All About Pressure Canning

Here I am going to talk a little about pressure canning. The following are the most popular questions according to a quick search on the Internet.

Please be sure to read the instructions that go with your pressure canner before just jumping in.

It’s also important to note that as of February 2023 there are no safe and tested recipes for using an electric pressure cooker as a canner.

What To Use If You Don’t Have a Pressure Canner

Sadly, there is no substitute for a pressure canner when canning a low acid vegetables and meat. It’s simply not worth the risk of causing yourself or your family to become ill or possibly perish as a result of botulism.

Some people think they have a pressure canner but in reality, it is too small to be considered a canner and is really a pressure cooker to be used like the current electric pressure cookers to speed up dinner. To be considered a pressure canner, it must hold a minimum of 4 quart jars.

What is Botulism?

Botulism is a result of bacteria from the ground that can flourish in an environment where there is no air, like in our canned goods.You’ve heard about the lady who made everyone sick in Pennsylvania a few years ago with her potato salad at the family reunion. Goodness, just imagine doing this to your family and friends. She had waterbathed the potatoes which does not heat a potato enough to destroy any of these botulism spores. This is why we must do pressure canning of low-acid vegetables and meat.

Potatoes and other root vegetables must be peeled before canning to eliminate any chance of those botulism spores being added to the jar. Simply scrubbing them with a good vegetable brush won’t do it when you are talking about pressure canning.

How Do You Do Pressure Canning?

The directions for canning will come with the pressure canner you purchase. You can also find some good information in your canning recipe book. Here is the one I use. Always spend some time going over the directions for pressure canning before you get started with a new project.

Pressure Canning Direction Books can be downloaded online from the manufacturer’s website in most cases.

Be sure to go over your directions for the ingredients you are canning as well. Each will have different heights to fill the jar and how long you can each item for.

Is Pressure Canning Really Necessary?

Pressure canning is necessary for certain foods if you are going to be canning it. But the act of pressure canning, is that really necessary? No, it’s not “necessary” but if you are going to be growing a large garden, you might as well learn the skill on how to preserve it. The freezers can only hold so much. The quality of pressure canned goods is far better than most frozen veggies as well.

So while pressure canning isn’t a necessity in today’s world, having the knowledge and the tools to be able to pressure can if you need to will allow you to have some control over the future of your food. Canning foods and using them in your normal meals every day will help you to practice the skills of pressure canning so that you can get more comfortable doing it.

What Foods Cannot Be Pressure Canned?

Jams, jellies and chutneys should not be pressure canned. The final product would not be the same as using a waterbath canning method to remove the air from the jars.

There is also no need to pressure can high acid foods like pineapples and other fruits. These types of high acid fruits have a much lower risk of botulism.

You can use your pressure canner as a waterbath pot for canning these items if you don’t have a pot big enough to cover your jars with an inch or more of water. You just sit the lid on top without screwing it shut to allow it to build pressure.

People also often ask about canning dairy, eggs, rice and pasta. These are all on the list of foods that cannot be pressure canned. There are no safe and tested recipes for pressure canning with any of these ingredients included.

What Foods Require Pressure Canning?

All meats, beans, and vegetables require pressure canning. The only exception to this rule is when vegetables are pickled in a vinegar brine. The addition of vinegar raises the acidity enough for them to be safely canned in a waterbath.

What is the Safest Canning Method?

Pressure canning is safe as long as you follow the directions that came with your canner. Don’t listen to the old wives tales about someone’s great aunt’s cousin’s brother’s wife who had a pressure canner explode in her kitchen. They aren’t made like they use to make them at all!

They have a safety release valve plug that will blow off if the pressure builds up too much. You will hear your pressure canner’s weight starting to rock when it starts to get around 15 pounds of pressure in it and know that you need to adjust your heat down a little further at that point.

pressure canning meat

People often think that methods of canning include raw packing or hot packing. These are simply terms or phrases used to describe how meats and vegetables are prepared for pressure canning.

The Dangers of Pressure Canning

The only danger of pressure canning is burning your hand, arms and face on the steam that comes out when you open the lid. Always open it away from your face and body and be mindful that a few drips will happen when you lift it off of the canner. You don’t want them landing on bare toes because they will be hot! I try to lift mine off over the stove and get it to the sink by holding it over the counter top on the way so that any drips will land there and not on my toes. Can you tell that I’m speaking from the voice of experience here?

Pressure canning these days is relatively safe as long as you read the directions that come along with your canner when you purchase it.

This is the canner I use. I bought a second rack for it on Amazon and now I can double stack pints in it. This is handy for things like, Ham and Bean Soup, beef or venison stew, chicken, black beans and other things that need pressure canned you eat in large quantities. I always fill the canner full when canning dry beans because it’s just as much work whether it’s full or not, so I might as well get the biggest return for my energy spent canning.

Here is a picture of my venison stew, fresh out of the pressure canner.

Disadvantages of Pressure Canning

So what are the disadvantages of pressure canning over buying canned goods at the grocery store. The only disadvantage is that you take the risk of losing your food if you don’t follow the directions or in the event a lid becomes unsealed and you lose your contents. All that hard work goes down the drain. That is why it is important to follow each step with the recipe and be sure to wipe the jar’s rim with a vinegar soaked rag or paper towel before placing the flat part of the lid on it.

Another disadvantage of pressure canning is that you get spoiled to eating your own good food! This is food that has not been down a production line in a factory. You cleaned it! The preparation for canning was done by you! You packed it into the jars! Can you see where I’m going with this?

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