I had my first scary experience as a canner the other day.
Background: I’ve canned independently (aka-not with my mom) for 8 years and used tattler lids for 2- several hundred cans in most of those years, using mostly Tattler lids in the past 2 years.
I went to tighten the band on my jar of chili- just pulled out of the pressure canner (NOTE: normal metal lids don’t get tightened in this process, Tattlers do- just a reference for anyone unfamiliar with them).
And it happened. The lid and screw band burst off the top of the can- and scalding chili flew on my window, wall, counter, floor ceiling, stove, the 12 quarts of applesauce cooling on the counter, 15 feet down the wall at the dining nook, EVERYWHERE. Some ended up on me- a bit at my elbow and some on my face. About 1/4 of the jar was left in the jar.
I immediately went to the bathroom (with my eyes closed to keep the chili out of them) and rinsed repeatedly with cold water. I tried to process what had happened and thanked God most importantly that my little girls were not in the kitchen when it happened. And then that it wasn’t any worse for me. I used a cool wet cloth and some ice to keep my face comfortable for a while. It had some “burning” sensation even after an hour- heat and/or chili spices related. I had red spots, but somehow no blistering.
Here’s what was GOOD that I did:
#1 I had an oven mitt on one hand that protected me from some splatters, and
#2 I had a dry washcloth over the top to hold and tighten the lid. That saved a lot of spewing scalding liquid from coming my way and potentially causing more damage.
Here’s what I think I may have done WRONG:
#1 I didn’t let the jars cool once I took of the pressure canner lid. While I haven’t had a problem before, I read (now) that it’s best to let the jars sit 5-10 minutes after removing the pressure canner lid before moving the cans.
#2 I MAY have left the band too tight when I put the can in the canner. This is one of those subjective things- how tight is finger tight? With Tattlers (again, different from metal lids), you tighten finger tight and back it off 1/4 inch. Metals you just tighten to finger tight (still subjective).
This can (as others have in the past- pressure and HWB canning) had a bubbled up lid when I took it out of the canner. So it may not have been able to vent as much as it needed and there may have been excessive pressure inside the can for that reason. I’ll be careful in the future to observe this more carefully and err on the side of a bit looser. And I’d suggest handling any can with a lid that bubbles up very carefully as well- maybe let it sit for longer before handling so it can vent more.
#3 the jar possibly may have been over-full. Although I believe I left appropriate headspace, it did contain rehydrated beans that may have expanded more in canning). Or it may have had an air bubble in the can somewhere. I don’t think so, but I don’t know for sure.
I’ll also use a larger towel (hand towel size) from now on instead of just washcloth size. Less convenient, but more protection, I think. I definitely did when I finally worked up the courage to take the rest of the cans from the canner so I wouldn’t “lose” them to not sealing. But I did so with much trepidation and closed my eyes and turned my head as I tightened the remaining 6 cans!
Here’s a link I found helpful in analyzing what may have happened. It’s on the Homesteading Today Forum.
I’m going to agree with the original poster at the forum- In my case as it was in hers, this was user error and had nothing to do with the Tattler lids as a dangerous product. I like them, I feel they do what they should do and love that they’re reusable- you just need to be aware of the differences in how to use them, and follow general safe practices in canning regardless of the lid type.
Another poster commented that they’ve had a metal lid explode out of the canner as well. I’ve had metal lids seep boiling liquids (peach juice, tomato juice, etc), but never explode them.
Lessons learned. Hopefully it will never happen again, and hopefully it will never happen to you. I know I’ll be relaying this info to any of my canning interested friends.
Leave the cans to cool 5-10 minutes after opening the pressure canner.
Always use a hand towel over the top of the can in the tightening process (tightening for tattlers only). I may be inclined to don a long sleeve shirt when removing cans- metal or tattler lids.
(Continue to) Keep the kids out of the kitchen when removing cans from the canner.