Pressure Canning Questions?


Master Food Preserver and chef Ernest Miller will be our guest on a future episode of the Root Simple Podcast. I’m doing the interview this Friday and we’re going to talk about pressure canning. If you’ve got a pressure canning question please leave a comment on this post or call our podcast hotline at (213) 537-2591. Ernie is extremely knowledgeable and now is your chance to get those canning questions answered.

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  1. I pressure canned a salsa recipe variation by using the time for the most dangerous ingredient, which was, I think, onions.

    Is this legit?

    Canning squash puree is verboten. How about in a pressure canner?

    Why can’t we just pressure can for two hours and nuke everything?

  2. I have a squash question as well. I don’t like thick puree for pies but I do like a thinner ready to eat puree for soups. Will that work in my pressure canner? If so, how long should I time it for as it would include a bit of fresh onion and garlic. I’d be working in quarts. Also, I normally bake the squash for better flavour for my soup recipe, so should I bake it prior to prepping to can it?

    Another question: I also pressure can green beans and corn kernels in (separate) pint jars. Are beans more acidic that they need only 20 minutes over corn which needs 50 minutes? Any way to speed up the corn without altering the flavour?

    Another question: any idea how I can can excess bacon drippings for storage? I save all my drippings to use to flavour or saute certain foods, and sometimes I collect more than I can use for some time. I keep it refrigerated but it won’t ‘last’ there too long.

    A final question: I’ve got the reuseable Tattler lids but despite watching the youtube videos from the manufacturer and others, I find I get about a 40% failure rate, which is really annoying because I bought the Tattlers to use for meats and broths. Am I the only one who can’t do it right? Is the real secret to put the ring on the jar first, then the lid, or as the videos show to put the ring on the lid then on the jar? It’s driving me bonkers. Thanks.

    • I pressure-can all kinds of fats. Tallow for soap making gets canned in 1/2 gallon Ball jars (I never use 1/2 gallon jars for anything we’re going to eat; it’s too iffy) for 80 minutes at 15 pounds pressure. We’re up in the mountains, so it’s safer to can at a higher pressure, but your canner manual will explain the particulars about that.

      Nice organic lard from the local farmer is canned in the little 1/2 pint jars, which we find most convenient for our use, at 75 minutes at 15 pounds pressure.

      If you are using a pressure canner at less than 1000′ altitude, you will be canning at a lower pressure, usually 10 pounds, but for a longer time. Check your manual!

      The tattler lids are a little tricky, because they don’t work exactly like metal lids. As explained on the side of the box, you need to tighten the metal rings very, very gently – just barely – so that the tattler lids can exhaust while in the canner. Then, the very moment you take your jars out of the canner, you tighten those rings down firmly. I often forget this step and, as a result, I have tattler lid failures.

      Hope this helps.

  3. I have always wanted a way to save summer ratatouille without ending up with mush. I’m sure there isn’t any guideline that’s gonna say it’s OK to can it with a simple water bath but will pressure canning destroy the texture?

  4. I just made a batch of the most luscious strawberry jam. Other than for looks, is there any reason to skim off the pink foamy stuff before ladling into jars? Also, is there any difference between brands of jars other than price?

  5. Pressure canning outside! I know it is difficult, making sure burners are not too hot, creating effective wind screens, etc, but it can be done, right? What else do we need to consider as we plan to do pressure canning outside?

  6. I hear people say a pressure cooker cannot be used to pressure can. I do use a pressure cooker instead of a canner even though I do own a canner.

    However, the county agent said there is absolutely no difference except for the rack to hold the jars off the bottom of the canner. I have squashed a disposable pie pan in my pressure cooker and put a towel on it. The cooker seems to do the canning job just fine, but some people say I am taking chances. Jars do not fall over or clank. Am I and the county agent wrong?

    • Hey Practical–first off sorry to hear about the dog attack. Hope you are ok.

      Chef Ernie answered this question at length and I hope you have a chance to listen to the podcast when I put it up on Wednesday. In short, it is not ok to use a pressure cooker to can with even if it has a gauge.

  7. I have sort of the same query as “Practical Parsimony” except that I have not tried actually canning in a home pressure cooker… what I want to know is if doing small batches (a few half pints, or pints) why would it not be possible to use a home pressure cooker? I am timid about food safety, so have refrained from trying this and stick to simple water bath canning so far

  8. Is is possible or recommended to can (either by pressure canning or hot water bath) foods that have been fermented in brine such as full sour dills or fermented chiles? Most resources I’ve read (Joy of Pickling, Ball Book of Preserving) have said to refrigerate fermented foods and make no mention of canning them. I would love to know if this is possible in order to free up some space in my refrigerator.

  9. How can I tell if food is acidic enough to can in a boiling water bath rather than a pressure canner? What about something like a tomato based salsa that also includes beans or corn–how can I determine the proper canning method and time?

  10. I read that you cannot safely use a pressure canner on a normal glass-top range due to the range self-regulating the temperature to protect the glass from overheating. So, I stuck with water bath canning and it appears to have overheated something in my range and it has to be
    repaired or replaced. Normally, I would just repair it, but I’ve been pretty unimpressed with glass top electric and am going to try an induction range. Any idea if pressure canning works safely on an induction stove top and whether there is a pressure canner out there that is suitable?

    • I’ve been pressure canning tomatoes on my glass rangetop – 15 minutes at 5 pounds pressure. I keep waiting for disaster to strike.

  11. What’s a good rule of thumb for pressure canning something that you can’t find in a book? I can’t remember what it was, but I couldn’t find it any book or pamphlet. Kind of a vacuous question, I know…

  12. To Kyle – I was planning to get a glass top stove and worried about the same problem. Friends with Presto pressure canners usually don’t have problems because the Presto base is slightly curved to allow air flow around the element area. But the All American and standard water bath canners are totally flat and extend past the element areas. This overheats the elements and non-heat area surrounding them and causes various damage. So I went with a regular coil element stove because of this. The All American site states not to use their canners on glass tops. Sorry, I have no experience with induction stoves.

    To P.P. – As for using pressure cookers to can, the problem here is that you cannot control the needed pounds of pressure that makes the correct or safe heat, especially at different altitudes. You might get lucky sometimes, but some foods won’t adapt this way.

  13. My question is related to Sydney’s and Paula’s: Is there reliable information available if I wanted to develop my own canning recipe, assuming I can accurately measure acidity and am willing to take responsibility for my actions? As a DIYer, it’s always a little annoying to be told to “do it my way and don’t worry your pretty little head about it.” Is it really NOT possible to do recipe development safely with home-based technology?
    And a second question along the same line: What are the actual statistics on home canning related deaths in this country? I understand botulism is a serious risk, but so is driving a car! And we do have firm statistics on that risk and yet continue to drive cars all the time! I feel that the advertised risks of home canning are over-inflated, but would need to see the data to know for sure.
    Great topic – thanks for tackling it!

  14. As I’ve never tried canning before (a tad intimidated tbh), I’d like to ask the canning master for a few idiot-proof recipes that preferably don’t require special canning equipment (I like the pressure cooker idea!).

  15. I like to pressure can meats, because I don’t have to worry about them when the power goes out, which it does with annoying regularity around here. The Ball website and Blue Book are a little skimpy on interesting canned meat recipes, though. It’s O.K. to can plain chicken breasts or ground beef, but I’d really like to do something a little more adventurous and tasty. Any sources? Suggestions?

    • What is pressure canned meat like? I’ve never had it and I wonder what the flavor and texture are like.

      Do you cook them first and then pressure can them? Are you putting in chunks of meat or a big ole hunk? How long does it keep on a shelf? Do you use it as a serving of meat or prepare it as part of some other recipe? Are there some meats that work better than others?

      Thanks for some info. This is completely new to me.

    • Pressure canned meat tastes O.K. I’m used to using fresh or carefully frozen meat, so the texture is slightly different, but when using the meat in another recipe it’s not noticeable. Plus there’s the security-during-a-power-outage element, which is not to be overlooked.

      You can pressure can meat in pieces or chunks – the Ball Blue Book has directions – and yes, the meat is cooked before canning. Ball does have some ‘finished’ sort of recipes: chili, beef in wine sauce, etc., but I would really like to find more.

  16. I am trying to use Weck jars more to avoid the plastic and difficulty with Tattler lids, but had my first Weck jar failure to seal. They say they are not rated for pressure canning, but in the past I have had good luck with Weck jars pressure canning beans. I used a slightly larger head space because with the Tattler lids, pressure canned tomatoes tend to end up 2″ below the lid, could this have been the problem?

  17. I understand why you can’t use water bath for low acid foods, but Can I use a pressure canner instead of water bath for jams and high acid foods?

    The water bath pot takes two hours to heat up on my crappy electric coil stove. I feel bad about using that much electricity when I’m only running a couple of batches, and I’d like to stop sloshing boiling water all over the kitchen.

  18. Hey all–Thanks for your questions and just wanted to let you know that Chef Ernie was nice enough to answer all of these questions. I’ll have the podcast up on Wednesday.

  19. Pingback: SURVIVALIST INTEL | Pressure Canning Questions? | Root Simple

  20. Hi- I am canning apple butter for the first time. I sterilized the jars and lids in boiling water for 10 minutes then transferred my hot apple butter into the jars and closed them. I then processed the jars in a Boling bath for 10 minutes, however I did not completely submerge the jars in the water. The jars were only in a few inches of the boiling water. I then found out that they should have been submerged with at least an inch of water above the jars. My jars did seal but I’m worrying that they were not sterilize properly. Should I re-can and reprocess again? It’s also already been about 48 hours.
    Thank you,

  21. You did all the other stuff correctly. I usually process apple butter with pot water just below the jar tops and have never had a failure though some will disagree and say it’s totally unsafe.

    Apple butter, fully heated, will be scorching hot and will in itself help to seal and sterilize the jars. Just check that the seals are tight and you should be okay. It’s how I’ve done it for 30 years. Happy canning.

    • Thank you for the reply. The jars will be Xmas gifts so I’m a little paranoid. I think that just to be on the safe side I will write on the jars to consume within 1-2 weeks.

    • To be on the safe side I’d tell people to refrigerate the jars. The reason you need to submerge the jars completely is to assure that heat penetrates evenly. And for future reference here is a tested recipe for apple butter: and a reduced sugar version: I’ll note that these recipes call for adding sugar to act as a preservative so that it can be stored at room temperature. Personally, I prefer just straight apple butter without added sugar, which you need to store in the refrigerator.

  22. Thank you. I ended up re canning and reprocessing the jars by submerging all the way in the water. I also wrote clearly on each of the jars to refrigerate and to consume within a week.

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