014 All About Pressure Canning With Ernest Miller

Ernest Miller

On the fourteenth episode of the Root Simple Podcast we talk to chef, historian, educator, consultant and speaker Ernest Miller about pressure canning.

During the show we dicuss two types of pressure canners:


Presto 23-Quart Pressure Canner and Cooker


All American 21-1/2-Quart Pressure Cooker/Canner

Ernie recommends you get a canner with a weighted gauge–because it can be difficult to get dial gauges calibrated.

We go on to discuss botulism and the case of the Seattle man who improperly canned game.

Ernie mentions some sources for safe, tested recipes:

We conclude with answer to listener questions including:

  • Modifying recipes
  • The difference between pressure cookers and canners
  • Glass top and induction ranges and pressure canning
  • Canning salsas
  • Canning meats

You can follow Ernie’s company, Rancho La Merced Provisions on Facebook. Make sure to check out his beautiful glass fermenting vessels. And like the Master Food Preservers of Los Angeles County on Facebook.

If you want to leave a question for the Root Simple Podcast please call (213) 537-2591 or send an email to [email protected]. You can subscribe to our podcast in the iTunes store and on Stitcher. The theme music is by Dr. Frankenstein. Additional music by Rho. A downloadable version of this podcast is here.

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  1. Very informative podcast! And thanks so much for asking my questions. I was hoping Ernie would mention where to find those home recipe development guidelines, but I’ll keep looking because I do want to be safe. I just think some extension agents (at least the ones I’ve taken classes from) go a little overboard with the “explosive diarrhea and even DEATH!” talk relative to home canning. Point made – botulism is bad. I just think we need to keep it in perspective with a little clear-eyed risk assessment.

    I’m glad he talked about how using home canned foods is a little different than store-bought canned foods. I call my canned goods semi-convenience foods since they sometimes require another processing step before I use them. For example, I want a thick tomato sauce for our pizzas, but I just make a regular sauce recipe, can it, and when I open a can cook it down to the consistency I need. This avoids any density issues when canning. It’s good to remember that what you can doesn’t have to be the final product to be useful.

    How about a podcast on dehydrating? I think drying is an underutilized food preservation method – especially here is the southwest.

    • Hey Donna! I understand your frustration re: developing your own recipes, and I’m going to answer this for myself, as a non-MFP (Erik and Ernie are both MFPs). It seems to me, looking in from the outside, that the MFPs mission –as well as that of extension agents–is 100% about canning safety, even if that does engender a lack of creativity. The party line is that you should always follow tested recipes and no one is going to deviate from that. Ever. I agree with you about the risk assessment, and agree that it can be done safely, but I don’t think any MFP or extension agent could or would wink and say, “Psst, over here is a set of DIY instructions…” All of this is to say you are off the books and on your own if you want to be a renegade home canner.

    • Hi Donna,

      Thanks for listening and sending us a question! What Ernie was referring to is the process for getting a recipe tested. Unfortunately, this involves a lab and a great deal of testing and expense. I wish that our extension service had more funding for this–there are a lot of ethnic foods here in LA that need tested recipes!

      And a dehydrating podcast is a great idea–maybe Kelly and I will take it up this week.

    • Sorry for the late response – it’s canning season, don’t ya know!

      Kelly – You’re right. I should know better than to think a MFP is going to go off the reservation and recommend DIY instructions. I’m a Master Gardener and I can’t do that for DIY garden remedies either. And yes, I’m just frustrated because I suspect it’s not all that difficult.

      Erik – I was referring to Ernie’s comment at about 21:40 when he said recipe development could be done with home based technology using the right guidelines. I will continue my quest for them! BTW, I love my All-American pressure canner and would highly recommend it, since it sounds like you guys may be looking. It’s one of the few things I have ever purchased that feels like it could literally last forever – it’s a massive chunk of aluminum!

    • Hey Donna,
      I’m guessing Ernie was talking about small modifications to recipes–things like adding dry spices. When I see him next I’ll ask him to clarify. And I share your frustration–we need more interesting tested recipes!

  2. Thanks for taking my question about induction ranges! Alas…

    Interesting how far we have gotten away from food preservation that a huge percentage of the popular stoves out there aren’t suitable for this simple task.

    I did get an induction range with a very large element that my canning pot fits neatly into. I’m sure there are still similar risks about the weight of the pot and whatnot, but it is doing water bath canning brilliantly.

  3. Really enjoyed the podcast on pressure canning.

    About the storage of potatoes and onions, I use a hanging basket in my pantry, the potatoes touch but it is dark and dry and the temps are relatively constant. I have also heard about people digging a hole in their backyard and putting a metal garbage can with tight lid and using that as a “root cellar”

    Can you direct me to some one knowledgeable regarding environmentally friendly methods of softening water? I don’t know if that is an oxymoron or not, lol


  4. I dehydrate Vidalia onions in my nine-tray Excalibur dehydrator. Vidalia onions are cheap in the summer and just over the state line in Georgia, so not much transportation. I roughly dice them. But, they can be dehydrated by slicing thinly. It is so quick and easy to put dehydrated onions in any dish. Any onion can be dehydrated. Of course, they are not crunchy, so there is that issue if you are putting them in something where you want a crunch.

    Dehydrate2store.com has videos of dehydrating on you tube. I dehydrate lots of things. In the winter, the heat feels great, too.

    I use few potatoes since I buy so many sweet potatoes in the fall. However, this year I am going to try my hand at dehydrating potatoes.

    Of course, I remember that Erik made a dehydrator. It is too humid here to dry outdoors, even in his elaborate homemade one.

  5. I “hate” these sorts of shows. Something about discussing botulism scares the heck out of me. I grew up in the countryside and know lots of people who have always done home canning. I have also done it for years. Usually what I hear sounds like all of us should be already dead. (That’s what scares me.) But it spurs me to be more careful and “get with the program”, so I really do appreciate hearing podcasts like this. Keep up the good work.

    • I regret not having Ernie extol the wonders of pressure canning a little more. He’s a big fan, and as long as you follow a recipe you’re not going to get botulism. Thanks for listening–we’ll have Ernie on again.

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