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Monday, October 25, 2010

Pressure Canner



We recently purchased a Presto Pressure Cooker Canner
model 1781 based on our need for a safe means of canning, and its excellent and numerous quality reviews.
Pressure canning is the recommended process when canning vegetables, especially those that are low in acid. In fact, if you do purchase a pressure canner, it will replace the traditional boiling method all together and assure best and safe practices when canning foods.
The steam and heat that is created inside of a pressure canner will rise to a higher temperature than boiling water (up to 250 degrees F instead of only 212 degrees F) and will assure that all of the bacteria is eliminated from the contents of the canning jars. Botulism spores are eliminated if cooked in a pressure canner for the recommended time and pressure. For example, when canning green beans, cook the jars at a pressure of 11 pounds per square inch (psi), which will be 240 degrees F, for 20 minutes. For your information, a pressure canner heated to 15 psi equates to 250 degrees F (at sea level).
Add 1/2 psi for every 1,000 feet in elevation. For example, if you live in Denver, Colorado at 6,000 feet elevation, when cooking beans which requires 11 psi, add 3 psi compensation (11 + 3 = 14 psi).

Months ago I had planted pole beans in a few locations around the yard. To my surprise the beans grew far more plentiful than I expected which made them a perfect candidate for preservation by way of the pressure canner.


How to use a Pressure Canner for canning Beans

  • Clean the mason jars, lids, and bands. Then dip in boiling water and remove for later.
  • Rinse the fresh picked beans.
  • Cut off the ends, cut away bad areas and keep only the best looking parts of the bean. Cut to about 1 inch pieces.
  • Stuff the jars with the 1 inch pieces and leave about 1 inch head space at the top of the jars.
  • Add boiling water to the jars with the beans and leave about inch head space at the top of the jar.
  • Check that jar mouths are clean, place on a lid, screw the band over the lid and tighten only finger tight – barely snug.
  • Place the jars in the pressure canner and add boiling water per canner instructions. The Presto 1781 recommends 3 quarts of water, and there is a convenient marker inside the container for correct level indication.
  • Properly attach the lid to the pressure canner, place on stove burner and adjust burner to HI temperature.
  • Aim for 11 psi on the pressure indicator. When pressure reaches 9 or 10 psi, reduce heat to avoid excessive overshoot (dont’ worry though, it’s okay and won’t hurt anything), maintain 11 psi for 20 minutes (follow your recipe).
  • After the proper time, shut off heat, lift and move pressure canner to a cool burner. Do not open until all pressure has relieved.

Pressure canning is a great food preservation method and survival preparedness tool that will help you to be more self sufficient during these of uncertain times.

Video of How to use a Pressure Canner for canning beans

Click here to view the embedded video.

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Modern Survival Blog

The Colony Season 2

I’ve just watched the final episode of the second season of The Colony on the Discovery Channel. It repeats its format of isolating a group of people (see picture) and asking them to deal with the aftermath of a simulated catastrophic event, in this case a deadly viral outbreak. It is what is termed an immersive experiment, where the ‘reality’ is present 24/7. Almost all of the individuals come to regard the simulation as reality, to a greater or lesser degree.

This season is different than the last one in that the participants have a much larger area to deal with. They are put near the coast of Louisiana in a supposed safe area by a fictional disaster relief agency, and told to cope until further help arrives. The area is largely ruinous, but there are some ‘seeded’ resources and plenty of abandoned buildings in which to poke around.

As in the first series, there are outsiders that attack and harass the group, and I was rather surprised with the level of physical violence allowed. People got thrown around, shot at and entangled by net guns and at least two members of the group were pepper sprayed. There was also an abduction that was very traumatic for the individual captured.

While watching the group build nifty projects like wind generators is fun, the important thing to watch for is the psychology of the cast. You can watch the effect on and the group’s attempt to control a less than stable member. You’ll see a supposedly solid group member abandon the group at the first opportunity. As I said in my review of the first season, the ability to lead and to handle internal conflict might be the single most important skill you possess. The psychological makeup of a group will have much more to do with its survival than equipment or skills.

As a side note, it is interesting that the youngest participant is 22, the oldest in his seventies. I think both extremes of age did very well in the experiment, for the most part.

Other points that get driven home: Starvation is faster than you think. The experiment lasts about fifty days, and almost all of the people involved lose a significant amount of weight, one of them losing 38 pounds! It’s a great reminder that food has to be a priority, and that living off of the land is far harder than it seems, especially in urban and semi-urban environments. Had they not been started off with a certain amount of food, I doubt they would have made it.

It also makes the point that people try to be security minded, but most people in a survival situation cannot spare the time or labour to keep themselves safe. A late comer to the group is an ex-recon marine/sniper. He observes the group for several weeks before joining, living in the same smallish area without being spotted! As a way of introducing himself, he walks unnoticed into the group’s encampment, sticks a knife with a message on it into a board and walks out almost before he is noticed.

One note of unreality is the absence of firearms of any kind. In a real life situation, it is almost certain that there would be firearms present, and most of the confrontations portrayed in the show would have resulted in the death or wounding of many individuals. I think that the viewer has to keep that in mind as they watch the show, and draw lessons accordingly, at least from a security standpoint.

Another point of unreality is the skill mix that the participants have. That said, the show is a useful tool, if only as something to get you started on thinking about your own situation.