It's time to tune up your pressure canner for the canning season. To assure home canned food is safely processed it is essential to check pressure canner dial gauges annually for accuracy. It is important to have the gauge checked just in case it was bumped during storage or in the canning process. Moisture also can be a problem for dial gauges.
Cooperative Extension Service is offering free testing of pressure canner dial gauges Wednesday mornings, beginning this week from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. During these hours we will test the gauge while you wait. If you are unable to get to our office during these hours you can bring the gauge to us any weekday during office hours 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. or between 1:30 and 5 p.m. The checked gauge will be ready to be picked up Wednesday afternoon by 4.
If you can remove the gauge from the lid it is easier for me to test the gauge. Otherwise I will try to test the gauge while attached to the canner lid. The gauge testing service will continue every Wednesday through September. I will be traveling throughout the Kenai Peninsula offering gauge testing clinics and food preservation updates during the summer months.
Pressure canners that have weighted gauges that either rock or jiggle do not need to be checked for accuracy. Canners with gaskets or rubber sealing rings need to be cleaned after each use and after winter storage. Simply remove the gasket and wash it in warm, sudsy water. Rinse, dry and replace the gasket in the lid.
Gaskets on older-model canners may require a light coating of vegetable oil once per year. Gaskets on newer-model canners are prelubricated and do not need oiling. Check your canner's instructions if you don't know whether your gasket has been prelubricated.
For safe operation, the vent, safety valve and edges of the lid and canner must be clean at all times. To clean the vent, draw a string or narrow strip of cloth through the opening. Follow the manufacturer's directions for care of the sealing edges of your canner.
If you don't have an instruction manual for your canner, it is important you get one. Our office has a fact sheet with the addresses and phone numbers of most of the pressure canner manufacturer's. Now is a good time to order the instruction book so you'll have it in hand during your canning season.
People often ask how to clean the darkened surface on the inside of an aluminum canner. The canner can be cleaned by filling it above the darkened line with a mixture of 1 tablespoon cream of tartar to each quart of water. Place the canner on the stove, heat water to a boil and boil covered until the dark deposits disappear. Sometimes stubborn deposits may require the addition of more cream of tartar. Empty the canner and wash it with hot soapy water, rinse and dry.
Linda Tannehill is an agent at the Alaska Cooperative Extension Office. She is a home economist and involved in the 4-H/Youth Development programs. The Kenai Peninsula District Extension Office is at 43961 Kalifornsky Beach Road, Suite A, Soldotna, AK. The phone number is 262-5824 or toll-free at (800) 478-5824.
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