DH got me a pressure canner for Christmas, and for the first time last night I tried pressure canning some pickles. I think it was a disaster! I will walk through my steps, and maybe those with experience can point out what went wrong and how to avoid next time? Thanks in advance!
Prepared bread and butter style pickles using sliced kirbys with salting, macerating in pickling liquid for 1 day;
Boiled pickling liquid as directed;
Boiled pint jars and lids and seals; water was up to, not over, jar necks and inside jars inside pressure canner;
(canner is a Presto 23 quart pressure canner, aluminum)
Filled jars with pickle slices. Jars seemed full, but I did NOT mash contents down and keep forcing more in. Filled jars to half inch headspace with boiled pickling liquid. Put on seals and screwed on lids "finger tight" as recipe said;
Placed jars in pressure canner. Since I poured the water out of the jars back into the canner after boiling, when I put the closed jars back in, jars were not totally submersed in water, but the water level WAS about mid-way up on metal jar lids;
Processed pickles at 11 pounds of pressure for 15 minutes. Let cooker totally release pressure and cool without opening over the course of several hours.
When I opened, it appeared that pickling liquid had leaked into canning water - water was light tea colored, and canner was stained black below level of water; It did not seem that color of pickling liquid inside the jars was diluted, but I can't be sure. Also, pickles were no longer filling jar, but had floated to the top with now about 1.5 inches of pickling liquid in the bottom of the jar. Each pickle slice also has a weird microbubbled appearence, almost like glacee fruit. Did not open to taste yet.
Tried to scrub the canner with Barkeeps Friend, but it seems like it will take a lot of elbow grease to totally remove the black staining - is it necessary? (Also, don't want to use an abrasive too much if that will compromise the structural integrity of the canner and its ability to withstand pressure - does anyone know if "micro scratches" from cleanser can make the canner weaker?)
Are pickles safe to eat or ruined?
Please help, I have a ton more cukes in various sizes to pick and do various picklings to, and I want to get it right!