When Disaster Strikes (A Love Story About Canning.)

I’ve been reluctant to tell this story of the recent events in my life because I do not want to scare anyone from canning. I do want to let people know what can be done to prevent what happened to me and I still think that people should preserve food. It is one of the most rewarding and beneficial things to do. What happened to me is totally preventable, and maybe that makes me a bit of a dumbass. Here’s my story:

Sunday night I was pressure canning with the big 14 quart All American like I’ve done so many times before.
As I screwed on the lid I asked myself through groggy eyes and foggy pregnancy brain if I was doing everything safely.
I was doing it right at that point except that I had mismatched an old glass lid and rim jar with a gem jar meant for a short, metal lid and rim. Like this:

I had put Vaseline on the rim of the canner and screwed down the wingnuts evenly a little at a time. I sat in the kitchen and watched the pressure carefully as it climbed up to 11 lbs.
It took a couple of hours to can the stew and I was eager to get it out. I waited for it to depressurize and I screwed off the lid. Here’s my MAJOR mistake: The mismatched jar would not have mattered (other than it may not seal) if I had simply let the jars cool down in the canner before removing them.
As other advice I could add to not can when tired. Read your manual and proper recipes. Seek the advice of professional canners who use modern methods and canning companies. Another thing I will start doing is writing up a list of safety reminders and I will go over it at the start of the new canning season. I had simply forgotten this year.
As I went to pull the jar up, the lid blew off due to pressurized heat and the hot stew came spewing out onto my face, hip and almost my entire inside of my right arm. It also got my daughter a little on her back as she was in the kitchen when it happened.
Right after, I had my eyes closed and I didn’t quite know what had happened but Nova was screaming. I yelled for help and led her to the bathroom to wash it off to stop the burning.
I called my mom and she came over right away. All I could do to soothe the pain was to keep it under cool water, for hours. My mom sat with me for most of it. My neighbour and good friend came by and talked with me and then made food for everyone. My dad and partner got busy cleaning up the mess. I felt immersed in it all; in the pain and in their collective care.
I got into the shower to wash off the hot stew and contemplated what it will be like to be in my house in labour in pain and naked in the shower. This is coming up in just a few weeks.
Again, I found myself amazed and in awe of how beautifully people come together to help one another in an emergency. This time was different as I was the person being helped. It really shows the true colours of life when tragedy hits. It is the happening that highlights all of life making you see how whole it is. Through our vulnerability we bond and are reminded how fragile and precious life is.
I need these reminders.
Once the pain was at the point that I could have it out of water, we went to the hospital.
As I poured water over my arm while waiting for the nurse, and all I could think was “thank you, thank you, thank you.”
It felt a little insane, because for what would I be grateful in such hard time?
For cool water, for friends, for food,
for kind nurses, for family and for life. I always think to myself during hard times that something good will come of this. And it always does.
Just to be alive and to feel all that it means. Sometimes it means pain. And in the pain we find what matters:
Each other.




Many people are giving me ideas
Of remedies to use and saying to go to the hospital. I’ve been going everyday where they re-dress the wounds and put flamazine (antibacterial silver) on it. Thank you so much everyone for the kind words, support and advice!

28 responses »

  1. I want to cry for your pain. And despite your pain, I have learned a HUGE lesson. I am so new to canning, and I”ve been pushing the pressure out of my canner, so I could get to the jars faster. Seeing your wounds (and having had similar burns when I was a teen by spilling a crock pot full of beans on my front) makes me realize just how foolish i’ve been. As you heal, I pray you have no infection, and please know you are loved. Winola from Florida

  2. God bless you and your family and friends. Thank God almighty it did not blind or kill you and your daughter….i will continue to can but with alot more caution…get better soon and I will keep you in my prayers… And Ill be seeing you on the canning page im sure πŸ™‚ take care!!! ❀

  3. Thank you for sharing your story. I am so sorry that it happened and for the pain you must be going through. I have never let my jars sit in the canner after the pressure has come down. From now on I will!! I didn’t even know that you were supposed to. You have helped a lot of us to be safer when we are canning. I hope you heal quickly and I love your wonderful attitude.

  4. be well dear canning friend, I am sure your experience will save others from such a mishap, thank you for the positive energy you share here.

  5. Prayers for your full recovery! I wish I could help you out, but it looks as if you have lots of good folks who love you nearby.

  6. Still keeping you in my prayers for a complete and total healing with no scars! I wish I could be closer to help! So glad you have lots of friends and family there to help out…..praying for an easy deliver too girl…..

  7. Oh Nadine I am so glad you went to the hospital and that they are working with you daily to fix what happened. I know the treatment is going to make it better You should hardly have a scar at all left. God bless you!!

  8. Yikes Nadine, what an awful and terrifying experience. I am so grateful too that you kept your wits about you and took care of business. Thank goodness your burns don’t require hospitalization and your children are good. I am thinking about you and sending love!

  9. ~~~good~~~vibes for quick healing to you. May you and your Nova and your new little bean be surrounded by light and love always

  10. You are one smart girl! You kept your smarts and handled the terrible situation. I hope you heal fast, and wish you all the best. Your pictures are very hard to look at, but, folks need to see , accidents happen. Wish you were my neighbor, I would come over and help you, until you are back to your canning self again. Take care, Linda

  11. Praying you get to feeling better soon but also praying that your little one didn’t get burned as badly as you did. I will pass this along to my daughter as she does our canning. πŸ™‚ Thank you for the warning.

  12. We’ve all been wondering how you have been doing (FB canning group) and someone found this blog. I hope you have continued to heal.

      • And that answers my question!! Congratulations on your precious new one. She is blessed to have her mommy here for sure! Continue to heal, savor the new baby, and see that you and she are the Christmas gift to all. hugs~~

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