Saturday, October 22, 2011

One of Those Days...

The day started out good.  We were both up early.  Yeoldfurt had some things he wanted to do in the shop and he was down there at first light.  I wanted to do some pressure canning today.  I made a spicy chicken soup for our supper last night and purposely made extra so I could process a couple of quarts for the pantry.  Not wanting to process just two jars in my big seven quart pressure canner, I went down to the food storage this morning and brought up three of the vacuum sealed jars of red beans and rice.  Last July, I had the bright idea to vacuum seal my dried beans and rice in quart and pint jars.  I didn't think it would take long so decided to make canning the first project this morning.

Thinking I had it all figured out,  'I only filled each jar half full of whatever I was putting in it because when I cook them this fall and winter, the amount that's in the jar now will still fit in the jar after it's cooked.'  Oh how naive I was ...never underestimate the swelling potential of beans or rice!

So I bring up three of my vacuum sealed quarts and dump them in my big soup pot.  They are about three inches deep in the bottom of the pot and the pot is 11 inches deep, so I thought I was fine.  I add water until it's two inches deeper than the beans/rice, bring it to a rolling boil for ten minutes and then take it off the burner to let it soak for an hour.  Of course I had a lid on it while it was soaking so I had no idea what was going on in the pot.  When the hour had passed and I went to drain and rinse, I was amazed to see the contents had swollen to a height just two or three inches below the top of the pot.  There was no way I was going to able to add enough water to boil them for another hour, so I had to find a bigger pot.

The only pot bigger than the one the beans/rice were already in was my seven quart water bath canner ... a bit of overkill for the job, but it was my only available option.  So I transfer the swollen beans/rice to the water bath canner and start adding water.  It took eight quarts of water to bring the level up to the prescribed two inches above the beans/rise.  Sigh.  I start running the math in my head and quickly realize I'm going to end up with a minimum of eight quarts of beans/rice to process.  My pressure canner only holds seven quarts so that means at least two batches.  Sigh.  Ninety minutes processing time plus the heat up and cool down on both ends makes for a long day in the kitchen.  That's fine if that's the original plan.  But tomorrow is the big 'move in' at the antique shop and I still have some loose ends to tie up.  THOSE were on the agenda for this afternoon.  Canning in the morning, loose ends in the afternoon.  That was the plan but that's not how it went. 

Well, as sunset approaches, the first batch is cooling on the counter and the second batch is about halfway done processing on the stove.  My second batch ended up being one quart of the beans/rice and two quarts of the soup.  I prefer not to run the canner at half capacity.  It just seems wasteful to me but sometimes it can't be helped.  Today was one of those days.  Everything I tried to do ended up two or three times harder or taking two or three times longer or making two or three times as much mess.  I'm tired, a lot more tired than I expected to be this evening.  But I guess putting ten meals on the shelf is a decent accomplishment for the day. It was a long day in the kitchen.  I'm glad I at least have something to show for it.   


  1. When I have extra space, I can jars of water, it fills the space and makes sure that I have some extra drinking water in storage.

    Sounds like a very busy day for sure.

  2. Sounds like my canning adventure on Friday, What I started then will be finished today!

    Two weeks ago when I canned Burrito Beans, I had to go get the big pot off of the turkey fryer and use that! I have decided I need one more very large stainless steel pot and another pressure cooker. I have no idea where i would put either. My kitchen is bursting at the seams!

  3. Murphy's Laws at work again. I don't feel so lonesome.

  4. farmgal...
    I never though of canning water. I guess if you're going to store jars, they might as well have something in them, right? If you need the jar later for food preps, you can surely find a good use for the water that's in them.

    Ahh, yes, canning is almost always an adventure. I try not to can in the summer when it's so hot so by the time fall rolls around, I'm looking forward to it. But then I have a day like yesterday and think, 'UGH ...why did I miss this?' It's all better today though. My kitchen is back in order.

    Murphy hangs around here a lot, the cantankerous ol' coot! LOL