Today I finally worked up the courage to try using my new pressure canner! After deliberating for quite a while, I purchased one several months ago, mainly for the purpose of being able to can vs. freeze chicken stock.
I've used a water bath canner for years and feel comfortable with the process. It can't be used for canning stock or vegetables, so I had to freeze my chicken stock the last time I made it. But, I have made the switch from plastic to glass for the most part, and freezing stock in glass risks breakage (unless your freezer is organized a bit better than mine!) and hogs up freezer space. Plus, there's always the fear of losing all that hard work to a power or freezer failure (maybe you don't worry about such things?). And of course, it's much handier to open a can of stock vs. remembering to thaw a container of frozen stock ahead of time for use in a recipe.
Not sure why I was so intimidated by the pressure canner - maybe because it scared me as a kid?? I still remember the weight jiggling and hissing when my mom would process green beans; I was certain the whole thing was going to explode. I also knew that trying it out would mean studying the manual, so I needed to wait until I had time and mental energy to devote to the process. I was running low on my supply of stock in the freezer, so today was the day to learn a new way of preserving!
My conclusion? It's not as quick to use as I had hoped. Although it doesn't take as much processing time as a water bath canner, it still takes a bit of time for the pressure to build and then be released. But, it's definitely worth the time and effort for stock. Isn't is beautiful?!! (OK... maybe I need to get a life?!)
I want to try canning garbanzo beans (chick peas) and black beans next. Soaked and cooked dried beans are much cheaper, tastier and healthful than canned beans from the store (especially if you grow them yourself!!), so I've pretty much gone that route, unless I can get them for a steal at BB's, the food outlet I frequent.
I'll keep you posted!