I was so apprehensive about this... so many had told me horror stories of pasta sauce all over the ceilings, walls, and floors. Burns all over arms, legs and feet. That or beans and the lids flying off and denting the ceilings. So this pressure cooker of my mom's had set for around thirty years without being used!
Yes, I did help my mom can but was only cutting green beans and loading the jars. Never learned anything about that canner. I only remember canning with it two different years. Mom and Dad always did the tomatoes together.
In May of 2009 I had decided I WOULD learn to use it and had the dial gauge tested by an OHSU extension lady. She told me I was only a pound off and to add a pound to any recipe. Still I had no one to teach me how to use the canner. Was hoping that someone would stand by me and walk me through the process or offer to let me stand by them while they canned their food. Sadly nobody I know cans anymore nor were they interested in being anywhere near a canner. Others just looked at me like I was crazy even asking them.
June of 2010, a year later, I decided to buy a new gasket and vent as a step towards my goal. Not that there was anything wrong with the old ones, but why take a chance? I sorted all my jars in preparation of tackling my fears. A year with terrible tomato growth gave me another excuse not to bring this "monster" from it's hidey-hole.
Another six months and December arrives, my anxiety over learning how to use the pressure cooker was growing again. A couple years ago we lost a large freezer full of food so haven't been freezing food. Now our refrigerator door has been popping open! Lost meat that was in the drawer and think the meat in that little freezer compartment might need tossing too.
Well January 2011 is here and last week I read chicken was on sale locally. Today, on the last day of the sale, I bought 24 pounds of bulk chicken tenders thus committing myself to canning. Yikes! So there they are in my fridge. I rushed to my computer and re-read every blog I could on "pressure canning chicken"... especially the ones with pictures, and watched some YouTube videos too.
(A special thank you to each and every thoughtful woman who took the time to post these informative how-to articles. YOU gave me the courage to conquer my fears and do this venture alone.)
Holy Cow! I just read were you shouldn't use old jars in the pressure canner because they might break! Guess I can still use them to vacuum seal and water bath canning. That meant another trip back to the store for jars. Of course they weren't on sale and then had to be retrieved, with a special ladder, from the overstock pallet section. (I guess the next time canning, using the jars will be when I can start saving money.) Came home and washed the jars, rings and lids. Am ready for tomorrows canning and no more procrastination.