Friday, December 26, 2008

My gift scares me!

My family knows me too well.  Or at least what my passion is.  It was definitely an educational Christmas for me:
My haul of books!
I knew the Seed Starter's book was coming from my daughter (We found it at the thrift store for 75 cents right before Thanksgiving and she got it for me).  I spent the day reading through all of these plus the Four-Season Harvest book that I got for myself (I ordered something from Amazon and wanted to qualify for free shipping).  There is so much information to digest I'm glad it's winter so I have time to read.
But here is the scary part:
The All American 925
Yup, Santa came through with a cadillac canner.  He got me an All American canner.  I guess he did his research and decided that this was the best made.  And fairly local- it's made in Wisconsin.  But the thing terrifies me. Okay, it excites me at the same time- kind of like the feeling you get while waiting for the roller coaster to take off... you know it will be fun but it's scary at the same time.  The big warning labels plastered all over it don't help.  I grew up with my Mom canning so I know the basics.  She let us help when she did water bath canning but didn't want us in the kitchen when she had the pressure canner going.  I think some of that rubbed off on me and I still have this fear of the thing blowing up.  But this one is also supposed to be incredibly safe (as safe as hot metal under steam pressure can be).  Now I just need to figure out how to use it.  
My friend Jim stopped over yesterday with gifts for the children and he was about as excited about the canner as I was.  He evidently been asking another friend to teach him canning basics but she has never followed through, so he wants to learn along with me- and I told him I'd teach him water bath canning next summer. 
I've got a lot of research to do.  I need to figure out something I can make to practice using this monstrosity before I really need it.  Any suggestions for a winter friendly canning project?


  1. Oh!!! I want those books! What a gift, something to keep the mind, the imagination busy in the cold winter days. Ha ha, would you believe I've copied down those titles and have them on my list for going to the bookstore this weekend? :-)

    On the canner - I got one late this fall so I haven't had the chance to really use it. I use a pressure cooker all the time for beans, etc. so I am not scared of it blowing up.... you really just have to make sure the right amount of water is in there and keep an eye on the clock. After a while, at least with the pressure cooker, I've learned to tell when to lower the temp/turn it off, etc. by the sound of the whistle and the steam.
    With that said, canning scares me! Just what can go wrong, I guess its the worst-case syndrome coming out. I'd love to hear others' ideas about the winter canning suggestions....

  2. Yes! Make and can chicken stock. It's fairly cheap, in case it doesn't work out. But useful, if it does. Saves space in the freezer.

    And let me know how it goes, because sooner or later, I will try it, too!

  3. Thanks for the support. I had thought about canning stock. We still have a turkey in the freezer from after Thanksgiving and I was thinking about cooking it up and trying to can the stock. I still have some in the freezer from the first one I cooked up but having it canned would be so much more convenient- I wouldn't have to wait for it to thaw and it would make space in the freezer. And actually, the thought of canning meat or stock scares me even more than veggies. I know lots of people who do it but it still seems like so much more could go wrong! So challenging that fear may be a good place to start.
    Maybe I'll try that next weekend for New Year's. I have a 4 day weekend again. I have a long weekend now as well, but we're having friends over for dinner tomorrow.

  4. Why not cook up a bag of dried beans, then can them in 1/2 pint or pint jars in your fabulous new canner? I love my canner (not as cool as yours, but it's my first!) It takes some much less water and time to heat than a water bath canner.

    I say... go for it!!

  5. Nothing like a good useful book, one that you can go back to over and over again. I have a Blue Book and the Home Preserving and they're both great. Now about that monster of a pressure canner, I'm right there with you, how exciting, but it looks so scary.

  6. Whoo hoo! What great gifts you got! And the canner is easy peasy. I just canned venison and potatoes that were starting to go bad - just don't open the canner until it totally cools down - my MIL once had a jar of beans come out through the pressure hole on the top b/c she opened it too soon. Have fun with it!

  7. Great Gifts!!! I would love a canner like that (I have a different model-also a starter canner). It took me a year before I got enough nerves to try it and now I use it for many different things (bean soup-much better than the condensed bean and bacon soup; beef chunks-great for easy beef and noodles; chicken or turkey noodle soup...)

    You'll love the Root Cellaring book (one of my faves)!

  8. I just came across you blog and wanted to comment about pressure canning. You don't need to be afraid. The All American has a weight on the vent which regulates the pressure. It makes it quite easy. Most things are done at 10 Lbs pressure. Stock would be as good a thing to start with. We can turkey, chicken, and venison -- meat and broth. Just broth takes a shorter processing time (25 minutes compared to 90 minutes with the meat), but it's all the same other than the time. Don't overfill your jars (leave enough headspace). Relax. You won't blow anything up -- there are safety valves on the canner. Let it cool down so that the pressure is all the way down before you open it to remove the jars. When you take them out, it is kind of cool to see the broth continue to boil for a while after you take them out of the canner. As they cool, they'll seal (you'll hear the lids pop). If they don't (sometimes something gets forced under the seal which prevents their sealing), don't worry. You can either run those that didn't seal again, freeze the contents, or eat it.

    You'll do fine!

  9. Thanks to all for your comments. I've got stock cooling that I'm going to try tomorrow. I'll let you know how it goes.


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