With the produce coming fast and furious from the garden right now, my days have been busy, and mostly spent in the kitchen. Yesterday, I used my pressure canner for the first time in about 10 years. I know this because the last time I had the pressure gauge calibrated was in 2009. So...I'm very good at math...I think that would make it something on the order of 11 years, if you want to get all technical about it.
As I mentioned last week, we took the pressure gauge to our local extension office last week. I grabbed this photo of their building off the internet. They're affiliated with Oregon State University.
So, now that I've gone through the process, read up on it, bitten my nails to the quick with anxiety, and otherwise turned myself into a fearful expert, let me just go on about what I've learned. Pressure canning is kind of a long process. There's a lot of waiting involved. I first waited for the water to boil, and I blanched the beans. This is supposed to help preserve color, and it will also give the beans a better texture. It's okay to pack them raw too, but you'll still have to boil water. I added a half teaspoon of pickling salt to my jars as well. Once they're loaded into the cool canner, you add about 3-4 inches of water, fasten down the lid, and then turn on the heat. There's a little vent tube at the top where steam must vent for 10 minutes. If I'm understanding the physics behind this, venting removes air from the canner and fills it with hot steam.
Once time is up, you add a weight that plugs the hole in the vent tube. That's the little black-capped thingy you see there on the left in the image above. I was going for 15 psi. When the proper pressure was reached, I started the timer on the app.
When the app signaled time was up, I turned off the heat and moved the canner to a cool burner. The app has these little checklists, and it won't allow you to go on to the next step until you've checked everything off. It's a fool-proof app. And since I can be a fool, I'm all for that.
Once the pressure is off, you can remove the weight from the venting tube, but then you still need to wait ten minutes before opening the canner.
When time is up, you can open the lid, pointing it away from your face, please. Steam will burn you. The app gives you more handy checklists. You can't move to the next one until you've checked the first one.
And then, just in case you weren't sure:
Ta Da! Six pints of Plain Old Cut Green Beans. And the house is still standing.
And, honestly, pressure canning is very safe. Yes, there are lots of pictures on the internet of ones that have exploded. But truly, you'd almost have to try to mess up so badly. There are all kinds of fail-safe mechanisms on the canner. I'll probably do more beans, and I'm considering doing some of the beets too. What the heck, right? Oh yes, and the app? You can download it for free right here. There's an iOS version and an Android version.
Speaking of beets, while I was waiting and watching for any signs of impending doom from exploding pressure canners, I made up a salad for last night's dinner. This was very tasty, and it used the remainder of the small beets harvested last week. This is Beets with Orange Vinaigrette. If you click on the link to the recipe, you'll see she used canned beets. Mine were fresh...boiled and skinned. It was a good accompaniment to last night's dinner. (I'll say more in a minute.)
We had lunch, and then getting off my feet seemed like a good idea. What better way than to start hand-stitching the binding for Chicken Buffet. I had in mind to turn two corners, which I did.
All the while, Chief Dirty Feet of the Never Wash Tribe was sleeping nearby.
Later in the day, it seemed like as good a time as any to get started quilting the Stitch sampler. It's a small quilt, and so I could sandwich it in the sewing room.
I set up Big Bertha for free motion quilting, and then went to work with a meandering motif in the right-side panel. As I stitched along...DOH! I forgot to embroider this little bit. It's only the second time I've ever done that.
So then, I had to figure out which color of floss I'd used there. Fortunately, it's a variegated floss, and so close in color will be good enough. And it's only back stitch, so that will be easy enough to fix.
I'll have to fix it when I finish the quilting. For now, I left it where it lay, and I'm hoping to get back to it sometime today.
For dinner, we had these Marinated Veggie Cheese Sandwiches with Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto.