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Conquering the Canner Fear


Post by community member:

For years the pressure canner was known to me as a death trap and an evil, dangerous thing people braved in their kitchens. I sooo remember my mother telling me how I needed to stay away from those things. With all of the horror stories that I’d heard, there was NO way that I was going to get anywhere near that lethal thing. I’m sure the stories that I was told were ones everyone has heard. “The thing exploded and hot (insert food type) was everywhere. It was on the ceiling, burned (insert person) all over. Hours were spent cleaning up that terrible mess. It was absolutely covering every part of the kitchen.”

Well, I joined a canning group and people were constantly talking of the wonderful foods they were making and canning with pressure canners and pressure cookers. After a few years, the curiosity to achieve what they were was driving me crazy, so I researched out the absolutely safest pressure cooker and purchased it.

I learned one thing that first year of having it–how much dust builds up. I was still scared of it! I couldn’t bring myself to dare try the thing. My mother told me I was crazy to have purchased it. With the stubborn nature that I have, that just pushed me over the edge to fire up that pressure canner and cook something. I remember the fear and anxiety I felt like it was yesterday. I told the email canning group what I was going to do and they “held my hand” and walked me carefully through the steps.

My stomach churned miserably with my nervousness and I kept a vigil on that thing–freaking out with every squeak or noise–and I’d run back to the computer to ask everyone if it was still okay. I paced between the kitchen and the computer the entire time. STRESS! I so did not want it to explode all over and burn me horrifically!

I felt such a relief flood over me when it was finally done. I found myself laughing with a sense of embarrassment. I couldn’t believe that I had been so bloody scared and had stared at that beautiful device for a whole year!

I now so appreciate it and have even bought a pressure canner! I can hardly imagine cooking beans in a regular pot for hours when I can pressure cook them. I now use it at least once a week.

I haven’t bought refried beans in months now that I do them here at home (and, the kids like mine better). I have one special thing that I do–I have my teenagers watch me and help with me with the pressure cooker so they aren’t scared. I talk about how long things take if I didn’t use it for the item I’m doing.

Back L-R: Green chili with pork, ham, taco hamburger, taco soup. Front jars: Pork, hot peppers.

I may have been suckered with all of the folklore that surrounds pressure cookers and canners, but with the extra safety devices that are built into the systems, I can only say: Live it up and use that awesome shiny pot! Stop staring at it and get it out of the box. Using it is so worth conquering your fears!

You can also find Moopsee at Yahoo’s Canning2.

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Posted by on June 21, 2010 | Permalink  

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16 comments | RSS feed for comments of this post

  1. 6-21

    I feel so fortunate. My mother used her pressure cooker weekly, at least, and I have never had any fear of it. I didn’t think twice when I asked for a pressure canner for Christmas the first year I was married. Life would not be the same without all the veggies and meats in their shiny jars in the basement.

  2. 6-21

    great post…I have those same fears. I made strawberry jam this year and I am so proud of myself. it was yummy.Now I want to buy a pressure canner and conquer that fear!!

  3. 6-21

    Great post, Moopsee! This is definitely a much needed post. The canner instruction book was the only instruction book I’ve ever read (and it still resides in a kitchen drawer for easy access!) as this was one thing I didn’t think would work as trial and error.

    If anyone needs a hand held, we’re always here over on the forum ūüôā

  4. 6-21

    This was great Moopsee!! I am still terrified of pressure cookers/canners (Insert name of Grandma Upper’s cousin Genevieve into your story….) Growing up my mom would cook stew in the pressure cooker, and I would tiptoe through the kitchen in fear of the great eruption. I did use a pressure canner once— and our old pastor’s wife gave one to me. It needs a new gauge for the lid, and maybe once I get up enough nerve to replace it, I will try it again.

  5. 6-21

    Great post, Moopsie! Reminds me of sneaking through Grandma’s kitchen during peak canning season.

    Growing up, those scary stories were attached to the ‘old-fashioned’ canners like my grandmother’s, which she did still use as a backup during busy times. But we all had brand new better whoopty-do ones my mother declared safe for anybody using common sense. In retrospect, I understand that the women of my family did a great job of establishing a balance between mortal fear over what could happen and a sense of security that kept us from running screaming from the roon when we were supposed to be helping with summer preserving.

    Women of that era were clever that way. And sneaky.

  6. 6-21

    I’ve heard more old time stories of beets on the ceiling, but I really like my pressure canner. I also have a smaller pressure cooker and it works well. I believe that the new canners and cookers are made so much better and have safety things in place.
    Keep Canning!

  7. 6-21

    It really was so embedded in my head — the fear was extreme. That is why there is the picture of the BWB — I was soooo proud of that stuff, but now that I’ve added pressure canning, it is a new world adding in many other foods to storage!
    Overcome the fear!!! It is very liberating to get passed a fear and have so many more items to be able to store.

  8. 6-21

    love this post. we have the exact same stove too.

  9. 6-21

    Ahhhh, I too have not conquered my canning fear yet. I love all the pictures of canned items, so colorful! I did purchase a vintage yellow pressure canner on ebay (replaced seals and everything)…..about 3 months ago. I know I can do this, Must buy canning jars to get started. It is my mission to learn how to use a pressure canner and a water canner!!! This post is very reassuring, Thanks so much for all of us newbies, Angelina ūüôā

  10. 6-21


    Fantastic post. It’s as though you retold my entire story. I was absolutely terrified of the creatures. So badly that when I taught Biology I bribed another teacher to make up my agar so I wouldn’t have to use one. How embarrassing.

    I am now completely in love with my pressure canner. I love the soups and stews, meats and veggies that I am now able to can for my family.

    Don’t be afraid anymore. Make the leap, we’ll be here to catch you.

  11. 6-21

    I understand your fear. I am on my second pressire cooker that is not like the first one. The first one had the pound pressure gauge and this one has the wriggley thingy. When I first got it I called the Mirror company and a man talked me through it. I was terrified and he said don’t be afraid. Hah! He wasn’t in my kitchen to protect me from that thing. Anyway I have used it for over 10 years. I make barbecued beef in it. I would like to make the refried beans you talked about it.

  12. 6-21

    Great post! My mom uses her pressure canner for green beans and green beans only. I don’t know of anything else that she has ever canned in it. I’ve never bothered with it because I prefer frozen green beans….may have to look into it further now. Quick question….in one picture it looks like you have a smooth top stove…is that right? Have you had any problems using your canners, pressure or BWB, on it? I am looking for a new range and I’d love to get one of those double oven ones, but the only ones I’ve seen are the smooth top varieties….and I’ve read that they are not recommended for people who can.


  13. 6-21

    Many smooth top stoves say to not use with, but I didn’t know that until I already had the stove ūüôĀ So, I just will use it until it dies, then hopefully get a gas stove. The hardest part for me is stable temperature with it. It fluctuates very heavily with any cooking, so I actually use less in jars for PCing and that has really helped. A dear passed away friend of mine taught me that trick. Being at abt 5000 ft also add to my difficulties — that I’ve overcome!!

  14. 6-26

    Thanks, Moopsee! Sorry, it’s taken me awhile to get back to this…it’s been a busy week. I think I’ll pass on the smooth top….would love to have those two ovens, though!

  15. 8-1

    Great post, I am curious to know what brand of pressure cooker you bought as the safest and where you bought it.

  16. 5-10

    I know those horror stories you speak of. I have always used the hot water bath to can. After making pickles this past weekend, my daughter decided she would like me to can soup for her. So, I got a pressure canner for Mother’s Day!
    Have been following you on Facebook and joined your site this morning. Love all the info! I grew up on a farm but now live in Phoenix,AZ. Your site feels like family already!

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