Pressure Cooker primer
I chose the Prima by Sitram pressure cooker. She's a 4-liter (the smallest I could find) and suits me. She's also VERY heavy. Mine's the shortest unit, shown in front here:

You'll want to buy a spare gasket with your unit. When (not if) your gasket wears out, having a spare will make life much easier. Finding one that fits your unit in paradise might be problematic too.  According to my manufacturer, they recommend keeping the spare in the packaging it comes in -- it's small and fits nicely inside the basket.

However, I've made mistakes. My first was in pulling out grandma's pressure cooker recipe booklet, circa 1920's. Hers worked fine for her unit -- but not mine. So, after a couple of failures I opened the book that came with my purchase...

First of all, mine called for special baker's paper to line the bottom of the pan, and to wrap the jars in said paper so they do not touch each other. Well, I'm not spending my perfectly good money on paper -- that's not going to happen, so I took some fabric and covered the bottom:

Then, I wrap the North and South jars with two more scraps of 100% cotton fabric (I'm a quilter -- stitchers will understand having cotton on hand, though I believe any fabric would suffice:

Next, the East West jars are tucked in.

Stuff I learned along the way: There are two types of 1/2 pint jars available -- and for some reason the manufactures do not call them cups!!!

The Mason jars (shown on the left) are taller, and have a square bottom. Another good feature of them is that our standard plastic mayonnaise jar lids fit fine.
(not for processing, but for storage after opening)

On the right, Ball jars are shorter, fatter and do not have an indented neck. They take the wide mouth jar lids.

Yes, there are two lid sizes:

I prefer the Ball jars because my ladle fills them more easily, with less slop over the edges. One ladle fills the jar -- works for me. Also, when I've made lasagne, removing the contents of the jar is a simple matter of running the knife around the edge, and inverting.

Fill jars to the bottom of your lid ring -- just level with the bottom of the screw down part. If you add too much (all the way to the top) and your food expands at all...
After your jars are filled, wipe edges to make sure there's no gook/food there that will prevent a tight seal. Add the lid, then the screw-down ring part. Just close normally -- no need to be be Hercules and tighten to smithereens. Don't forget, you're going to have to open these later.

Put them into your canner/pressure cooker. You're going to add water to the level of the food -- just at the bottom of your lids. Close your unit and turn up the heat. When steam starts to come out of the top, turn your flame to low. For my propane stove, just about where I'd cook over-easy eggs is the right amount of heat.

Now, start timing your item. I cook everything one hour. When the time is up, release pressure (let the steam out) then open the canner. Carefully remove your jars. It's the neatest thing though: you can actually see the food boiling inside the jars. I set them on a little rack to cool and a bit later the lids snap down. Voila: I'm done. Except that here in Florida it takes over night for the jars to cool to room temperature.

But, we were talking about meats specifically. I have not had success (think "abject failure") when cooking pork from raw -- the meat spoiled in about a week. It's easy to tell -- when you push on the button in the center of your lid, if it moves, 'tis now bait. Expensive bait.
Yes, I followed the instructions in my book for raw meats; well, I processed for 1.5 hours (55 minutes was called for) -- got busy and... In any event, even though tightly packed, the pork shrinks too much and there was too much air at the top of the jar. Pork didn't work, however I have heard that folks using larger canners are having success.

So, I bought another 6 pound boneless pork roast and sliced it into 1" thick slabs. I added one cup of water to the bottom of the canner and just cooked it -- medium-low flame. Seasoned as if it were being baked in the oven, i.e. salt, pepper, garlic. After a couple or three hours it was cooked but still a tiny bit mushy. In any event, I cut the meat to fit into the jars tightly, filling 10 jars. I added one tablespoon of broth to each jar, running a knife around the edge so it would soak down. Processed for one hour and voila: PERFECTION. I'm serious -- the meat comes out chunky, there are large enough pieces to actually serve as a slab of meat and no fat.

So, fresh on the heals of my success with the pork, I tried hamburger. We buy the good stuff (ground sirloin, extra lean -- 96% beef/4% fat) and one pound filled two jars. Unfortunately it was bland. Maybe it was my seasoning (not enough) or perhaps it was that we needed more fat to make it not so, well, bland.

I have also made turkey - broke up carcass, adding the rest of the giblet gravy, one diced onion, one stalk of celery diced, and one carrot chunked. The carrot melts and we left the meat not eaten on the turkey. Cooked in the PC until the meat fell off the bones. Cooled, removed bones, and then filled jars/processing 1 hour. One jar makes about one quart of soup -- and it's the best you'll ever taste.


More live-aboard information can be found on this page.