First Time Using a Pressure Canner. Have Questions.

kathy_in_washington(Zone 8 Sequim,WA)October 6, 2009

OK, got the 23 Quart Presto Pressure Canner from Amazon. I've used a pressure cooker (with the weight-thing) and had success several years ago with meals. NOT new to canning, only Pressure Canning.

1. Should I do a dummy run first -- with, say canned sliced potatoes in pint jars? (My husband likes to have these around -- go figure) This wouldn't be a great expense or too time consuming.

2. Want to REALLY make Katie's soup and pressure can that. I've read all the info for a few years, and have all questions answered there, thanks.

3. Can't find a diagram anywhere that will tell me how to place/load a second layer of pint jars. Would it be best to find a second round "rack" to put above the first layer, rather than trying to balance pint jars on top of each other?

4. Does anyone know of an appropriate prayer to utter when I attempt my first pressure canner load? I've already phoned our life insurance agent to make sure I'm covered, and my will and trust are up-to-date! And, as I'll be in the kitchen during all this, I'll spend time at the table writing a last-minute list of amends to those I've wronged throughout my life.

5. Any other suggestions are appreciated.

Thanks (and I'm not really that scared ... really!), Kathy

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Linda_Lou(SW Wa.)

First, did you get the dial gauge tested if you are going to rely on it ? It must be tested first as they can be off by as much as 4 lb. and not accurate to use.
If you got the three piece weight set,not standard on the canner, they you are fine. Just use the right weight for your altitude.
Yes, potatoes would be a good cheap thing to can first. That or dried beans. Even carrots are a good starter project.
Then, you should have a second rack for between layers, but you can do it without one. Stagger the jars, even with another rack. Put two down, then set the top jar inbetween 2 jars, not right on top of each other.
I get nice racks at the thrift stores for about $1 each. The best are racks that were meant for a small charcoal bbq grill. Cake cooling racks are Ok, but usually rather flimsy. You can buy new canning racks for the PC, but are rather expensive.
Yes, I know good prayers. Psalm 23, Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.. Oh, wait, I do know better ones for the occasion !
You will be fine. They don't blow up if you just watch them. They only do that if you are not watching the pressure. Then, the little safety plug would blow out first. You would hear a lot of rattling first, though,so it would get your attention. Don't worry, things will be just fine.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2009 at 6:46PM
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dgkritch(Z8 OR)

Ok, Kathy, take a deep breath! If you can BWB, you can pressure!

Yes, you need a second rack in order to do another layer of pints. Try it this first time with just one layer.

You've got the dial gauge AND weight, right? I hate dials (but that's another discussion).

I put my 2 to 2 1/2" of water in the canner (per your manual), put the rack in, turn on medium or so while you load the jars full of food. That way everything is sort of the same temp (no thermal shock).
Just follow whatever recipe for the produce you're doing and place the jars on the rack (7 quarts or wide pints or 9-10 standard pints, usually, depending on size/brand).

Secure the lid, WITHOUT the weight on! Turn your burner on high!
Vent for 10 minutes (start timing once it's "blowing steam" really good).

Then put the weight on.

Once the weight starts jiggling (you'll get used to the sound), start timing for the required processing time. Here's where you can actually make use of the gauge. It "should" read the proper weight at the same time the weights start rockin'.

As soon as I reach pressure, I adjust my burner down slightly. Then listen for several minutes. If it's still rocking pretty fast, adjust again....slowly. Too fast creates the dreaded "siphoning". LOL

Find that balance.

When the time is up, turn off the burner and let it cool down naturally. You can't take the lid off anyway, it's locked at this point. This can take anywhere from 15-45 minutes (at least for me). When you can "flick" the weight and NO steam comes out, you can take the lid off. Don't force it, it will turn easily or it isn't ready!

I let the jars sit in the canner, lid off, for another 5 minutes or so (this is where I usually realize I need a towel spread out on the counter to set them on anyway...).

Use a jar lifter to remove the jars and let cool overnight.

Easy, peasy.

Oh, and that prayer............same as before.....

Lord, please let all my jars seal. Thank you. Amen.


    Bookmark   October 6, 2009 at 6:53PM
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dgkritch(Z8 OR)

Good tip LindaLou! I never thought about looking for extra racks at thrift stores!!

I am currently on the hunt for a replacement to my speckled enamel pot (steamer? asparagus pot?). I've got the deep insert, shallow strainer, lid, all in good shape but the outer pot is rusting inside so I can't use it for food (or don't want to anyway!!). It's a small one, only about 12" diameter and maybe 13-14" tall.
It's my current "thing to hunt for" at thrift stores!

Psalm 23.......Too funny (or not....hee hee)!!


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

Good advice above. I prefer trial run teaching with jars of just colored water. Helps you learn to prevent siphoning and is cheaper than even potatoes. ;)

But if you do potatoes, I wouldn't slice them as you won't be happy with the potato soup results. Chunk them instead.

A second layer of jars? Not for the first few times IMO. Just complicates the process. Get comfortable with the PC first and then expand your horizons. ;)

Prayer: Dear Lord, keep my hands away from the stove knobs once the weight starts rattling and don't let me forget to add the bit of vinegar to the water. Amen

Good luck! and welcome to the wonderful world of pressure canning. :^)


    Bookmark   October 6, 2009 at 7:12PM
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dgkritch(Z8 OR)

Kathy???? You still with us?
How did it go?


    Bookmark   October 7, 2009 at 1:54PM
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kathy_in_washington(Zone 8 Sequim,WA)

OK, I didn't chicken out, but I didn't try it yet either. I did something to my back late Tuesday (got a hitch in my git-a-long, as Tennessee Ernie Ford used to say). Not able to do much at all right now, so canning and pressure canning is waiting for another day.

I'll let you all know how it goes ... when it goes. Thanks for your interest, suggestions, and encouragement.


    Bookmark   October 8, 2009 at 2:58AM
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dgkritch(Z8 OR)

Ooohh, ouch!
Hope your back is feeling better soon!


    Bookmark   October 8, 2009 at 8:51AM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

I'm so sorry to hear that. Definitely it sounds like dealing with heavy canning would be a bad idea right now. But when you feel better, there are all kinds of winter soups and stews you can practice on. PC's are great for cold season preserving.


    Bookmark   October 8, 2009 at 2:29PM
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Oh geez, Kathy, I hope your back feels better soon.

As Carol mentioned, there's lots of cold weather canning that can be done, including soups, stews and those dried beans mentioned earlier.

Of course, you can pretty much always get potatoes anymore...


    Bookmark   October 8, 2009 at 4:19PM
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kathy_in_washington(Zone 8 Sequim,WA)

But you don't understand! I'm wanting to can Roasted Tomato Garlic soup! I had started roasting tomatoes -- but they're in the refrigerator now. I have all the "stuff", so maybe I'll go as slowly as possible and "just" freeze it. Darn!

I have the dearest husband, but he's a generation older, and his cardiologist has told him to not lift much -- so the two of us barely equal a weak middle-aged woman! ha ha. He's very appreciative of all I cook/can, and he's even a fairly helpful dishwasher!

I'll keep you posted. Again, I appreciate the advice and concern.


    Bookmark   October 8, 2009 at 5:23PM
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