Yesterday was my day to can carrots, which I did, but I had some troubles that weren’t entirely unexpected, and then learned, from people who know better than me, that I shouldn’t even be using my new (sort of) electric canner. This is proof that after more than a decade of all this homesteading stuff, I still make mistakes like a gullible virgin! Let me explain.
Vegetables like carrots have to be canned with a pressure cooker. I am entirely comfortable with a water bath canner, but have had repeated trouble with loss of liquid from jars in my pressure canner. I read up on that and found out that if the jars are sealed it’s still safe, if not as attractive. But then, once, when I canned some cubed sweet potato, I found the canner itself completely empty of liquid when I opened it after processing. Now that scared me a little! I wondered what could have happened if I had left it going for another few minutes. Now I have realized that that’s when I walked out on my cook top canner in a moment of irritation. I turned my back and went on an expensive dutch date with a brand new electric canner. That turned out to be a big mistake. And I don’t know why I was even so sure that it would solve my problem (it didn’t) anyway.
After a couple days of prep to get to the point, I took my jars of carrots out only to find that I was missing lots of liquid. I reached out this time to a group I recently joined on Facebook, Urban Homesteading, Canning, Cooking, Baking, and Gardening, (a private group that you can request to join), and was almost instantly informed that according to the National Center for Home Food Preservation, electric canners are not safe for preserving! And, I don’t even want to cook meals with it because the pot is aluminum and I don’t like to cook in aluminum, so that shiny new toy is destined to be a thrift store donation. That was an expensive blind date that I should never have gone on. I should have worked through my troubles with my trusty old canner instead. Luckily for me I got some helpful advice about that too.
Apparently impatience is a fault of mine all around. According to several helpful canners in the group I can probably solve my problem by doing things slowly, heating the canner slowly, and turning it down (slowly) after the weights start rocking so that I don’t lose all the water in the canner. I think with the electric canner I probably lost that liquid at the end when, according to the canner instruction, I released the pressure right away. I had previously been waiting for my stovetop canner to cool off and depressurize slowly, but will now take the further steps of letting the jars stay in the canner a little while even after the pressure is down and I take the lid off.
So what to do now? Since my jars of carrots may not be safe, and I have left over chicken broth from my efforts yesterday, I am going to work on a better relationship today with my weighted stovetop canner. I never quit the relationship altogether since it remained my go-to for cooking beans. But now I swear I’m going to be faithful. The carrots will probably be softer than I would have liked after the second processing, but my grandma used to mash carrots in her stews, so I’ll plan on using them up like that.