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Pressure Canner Rehab

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Pressure canning is kinda hardcore, and the equipment you use has to be reliable.  Most of my tools are borderline antique, which I totally love, but I’ve always been a little wary about my mom’s old pressure canner.  When she died, I inherited all of her tools and gadgets, and let me say, she took excellent care of everything.  I pulled the old National No. 7 pressure canner out a few times, and used it, but it made me nervous to have to get the seal “just right” and stand over it fiddling with the ancient petcock the whole time.  As the harvest slowed down and I finished my fresh fruit preserving, not having my pressure canner was really holding me back from the stocks, soups and beans I was dying make.  I love my old canner, it’s a relic and a part of our history, as well as my childhood, there had to be a way to make it safe again.

national no 7 pressure canner

After poking around, I found a company that sold parts for my canner, they even offered conversion kits!  I wasn’t sure how to go about rehabbing my pot, so I gave the good folks at Cooking and Canning a call.  The sweetest woman answered the phone and helped me figure out everything!  We decided I needed to remove my old petcock and install a new pressure regulator, and she walked me through the whole process.  I also ordered a new gasket and got great advice on how to care for, and store my pot so it will last another generation.  With shipping, the whole thing cost me $38 dollars and the parts arrived in 4 days.  Before I hung up the phone with the sales rep, I gushed on and on about how delighted I was to have found their site, and that I was truly grateful to be able to continue using my mom’s old pot.  She said to me, “That’s what we do all day, Ma’am’, help people get these old pots up ands running again!”  So awesome.  I just couldn’t help smiling and thinking, “Yes!  As long as people like these keep caring so much about old stuff, we’ll be OK.”

The parts arrived and I got to work… actually it was a lot of work.

Pressure Canner Rehab

The first step was to remove the old petcock.  This was how you manually adjusted the pressure inside the pot in the olden days.  You had to stand over the pot and watch the gauge, and when the pressure got too high, you had to fiddle with that little screw-top to release a little steam.

old petcock

Removing the old petcock was actually pretty easy, it unscrewed nicely.

replace old petcock

Set the new pressure regulator on top of the stem, and you are good to go!

new regulator for pressure canner

Now that this regulator is in place, the pressure will release on its own if it gets too high.

On to replacing the gasket, this is where it got hard!

old gasket seal pressure cooker

Just look how corroded and nasty this is!

replace rubber seal on pressure canner

Be very gentle when working with the lid, you don’t want to damage the gauge, so always set the lid on a soft towel and don’t bang it around ever.

I had tried to remove this seal a few times, but it was way too brittle to even get it to move a tiny bit.  I heated the pot up with some water, and the steam softened the rubber enough to make it pliable.  After pulling it out, I noticed just how thick the deposits were.  We have pretty hard water, and my mom canned a lot, so there was plenty of scraping to do!

brush corroded seal

I used the tip of this brush to knock down the big stuff, but realized the despots were too thick inside the groove to fit the new gasket.

new gasket seal pressure canner

See how the rubber gaps out?  That means it isn’t in all the way.  I grabbed a utility knife and started grinding.

knife to clean corrosion

2 hours later I was able to get a perfect fit!  Yes, I did a fantastic happy dance!  Let’s give it a whirl.

pressure canning stock

Chicken stock, soups, and beans have been rolling out of my kitchen like nobody’s business, good thing too, just in time for power outages from the winter storms.

pressure cooker dial gauge

Don’t worry, I live at high elevation, I need this pressure!  Just learning how to tweak my glass-top electric stove juuust riiiight.

national pressure cooker co

These canners are an important part of our national history, and it delights me to know there are people working hard to help Americans restore these old pressure cookers.  Thank you, Cooking and Canning Company, you’re making a difference one pot at a time!

And by the way, I received NO compensation for this post.




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