First time using a pressure canner...couple of ??? - Homesteading Today
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  #1  
Old 03/15/11, 03:47 PM
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First time using a pressure canner...couple of ???

Just so you know, I've always been terrified of pressure canning/cooking...

Just opened the new Presto 23qt canner today. We also ordered the 3-part weight set based on recommendations here on HT. I installed the gauge (gauge outside cover, white ring in the hole/washer/nut inside cover) and tightened according to directions.

In the manual (just to test it out), it suggests pouring 4 cups of water in the canner, heating on moderate high heat until steam comes out of vent, let it steam for 10 minutes to expel air from the canner, then drop the 15lb weight supplied with the canner onto the vent pipe. As soon as I dropped the weight onto the vent pipe, the pressure started to rise and went to what appeared to be 17lbs on the gauge. I let it do its thing for about 8 - 10 minutes and it never went over the 17lbs as shown on the gauge. I turned off the heat, lifted the canner off the burner. As it cooled, the pop-up dropped, the vent stopped steaming, I waited 10 minutes per manual, removed the weight, and then opened the canner.

So...the good news is that nothing blew up and my nerves are only slightly frazzled (I ran ALL the way across the kitchen as soon as I dropped the weight onto the vent pipe, but after a couple of minutes I eeeeeeeased back up to it so I could read the gauge). Made me feel all empowered and stuff....

ANYWAY...just a couple of questions.

17lbs on gauge vs the 15lb weight - I figure that the gauge reading of 17lbs is probably due to it being a bit off (which is why I ordered the weight set in the first place). So my BIGGEST question is can I trust the weights completely and ignore the gauge?

Heat setting on stove - the manual said "moderate high heat", so I set my burner to about 8 and left it there the entire time. So is that about right or should I go a bit lower? My understanding is that the weight will not allow the pressure to build past its "rating" (for example, when using a 15lb weight, the pressure cannot build to any more than 15lbs). Is that correct?

Sorry for the long post...I just needed to hear from someone who USES a canner to fill in the practical info not included in a manual.

Thanks,

Sherry

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  #2  
Old 03/15/11, 04:00 PM
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Congratulations and welcome to the wonderful world of canning! I've only been doing it, myself, for a couple of years.

I've also got the 23 quart presto with weights. (10, 15 lbs). The weight will not allow the pressure to build up past it's rating but if you have the heat up too high you can lose too much water to steam.

The instruction manual should have a guideline in there saying how often your weight should jiggle. I can't remember what it says - I let mine go every few seconds. As long as it's jiggling and making noise every few seconds, your pressure is high enough.

Have fun! Hope you are planning on getting some Tattler reusable canning lids!

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Old 03/15/11, 05:43 PM
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Quote:
So my BIGGEST question is can I trust the weights completely and ignore the gauge?
Well ignore may be too strong a word although I have used it myself. It is more like check it now and then just to see what the difference may be.

But yes you can trust the 3 piece weights and yes they are an accurate indicator of how "off" your gauge may be. With use it may well settle into a closer reading but when it doubt, it is the weight that will be correct rather than the gauge.

Unlike AA and Mirro, Presto weights are machined to slowly but continuously jiggle/move when at pressure. Not a violent rocking, just an easy but steady rocking.

As to the heat, moderately high means different things to different people and on different stoves. If you are electric then 7-8 is probably a good number to bring it up to pressure but once at pressure required back the heat off 1/2 a notch, wait a few minutes then down another 1/2 notch.

On my stove my 23 qt. Presto holds its pressure just perfectly at 6 on the knob (down from 8) but you will have to experiment with your stove to determine which number on the dial is ideal for you. What you want to avoid is

1) too high heat that can burn the canner dry and
2) too low heat that will cause the pressure to fall and
3) making several heat adjustment while processing as that causes siphoning.

So several practice runs are needed to find the ideal point. Good luck and welcome to the world of pressure canning.
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Old 03/15/11, 06:20 PM
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Like you I was afraid of the canner when I first used it. After a little use and wearing this, i do two canners at a time.

http://t2.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:A...Wmja_sOM1ditTY










Sorry, I grew up hearing my mom's two canners going at the same time. Mom was as calm as anyone can be. I enjoy canning and my mother's national #7, she bought in 1938, is used all summer by ME!

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Old 03/15/11, 08:41 PM
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I've taught people to use a pressure canner, they were suprised how easy it was. Please do not be afraid, they are made to be safe and blow the little rubber thingie out if the pressure gets dangerous-instead of the horror stories of the entire thing blowing up. I also cann on 2 at a time.

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Old 03/15/11, 10:16 PM
 
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My hubby and i are going to try canning this year and i too am just scared to death of a canner. I grew up with my Mom canning all summer, but she was always telling me that the thing was going to blow up.It never did!
its kinda sad to be 46 and scared to can things...LOL Hope its okay if i learn along with you?

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Old 03/15/11, 10:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by judylou View Post
Unlike AA and Mirro, Presto weights are machined to slowly but continuously jiggle/move when at pressure. Not a violent rocking, just an easy but steady rocking.

If you are electric then 7-8 is probably a good number to bring it up to pressure but once at pressure required back the heat off 1/2 a notch, wait a few minutes then down another 1/2 notch.

On my stove my 23 qt. Presto holds its pressure just perfectly at 6 on the knob (down from 8) but you will have to experiment with your stove to determine which number on the dial is ideal for you.
I thought so...8 did seem a bit much to me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 7thswan View Post
they are made to be safe and blow the little rubber thingie out if the pressure gets dangerous-instead of the horror stories of the entire thing blowing up.
That's was my biggest fear as I had heard those horror stories myself.

Quote:
Originally Posted by po boy View Post
Like you I was afraid of the canner when I first used it. After a little use and wearing this, i do two canners at a time.
LOL!

Thanks everyone for the replies! I feel much better about using it than I did before.

Now...gotta find me something to can (she says as she eyes that 20lb bag of potatoes in the kitchen)!
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Old 03/16/11, 07:41 AM
 
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I have no answers for you because you are much farther along than I am.

Quote:
(I ran ALL the way across the kitchen as soon as I dropped the weight onto the vent pipe, but after a couple of minutes I eeeeeeeased back up to it so I could read the gauge). Made me feel all empowered and stuff....
However, I do want to thank you for the visual & belly laugh so early in the morning! Gets the day off to a great start!

Good luck! And keep asking questions so when I do get my canner, I will have the answers here from you ;0)
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Old 03/16/11, 10:51 AM
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Originally Posted by jd2pa View Post

However, I do want to thank you for the visual & belly laugh so early in the morning! Gets the day off to a great start!
LOL! You're very welcome!
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Old 03/18/11, 12:44 AM
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UPDATE - processed some potatoes

So I mentioned in a previous post that I was eyeballing some potatoes for my first canning project...took them out of the canner about 45 minutes ago.

The good news is that there's no potato floating around inside my canner, but 2 of the jars came out gently bubbling (and are STILL bubbling), but the other 5 did not...is this normal?

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Old 03/18/11, 10:44 AM
 
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I just use the weights not the gauge. I have two canners that I regularly use with the weights, and it works fine. I wouldn't worry too much about the slight difference of 17lbs. You will make yourself more stressful worrying about things like that. As long as you are using the weights of 15, you know it has to be at least 15to rock them. And you only need 10 to can most things.

Have fun. I love my presto canners. I especially love canning meats. It is so convenient.

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Old 03/18/11, 04:07 PM
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Quote:
2 of the jars came out gently bubbling (and are STILL bubbling), but the other 5 did not...is this normal?
Yes, the bubbling ones were still expelling air, hadn't yet formed a strong vacuum, but as long as they all sealed they are fine. Sometimes it is best, when you see them still actively bubbling away, to just let them sit in the open canner for a few more minutes until they settle down. It prevents any food particles bubbling up onto the rim under the lid as you lift them out.
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Old 03/20/11, 12:15 AM
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Thanks for all the replies.

Just wanted to add that I opened a jar of the potatoes, drained them well, and fried them up with some bacon drippings, onions, and lots of black pepper...the texture was different but they were good!

Looks like I'll be growing some potatoes now that I have a way to preserve them!

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Old 03/20/11, 10:28 AM
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Better taste if you rinse them with fresh water before cooking. Drain the jar, refill with fresh water and drain again. Then cook. It removes much of the starch coating on them from the canning.

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Old 03/20/11, 06:14 PM
 
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Smile!! It's all down hill now!! Piece of cake!! Enjoy and explore!

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Old 03/25/11, 10:41 PM
 
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[QUOTE=po boy;5000338]Like you I was afraid of the canner when I first used it. After a little use and wearing this, i do two canners at a time.

http://t2.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:A...Wmja_sOM1ditTY


I was looking for an outfit JUST like this to wear whenever I get up the courage to use a pressure canner! Where did you find yours?!

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  #17  
Old 03/25/11, 11:56 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rainy View Post
My hubby and i are going to try canning this year and i too am just scared to death of a canner. I grew up with my Mom canning all summer, but she was always telling me that the thing was going to blow up.It never did!
its kinda sad to be 46 and scared to can things...LOL Hope its okay if i learn along with you?
Hey, don't feel bad, I was 64 before I had the nerve to try it. I remember my grandmothers blowing up all the time (just a cooker, not a canner) and Grandpa getting up on the ladder to scrap food off the ceiling.
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Old 03/26/11, 12:51 PM
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Canned 7 qts of dry pintos last night. I was a LOT less stressed this go around...it went pretty fast.

Now, one more question...about how long should it take the canner to reach say 10 - 11lbs of pressure once you drop the weight onto the stem? I know it took at least 10 - 15 minutes with both batches I've done so far and I'm just wondering if that's too long.

Thanks,

Sherry

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Old 03/26/11, 03:19 PM
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Was it actively venting a strong, steady, cone shaped column of steam and for a full 10 mins. before you put the weight on? If so then it should come up to pressure within 5 -6 mins. depending on the size of the canner. The pressure gauge should already read something in the neighborhood of 4-5 lbs. when it is actively steaming.

If it doesn't then you most likely didn't vent it well enough first. People try to rush that step too often and doing so needs to be avoided because it means air is still trapped in the canner and that affects the temperature.

PS: I assume you rehydrated the beans before canning them, right?

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Old 03/28/11, 05:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by judylou View Post
Was it actively venting a strong, steady, cone shaped column of steam and for a full 10 mins. before you put the weight on? If so then it should come up to pressure within 5 -6 mins. depending on the size of the canner. The pressure gauge should already read something in the neighborhood of 4-5 lbs. when it is actively steaming.

If it doesn't then you most likely didn't vent it well enough first. People try to rush that step too often and doing so needs to be avoided because it means air is still trapped in the canner and that affects the temperature.

PS: I assume you rehydrated the beans before canning them, right?
Thanks for the help...

I guess I just have to figure out how high to initially set the burner and then when to lower it on my stove. It's just that I don't understand why the pressure climbed to that of the weight SO fast when I did my trial run using nothing but water in the canner but it takes 10+ minutes to reach pressure when there's 7 qts of food inside.

With the beans (soaked for about 16 hours and then boiled for 30 minutes), there was what "I" considered to be a steady cone of steam and I did vent it for 10 minutes...but the gauge still read 0 pressure at the end of the 10 minutes of venting.

We've already used two quarts of the beans and they turned out fine...I just don't want to screw something up with that extra time while the canner is pressurizing, KWIM?
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