Monday, July 21, 2008
I bought a pressure canner yesterday. Once again, too many choices. I get mad when there is only one choice, but can't make a decision when there are too many. It's a real Catch 22. I looked online and saw that Wal-Mart had one for $59 that was stainless steel. We just bought all stainless steel cookware hoping to avoid the potential health implications of cooking with aluminum. So I go to our Wal-Mart and low and behold two choices: a big aluminum one or a little aluminum one. Of course the third and fourth option was to wait until Monday and look all around town in Springfield or order online and for it to be delivered to Marshfield. Well I may have mentioned a few times, I'm not very patient. I bought the aluminum one. On the one hand I never had any idea you could cook a roast in one in under an hour before I started reading about pressure cookers. Then again how many roasts am I really going to ever cook in it? Most if not all of the food I'll ever cook in it will be in jars so I just bought the aluminum one. The big one.
I canned my first food (carrots) last night in the pressure canner. It was a little scary. I kept waiting for it to explode and spray burning water all over me, scaring me and my family for life. It didn't. Whew! Too many urban legend stories I guess. Of course, I do know that COULD happen but I've never heard of anyone it actually happened to. I know they are out there though. Every urban legend starts with some grain of truth however perverted it becomes.
I've learned some valuable lessons this year in the garden. Lessons I knew but was too lazy or unsure of to implement. For example...if you let a pre-schooler plant the seeds, the carrots are going to be tiny. Overcrowding of the seeds gave us a diverse array of sizes. We had a few great carrots, but lots and lots of little tiny ones that defied peeling and became compost. I had to recruit Bryon from a perfectly wonderful Sunday afternoon nap to come to my carrot peeling/scraping relief. Grace washed the dirt off some of the carrots until her attention disintegrated and she wandered off to watch more Max and Ruby.
I read the canning instructions SEVERAL times and finally dove in. One thing about canning instructions that come with the product is that there is no troubleshooting section. That was worrisome in itself. Apparently if you don't do it right...too bad. It took FOREVER for my little jiggler (I bought one without the gaugey thing)to start jiggling and was searching the book for advice on how long it might take. No such advice. I just waited. You don't start timing the "cook time" until the dang thing starts jiggling. Well cook time was 25 minutes and it took 30 to start jiggling. Boy was I happy when it finally started to jiggle! Of course then the jiggling induced more stress because I didn't know if it was jiggling to fast, too slow, was it going to explode. I turned it down a bit just in case. Finally the timer went off and Bryon moved it off the burner and we waited for it to depode.
It did and Bryon (brave soul that he is) took off the lid. Five perfectly wonderful looking pints of carrots! Not sealed yet. I set them on a towel, went to bed to read and waited for the popping to start. Finally I heard the first jar seal. Pop. A few minutes later...pop, pop. Yippee. Only two to go...pop. Then nothing. When I was finally ready to turn off the light I went into the kitchen to see what the problem might be and before I even got over the counter, POP! All five sealed!
Relief. Disaster averted. Now if they are only edible :)