Don't show it your fear! It can sense it!
I'm just kidding! There's alot of fear mongering, let's dispel it.
I was scared the first time using the pressure canner and even a few times after that. I'm comfortable with them now and know what to watch for and what it's supposed to sound like. If things are acting just a little bit off, I won't walk away from them, even to pee. Even though I'm comfortable with the canners and process, I still operate a One Butt Kitchen. Not even a doggie is allowed in the kitchen while I'm pressure canning. I'm specifically going to refer to the Presto 16 Quart Pressure Canner in this article as that is what I'm familiar with.
I run 2 Presto 16 Quart** canners at the same time on my glass top electric stove. Many folks are afraid to can on a glass top stove. The main things to remember are never to drag anything across the top, don't cut on the glass, and don't drop anything onto the glass. And... many times the glass is replaceable if shit happens.
I also HIGHLY recommend purchasing the 3 piece rocker weight** if you're at an elevation below 1000 feet. The canners arrive with a 15 pound weight that won't rock and you have to rely solely on the gauge to keep pressure. This makes fiddling with the heat on the burners necessary. The 3 piece weight will eliminate that fiddling.
Here we go:
Add 3 quarts of water to the canner and a splash of vinegar.
Prepare your jars and desired product according to the recipe, place on the lids.
Place jars into the canner and match up the arrows on the canner and lid and set the lid down onto the tabs.
Twist the lid until the the handles line up on the canner.
Turn the burner on medium heat.
Let the canner heat up until you can't hold your hand against the canner anymore because it's too hot.
Turn the burner up to medium high heat. (Turn to high if needed, I have found it isn't necessary.)
Let the canner come up to full steam.
Steam will start to roll out the vent pipe. (Sometimes you can't see the steam but can feel it with your hand.)
Time this for 10 minutes. (The vent, aka nipple, might pop up during this time.)
Add the weight onto the vent pipe.
Watch the gauge come up to 10 pounds pressure.
Turn down the heat to just above medium heat.
Start your timer for the correct processing time for your product.
Watch to make sure the pressure stays at 10/11 pounds and the 3 piece weight starts to rock.
If the weight rocks alot, turn the heat down to medium low, you just need it to slow dance, not Macarena.
Make sure the pressure is maintained and the weight slow dances.
If you're comfortable enough, you can go pee now.
When the processing time is up, turn off the heat and lift the canner onto a heavy towel or cold burner to cool.
Allow the pressure to dissipate slowly. DO NOT touch the weight, nipple or turn the lid.
Once the pressure gauge is down to zero and the nipple has fallen, you can remove the weight.
Wait a minute and then twist open the lid.
Keep your arms outstretched, lift the lid, far end up first and keep your flip flop feet out of the way of drips.
Carefully remove the jars one at a time and place on heavy towels.
You have successfully processed your canner load! Wait for the PING!
If you have another batch to go in, you can pour out the hot water and start over fresh. OR if your next batch is hot product, it can go right into the steaming water (add more if needed) to start the process all over.
After a few batches, you will get used to how everything sounds and behaves. You will find a sweet spot on the burners on your stove. And you can work on other things while the product is processing; ya know, like dishes, laundry, blogging.....
When you learn to trust your food and get used to incorporating it into your everyday meals, it's a game changer and will streamline alot of your food prep and food storage automatically.
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