Under pressure

By Staff
Modern canning takes an easier turn
Dr. Everlyn Crayton, Extension foods and nutrition specialist with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System
Pressure canners have been extensively redesigned since the 70s, said Dr. Evelyn Crayton, Extension foods and nutrition specialist with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. Older models have heavy-walled pots with clamp-on or turn-on lids. They are fitted with a dial gauge, a vent port in the form of a petcock or counterweight and a safety fuse. Crayton said these older models can still perform well if they have been properly cared for and checked annually.
Today's pressure canners are lighter weight pots with thinner walls and most have turn-on lids. They have a jar rack, gasket, dial or weighted gauge,an automatic vent/cover lock, a vent or steam port to be closed with a counterweight or weighted gauge and a safety fuse. Most pressure canners hold seven quarts or eight to nine pint jars. All vegetbles except tomatoes should be processed at 10 pounds of pressure or 240 degrees Fahrenheit. Tomatoes may be canned in a water-bath or a pressure canner.
The two procedures used in pressure canning of vegetables are called raw-pack and hot-pack. To raw-pack, densely pack cold, raw vegetables into a container and cover them with boiling water.
To hot-pack, preheat vegetables in water or steam them. Cover them with cooking liquid or boiling water. Always follow the manufacturer's directions for the canner you are using, Crayton said. Test your pressure canner dial gauge for accuracy at the beginning of each canning season.
Crayton offers a few pointers on using pressure canners.
Unfasten the cover and tilt the far side up so steam escapes away from you. Remove jars from canner. Don't let canner stand too long after the pressure reaches 0 degrees Farenheit. The canner lid will stick. After use, wash the canner with hot, soapy water, being careful not to immerse the dial gauge if your canner has one. Rinse and dry well. To remove the dark water stain that may develop inside an aluminum canner, fill it above the stained area with a mixture of 1 tablespoon cream of tartar for each quart of water. Heat to boiling and boil until stain disappears. If the stain is stubborn, use more cream of tartar. Then wash again with hot soapy water, rinse and dry well.
Extension service offers free gauge checks
Emily Russell Campbell, Regional Extension Agent
One of our free services in Cooperative Extension is to check the accuracy of dial gauges on pressure canners.
Pressure canners have been extensively redesigned since the nineteen-seventies. The older models have heavy-walled pots with clamp-on or turn-on lids. They are usually fitted with a dial gauge, a vent port in the form of a petcock or counterweight and a safety fuse (overpressure plug). The older models can still perform well if they have been properly cared for and checked annually.
Very important aspects are to have the gauge checked yearly and to ensure that the rubber gasket remains pliable or to replace it, usually every two years. Rubber safety fuses should be replaced every two years according to the National Center for Home Food Preservation at the University of Georgia (www.uga.edu/nchfp).
Finding model-specific replacement parts is a challenge. Try ordering online.
For Presto brand products use this website: www.gopresto.com or call 800-877-0441. Mirro advises to inquire at True Value or Aces Hardware stores or go online at www.pressurecooker-outlet.com (1-800-251-8824).
For a few more contacts if these don't pan out, call your local Cooperative Extension office.
Today's pressure canners are lighter weight pots with thinner walls and most have turn-on lids.
Most have a jar rack, a gasket, a dial or weighted gauge, an automatic vent/cover lock, a vent or steam port to be closed with a counterweight or weighted gauge and a safety fuse. Some newer models do not have a dial pressure gauge, but rather have handles that clamp down at the proper pressure level. We do not test lids with no gauge.
Old or new, pressure canners need to be stored properly. Thoroughly dry the canner, lid and gasket. Do not put lid in water. (For older canners, take off removable petcocks or safety valves, wash and dry, then reassemble them carefully.) Clean openings by running a clean pipe cleaner or thin strip of cloth through them.
Store the canner with crumpled clean paper or paper towels in it around the rack; the paper will help absorb moisture and odors. Do not fasten the cover; wrap it in clean paper and place it upside down, loosely, on top of the canner bottom.
Darkening on the inside of the canner can be removed by boiling a mixture of 1 tablespoon of cream of tartar per quart of water up to a level to cover the discoloration. Repeat if necessary. Pitting on aluminum is caused by hard water.
Try buffing with a vinegar solution, then drying quickly and thoroughly.

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