Thursday’s Thoughts ~ Working Under Pressure…

I used to do a lot of canning in the early years of my marriage.  Ed’s mother taught me how to put up green beans and tomatoes in jars, make all kinds of jelly, and how to freeze vegetables.  We spent many hot summers working together in her kitchen.  The years quickly passed, people got older and busier, and canning pretty much became a thing of the past for us–but that is quickly changing!  I am in the process learning how to “can” and preserve again!

A few weeks ago I ordered a pressure cooker/canner.  I’ve always been intimidated by pressure cookers, and wouldn’t go within a mile of one.  However, I soon discovered if I was going to safely preserve vegetables and meats in jars, I would have to get over my fears.

Last Saturday, in the midst of our Easter preparations, Ed and I finally pulled the new pressure canner out of the box!  I’d by lying if I told you that my palms weren’t a bit sweaty…

I decided to try a  batch of beef stew.  I only had enough beef to make four quarts of stew, but that was fine with me! I figured I’d rather work with a small batch for the first attempt–just in case it didn’t turn out.

While doing my research for a pressure canner, I quickly discovered I wouldn’t be able to use a large canner on top of my kitchen stove…Sigh.  These new glass tops aren’t built to support large, heavy canners.  Who knew?  As a result of this complication, I did the prep work of the meat and vegetables in my kitchen (including putting them in the jars), while Ed had to do the actual cooking/canning over a gas burner outside.  I was secretly a little bit glad that the actual “cooking” was going to be done outside–just in case the pot blew up!  I’d heard some pretty awful tales concerning this…

Between the two of us, Ed and I figured out how to safely get the food in the jars, the jars inside of the canner, and the heat properly adjusted.  He watched the pressure gauge, while I watched the timer…Ninety minutes later the bell rang, signaling it was time to turn off the heat!  Now came the part I dreaded the most–letting the pressure go down and opening the pot!

Ed almost removed the weight a bit early, but I cautioned him not to!  He says it would’ve been okay…(yeah, right!)  Finally, the gauge read zero, and ten more minutes had passed.  It was time to lift the lid…only the lid wouldn’t lift!  We’d read in the manual that this might happen, so we knew to get a screw driver…I felt queasy at the thought of Ed taking a screwdriver to my brand-new, two-hundred dollar pot, but after a gentle pry–viola, the pot lid came off!  We gently removed the contents of the canner, and set the jars of stew aside to cool and (hopefully) seal.  I’m  happy to report, all jars sealed!

Last night Ed and I opened a jar of our “newly canned” beef stew, and ate it for supper.  Since it’s not recommended to preserve vegetables and meat in a gravy base (it hinders the jars from sealing), I had to make some gravy first, then add the jar of meat, veggies, and water to the hot gravy.  The whole process took about ten minutes, and the stew actually tasted pretty darn good!

Ed and I have discovered that we work pretty well “under pressure”, so we’ll be preserving some more beef stew and also trying some chili in the near future.  Hopefully, we may even get to put up a few fresh veggies from the garden!  Stay tuned for our further canning adventures…

Published in: on April 12, 2012 at 8:42 am  Comments (6)  
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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. WOW what a brave team you are! I have a small pressure cooker that I’ve not used in years because of the stories of how hard it is. Good for you.

  2. I am so impressed with you and Ed! I received a wonderful pressure cooker as a wedding present almost 45 years ago. Then I started hearing those stories including mishaps that people I knew had had. That pressure cooker bottom became the go-to heavy pot for frying during those early years when we were still frying fish and shrimp in addition to other cooking methods.

    I only used it once or twice but as a pressure cooker. I was a real chicken about the pressure stuff. But we are still using it when heavy or big pot is called for. Looking forward to the next Ed and Kathy saga!

  3. I’m scared of them too. If I had a big garden like you it would probably be worth it but for my piddly little stuff it’s not. Enjoy your new toy!

  4. Your post reminds me of two chunks out of my history.
    1. When I lived in California we had plum trees in the garden, and being a person who cannot see food go to waste I taught myself to make jelly with the jars and parrafin wax and all that jazz. I performed the task two years running then, thankfully we moved.
    2. pressure cooker. My mom loved hers and I recall periodic trips with her, as a child down to Macy’s in Herald Square so she could purchase replacement gaskets. However I can not bring myself to go near one. I happend to be present, again at a you ng age when my mom’s frined Mrs Watkins, related her gory story of making applesauce (whih I seem to recall is s no-no) and the cooker exploded at some point. I can still “see” the burn scars on her inner wrists and arms. So please be careful!

  5. Wow! That certainly sounds like an adventure!

  6. Wow – you guys make a good team. 🙂

    I wouldn’t know what to do with a pressure cooker if I had one sitting here in front of me. Like I said before – I spent more time outside with my dad instead of inside the kitchen with my mom. I was not only a Daddy’s Girl – I was quite the tomboy. 😛

    I bet it’ll be good to use the pressure cooker with fresh items from your garden. 🙂

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