My first and only canning experience as a child left me with a fear of pressure cookers. There's just so much potential for serious bodily harm. But today...today, I faced my fears and tamed the beast. I'm telling you, I'm knocking out fears left and right. Pretty soon I'll be ready to park the Suburban in a parking garage. Or not.
I'm fuzzy on the details of that first canning session: I just remember it being hot, sweaty, steamy work. I remember my mom being flustered and overwhelmed. I'm pretty sure a few of the jars actually broke in the canner, and some of the tomatoes had worms. Ewww! I don't even remember actually eating any of those tomatoes that she canned, although I'm sure we must have.
Needless to say, this was not an experience I had any interest in ever repeating.
I've been canning applesauce for a few years now, using a water bath, but last year I decided I wanted to try canning green beans. Due to green beans' lack of acidity, they require higher temperatures to can successfully, and that means a pressure canner. My parents graciously gave me their pressure canner (I think they didn't want to repeat the tomato canning experience either), but our garden didn't produce enough green beans at one time to make a full load.
And let's face it, if you're going to muster up the courage to face a childhood fear, you want to make sure the potential payoff is as big as possible.
We didn't even plant green beans this year, so I thought I was safe from the pressure canner for another year, until a friend mentioned that her family had 4 grocery bags full of green beans and no freezer space. Did I want any?
It was fate, I just knew it. Time to look that pressure canner in the eye and show it who's boss.
I said, sure, I'll take some.
This morning, with trepidation (or perhaps "trembling in fear" is a better description), I consulted my Blue Book of Canning and the pressure canner instruction manual I had downloaded eons ago, asked my husband for a consult on the weight configuration, and then set to work.
I put my helpers to work, too.
Seriously, I couldn't have done it without them. OK, I could have, but it would have taken me twice as long.
Success! Eight pints of green beans ready to enjoy when the weather turns cold, and 4 more packages in the freezer. Actually, it was pretty easy. That popping sound (the one that lets me know the jars are sealed)? Pure delight.
Special thanks to my parents for giving (lending?) me the canner, 4-H Mom for giving me the beans, and my Facebook friends for your (virtual) moral support, especially my brother, who oh so helpfully suggested that the pressure canner was more afraid of me than I was of it.
Tell me: have you ever used a pressure canner? What was your experience like?