Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Adventures in Canning
The tomatoes are finally ripening up in large enough numbers that I finally can do some canning. I have 3 quarts already in the freezer (one with the spices ready for a moussaka). I finally got a test run of the pressure cooker. Now I remember my Mom using the pressure cooker, and I think I should have been on the phone more often with her as a consultant. And I also remember the time where her pressure cooker “blew up”. The vent pipe had become blocked with probably some bean skin or other bean by-product. I was at school when the pot blew, and when Mom rushed into the kitchen to turn the heat off from under the pot, to rush back out again. When a pressure cooker blows its pressure regulator, there’s little else you can do but kill the heat and let it cool down. Of course it will continue to blow the contents of the pain out through the vent pipe. So when I came home from school, there was Mom in the middle of the kitchen on her hands and knees cleaning up vaporized bean goop from every corner of the kitchen. The goop hung like stalagmites from the ceiling, dripping into a deep gelatinous pool in the floor. Mom was not amused by my uproarious laughter at her plight. It was a pretty funny picture at the time, but it has always made me wary of pressure cookers.
So this weekend, I had made some spaghetti sauce and some apple butter. I hot packed the jars and settled them into the pot. I only canned one quart of the tomato sauce as I really didn’t know how it would turn out and I only wanted to lose one quart if that’s what happened. I remember how the pressure regulator sounded on Mom’s old pot, but this thing sounded like a steam train coming through the kitchen. And the pot is huge. It dwarfs the stove.
The whole time while I’m watching the steam expel the air within the pot, and then the pressure building and being kept for the length of the processing time, I thought how much I didn’t know what was going on in there. And when it had cooled down and I got to open the pot, I found out my fears were justified. I didn’t leave enough head room in the jar for pressurized canning. So some sauce had bubbled out under the lid and into the water. So, I don’t trust that the jar is properly sealed, as there may be food in between the jar lip and the seal. Well here’s the end result, not a fair winner but I’m looking forward to seeing how it turned out. The other part of the sauce (that I didn’t can) was delicious. So I’m interested to see how the extra heat affected the end product.