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 Post subject: Let's talk about pressure canners!
PostPosted: Fri Jan 11, 2013 1:04 am 
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Drinks Wild Tofurkey
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I want to both pressure can and pressure cook (like beans, rice, etc.) so I'd like to find something that is dual function. From my internetting it looks like it could be dangerous to use a pressure cooker to can because it's not strong enough and I really don't want to deal with exploding pots, so I guess I'll be investing in a canner. I see Amazon is now labeling them as pressure canner/cooker so I guess that means you can cook in them?

Since I've never seen either IRL, I don't really know what to look for. As in, I don't really know if the settings on canners and cookers are different and I don't know what volume of canner to buy that would be compatible with both functions.

Also, it seems like the top two brands are Presto and All American, but AA is twice as expensive! Apparently AA is heavy duty and can be a bit of a pain to use as a pressure cooker. I'm willing to deal with that and the cost if it means it will last me forever, though.

Thoughts? Recommendations? If I buy a giant canner, can I put beans in a secondary container within the canner so I don't have to heave a 20 lb pot from the stove to the sink to scrub bean goo out of it?

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 Post subject: Re: Let's talk about pressure canners!
PostPosted: Fri Jan 11, 2013 10:55 am 
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I bought a Presto canner/cooker last year and have never used it once! I think it's too big to use for cooking, unless I'm going to freeze over half of what I make, and I never really know what to can in it. I mean, green beans, right, but can I can soup that I made in there? I'm so afraid of poisoning myself, it's ridiculous.

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 Post subject: Re: Let's talk about pressure canners!
PostPosted: Fri Jan 11, 2013 4:02 pm 
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Drinks Wild Tofurkey
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Shoot, that's too bad. Can you make a smaller volume of stuff in the canner? That's why I was thinking you could put beans or rice in a glass or metal mixing bowl within the canner but I don't know if that's feasible or safe. What size Presto canner did you buy?

I really want to make "cream of X" condensed soups and then can them. We eat a lot of chickpea cutlets and I like to simmer them in the soup, kind of like a gravy. I don't always want to have to make the soup that day or store it in the freezer. I'm trying to think of other meals in jars or sauces that I can do because my partner can't really cook so it would be nice to have some stuff he could quickly heat up for us and throw over a grain or some veggies, like chili, soup, curry, etc. I also want to do convenience foods that I normally freeze, like beans (that I've cooked from dried ones), homemade veggie broth, and roasted bell peppers.

And maybe even dog food!

I'm a little worried about poisoning myself too! Heck, I was even scared of water canning but I've never had anything get gross doing that so I'm hoping I will not give myself botulism from pressure canning!

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 Post subject: Re: Let's talk about pressure canners!
PostPosted: Sat Jan 12, 2013 6:44 pm 
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I have a Presto pressure canner/cooker and I'd say that for me, it's WAYYYY too big to actually pressure cook in. I use it for water bath canning, actually, and have never tried to pressure can something... my partner wanted the option though so that's why we got that instead of just a big pot. The other thing about the pressure canner is that it's made out of aluminum and even though we've only had ours about a month, it's started to oxidize on the inside and parts look really dark grey and spotty, which may or may not give a funky flavor to some foods.

As far as pressure canning goes, though, I'd be way too nervous to try and can something that wasn't a safe tested recipe made for canning like from a reliable canning cookbook, Ball or the National Center for Home Food Preservation. I know the main concern with pressure canning is ensuring that the inner temperature of the substance reaches a safe level and since random recipes on the internet can't guarantee a safe viscosity (hence why you can't can pureed pumpkin at home), I'd be wary. I'm really paranoid about that kind of stuff, though!


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 Post subject: Re: Let's talk about pressure canners!
PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2013 5:10 am 
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Drinks Wild Tofurkey
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So it is sounding to me like using a canner as a pressure cooker is really impractical. That's a major bummer!

Freetahtah wrote:
As far as pressure canning goes, though, I'd be way too nervous to try and can something that wasn't a safe tested recipe made for canning like from a reliable canning cookbook, Ball or the National Center for Home Food Preservation. I know the main concern with pressure canning is ensuring that the inner temperature of the substance reaches a safe level and since random recipes on the internet can't guarantee a safe viscosity (hence why you can't can pureed pumpkin at home), I'd be wary. I'm really paranoid about that kind of stuff, though!


You know, using only a tried and true recipe didn't really occur to me! That's something I'll have to look into because it really restricts what I'd be able to do. So many of the recipes I've seen are not vegan and I don't know if altering them would affect the recipe wrt food safety. Do you know what the effect of viscosity is? Does it have to do with heat transfer? Is there a way to measure the viscosity of what you make to determine if it's can-able? I think I remember ameyfm canned pumpkin at one point; I will have to ask how she did it because I also was hoping to preserve our Halloween pumpkins. I'm learning so much from this thread!

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 Post subject: Re: Let's talk about pressure canners!
PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2013 9:26 am 
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couroupita wrote:
Shoot, that's too bad. Can you make a smaller volume of stuff in the canner? That's why I was thinking you could put beans or rice in a glass or metal mixing bowl within the canner but I don't know if that's feasible or safe. What size Presto canner did you buy?


I don't really know how that would be possible, but I know next to nothing about pressure cooking. It's a really huge one, like big enough to fit 6? 8? quart jars. I really liked the idea of canning soup as well. There are a lot of blogs out there about canning that have recipes. Here is one in particular that talks about canning pumpkin, but you have to do it in 1 inch cubes, not puree. She also goes on to talk about how it's not really necessary to can pumpkin because they keep for so long... But I do understand the draw of having ready-to-go pumpkin (even if you have to puree it yourself, at least it's broken down and cooked already) when you're short on time.

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 Post subject: Re: Let's talk about pressure canners!
PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2013 9:32 am 
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Also, here is a quote from another canning page:

"Do not add noodles, rice, flour, cream or any milk or any thickeners. All these can be added when you heat the soup to serve it.

If you are using beans or peas they must be cooked prior to canning.

It is also not recommended to can pureed type soups.... so I do not give directions for this."

So it seems as if any canned soups, curries, etc, would have to just be the beginnings of the recipe that you have to finish off at the time of opening and preparing. After all this, I'm kind of wishing I hadn't even bought my pressure canner, since it seems that all it would be good for is canning vegetables...and I don't really like canned vegetables!

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 Post subject: Re: Let's talk about pressure canners!
PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2013 9:33 am 
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I've only ever done water bath canning, because pressure canning freaked me out. However, I'm inching toward buying one. Here in the Netherlands they have a plug-in pressure canner that sits on the counter kind of like a crock pot. I like that idea better than having to monitor a flame on the stove.

That said, I did have a basic pressure cooker in the states that I bought at Costco and I really loved it. I only ever used it for cooking beans, but it was a good investment and didn't cost me much (maybe 30 bucks or less?). At first I was exploding the beans because they were under too much pressure, but I got the hang of it pretty quickly. A touch of salt also helped the beans maintain their shape under pressure cooking.

I've never seen a combination pressure cooker/canner, but I'd imagine them to be way too big for pressure cooking if they are able to fit jars for canning. I would just get one (whichever you want to do most at the moment) and see how it goes. I find appliances that try to do too much well end up not doing any of them well.


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 Post subject: Re: Let's talk about pressure canners!
PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2013 8:30 pm 
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allularpunk wrote:
Also, here is a quote from another canning page:

"Do not add noodles, rice, flour, cream or any milk or any thickeners. All these can be added when you heat the soup to serve it.

If you are using beans or peas they must be cooked prior to canning.

It is also not recommended to can pureed type soups.... so I do not give directions for this."

So it seems as if any canned soups, curries, etc, would have to just be the beginnings of the recipe that you have to finish off at the time of opening and preparing. After all this, I'm kind of wishing I hadn't even bought my pressure canner, since it seems that all it would be good for is canning vegetables...and I don't really like canned vegetables!

So just from a little more research it looks like industrial canners get to at least 2 atm of pressure (30 psi), which no home pressure canner can reach, and that 's what you would need to reach to safely can thicker stuff. Commercial canning facilities also have UV lights and stuff to keep the area sterile. Obviously we can't do that!

Yeah, it seams to defeat the purpose to only be able to can stuff in their beginning stages. I like the convenience of just dumping something out of a can. That's why I haven't bought a pressure cooker yet, because to even make beans you have to presoak them for longer than I am willing to do. I might still invest in a canner in the future but it's not at the top of my kitchen gadget list anymore. I use a lot of canned beans and I am too lazy to start with dried ones, so I think that would be the only impetus for me to buy a canner at this point. I don't like canned veggies at all either, so...I guess I'll just go back to freezing all my pre-made stuff for now! :-/

pickledtreats wrote:
I find appliances that try to do too much well end up not doing any of them well.

Good point! I wish this was not the case!

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 Post subject: Re: Let's talk about pressure canners!
PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2013 4:35 pm 
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couroupita wrote:
That's why I haven't bought a pressure cooker yet, because to even make beans you have to presoak them for longer than I am willing to do. I might still invest in a canner in the future but it's not at the top of my kitchen gadget list anymore.


Okay, so we have a really small pressure cooker (maybe a little smaller than a 2-qt pot), a large pressure cooker (about a 4-5qt. size), and a giant pressure canner. And let me tell you, all three are worth it. I like having the small to cook something about the size of a can of beans because it takes no time to reach pressure, but the large is great if I want to make a week's worth of rice.

I am incredibly lazy. Even when I was first learning to use the pressure cookers, I'd still buy canned beans because I could fly by the seat of my pants. But with a tiny bit of planning, dry beans are not that hard. If you want to cook something in the morning that uses them, soak them while you're sleeping. If you'll want them for dinner that night, soak them while you're at work. In the pressure cooker, it takes beans less than 10 minutes to cook. I mean, it doesn't get better than that. Oh, and you can cook brown rice in 15 minutes! I eat so much healthier and cheaper now that I have this. I'm trying to learn how to use the pressure cooker for other things, like cooking full meals in there, but even just for this they've paid for themselves. Also, if you know you want to make something with beans sometime this week, but you're not sure when, I find that I can refrigerate beans I've soaked (water drained off first) for 3 or so days (5 days if I'm feeling crazy) and they're still fine to cook in the pressure cooker when I'm ready.

As for the canner, you want something big enough for your jars and the temperature gauge makes a world of difference so that you know you're doing it right. But the kind of pressure you'd need to get a pot that size going while you're cooking will probably just turn your beans to mush.

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 Post subject: Re: Let's talk about pressure canners!
PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2013 5:42 pm 
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couroupita wrote:

Yeah, it seams to defeat the purpose to only be able to can stuff in their beginning stages. I like the convenience of just dumping something out of a can. That's why I haven't bought a pressure cooker yet, because to even make beans you have to presoak them for longer than I am willing to do.


I use my slow cooker for beans. No need to soak, and by the time you get home, they're cooked and ready to go into a recipe. Much less forethought than either pressure cooking or conventional cooking. Just dump them in with plenty of water to cover and leave them on low for 6-8 hours. If you have a slow cooker that has a timer/shut off thing (I wish mine did!), you don't even need to worry about being home in time to turn it off yourself. The only thing is kidney beans (and there may be another?) which need to be brought to a boil for a bit to destroy that toxin that's in them. I generally only cook black beans and chickpeas from dried, though.

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 Post subject: Re: Let's talk about pressure canners!
PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2013 6:02 pm 
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couroupita wrote:
That's why I haven't bought a pressure cooker yet, because to even make beans you have to presoak them for longer than I am willing to do.

You don't have to presoak beans to cook them in a pressure cooker. It is true that you'll get more consistent results if you soak first, but I rarely remember to soak beans, and I still use the pressure cooker to cook them. I've had pretty good results cooking unsoaked beans in my pressure cooker if they aren't too old (i.e. no beans that have sat in my pantry for over a year) and aren't chickpeas (I've given up cooking unsoaked chickpeas, but instead do a quick soak then pressure cook).


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 Post subject: Re: Let's talk about pressure canners!
PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2013 6:17 pm 
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I might also suggest the Food In Jars blog (http://www.foodinjars.com/, plus the FIJ cookbook) for canning tips in addition to the regulatory sources. I have not done any low acid/sugar canning myself because it just does not seem worth it, but plenty of people do it, so there must be some trustworthy resources with solid techniques out there. Chowhound might also be a good place to poke through.

I use my 6-quart pressure cooker for sterilizing jars before they get sealed in a water bath.

The brown rice recipe in Lorna Sass' Great Vegetarian Cooking Under Pressure involves the use of an oven-safe casserole dish set inside the pressure cooker during cooking, so that practice has been done successfully. (That cookbook is awesome, BTW -- it's basically a vegan cookbook that includes tables with all the times for beans & grains, soaked & unsoaked. Highly highly recommended if you want to pressure cook.)


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 Post subject: Re: Let's talk about pressure canners!
PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2013 6:19 pm 
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helbury wrote:
couroupita wrote:
That's why I haven't bought a pressure cooker yet, because to even make beans you have to presoak them for longer than I am willing to do.

You don't have to presoak beans to cook them in a pressure cooker. It is true that you'll get more consistent results if you soak first, but I rarely remember to soak beans, and I still use the pressure cooker to cook them. I've had pretty good results cooking unsoaked beans in my pressure cooker if they aren't too old (i.e. no beans that have sat in my pantry for over a year) and aren't chickpeas (I've given up cooking unsoaked chickpeas, but instead do a quick soak then pressure cook).


Totally true! You can convert dry beans to edible ones in less than an hour!


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 Post subject: Re: Let's talk about pressure canners!
PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2013 9:53 am 
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I live in the South and can only vouch for here, but you might see if you have a county extension office (it may fall under the department of agriculture). I live in Nashville which is a very urban area, but it gets rural not far out. The extension office is who I call for all my canning/preserving/urban food gathering questions. Because it's in an urban area, they are starved for attention and have always been helpful. I've taken free canning/preserving classes from them at our Ag Center. When we lived in South Asia, I used my pressure cooker for everything. I still use it here, but not as much. I have my grandma's canner,which we use for veggies, tomato sauce, and pickles.


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 Post subject: Re: Let's talk about pressure canners!
PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2013 1:01 pm 
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couroupita wrote:
I really want to make "cream of X" condensed soups and then can them. We eat a lot of chickpea cutlets and I like to simmer them in the soup, kind of like a gravy. I don't always want to have to make the soup that day or store it in the freezer. I'm trying to think of other meals in jars or sauces that I can do because my partner can't really cook so it would be nice to have some stuff he could quickly heat up for us and throw over a grain or some veggies, like chili, soup, curry, etc. I also want to do convenience foods that I normally freeze, like beans (that I've cooked from dried ones), homemade veggie broth, and roasted bell peppers.

So glad to find this thread! Although I've been using pressure cookers forever, I'm only now getting up the courage to haul out the canner I inherited. Like you, I had hoped to make condensed soups but have learned that you can only thicken them when heating them to eat, due to the viscosity mentioned elsewhere in this thread. So now I'm considering making a very concentrated broth and packing in as many vegetables as will allow bubbles through. Then, when heating the soup, stirring in the thickener and any additional liquid desired -- still a lot faster than cooking it from scratch on the fly.

When canning, the air bubbles through the liquid and escapes from the jar lid, as it must, in order to create a vacuum. If the substance being canned is too thick, the air cannot escape and, if it doesn't, you get what happened below with the attempt at frijoles.

Image

Neat, huh?

From this site.

Although it's a meat eatin' kind of blog, you might find the linked article worth a read, since she discusses Tattler reusable canning lids and the great tech support they provided her (I'm not affiliated, never used them, just found it interesting.)


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 Post subject: Re: Let's talk about pressure canners!
PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2013 2:32 pm 
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Regarding using a pressure canner as a pressure cooker with a smaller container inside, I do this all the time to make beans. I have an all american 15 quart pressure canner, and when I make beans I put in the little insert that keeps things raised off the bottom, add about 2 inches of water, and then a big metal bowl filled with my water and beans. I put a little oil on top of the water to help keep things from foaming too much and then loosely cover with foil, and then cook as you would in a normal pressure cooker. I've never had any problems at all.

P.S. - I also always start with dry beans and have no problems. I use the table here for times (scroll down): http://fastcooking.ca/pressure_cookers/ ... cooker.php

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 Post subject: Re: Let's talk about pressure canners!
PostPosted: Wed Jan 16, 2013 2:08 pm 
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I've done this in a pressure cooker too, using a ceramic casserole (with a glass cover slightly ajar) placed in the steamer basket on a trivet.

Rice is really good this way.


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