Do this simple test with your pressure canner the first time you use it.
Ah, the pressure canner. The anxiety ridden way to put up food for the future. Where does that story come from? You know the one – your aunt had the lid blow off and she almost lost her head, consequently, she’ll never pressure can again – and either should you!
I’ve had my canner for years and was too afraid to use it on my own. It doesn’t matter how many YouTube video’s I watched, it just didn’t give me the confidence to do it on my own. The solution turned out to be simple – I took a class from my local extension office on pressure canning. The teachers at the class suggested that you do a pressure canner test the first time you use it, so you know how the canner will sound at pressure and won’t need to worry about pressure dropping too low.
The Pressure Canner Test – Your first canning assignment is – WATER….
Now, some of you may think this is a waste of time, but I definitely learned a lot from doing this exercise. Canning a batch of water as my first solo canning job has really helped me get a feel for the whole process and especially the sound of the weight when it’s at pressure. I was concerned about that and my pressure canner test made it easy to understand.
These are the basic pressure canning instructions. You should check the manufacturer manual that came with your canner for specific instructions for your model.
Always use an approved recipe and make note of the processing time in minutes and the pounds of pressure required for your elevation.
- Prepare jars, lids, rings. They should be clean, it is not necessary to sterilize them.
- Place 3 inches of water in the canner.
- Prepare the food and liquid according to the recipe.
- Fill jars, leaving the proper head space.
- Remove bubbles, wipe rims.
- Adjust lids and rings, but not too tight.
- Load the jars into the canner. Do not overload.
- Fasten the lid securely on canner.
- Turn the heat on high.
- Exhaust steam and let it flow for 10 minutes, making note of the end time.
- Place weight or close petcock.
- Let pressure build. You will know when it happens, the weight will start rocking.
- Start timing once your canner is at the desired pressure, make note of the end time
- Adjust the heat to keep the pressure stable. If you go below your recommended pounds of pressure, you must begin the processing time again!
- When the timing is complete, remove the canner from the heat (but only if you can safely lift the canner, otherwise turn off the heat and leave it), now wait until the canner is fully depressurized. How will you know? Nudge the weight to see if steam spurts out; if no steam, remove the weight. This is going to take a while; at least 15-30 minutes.
- When fully depressurized, remove the weight
- Wait 10 minutes after you’ve removed the weight, THEN
- Open the lid away from you
- Lift the jars, keeping them upright, place on heavy towel
- Allow the jars to cool undisturbed for 24 hours
- Check seals and label the jars
- Don’t forget to wash & dry the canner, gasket & lid so they will be ready for use next time
Where can you get training to use your pressure canner?
- The local county extension office often has classes at a reasonable cost. My class cost $30, which paid for the supplies. Well worth it, in my opinion. Here’s a link to find your local extension office.
- Bribe a friend – you must know someone who’s already mastered this skill and would be happy to show you how. Suggest a canning day.
- Get a granny from your church to show you. Granny’s always want to pass on what they know!
- Watch YouTube videos – there are several.
- Purchase a DVD from At Home Canning for Beginners and Beyond to get over 2 hours if in-depth training on water bath and pressure canning. (affiliate link, thanks for the support!)
Here’s a video posted on my Facebook page of the weight rocking during my test. After my first batch, I found the MirroMatic manual and it said that the weight should rock 2-3 times per minute. I really had that baby humming with the heat dial at 3. I actually did my “dry run” twice, and the second time I turned the heat down to low and the rocking motion was much smoother. I’ve made notes to refer back to the next time I do pressure canning.
Here’s my handy Pressure Canning Checklist to DOWNLOAD
In addition to the book: Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, download the following University Extension publications. These are available for free online and will contain the most up to date information.
National Center for Home Food Production – Canning Vegetables
WSU Publication PNW172 – Canning Vegetables
These are some of the books that I have on my canning wish list:
And perhaps one day I’ll get a brand new canner!
Mama Kautz (my Front Porch Friday buddy) just put up 40 pounds of hamburger!
I am so excited to begin this new chapter canning meats and vegetables. This will help me diversify my food storage plan and not be so reliant on the freezer. I’m really glad I did the pressure canner test and learned how mine works. Now I’m not afraid of my pressure canner!