Monday, July 13, 2009

Yes We Can

It's not pretty.
It's beautiful!
Four jars of ugly, science-fiction-ugly chili, preserved in a pressure canner.
Oh, and the recipe was ugly too; we got it from the instruction manual that came with the pressure cooker.
OK, yes, it's just really an ordinary pressure cooker, but it has a tray that fits in the bottom, and there's a handle to lift it (and the hot jars) out with when it's time. It will hold four pint jars without touching.
I don't pressure-cook food much (though maybe I will try more now that we have this six-quart jobbie). The cool thing is that the instruction manual has a section on pressure canning, with this ugly recipe.
It's like diner chili. Soupy, bland, heavy on the tomatoes. We didn't dare vary from the proportions (except to spice it up a lot), for fear of botulism.
But! It cooks at 240ºF for 90 minutes! An hour and a half.
And after you take the jars out, they continue to bubble of their own accord for another two hours. I figure they ain't nothin' in there gonna kill me. Boiled the germs to death, more than the temperature of boiling.
Now, this is the silly part: I have never canned food before. Not jam, not tomatoes, not any of the easy water-bath things that are generally safe. I wasn't scared of poisoning myself; I was scared of... I don't know, doing it wrong? Explosions? And I'm really not all that fond of jam. Tomato sauce I can keep in the freezer. So yeah, I'd never done it before.
Then we get this new pressure cooker, and the first thing I preserve in it is MEAT. Ris-kay! But I'm not scared.
The only problem is that I want to open one of the jars right away and see how it came out.
The seals haven't even pinged yet; the jars are still hot. Nope, I'm not going to open them.
I've got a shelf picked out in plain sight (not a pantry, not a closet — a bookshelf) where I'm going to store these babies until it's cold enough to eat chili.


dancingmorganmouse said...

I'm not going to tell you what it looks like to me - the stuff of nightmares!
We call it bottling, not canning, and my mum used to do heaps. The best was cherries in brandy (you got to sip the juice after - mmmmmm)

fastgrowtheweeds said...

I am so proud of you! I would display it proudly too.

Canned items are my go-to staple when I am time-strapped: chili, bean soups, meat stock, chicken broth...but the favorite of all is dried beans. Yep; cook the beans and pack them and all their gooey juice into the jars and process them. They and their liquor come through just fine, and then it's a fast path to dinner!


Zoomie said...

Hey, congratulations! I'm sure this is just the start of a whole bunch of experiments! And maybe you'll get lucky and one of the jars won't seal - then you can open it without regret and gobble up the contents.

kudzu said...

I have a cousin who is an Illinois farm wife (her own description) and she has canned many quarts of --- beef every year, from the farm's own supply. I sort of cringed at the idea until I realized that the long-cooked meat would be tender and quick to use in winter meals....I am so impressed with your bravado. Cool.

musingegret said...

You're braver than I (me, what's correct grammar?)----anyway, you **are** courageous. I cook and cold-pickle a lot but I'm afraid of dying of the 'bot'.

Please advise: how to eliminate phobia??? A good pressure-canner??

P.S. Love the photo; does not resemble Wolf brand!

cookiecrumb said...

Mouse: Oh, I thought you'd call it "jarring." Wait, that sounds jarring.
Yay, cherries in brandy! I have little green plums; that should work.

Fast: You were *totally* our inspiration, El. Weren't your ears burning all day yesterday? We had been wanting to can refried beans, but I get the feeling it isn't done. So yes, we are going to can whole cooked beans, lots of them! xoxo

Zoomie: Cute, you, wishing misfortune on me so I can be happy. :D

Kudzu: Thanks, modestly. It was a team effort: I did the cooking and canning, and Cranky watched. I can't believe I found the mental fortitude to wade into this project, and it was... easy!

cookiecrumb said...

Musing Egret: The pressure canner is supposed to eliminate any fear of botulism. I felt pretty safe with it. The one we used is made of stainless steel, so it will always be pretty. If you get one, make sure you have a rack or tray or basket that fits on the bottom. You don't really need the handle for lifting jars out; with pressure canning, the water doesn't even cover the jars and you can just use a pot holder. Go! Good luck!

Zoomie said...

When I make apple sauce, I'm usually hoping one won't seal so I have a good excuse to use it right away! Reminds me, time to start looking for lots of apples in the neighborhood again!

cookiecrumb said...

Zoomie: To be honest, we ended up with more chili than would fit in the four jars, so there's a sample in the fridge.
Anyway, apples again already? Life is good.

eatclosetohome said...

You need a "Yes. We Can." shirt from here!

Sweet Bird said...

I grew up on home-canned foods, so I've never been intimidated by the thought of home-canned meats. My husband on the other hand...he's sure he'll get botulism.

That being said, I'm terrified of pressure cookers.

cookiecrumb said...

Eat: (I read your name as Eat Closet O Home... sigh). Hey, thanks! How cool, and did I say thanks?

cookiecrumb said...

Sweet Bird: My husband, on the other hand, is terrified of pressure cookers, but will eat anything.
Let me tell you something, Birdie: Modern pressure cookers will never blow up. You can't even take the lid off while the contents are still under pressure. The one we just bought has ONE pressure setting only. You either cook, or not. Put the food and liquid in, put the lid on, push a button or two, and fire away. I promise you. And now, it's up to you. No harm, no foul if you choose not to. :)

peter said...

I looove my pressure-cooker, but haven't canned anything in it yet. But all our sauces, jams, and chutneys have yet to kill me, so maybe I'll try some lower-acid things this fall.

Roasted Garlicious said...

hey there, just read your blog on the chili!! could be worse!!! i've been canning for umm many many years, still using the same pressure canner! it's getting up there in years, but i love it.. cleanliness is next to godliness, have been trying for years to get my eldest to do it by herself.. nope, still afraid of it!! if i buy another one, it will have a pressure gauge, this one just has the rocker.. the gauge at least u can see how the pressure is going, and turn off the stove if things go amiss... happy canning :D

cookiecrumb said...

Peter: I'm just sorry I was too skeered to can my pear chutney from the summer before last; now I see how simple it is.
Good luck canning your foraged wild mushrooms! (Just made myself jealous.)

Garlicious: Wow, a rocker? That's an oldie but goodie. Nope, mine doesn't have a gauge, but there's an indicator that tells you if you have pressure at all... And I keep an eye on the steam vent, adjusting the heat...
Thanks for the good cheer!