What is Pressure Canning
Pressure canning is a great skill to have when it comes to preserving food for a well stocked pantry. Choose pressure canning to preserve low acid foods like meats, poultry, seafood, many vegetables, dried beans, and recipes that contain any low acid foods.
Canning is a skill you can learn and practice now before you are able to move to your dream homestead, even if you live in a small apartment. And vegetables can be purchased at Farmer’s Markets; you don’t have to have your own garden.
Pressure canning can be a bit more intimidating than water bath canning, but with attention to detail and carefully following directions, you can safely pressure can at home. I highly recommend learning to can using the water bath method of canning so that you are thoroughly familiar with canning before moving on to pressure canning.
Supplies Needed to Pressure Can
To get started with pressure canning, you do need a few speciality supplies. If you are already familiar with water bath canning, you can use most of the same supplies. The pot you use will be the exception. For most of the items, this will be a one-time purchase. Lids, however, can be used only once unless you purchase special re-usable lids.
What you need includes:
- All American Pressure Canner or Presto Pressure Canner
- glass canning jars (size will depend on what you are canning)
- canning lids for jars
- canning rings (bands) for jars
- cooking utensils such as wooden spoon, paring knife, ladle
- jar lifter
- canning funnel
- bubble remover and headspace tool
- dissolvable labels
A note on why I chose the All American Pressure Canner: You’ll notice that the All American is dramatically more expensive than the Presto. At the time I purchased my All American, it was much, much less expensive. I liked that I would never have to purchase a gasket like I would with a Presto (approximately every 3 years), but the clincher for me was when I checked the pricing on used All Americans. They were almost as expensive as brand new.
Knowing that my canner would hold its value in a way that the Presto did not was the deciding factor for me. BUT, the Presto is highly rated and everyone I know who has one is very satisfied, so if the price of an All American is too high, go ahead and feel confident in your purchase of a Presto.
Canning Supplies Starter Kit
The Basics of Pressure Canning
Canning is one way to halt the decay of food and preserve it for future use. Processing foods in canning jars using specific processing times destroys microorganisms and forces air from the jar. A vacuum seal is formed which prevents any further contamination.
The type of canning method chosen is determined by the pH – acidity or alkalinity – of the food you wish to preserve. The pressure canning method discussed here is for foods naturally low in acid.
Foods such as meat, broth, chili, dried beans, green beans, and many others need to be pressure canned. A good book on canning will help you to determine which method of canning is needed.
Ball Blue Book
Guide to Preserving
The Process of Pressure Canning
Before you get started with canning your food, be sure to thoroughly acquaint yourself with the pressure canner you have purchased by carefully reading all instructions. Be sure to know the altitude at which you live, since pressure will need to be adjusted if you are over 1000 feet elevation. The instruction book that comes with your pressure canner will guide you.
The first step in canning is gathering all of your supplies and making sure all jars, lids and rings are in good condition. Wash jars in hot, soapy water.
You will, of course, need the food you are wishing to preserve, and a recipe that is safe for home canning. I am not always a rule keeper or a recipe follower, but when it comes to canning I find it very important to follow safe standards. No rebel canning here (and yes, that’s a thing).
Prepare your food according to an approved recipe and fill your jars according to the recipe instructions. The Ball Blue Book, and The Ultimate Guide to Preserving Vegetables are great books to reference.
Fill the canner with 2 – 3″ of water. Place the rack in the the bottom of the pressure canner so that jars never stand directly on the bottom of the canner.
Fill hot jars with the hot food you are canning, and remove air bubbles using a bubble remover. Wipe the edge of the canning jar with a clean, wet cloth and place lids and bands onto the jars. Do not over tighten.
Place filled jars with lids and bands onto the rack in the canner, and secure the pressure canner lid according to the directions in the book that came with your specific canner.
Place your pot over high heat until a steady stream of steam escapes from the the vent pipe. Allow steam to escape for 10 minutes, then place the regulator weigh on the vent pipe. The recipe you are using will let you know how many pounds of pressure to use for your elevation. So, if for example, it calls for 15 pounds of pressure, place the weight over the vent at the hole marked 15.
When the weight begins to rock or jiggle, you will begin to count your processing time. You will need to adjust the heat until the weight jiggles only 1 – 4 times per minute. You do not want it to jiggle constantly. This is one area that is a learning process – my first time using my pressure canner I stood at the pot almost constantly adjusting the heat to get it just right, but you will quickly learn at what setting to keep your stove.
When you have reached the correct processing time, shut off your stove. DO NOT attempt to remove the lid at this point.
Allow the canner to cool gradually until the pressure dial returns to zero. Now remove the weight using a hot pad and wait several minutes. Unfasten the lid on the canner and remove it.
Using your jar lifter carefully remove the jars from the canner. Place jars on a dry hand towel on your counter leaving 1 – 2″ space between jars. Do not disturb until cool. Do not tighten bands.
After cooling for at least 12 hours, test the seal by pressing the center of the lid to be sure it is concave. Remove the band. Gently try to remove the lid; if it cannot be removed the jar is sealed. Refrigerate any jars which have failed to seal.
Wash your jars using a clean damp cloth. Sealed jars may be stored without bands. Be sure to label your jars with the recipe name and date. The ideal temperature to store home canned goods is 50° – 70°F; store in a dark area for up to 18 months.
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