I have always pressure canned my potatoes. The canner is starting to leak so I have to beat the lid to get it to seal. Years ago didn't they water bath everything? Does anyone know the old recipe for water bathing potatoes and the steps to do that?
By Ruth from Sweet Valley, PA
No change in the recipe, just boil them a smidgen longer. The pressure cooker saves you electricity by letting the contents reach bacteria killing conditions a bit faster and at a lower temperature, but does not affect the taste of potatoes at all.
If the pressure cooker is good old cast aluminum and has gotten "out of round", you can easily true it up again with a lead shot filled rubber hammer. The aluminum has to be cold or cool for that, not hot! Just light but firm tapping and frequent trying of the fit will get it fixed in a minute or two.
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By no means should you water bath potatoes, or any vegetable other than those that are pickled. A water bath canner does not get hot enough to properly kill botulism spores, and whether or not you may ingest the tiny amount of botulism required to kill or permanently alter your life is truly hit and miss. If you choose to try to repair your pressure cooker, be certain to have the weight and seal tested prior to canning your produce.
If you are using a dial gauge, this is important as the dial can be inaccurate, which can render your canned product a deadly food. If you are using a weighted gauge, all should be well if the canner lid does not leak. Have you replaced the plug and the lid ring? That should be done every few years - indications that they need to be replaced is that steam escapes during cooking, or that the ring is brittle, and the lid does not want to seal well.
The rubber ring, though probably not too expensive, is critical to safe canning and well worth the investment. If you can't get help from local hardware stores, try calling the pressure canner manufacturer for help in locating seals. Your local cooperative extension office may be of help in locating where, if necessary, to have the pressure canner lid tested for accurate pressure. As a former extension volunteer I tested the lids, and it was very common, even with brand new canners, for the dial gauge to be inaccurate by 6 to 8 lbs. It requires no money for repairs - you will just need to adjust by whatever lbs are off. Example: If you need to can at 10 lbs pressure and your dial is off by plus 3 lbs, you will just can at 13 lbs rather than 10 lbs. But you need to know just how much to adjust - so get thy gauge tested! As always, please use up-to-date reliable information, such as from the extension office, or a newer Ball or Blue Canning Book. Happy (and safe!) canning! Merry