Monday, April 8, 2013

Pressure canners, the ups and downs of loving them.....

I spent 38 years afraid of using a pressure cooker or pressure canner.  I was 13 when I was making rhubarb, I know now not to make rhubarb in a pressure cooker but the things we do in our youth,  I blew one up.  I was new to using one and had watched my mom on many an occasion.  She was pregnant with my youngest biological sister and I was helping her cook.  I cut the rhubarb, pressure cooked it to the right temp, time and lbs, took it off the stove and ran water over it to cool it.  It was cool to the touch and I tried to take the lid off.  It wouldn't come off easily so I gave it a big tug.  I, and have always been, strong so I really reefed on it, big mistake,  the lid came off like a sledge hammer hit me in the forehead and dropped to the ground.  The heat, steam and burning hot rhubarb came right behind it. I don't know why but maybe it was instinct, I put my forearm across my eyes.  I am so blessed by the Lord that I did because it may have kept me from going blind.  I had major burns on my face and my forearm.  I still have scars on forearm, a mark where the petcock hit my forehead and a great respect for pressure cookers and canners.  I literally didn't not use anything that was a pressure cooker of any sort for 38 years.  I was terrified of them.  I spent years cooking ever thing water bath.  It wasn't a big problem, other than a waste of hours of time, for years and then the USDA started changing the rules and recipes for safe canning of vegetables.  I used antique and outdated canning books for years to can.  Finally a year ago I decide I was all grown up, seeing as I had turned 51 months before and decided to give pressure canning a go.  Well that, and the fact, that I just don't have the time to spend water bathing cabbage and green beans 3 and half hours when with a pressure canner would only take 90 minutes of cooking time.  I decide to go on quest for a pressure canner.

I am the queen of eBaying so I went to my internet and began to look for a likely subject to buy.  I found in a hurry the ones I might really like to have in my wildest dreams were well beyond the money I had to spend on purchasing one.  I would truly love to have the biggest All American they makes, can you imagine canning 19 quarts or 32 pints at once, oh the wonder.  I  digress into dreamland, forgive me.  Anyway beings as I couldn't not purchase my dream canner, I am really a nerd,  I decided to look into ones I might actually be able to afford.  I also decided with my fear I had to have one with the screw downs like an All American.  I soon found that the old nationals that became the All Americans had the screw downs.  I also found that I could get a vintage one or an antique one for much more reasonable.  I found a 80 year old one,  one thing I did remember from my Grandma Gladys was that if you take care of it a pressure canner is usable forever.  I decided to bid on it and won it.  I got it shipped to my house for less than a new gasket pressure canner, which I will not use.  I got it home and tried it out.  It's gauge works perfectly and it really looks like it spent half a century of more in someone's attic, it is beautiful and I like it's personality.  I did find that though it is a 15 quart model I only will can 5 regular quarts or 6 wide mouths as it is narrower than a modern one.  I soon loved my little pressure canner and wouldn't live with out it now.  I decided I would try getting another one,  I did pick up one that was just like mine but larger, in the end it  had a few problems as it too is 80 years old, but was not taken as good of care as my first one.  I have decide to only use it as a prep cooker for making stratus for mushroom growing, so it was win win.  A few weeks ago I decided to look again on Ebay for another one to go with the ones I have to make the canning a little faster. I came across one, no one was bidding one, I was really surprised because ones that looked worse than it were going for spendy money.  I decide to read the listing thoroughly.  I soon discovered that they listed it as unknown maker, which I am thinking scared buyers off.  So many people are so afraid of things that make no sense to me, really a pressure canner is a pressure canner all work the same way.  I think that the buyers were afraid of not knowing what it was so would not know how to get a manual for it.  I checked out the photos and looked on line at the models and photos of all the models.  I soon determined it was an All American from the 60's or 70's.  I bid and snapped it up for a steal.

I waited patiently and soon it came in the mail.  I was so excited.  It looks just like an older version of the new one that Lady bought last summer.  Same size and everything.  It will hold 7 quarts.  I put water in it and it works great.  I also decided that I would update this canner and I would have basically the same thing as a new one.  I went on line to the All American site and ordered a new gauge, a new petcock and weight/rattler, which this one did not have.  I got the pressure canner, new updated parts and still saved a hundred dollar on the same size canner.  Yay me.  The parts have now arrived and I can't wait to update the canner.  I really thought about leaving it original but decide in the end to just keep the parts so if I ever wanted it original that would be an option but I would have a state of the art canner to use with the new updates.  I love my original one and would never change it, I have to baby sit it more to watch the gauge but it is a beautiful antique.  My new one, well I guess new to me one, will allow me more freedom, instead of watching a gauge I will be able to listen to the rattle of the canner doing it's thing.  I love my canners and now do as much of my canning with my pressure canners and the old water bath is only pulled out if I really can't do it with the pressure canner.  I do sorrow for all those years of lost time from my own fear but now I have over come the paralyzing fear that held me in it's grasp and I will never go back.  It is funny that the over coming of one fear has opened up my life to over coming other fears and things that hold me back.  The Lord does work in mysterious ways and in his own time frame..... tomorrow.  

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