Summer offers the perfect opportunity to pick up and learn a new hobby. This summer it was my (and my husband's for me, heh heh) goal to learn to can. Early this year we purchased a pressure canner and with each weekly grocery store run, we've added to our stockpile of canning equipment such as jars, tongs, powders, and what have you. Well, today was the day. It was "our" (you know, MY) first trial run. I enlisted the help of my summer time partner in crime, my nine year old nephew, to get it done... Let me first say that your first canning experience makes you feel like a nervous wreck (at least that's my experience today, most of you are probably braver than me and thought nothing of it the first time you canned, but I was 'bout to poop my pants the whole time!). I mean, look at this thing! Those stickers? Yeah, those are all labels about how you better be careful or else your face could get melted off by steam or your kitchen might explode. So, ummm, yep. I was skeered.

We started with some fresh green beans and my nephew got them cut to a nice size. Then, we boiled them for about five minutes. While they were boiling we put a teaspoon of salt into each of the pint jars we were using... and read the instruction manual to the canner for the third time... and called our Granny to make sure we were doing it right... and I prayed... in my head. I've heard plenty of horror stories about these things, folks.

Once the beans were done we added them to the jars, poured in the brine, pushed out the air bubbles, and put on the lid. Then, we filled the canner a couple inches with hot water, and put in the jars. It was harder than we thought it would be to get the lid of the canner on. We read that you can't just screw one bolt down at a time, you have to do two at a time on opposite sides. So, while he screwed two down, I did another two. Every step we got more nervous because we knew it would be time to turn the heat on. Seriously, my heart was beating so fast. I felt so stupid for being so worked up about it! All I could do was picture it exploding all over the kitchen and burning us. I know, I know, I am crazy. 

Our next step was to wait until the valve starting steaming. Now, I was expecting little puffs and tufts of steam. Nope. We went up into the loft to play around and half way up the stairs my nephew yells, "IT'S DOING IT!!! IT'S STEAMING!" We ran down those stairs so fast we would've broken our necks ahd we fallen. What I was expecting when I got to that big ol' pot and what I saw were two different things. There was steam SHOOTING out of that valve! SHOOTING! The directions said to wait SEVEN minutes before putting on the regulator. SEVEN MINUTES! Steam spewing out! SEVEN MINUTES. That was the longest seven minutes of my life... of course, it did give us plenty of time to argue over who was going to put the regulator on that valve of death. I had to explain to my nephew that steam was practically fire and would burn the mess out of him if he touched it. He really wanted to be the one to "do the deed" and I knew he could do it. However, me being the one that would give him back to my sister either with a nice nine year old hand or with a melted hand, I made him wear his work gloves I had gotten for him a couple months ago. Here's a picture of the heroic deed!


YAY! He did it! The next nail-biting event was waiting for it to start "jiggling and sputtering" (according to the directions) to begin the actual cooking time. Folks, when that thing started "jiggling" I'll have you know we both went down on the floor. I knew it was going to blow... of course, it didn't and I had to leave my foxhole to go make sure the temperature was where it was supposed to be. From there, everything went prefectly smooth. And in twenty minutes we had this...

The best part? Those aren't just green beans. That's a jar full of memories with my favorite kid.