Safe Pressure Canning in Times of COVID-19

www.tillamookcountypioneer.net

How can home preservers pressure can vegetables, meat, fish, poultry, and wild game safely when OSU Extension offices closed for face-to-face visits? Testing for dial gauge canners is currently available in Tillamook County by appointment only – 503-842-3433 or nancy.kershaw@oregonstate.edu.
Another option is to convert your dial gauge canner to a weighted gauge canner (weighted gauges do not require annual testing). Presto, manufacturer of the most commonly used dial-gauge pressure canner in this area has added a statement on their web page that guides interested people to convert their dial-gauge pressure canner to a weighted-gauge canner. They recommend purchasing a 3-piece weighted-gauge pressure regulator (rocker) for canning at 10 pounds pressure which is the required pressure here on the coast.

The conversion to weighted gauge canner is as simple as turning your attention from watching the dial gauge (don’t remove it from the lid) to listening to the rocker with a few visual checks while making initial adjustments. You will still vent the canner for 10 minutes before placing the weight on the canner. Use the weighted gauge chart in your up-to-date, tested recipes to determine processing times and listen for gentle, steady rocking that normally releases steady (not overly strong) steam in the process. Adjust the temperature of your stove to sustain the gentle rocking of the pressure regulator. For longer processing times for some foods such as fish, you can add 1 to 2 more inches of water in your canner before you add your jars to avoid it boiling dry.
The manufacturer of All American canners recommend on their web page conversion of all of their older canners with a dial gauge and toggle vent port combination to their weighted gauge system. Customers can purchase a new stem port and pressure regulator, a round disk (like at Tinker ToyTM joint) online that jigs several times a minute, releasing some bursts of steam.
Home canners should also inspect the gaskets and plugs on the pressure canner for wear and tear annually. Plugs that have gotten hard, may block the pressure release in the lid when pressure builds to dangerous levels. This safety system prevents the canner from exploding. Gaskets that are worn, stretched, cracked, or hardened should be replaced. Depending on use, replacement might be needed every two to five years, more often if the canner is used often for oily foods such as fish, meat, or poultry. If worn gaskets are used, the pressure canning process may fail or in some cases, the gasket could “glue” the lid to the canner! Replacement gauges and gaskets (plugs are included in the same package) for pressure canners are usually available at hardware stores or where canning equipment and supplies are sold. Replacement parts can be ordered from the manufacturer or on-line.
See up-to-date, tested recipes for all methods of food preservation free, online from OSU Extension at https://extension.oregonstate.edu/mfp/publications. If you have questions or concerns, contact the OSU Extension/Tillamook County at 503-842-3433.