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New to pressure Canning - help me troubleshoot

Posted by cjzimmer (My Page) on
Thu, Dec 29, 11 at 22:37

I've water bath canned for a few years but wanted to expand into pressure canning. I have an induction stove so I use this canner

http://www.amazon.com/Fagor-Piece-Pressure-Canning-Set/dp/B0027VT92K/ref=sr_1_sc_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1318957679&sr=8-1-spell

It only does 4 quarts at a time but that is fine for me since I'm still learning.

So for my first attempt I tried to can chicken. Since both raw and hot pack process for the same time, I decided to try both so I could see which way I prefer. I cooked my chicken for 2 jars (although it got more cooked than I planned and was probably 90% cooked when I put it into the jars). Filled to just under 1 inch from top and covered with broth (hot water with dissolved boullion cubes).

Raw pack, cut up my chunks and put them in the jar. I didn't have enough chicken at this point so one jar was probably had almost 1 1/2 inches headspace, the other was about 1 3/4 inch. The NAHCP (can't remember if those are the exact initials but it's the site everyone links to here) says to add no broth, my ball canning books says to add broth. Various other sites (not official sites) talk about adding some broth. Since I'm practicing (and really just wanted to see which method I prefer the texture of) I filled both jars about half full with broth (same as above).

Put the jars in canner, vent steam for 10 minutes, apply pressure (canner only does low = 8 pounds and high=15 pounds), used high pressure (my altitude is just under 1000 feet). Once pressure reached set timer for 90 minutes.

When I have water bathed on my induction stove, I have to keep turning the temp down because it boils the water so hard.

So I bring the canner up to pressure on level 9, and set the timer. After a while, the steam is pouring out the handle, so I bump the temp down to 8. This is one part I was unsure if I did correctly. One place I read said not to change the temp, but another talked about adjusted the temp so as not to have too much steam escaping. By the time, it's done, my temp is down to 6.5 but steam has been coming out the handle the entire time.

I turn off the heat and within a minute the pressure gauge has dropped. So clearly my canner wasn't up to pressure because when I've cooked food in there the natural release took at least 30 minutes not 1.

The hot pack jars have broth nearly to to the top with just a little bit of air space (looks how how many of my tomato jars have turned out in the past with just a space gap on top). The raw pack jars have a huge gap (probably 2 inches). Now I know these weren't filled as full but the food compressed together and there is a huge air space. Had my canner held the correct pressure, would this excessive air space be okay?

Now to my complete surprise all 4 jars sealed. The raw packed ones were still boiling in the jar 30 minutes later.

Once they cool, I will put them in the fridge because I have no idea about the pressure they were cooking at.

But I would love any and all comments on my procedure/method so I can learn how to do this better.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: New to pressure Canning - help me troubleshoot

You're braver than I am. I have a Fagor, but I wouldn't use it for canning. It's a great pressure cooker but not set up for American standards and from my perspective far more difficult to monitor. Not to mention the deleterious effect of processing for a long time at 15 psi. There will be some impact on quality.

I can't speak to your pressure problems as I'm not familiar with induction and not sure what's going on with the Fagor in that situation. It does sound like the temperature dropped too low but it is a disadvantage not having a gauge or a traditional regulator.

The Ball Blue Book and the NCHFP do occasionally differ, but it's not an issue as both instructions properly applied will result in a safe product. I assume the NCHFP does not recommend broth with raw pack because the meat exudes its own juice.

It's critical to be meticulous about instructions, including headspace. To have a gap after processing, assumimg processing was done correctly is not an issue, but in this case you started with headspace significantly greater than the 1" recommendation. Broth, if used, should reach the 1" level. That's with air bubbles removed.

I'd recommend you look into a smaller canner that's more user friendly. Mirro still makes a 12-quart. Presto makes a 16-quart but used to make a nice 12-quart. I picked up an extra 12-quart Presto NIB on ebay for $30-odd dollars, so I know they're out there.

Carol


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RE: New to pressure Canning - help me troubleshoot

Unfortunately, the Fagor is the ONLY pressure canner/cooker that I have found that will work on my stove (well unless you count some $300+ German ones but I don't have that kind of money). For it to work on induction, the pot has to be magnetic, so none of the Mirro/Presto/American will work on my stove because they are made from aluminum.

However, the Fagor is a 10 quart and is listed as a canner or cooker which is why I got it. Figured I could use it for both applications.

The pressure lock was engaged during the entire cooking process so I had assumed I was maintaining pressure. Since it dropped so fast obviously that was incorrect.

Is it acceptable to turn down the heat during the processing time or should I have left it at the temp I started with?

I could start with a lower temp to bring it up to pressure and then I wouldn't have to turn it down so much during the processing if it is better not to adjust the temp. Just not experienced enough here to know what the best option might be.

So for my raw pack where I didn't have enough meat, should I have filled the jar up to the 1" mark with broth? The NCHFP did say it would make it's own juice so I didn't want to overfill it and have it leak out.

Thanks for any additional guidance you can add. I've got more chicken in the fridge so I figured I would try another batch today. I do like practicing with these smaller batches because when I mess up I don't have as many jars to use up/freeze.


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RE: New to pressure Canning - help me troubleshoot

Will be difficult to help with specifics since neither the stove type nor the Fagor are recommended for pressure canning as Carol indicated so your issues will be unique to the normal experiences. Yes Fagor's Spanish manufacturer "claims" it's a pressure canner but it really isn't. It is a pressure cooker.

The stove is the primary problem which is why the many discussions here and at other canning forums about the problems with using it for canning. Most end up investing in a separate gas or electric burner dedicated to canning. Doing that eliminates all the problems as it allows for use of a proper canner and easier control of the heat source.

s it acceptable to turn down the heat during the processing time or should I have left it at the temp I started with?

With standard stoves and canners, yes it is. Slowly. Alternatively you can bring the canner UP to pressure with a lower level of heat so that reducing it isn't necessary.

But the issue is that the burner must not cycle off and on in order to maintain the pressure. Most induction stoves do that - cycle off and on - so the pressure fluctuates and safety of canned food is compromised.

So for my raw pack where I didn't have enough meat, should I have filled the jar up to the 1" mark with broth?

Yes.

Now to my complete surprise all 4 jars sealed.

The hot liquid with no processing at all will often cause the jars to 'appear' to seal. But it isn't a true vacuum seal. As you already know the chicken you processed isn't safely canned and will need to be frozen.

Now, if you simply must use the induction stove for some reason than I have read about (but no personal experience with) a stainless steel disk that is sold that apparently allows you to use an approved canner on those types of stoves by inserting it between the element and the pot. You might contact your stove manufacturer to see if one is available. But if you plan to do much pressure canning at all then the best option is to invest in an independent burner and a real pressure cannner.

Dave


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RE: New to pressure Canning - help me troubleshoot

  • Posted by morz8 Z8 Wa coast (My Page) on
    Fri, Dec 30, 11 at 12:18

I have a Fagor, it's newish and I love it, but for cooking - not canning. Mine specifies - "offers high (9 psi) and low (5 psi) pressure settings" . But with no dials, weights or gauges, I'd have no way of knowing with certainty what kind of pressure was being maintained, no way to verify it and that wouldn't be acceptable to me with canning.

I second what Dave said about the sealing of the jars - I can pour boiling water from a teapot into a room temp jar, place the lid and it will seal and stay sealed, but that's not an indication of processing or a true vacuum.


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RE: New to pressure Canning - help me troubleshoot

Sorry, I'd forgotten you were using induction when I mentioned the other canners. I would recommend Dave's suggestion of an alternate heat source like a propane burner or, what some people do, an old coil-type electric range out in the garage or some subsidiary area.

You might also contact the manufacturer of your cooktop and see what they recommend.

Carol


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RE: New to pressure Canning - help me troubleshoot

I have a Fagor 10qt canner and an induction cooktop (also have a coil cooktop, two Presto canners and an AA canner, and a big 220 hotplate).

With induction, mine only takes a few minutes to start steaming - let it vent for 10 mn then I turn the knob to High pressure. I normally turn my cooktop down to about 7-8 while venting, then turn it back up to 9-hi to build pressure. (I do not put it back on boost though). It takes it about 10 mn before it will start to steam, then I start turning the heat setting down, usually a step per minute until I'm down to a gentle steam. At least with induction, you can see the different almost immediately in the level of steam coming out. I think I get down to around 5-6, so mid point. Then let it go for 90 mn (I was doing venison) and it did just fine. I'd check on it to make sure the steam was about the same, not getting more or less. If I did any adjusting after the initial setback, it would be only one level (it does .5 steps at mid range).

Once the timer went off, I turned off the burner and the steam stopped very quickly, but it took about a half hour before the button dropped.

I got the Fagor specifically so I could can smaller batches in the winter - mostly meat, broth and things like that.


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RE: New to pressure Canning - help me troubleshoot

Thanks for the advice everyone. I didn't realize that there was any concerns over using a 10 qt as a pressure canner (especially when this one was being sold as a canner with all the canning accessories included). My understanding was as long as it was that size or larger it would be okay.

The canner I have is the one macybaby shows (she was the one who pointed it out to me earlier this year - thanks for that by the way) I have the same stove as her as well (although mine is freestanding instead of slide-in). I knew from reading other posts of hers that she was an experienced canner so I trusted her comments that this was acceptable.

I've used this exactly twice before to make meals and both worked fine. I thought I had the hang of it so was being adventurous and trying to can since the boneless chicken was on sale for a fantastic price.

I did start timing from the moment it got up to pressure and made the temp adjustments over time. I would say each adjustment was probably 5-10 minutes apart from each other so I know I wasn't making a rapid change.

We're having chicken tonight for supper :-) so while I know I didn't have the pressure right yesterday, I'm hoping it was close enough that at least it will give me an idea of what the different textures are between the two preps to see what we prefer. After supper, I'll try another batch and adjust my temps at the beginning and see what happens.

As far as checking with the manufacturer (Electrolux) they told me my soup pot was too big (12 quart) and might crack the glass because of the weight. And that I should cook with smaller pots. All that after checking with someone else because he didn't know it himself. After that conversation I was pretty sure the customer service rep I got was completely clueless and I haven't bothered to call back to see if they have any smarter people answering the phones.

Dave, I didn't know that inductions stoves cycled on and off. I thought only the electric ones did. While I heard you shouldn't can on the electric ones, I hadn't heard that about induction. That was actually one of the reasons why I chose induction was that because it WAS safe to can on it. But I will admit I had a very hard time getting solid information about this aspect since such few people can these days and even fewer are trying to do it on an induction stove.

I will chalk the loss of pressure up to user error and try again. I'm not out anything except my time and a few lids. If the next batch fails as well, then I guess I will have to rethink this.

Thanks again.


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RE: New to pressure Canning - help me troubleshoot

Any pc that accomodates 4 quart jars qualifies as a canner. The difficulty with the Fagor is that you're limited to 15 psi (since no testing has been done with 8). Once you've resolved the issues with temperature on your stove it should be fine to use. However, as I mentioned, quality may suffer due to the higher psi.

P.S. You're not the only one who's had problems with clueless service reps. Presto's are notorious.

Carol


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RE: New to pressure Canning - help me troubleshoot

As Carol said the issue with the Fagor isn't size. It is 1) not being able to establish what the actual pressure is, 2) the amount of time at pressure, 3) the weird pressure options it offers and 4) the quick heat up and cool down times void the published processing times so the foods are very likely under-processed.

That was actually one of the reasons why I chose induction was that because it WAS safe to can on it.

Don't know the source of that info but given that the vast majority of canning equipment is aluminum I'd find that hard to believe. And the cycling issue and the problems with trying to can on induction is a common topic on most canning forums. Based on all my reading I can't imagine that anyone considers them ideal for canning in anyway. Also know from her other posts that Macy does 90% of her canning on her coil cooktop, not her induction stove.

It is your choice of course just as it is macy's although she is the only person I have ever heard who uses that brand for canning. But you need to understand up front that they have never been tested or approved for home canning and processing times for them have never been established.

Dave


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RE: New to pressure Canning - help me troubleshoot

I don't worry one bit about putting a big heavy pan on my induction cooktop, as long as it fits on the burner. I doubt weight is an issue.

After everything I read, I'm comfortable using the Fagor, and did not find the heat up and cool down times significantly shorter than with my other canners and heat sources (which have included a camp stove, two different propane burners, glass top stove, coil stove, 220 hot plate and now induction). I always start out with the canner near simmer when I load it, so it never takes that long to start venting. I didn't notice the Fagor getting up to pressure significantly less in time than the Presto (the AA usually takes longer) and the cool down was not much different either. The air temperature affects cool down time more than anything - in the summer it might be 90 outside when I'm canning. Inside my house in the winter is rarely over 65. I've canned outdoors when it was as cold as 45, and that shortened the cool down time the most. I've not read anything that says you need to can with a certain room temperature.

BTW- my induction stove does not cycle off and on unless I've got the wrong size pot. I've watched the pan with water, just to see if it does, and even at a very low simmer, the simmer does not go off and on, it stays at a very low simmer.

I am at higher altitude, need to can around 12 psi anyway, so going to 15 isn't that much more. Like Dave says, I use it for small batches, and I wanted it to cook in too, never done any pressure cooking (still have not).


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RE: New to pressure Canning - help me troubleshoot

Just wanted to thank everyone again for the advice you offered. I went ahead and made another batch last night. I was going over everything extra careful to try and figure out where I went wrong the night before. After pushing the lock in place I was testing to see if the lid was trying locked and to my surprise it turned. Went back over the step to see what I was missing. When pushing the lock in place, it "looks" fully engaged but when I push a little bit more I can hear a click. I realized I had not heard the click the night before. So I'm certain that this is why my pressure was off the night before, I didn't have the canner fully locked.

I did bring the canner up to pressure at a lower level so I didn't have to lower it as much during the processing. I also noticed there was significantly more water left than the night before. Also last night's batch took 52 minutes for the pressure to drop enough to release the lid (and my house is only 67 degrees so not terribly warm). I couldn't believe how much boiling was occurring even after an hour with not heat. Was even more surprised to see it boiling and hour and half after coming out of the canner (so 2 1/2 hours after the heat was turned off). I'm sure those of you who have more experience in this area are used to that but I sure found it fascinating to watch the stuff boil that long with no heat.

So my second batch was successful. The kids very much enjoyed the first attempt and I learned an important lesson about double checking things so I consider both batches to be a success.

Thanks again.


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RE: New to pressure Canning - help me troubleshoot

Glad you second batch turned out. My learning curve was very steep when I started.

Dave's post got me to doing more research - because I do want to be safe, and not recommend an unsafe practice/equipment. The NCHFP site has this to say about canners.

"Most modern pressure canners are lightweight, thin-walled kettles; most have turn-on lids fitted with gaskets.
. . .
Modern pressure canners have removable racks, an automatic vent/cover lock, a vent pipe (steam vent), and a safety fuse. Use only canners that have the Underwriter's Laboratory (UL) approval to ensure their safety. . . .

The USDA recommends that a canner be large enough to hold at least 4 quart jars to be considered a pressure canner for the USDA published processes."

All Fagor cookers/canners are UL listed (took a while to find that on their site, but it is there)

I'd take that to mean the times ARE ok for a smaller canner, but not smaller than one that holds 4 quarts.

So that leaves canning at the right pressure based on altitude- and that may require everything to be canned at 15 lbs. I would not recommend to anyone to use the Fagor and can at the low 8 lb setting, as there are no approved times for that presser for getting temps high enough to kill botulism.

However if you have a weight set, you choices are 5,10, 15 so if you need to can above 10, you'd be at 15 anyway (unless you do like me and add washers to your 10 lb weight).

Here is a link that might be useful: NCHFP


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RE: New to pressure Canning - help me troubleshoot

I want to add that the Fagor 10 Qt. is perfectly safe to use as a canner and is marketed as such. This week in fact we ate Beef I canned in my Fagor Duo 10 qt. in 2011. It was excellant.
I also have a Presto 23 qt canner and an All American 15 qt. All three are very good and I can use all three on my glass top electric stove.
I find the Fagor to be great if I only have a small amount to can, say leftovers for example.
It is quite safe when used as directed but do remember to vent before you start your timing.


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RE: New to pressure Canning - help me troubleshoot

  • Posted by digdirt 6b-7a North AR (My Page) on
    Wed, Feb 12, 14 at 19:22

I want to add that the Fagor 10 Qt. is perfectly safe to use as a canner and is marketed as such.

We have well established that survival from a batch doesn't make it safe nor does "marketed as such" mean it safe for home canning. Many things are marketed by manufacturers, especially foreign manufacturers, that don't hold up to close examination. And the fact remains that the brand has never been lab tested and approved.

So please share with us what pressure settings are available on your Fagor model # and how many quart jars it will hold at one time. Since some models only include pressure setting of 8 lbs and 10 lbs they would pose potential safety problems for many home canners.

Dave


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RE: New to pressure Canning - help me troubleshoot

As I said mine is a Fagor Duo 10qt cooker/canner. the pressure settings are 8 lb and 15 lbs. you can at 15 lb, it has a setting for venting the air out first, and it holds four quart jars. it is also UL tested and approved.


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RE: New to pressure Canning - help me troubleshoot

  • Posted by digdirt 6b-7a North AR (My Page) on
    Thu, Feb 13, 14 at 10:32

So depending on your altitude at 8 lbs. your foods would be UNDER-processed and at 15 lbs.you would have to use the 15 lb. processing time and even if you used the 10lb processing time most of the foods would be OVER-processed. Ok for meats, not so good for vegetables.

For the majority of home canners who reside at or below 1000 feet it would have limited use.

UL testing is safety of the components oriented - fire, electrical shock, durability of the metals and plastics used, fit of components to each other, approved parts use, etc. There is no correlation between it and the safety of the foods processed in it.

Dave


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RE: New to pressure Canning - help me troubleshoot

If you notice what I said in my first post the Fagor 10 qt is SAFE to use for canning as directed. I did not say it was the IDEAL canner, a lot of this thread had to do with if it was even safe. It Is.
As I said I have a 23 qt Presto and a 15 qt. All American that I primarily use for canning, however if I have one or two jars to process and don't want to break out the big guys, I can safely if not optimally use my 10 qt Fagor.


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RE: New to pressure Canning - help me troubleshoot

If you notice what I said in my first post the Fagor 10 qt is SAFE to use for canning as directed. I did not say it was the IDEAL canner, a lot of this thread had to do with if it was even safe. It Is.
As I said I have a 23 qt Presto and a 15 qt. All American that I primarily use for canning, however if I have one or two jars to process and don't want to break out the big guys, I can safely if not optimally use my 10 qt Fagor.


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