out of any calibration and will always provide accurate pressures. The 15 pound weight is usually too much pressure in most cases, as 10-11 pounds is moe common. If its Presto brand, they sell a stacked set of weights which range from 5 to 15 pounds just by attaching the right comnbination. Hissing is quite mormal from the weights, but should be fairly light sounding. Rocking is normal too. The weights are supposed to be free moving and just simply rest over the hole in the lid, to let out excess pressure. Once the steam starts to escape out the weight, lower the heat some so that it just hisses slightly and the weight jiggles. There should be a small instruction manual with these. Most new canners have built in over pressure seals too.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2009 at 12:19PM
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melva02(z7 VA)

My Presto hisses from the lock (the little metal piece that lifts up to prevent the lid from being removed) while the pressure is building, and stops when the pressure gets closer to the target. Also, condensation drips from under the counterweight and hisses as it boils off the lid below.

How did your first session turn out?


    Bookmark   April 12, 2009 at 12:35PM
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Its a Mirro weighted gauge. I exhausted it for 10 minutes maybe alittle longer. I bought it used without the manual.
The initial hiss was a loud steady hiss, but I now knwo I had the heat too high. I had it on 15lbs, NOW I know better and will put it on 10 next time, its an older canner I bought for $10 at a garage sale and replaced the seal and the pressure relief thing to be safe. this was my first time to heat it up to test. We just did water in it this time, I am going to do a trial run of jars with water and then can some venison. Melissa this one did the ocndensation from under the weight for a bit and that is initially what had my hubby so skeered.. His mother once blew up a pressure cooker so he is NOT convinced Im not going to maim myself doing this.

On the venison, would raw pack be best to start? I dont have anything but meat to can right now and REALLy need to get this venison done soon.

Now that I've fired it up once I think the actuall processing wont be so scary.. lol I work where there are huge boilers and miles of steam lines and its drummed into us that steam leaking from anything is bad....lol its hard to hear and see steam like that and not get ato hear and see steam like that and not get a little panicky... Thank you guys for being so helpful and supportive!! I will fill you in one the first actuall food canning when I get it done! Its rainy and cold today so I might just get it done this afternoon!


    Bookmark   April 12, 2009 at 6:03PM
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Ok NOW I remembered why I was doing 15lbs. The elevation here is 3202 and the The National Center for Home Food Preservation website had 15lbs for over 1,000


    Bookmark   April 12, 2009 at 6:35PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Suggest that you fill a batch of jars with some water thats colored with food coloring for a good test. If it siphons out, you will see evidence of the colored water in the canner. There may be a downloadable manual on the web for your Mirro model. I must assume the jars are raised off the bottom at least a half inch to an inch? Yes, elevation does need a bit of an increase, but if you have recipes that use 5 pounds even in your higher elevation, you may want to consider getting the whole set, if they are offered.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2009 at 11:12PM
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Linda_Lou(SW Wa.)

Then you do use the 15 lb. weight. You have a weighted gauge canner, so no worry over a dial to have checked. Yours should just jiggle several times a minute, it doesn't need to rock the whole time. A Presto is the one that needs to jiggle the whole time. You are right, it was too high of heat, then.
They won't explode. If anything did happen, the little overpressure plug would blow first. It is a safety release valve. They are much safer than they were many years ago. You have a self venting canner since it is a weighted gauge, meaning it will keep at the right pressure once you vent it for the full 10 min. before putting the weight on.
You should be good to go now. I like a hot pack meat better. I normally brown in a pan, then put hot into the jars and add broth. I prefer mine with broth for the flavor and the moisture. That gives me a nice broth to use when I open the meat for gravy or use in a stew, etc.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2009 at 2:13AM
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Whew! I did it! I browned the meat, packed it in the jars and poured beef broth over it. I did have some liquid escape while processing but all 8 jars sealed up tight and I enjoyed listening to them PING! I lowered the temp from the first time and, I kept it where the weight would rock about every 10-20 seconds. I went ahead and processed about an extra 10 minutes to be one the safe side. I had some liquid escape but not too much and all sealed up fine. That should be ok right? The outsides of the jars were oily from the water in the canner so when I got up this morning I washed them in some soapy water to clean them off and rechecked the seals and all were nice and tight. I have 4 more jars to process and some leftover broth too. The leftover jars I put lids on and put in the fridge. I can just heat them back up in the jars(so the meat and jars are hot again) and lid them and process them from there right?
Has anyone else here done venison from shoulder and hindquarter? There was a lot of the membrane running through the meat and I cut around it all. A LOT of wasted meat that way. I saved it and figured i would check with yall and see if the canning/cooking breaks down those fibers. If so I have about 20 more pounds of venison I can do. If not I may just can it up for dog food.

If this turns out ok I have a turkey and some chickens in the freezer I will do next. Clear out some darn freezer space as its packed solid! Gonna need it for tomatoes later on(I freeze them until I have time to can salsa and stuff and they slide right out of the skins.)

    Bookmark   April 13, 2009 at 10:14AM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

Canning should break down the fibers. At least, that's our experience.

Regarding the siphoning, did you allow wait time before removing the lid of the canner? This helps prevent siphoning.

This is from the University of Georgia/Dept. of Agriculture as posted earlier by Linda Lou:

Here is the specific instruction: "After the canner is completely depressurized, remove the weight from the vent port or open the petcock. Wait 10 minutes; then unfasten the lid and remove it carefully. Lift the lid with the underside away from you so that the steam coming out of the canner does not burn your face."


    Bookmark   April 13, 2009 at 10:48AM
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Well I thought the pressure was completely down, but when I took the weight off it hissed very lightly just a little for about 2-3 seconds, I went ahead and left it a little while longer before taking the lid off. I think it siphoned out during the processing though, you could smell it. So it should still be safe even though some siphoned out (I assumed it would be since they all sealed properly)

Im glad to hear that the fibers should break down! I will take all those extra peices and can them too!!!

Im sorry for all the goofy questions. If I could watch someone do this just once I wouldnt ever have a problem. I did find some canning videos on youtube that helped a bunch too.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2009 at 11:12AM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

Be careful of those canning videos. Some are great, some may not be.

The 10-minute wait time is critical to safe processing. It's a good idea to make a note and be sure it becomes part of your regular routine, just like venting for 10 minutes at the beginning. When canning times and pressures are calculated, sources like the National Center for Home Food Preservation assume those additional 20 minutes will be part of the process.

Also, when it appears the pressure is down, gently shift the weight but don't remove it. If you hear anything, leave it where it is a while longer.

You don't need to apologize. It's challenging to do these things on your own. There's a bit of a learning curve.


    Bookmark   April 13, 2009 at 2:39PM
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I had waited about 10 minutes before I pulled the weight off, I guess there was still a small amount of pressure left though. I will rememeber to just jiggle the weight next time to see. I am going to try to brown the rest of the meat I had cut up that had more of the membrane stuff(one of the hunters at work tells me it is sinew) hopefully canned it will break down and wont be real tough or I will have a lot of dogfood canned! I appreciate everyone sharing their experience and knowledge.
Oh someone asked earlier if the jars were raise dup off hte obttom of the canner... yess they are, it has a rack in it.

Hmmmm... I have some of the venison coursly ground..... anyone have any decent chilli recipes that can be canned that doesnt call for beans?

    Bookmark   April 13, 2009 at 4:00PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Good advice from Carol above. Don't try to rush any step of the process. Without a gauge you can't really tell when the pressure has bottomed out and it takes only a very small change in the pressure to cause the siphoning.

So be sure to give it plenty of time to cool down before even peeking carefully under the weight - any hiss, leave it on longer and wait.

And another trick is once you have done all that and the lid is off, look to see if the liquid in the jars is still bubbling. If so let them sit as is till it stops. Then carefully remove the jars.

So it should still be safe even though some siphoned out (I assumed it would be since they all sealed properly).

That assumption is usually true but not always. There is more to the process than just getting a good seal. Jars that lose too much of their liquid during processing are not long-term storage safe even if they have what appears to be a good seal. They should be used first and ASAP. Their vacuum and seal is weaker just because of the increased air space inside the jar and the food that boiled onto the rim of the jar during the siphoning and any food above the liquid will discolor shortly.

Siphoning of the liquid out of the jars isn't something that is "okay". Sure it happens but it is something that we all work hard to prevent as much as possible as it can create problems in storage. So if you think it happened during the processing because you could smell it, then you likely still have some heat control to learn. ;)

It just takes time and practice and doing trial runs with jars of colored water as Ken suggested above is the best way to learn. Once you finish a practice run and open the canner to see water that is as clear as it was when it went in, give yourself a great big pat on the back. ;)


    Bookmark   April 13, 2009 at 4:15PM
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Linda_Lou(SW Wa.)

Never try to reheat the filled jars from the fridge. Always heat the meat, broth, and jars seperately, then pack the jars right before they go into the canner.
Was your headspace the correct space ? If filled too full they will siphon out.
Also, too fast of an adjustment in the pressure can also cause the jars to siphon out.
You will learn as you go along. As long as your jars are sealed, since you processed for the right time, they should be safe. Eat the ones with the lower liquid up first.
If you want, you are able to can the ground meat in tomato juice and season with dry spices and herbs. I would brown the meat, then drain well first, though.
Some people can ground meats with chili powder and other dried herbs/spices for taco meat. Just don't use packaged season mixes, since they have flour or other thickeners.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2009 at 3:04AM
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cream_please(z5 PA)

Carol (aka Reading Lady). Just wanted to thank you for your consistently helpful answers. I appreciate the cordial "tone" you maintain (even though you may already have answered the same question numerous times), and your sincere desire to help newcomers to the world of baking/canning/ gardening comes through again and again.
I enjoy reading your answers.
Please keep on sharing your wealth of knowledge and experience with us.


    Bookmark   April 16, 2009 at 1:12PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

Thank you, Cream. That's very kind. (Though I do have my grouchy moments, LOL.)

Of course, I'm only one of many who lend their assistance.


    Bookmark   April 16, 2009 at 8:50PM
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