Saturday, August 27, 2005


Pressure Cookers, that is.

I'd like to sing out the praises of pressure cookers/canners. I suppose that firstly they are fuel efficient, but as with other things, this hedonist actually loves them because the way they make things taste. Certain things anyway.

Take beans. What we call dried beans, any cultivar although around here the cranberry bean often comes out on top. We grow a bunch of different kinds of dried beans and like them all. Just the other day I looked around the kitchen to see what kinds of open, partial containers of dried beans I had. I emptied them out, from pintos to lentils, until I had a couple pounds dry weight, put them in the pressure cooker, covered them with water and brought it to a boil. Soaked for 2 hours, then added some backbone from the pig we killed this winter, some salt, and pressure cooked for 30 minutes.

There is something about the pressure. In this sort of dish, it is the difference in making a chili and eating it right away (where it often has some jarring edges to it) and holding it overnight giving the flavors time to blend, meld, transform, become more than the sum of the parts. I love what it does to fresh pork, ribs just being the best.

And pressure canning. Sure, it is FDA approved, but in some cases, it is really truly better too. Again, take beans as an example. We can what is called "green shell beans" out of the garden -- these are just the dried beans before they are dry, when they are in the green shell stage. It is a little trouble in that you have to shell them and can them, but in the winter when supper is behind, all there is to do is open the can.

A woman from Maine brought us some unusual (for us) seed beans from Maine, a type called Jacob's Cattle beans. In thanks, we took her several home canned quarts of Jacob's cattle beans we'd grown from her seed. She demanded the recipe and couldn't believe it when told it was just beans covered with water, some salt, and pressure canned.

And green beans. I just think pressure canned taste better. Not only are they safer than water bathed ones, they are actually cooked less.

So here's to the pressure cooker/canner, to beans, and to their natural companion, corn bread. And butter. Maybe a side of chowchow. Wedge of onion. Slice of tomato & cucumber in summer. All from the place. And maybe the meal topped off with a little taste of whitened molasses on another corncake.


eatmisery said...

Why, tell me why, do I always get hungry when I read your blog?

madcapmum said...

Because she's a culinary hedonist! Hussy!