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CANNING CATASTROPHE (And how it could have been avoided)

After years of canning, I finally had an accident – I learned a hard lesson but it could have been so much worse. The canning catastrophe ended up being our Christmas miracle.

If you’d rather listen to the story than read, here’s the YouTube video we created:

Here’s what happened:

It was a couple of days before Christmas and I was working on cleaning out my freezer to make room for a pig we had slaughtered. I was making broth and canning chicken in my pressure canner. I’ve been doing this for years – it’s pretty simple and it’s so good!

I had done one full batch of broth and a full batch of chicken pints and was finishing up my last batch of broth. My canner depressurized so I opened the lid. Same as I’ve done hundreds of times before. I was going to get my grabbers and start unloading when I heard a noise in the canner. I peeked over the canner to look inside and just as I did that, the ring and lid of the middle jar flew off and boiling broth flew out of the jar and hit me in straight in the face.

The boiling broth covered my face. I found out later that it shot out with so much force that it broth hit the light and the ceiling and was even dripping off the fridge.

As soon as it happened I apparently shut my eyes and I fumbled my way to the sink and immediately immersed my face in cold water. I kept that up for several minutes, only coming up for breath periodically.

I let Gene know what had happened and he brought me a wet towel and a bowl of water to keep the cold on my face for as long as I needed to.

When he brought me the towel, he asked if I could see. It was then that I realized that I had closed my eyes when the incident happened and I had never opened them – crazy! I was scared to open them but I did and I could see just fine! Thank you, Jesus!

I kept the cold, damp towel on my face for over an hour and the burning had pretty much stopped. It was late and I was tired so I took some Advil and went to bed. The next morning, my face was a little sore and it was certainly red in areas but it was nothing like I had worried it would be. By the second day, I could barely even feel that I had been burned except for the area right on my eyelid that was burned.

A couple of days later, my face started to peel, like a sunburn. However, even that was short lived and it healed up very quickly! I am so amazed and so so grateful.

We are calling it our Christmas miracle – and I believe that’s exactly what it was. I know getting cold water on my face immediately helped – I’m sure grateful for my own quick thinking!

There are several lessons I learned from this incident. As a teacher of canning safety, this was humbling but also I’m so glad it happened to me so I can raise awareness – if I can help even one person learn to can safely, it’s worth all the effort.

First, I’m using a brand new stove and that thing is awesome! BUT, it heats up my canner way too fast to be safe and some of the burners, even on low, are just too hot to use for canning. If you have a newer stove, this is something to be very aware of.

My old stove was 20 years old and it wasn’t very powerful. This new one — IS!

You need to gradually heat up your canner so it slowly heats the contents inside of the canner.

Second, I’m going to start taking my lid off of the canner and then laying it on top, a little bit offset for about 10 minutes before I unload it (this is specific to my pressure canner). This way, if something does happen, it’ll still be in the protected canner.

This goes to show, no matter how long you have been canning, anything can happen – never stop being careful and watchful.

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