How can home preservers pressure can vegetables, meat, fish, poultry and wild game safely when OSU Extension offices closed for face-to-face visits cannot offer free annual dial gauge testing to clients?
Presto, manufacturer of the most commonly used dial-gauge pressure canner in Central Oregon 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 do recommend purchasing a 3-piece weighted-gauge pressure regulator (rocker) that is useful for lower altitude canning using 10 pounds pressure, but in our area – no community is below 1000 feet! Weighted gauge canners adjusted for altitude over 1000 feet are pressurized using the 15-pound configuration (all three pieces). So using the 15-pound, solid, 1-piece rocker that comes with the dial gauge canner will work the same in Central Oregon.
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. 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 recommends 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 not blow out of the hole they block 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. 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 Glenda Hyde at OSU Extension/Deschutes County at 541-548-6088.
–Written By Glenda Hyde
Family and Community Health Educator
OSU Extension Service serving Crook, Deschutes, Jefferson and Wheeler Counties