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How to tell if a batch is good or not

Posted by tmommie none (My Page) on
Wed, Sep 26, 12 at 10:12

I am new to canning, bought a used Mirro. I processed one batch of green beans 2 weeks ago and another batch yesterday. the one two weeks ago I had problems with - the weight never danced, jiggled or moved in any way but there was steam coming out. After about 40 minutes I realized the overpressure plug had blown. Turned it off and waited the cool time. When I took the jars out all but one did seal but the beans had a reddish brown color in the water inside the jar. At that time I assumed it was because there were overprocessed. I ordered new overpressure plugs and tried again yesterday. Again, the weight never danced, jiggled or moved but I did turn off the heat after 25 minutes this time. After cooling I took the jars out and the same color was in the jars. After reading a lot of these posts I have learned 1. that Mirro is not a highly recommended canner 2. glasstops are not a good heat source and 3. I should have done a test run or two to try and find the right heat setting to achieve 10 pounds of pressure before possibly ruining 14 quarts of green beans. My questions are : are the beans ok to eat or have I ruined them? And does anyone successfully can on a glasstop stove? I do have a propane burner I can used outside if that's what I need to do but would rather do it inside. I am assuming my Mirro is a 23 quart (I'm not positive because I did not receive the manual when I bought it). If I bought a smaller canner (I know from reading that it needs to hold at least 4 quarts) would it work better on my glasstop? Thanks to any and all that have suggestions or answers for me!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: How to tell if a batch is good or not

Your beans are NOT safe to store. The batch you processed yesterday can be frozen and they'll be fine. The batched from 2 weeks ago should be tossed, unfortunately. Not sure about the reddish brown liquid, but if your beans were somewhat past their prime, it could be that the seeds inside gave off some color. Could be a hard water issue.

If the canner did not build pressure and cause the weight to rock, they aren't processed correctly. You simply heated them and when they cooled, they created a weak vacuum. No guarantees that they ever reached temps sufficient to kill bacteria.

I can't answer questions about the glass top as I've never used one. There have been many discussions, however, about not using them for canning. My understanding is that they cycle on and off and can't maintain proper heat to keep the pressure up and consistent. You might contact your manufacturer.

I don't know what kind of propane stove you have. I've canned on a 2 burner propane with good heat adjustment. The single burner "turkey fryers" are not recommended as the adjustment isn't sensitive enough to maintain correct pressure. I can with 2 different, older Mirro canners and have no problems. Look on the bottom of the canner to see if there's a model number. I've got a short (7 quarts, but no stacking) one (model M-512) and the 23 qt. one (model 92022).

You could also purchase an independent electric burner and use that for canning as long as it gets hot enough to maintain the heat. I am not familiar with these, but hopefully others will chime in who are.

Lastly, you are correct that it's a good idea to run a test batch with colored water in the jars to get used the canner and adjusting the heat properly to avoid siphoning.

Don't give up, just concentrate on getting all the variables right.

Deanna


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RE: How to tell if a batch is good or not

I replied to your post on an older post before I saw you did it here, too. I basically agree with all the Deanna said. I'll copy and paste it here so you don't need to respond at both topics. I'll also post a pic of my Mirro canners -

Hi Tmommie,

I have two Mirros and successfully do a couple hundred cans a year with them. I'm planning on doing a couple half gallons of tomatoes today and 50 pint-and-a-halfs of applesauce next week.

Unless you're very knowledgeable on canning, GET THE MANUAL! It gives you basic directions for canning and pounds settings and processing times for most common fruits, meats, and vegetables. Here's the basic high points -
1. place jars and set burner to high
2. vent w/o weight for 10 minutes
3. place weight at proper pounds setting
4. when weight starts to jiggle, start timer and reduce temp to keep it gently jiggling
5. make very small and few adjustments to keep the weight only lightly jiggling through processing time.
6. Allow the canner to reduce pressure on its own.

Beans do have a slight reddish brown color once processed - you just don't see it when you buy them in a tin can. If you think it TOO red, you might have high iron content in your water.

With the overpressure blown, you basically boiling water canned them. I would reprocess them or start over.

You can run a canner on a glasstop stove, it's just not ideal. The biggest problem is weight. I wouldn't recommend running a 23 quart canner on your glasstop. The second issue is maintaining heat. A smaller canner (12 quart) is easier to keep the temp up. Your 23 quart might just be too much for the stove to keep up with.

If you decide the Mirro isn't right for you, I'm interested in buying a third canner and have no fear of them. Please email me at - farmer boy bill at gmail dot com - Of course, take out the spaces and use the @ and .


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RE: How to tell if a batch is good or not

I just wanted to clarify that the Mirro is a perfectly acceptable canner. Some of us are not fans of the design or have concerns about continuing parts availability, but that's a personal preference and in no way a comment on their suitability for canning. Once you work out the wrinkles, you should be able to can very successfully using a Mirro.

I have posted a link to the Mirro manual. If this one does not match your model, an online search will pull up other posted copies. Keep in mind the manual is good for operation instructions but not for processing times as they are generally currant with recent standards.

I agree the recent batch is salvageable but not the previous one.

Carol

Here is a link that might be useful: MIrro Manual


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RE: How to tell if a batch is good or not

Before the first batch I did go online and read a manual I found for Mirro Pressure Canning. The picture on the front cover looked just like mine so I felt good about it's content. That is where I did learn about heating up before putting the lid on and then venting steam for 10 minutes, the cooling down phase and the time for processing I got from several different sites. I kind of felt confident in what I was doing with all the research I felt I did but when the darn thing didn't jiggle or move at all I got discouraged. Read the manual again and learned about the overpressure plug. Thats when I tried again yesterday and got discouraged again. I did have the heat up pretty high during the processing time waiting for weight movement, would that have actually prevented it from moving? I understand about the glasstop heating element not maintaining constant temp, I see that all the time in general cooking, it's red hot then fades, then gets red again. About the hard water - we do have well water and I have a heck of a time keeping the faucets clear and we have to change out our water heater about every 5 years because of sediment in the tank. How do I test the water to see if it has too much iron? I guess I can used bottled water for a batch and see what happens with the color. And... I have washed the canner several times and knew there was writing on the bottom but never paid attention to it! My canner is a 12 qt, M-0512-H. FarmerboyBill, I will think about all of this and see if (given what I have to work with) I feel confident to try again or go back to blanching and freezing instead. If you may still be interested in the canner now knowing it is smaller let me know and after I weigh my options I will let you know if I'm interested in selling. Thank you again everyone - all the information is appreciated!


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RE: How to tell if a batch is good or not

Before the first batch I did go online and read a manual I found for Mirro Pressure Canning. The picture on the front cover looked just like mine so I felt good about it's content. That is where I did learn about heating up before putting the lid on and then venting steam for 10 minutes, the cooling down phase and the time for processing I got from several different sites. I kind of felt confident in what I was doing with all the research I felt I did but when the darn thing didn't jiggle or move at all I got discouraged. Read the manual again and learned about the overpressure plug. Thats when I tried again yesterday and got discouraged again. I did have the heat up pretty high during the processing time waiting for weight movement, would that have actually prevented it from moving? I understand about the glasstop heating element not maintaining constant temp, I see that all the time in general cooking, it's red hot then fades, then gets red again. About the hard water - we do have well water and I have a heck of a time keeping the faucets clear and we have to change out our water heater about every 5 years because of sediment in the tank. How do I test the water to see if it has too much iron? I guess I can used bottled water for a batch and see what happens with the color. And... I have washed the canner several times and knew there was writing on the bottom but never paid attention to it! My canner is a 12 qt, M-0512-H. FarmerboyBill, I will think about all of this and see if (given what I have to work with) I feel confident to try again or go back to blanching and freezing instead. If you may still be interested in the canner now knowing it is smaller let me know and after I weigh my options I will let you know if I'm interested in selling. Thank you again everyone - all the information is appreciated!


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RE: How to tell if a batch is good or not

Before the first batch I did go online and read a manual I found for Mirro Pressure Canning. The picture on the front cover looked just like mine so I felt good about it's content. That is where I did learn about heating up before putting the lid on and then venting steam for 10 minutes, the cooling down phase and the time for processing I got from several different sites. I kind of felt confident in what I was doing with all the research I felt I did but when the darn thing didn't jiggle or move at all I got discouraged. Read the manual again and learned about the overpressure plug. Thats when I tried again yesterday and got discouraged again. I did have the heat up pretty high during the processing time waiting for weight movement, would that have actually prevented it from moving? I understand about the glasstop heating element not maintaining constant temp, I see that all the time in general cooking, it's red hot then fades, then gets red again. About the hard water - we do have well water and I have a heck of a time keeping the faucets clear and we have to change out our water heater about every 5 years because of sediment in the tank. How do I test the water to see if it has too much iron? I guess I can used bottled water for a batch and see what happens with the color. And... I have washed the canner several times and knew there was writing on the bottom but never paid attention to it! My canner is a 12 qt, M-0512-H. FarmerboyBill, I will think about all of this and see if (given what I have to work with) I feel confident to try again or go back to blanching and freezing instead. If you may still be interested in the canner now knowing it is smaller let me know and after I weigh my options I will let you know if I'm interested in selling. Thank you again everyone - all the information is appreciated!


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RE: How to tell if a batch is good or not

farmer boy bill....are you sure you didn't sneak into my kitchen to take that photo???
Those appear to be the same two canners I have! And the cone strainer, jar lifter, apple corer and funnel!
Don't have the two baskets on the right.

Do you hate the weight on the 23 qt. as much as I do? Love the little one with the disc. It just doesn't make sense to me to have to thread the weight on while it's blowing steam! Obviously designed by a NON-canner! I've got the parts and going to try to switch the big one over to the disc weight with the new vent tube. We'll see.
Worst case, I guess I can switch it back. I'm just a chicken about disassembling the original set up and feeling confident in the new one.

Looks like a busy day.

Deanna


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RE: How to tell if a batch is good or not

Can't really add anything to all the good info above except to add my opion to the others that there is nothing at all wrong with the older model Mirro canners. It is the new ones made since the company was sold that are discouraged.

And to answer your original question, "How to tell if a batch is good or not?"

The answer is if they were properly processed they are good.

Unfortunately, whether because of your stove or the canner or your misunderstandings of the process, neither of your batches was properly processed so neither batch is good or safe.

Tell us about your propane burner since the feedback on glass top stoves falls heavily on the do-not-use-for-pressure canning side.

"Jiggle" for a Mirro is more like a "hiss and spin".

Dave


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RE: How to tell if a batch is good or not

Hi Deanna,

Those aren't baskets - it's a small tomato scalder. It was my wife's great aunt's. I've never seen another one. Works great for four or five tomatoes.

I agree about the new style weight. I borrowed these out to a guy and he didn't understand how to use it. He broke the plastic top off while trying to set the pounds pressure. I've glued it back on. I didn't expect anything from him, but I would have at least appreciated a heads-up that he broke it. I haven't borrowed them out since...

Frankly most people are intimidated by pressure canners. My wife's Grandma experienced an exploding canner and never allowed her granddaughter in the kitchen while pressure canning. Understandably, she doesn't like to be around it. That would have been one of the old ones with no pressure relief valve - just a dial guage-that-you-hope-is-accurate.


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RE: How to tell if a batch is good or not

I'm not sure why my 2nd message posted more than once - sorry about that!

Dave, I did get the hiss, but not the spin. So I am pretty certain the pressure never got up high enough even though I had the burner up on a high setting.

We have a propane burner that looks like a fold down camping stove and we also have a turkey fryer that I was wondering if it would work. It is the stand and the propane tank goes right underneath it and has an oversized "burner" to set the pot on. I know the flame would be more intense than one from an indoor gas stove - would that cause damage to the bottom of the pot?

I'm still not sure if I want to try again. I have carrots, tomatoes and will have more beans soon that I wanted to can instead of freeze but I don't want to ruin any more vegetables. We worked too hard in our garden to ruin and throw them away.


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RE: How to tell if a batch is good or not

Need to know the BTUs of the burners and how detailed the controls are for controlling the heat. A max of 12,000 BTUs for pressure canning as more will definitely damage the pot and you need to have a really good control knob that lets you make fine adjustments on the heat.

I'm still not sure if I want to try again. I have carrots, tomatoes and will have more beans soon that I wanted to can instead of freeze but I don't want to ruin any more vegetables. We worked too hard in our garden to ruin and throw them away.

Understand but you can do the practice runs and learn out to properly operate the canner without wasting any food.

Have you reviewed the step-by-step How to use a Pressure Canner instructions at NCHFP? They make it pretty straight forward.

You also need to make sure the steam exhaust vent isn't partially plugged since it is a used canner. A wire or thick pipe cleaner works well.

Your choice of course but canned food stores much longer than frozen foods, lets you can foods that don't freeze well, and since you have the canner you might as well learn to use it, right? :)

I'm betting the primary problem is your stove anyway. Search 'propane burner' on this forum for more info on using them and links to burners many of us use.

Dave


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RE: How to tell if a batch is good or not

Thanks for the additional info Dave. I do want to try again, after doing more reading of course. I will look into the BTUs on our propane burners and try to find an electric burner. I did check the steam vent to see if it was plugged after the overpressure plug blew and there wasn't anything in it.

I think I have the steps down after reading and watching video demos. I agree that it's probably my stove that is the main problem. I don't think the stove is getting the canner up to the required pressure.

I appreciate all the advise and information. I'll do some test runs after deciding my new heating source and give it another try!


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RE: How to tell if a batch is good or not

Hi Tmommie. I can't say much about the mirro, but I do use a Presto 23 qt on a glass stove top without issue. The weight is not an issue (well so long as you don't slam it down full) and I can get my dial gauge to stay precisely at pressure. I do use the optional 3 weight set that you can get for the Presto and don't rely on my gauge, but it is nice to be able to look at a dial gauge and see it hold steady as reassurance. I did just get my stove a few months ago and I will tell you it took a few runs to get it right. The first few batches my pressure was all over the place and the stove was WAY hotter than my old electric coil stove. I almost blew my own safety plug. I would fill yours with water and run a few test batches. My new glass top once heated runs at 13 lbs at a 3 on my dial.

I am sure all stoves are different, but I do find it a little hard to believe that you simply can't can on a glass top stove. I do understand that the glass tops cycle on and off. But the pressure canners are made with extremely heavy bottoms. The entire point of the newer stoves is that it heats the pan, the pan retains the heat and still heats the food evenly. The pressure should not be dropping. Mine is not an high end model ($700) so I did not buy some crazy cool model. If you play with it and practice, there is a way to get it to even pressure. I think that would be true of anyone trying on a glass top. Hubby tried to tell me you can't actually cook eggs on a glass top after we got it. He figured it out eventually. (they are better eggs now too.)


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RE: How to tell if a batch is good or not

It's been a crazy few days so I haven't had time to do any test runs but I should be able to try tomorrow after everyone goes to school and work. Kali615, thank you for sharing that you have been successful at canning on a glasstop. We have been having quite a bit of rain lately - which I am NOT complaining about - but it's hard to can outside using a propane burner while it's raining.
In case I can't get my pressure figured out on my glasstop, does anyone have suggestions on where I can buy one of those free standing electric burners that are big enough for the canner? I had one when I was in college 20+ years ago but I remember it being on the smaller size. I'm thinking I would have the same heating problem, not enough even heat on the bottom of the canner to hold pressure.


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