There are two home canning methods, and the one you use will depend on the type of food you want to preserve. Waterbath canning is best for preserving tomatoes, salsa, jellies, jams, fruits, and other high-acid foods. We went over that in our last post. Pressure canning on the other hand is for saving meats, poultry, veggies, chili, fish, and other low-acid foods.
This is a step-by-step flow we adapted from Ball’s freshpreserving.com site. Get Ball’s printable instructions with photos here. If you read our waterbath canning post, this one has several of the same steps, so feel free to skip down to Step 4.
Check your jars, lids and bands for proper functioning. Cracks, uneven rims, scratches or sharp edges may prevent sealing or cause your jar to break.
Wash jars, lids and bands in hot, soapy water. Rinse well and dry.
Heat the jars and lids in hot water, not boiling (as this will hinder the sealing later), until you’re ready to use them. To do this, you can fill a large saucepan halfway with water then drop in the jars. If you fill the jars with a bit of water, it will keep them from floating. Bring the water to a simmer over medium heat. You’ll want to do the same with your lids, but keep the rims at room temp for easy handling.
Prepare your pressure canner with 2-3 inches of water. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer. You’ll want to keep the water at a simmer until the jars are placed inside. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for usage.
Prepare your recipe, like these Dilly Green Beans from our cookbook.
Remove hot jars from the pot in Step 3, emptying the water inside. Fill jars with your prepared recipe from Step 5, leaving headspace recommended in the recipe (1/4 inch for soft spreads like jams and jellies; ½ inch for fruits, pickles, salsa, and tomatoes).
Remove air bubbles if stated in the recipe by sliding a rubber spatula between the jar and food to release trapped air. Repeat around the jar 2-3 times.
Clean the rim and threads of the jars using a clean, damp cloth to remove any food residue. Remove lid from hot water in Step 3. Center the lid on the jar allowing sealing compound to come in contact with the far rim. Apply band and adjust until fit is fingertip tight.
Place the jars into your canner of simmering water from Step 4. Make sure the water comes up 2-3 inches on the jars or whatever water level is recommended in your manufacturer’s manual.
Lock the canner lid in place, leaving the vent pipe open. Adjust the heat to medium-high and allow steam to escape through the vent pipe. Once you have a steady stream of steam, vent for 10 minutes to ensure there is no air (only steam) left in the canner. Then, close the vent using weight or another method described for your canner. Gradually adjust the heat to achieve and maintain the recommended pounds of pressure.
Process the jars at the recommended pounds pressure for the processing time from your recipe. Once you’ve finished the time, cool the canner by removing it from the heat, but don’t remove the weighted gauge. Let the canner stand undisturbed until pressure returns to zero naturally. Wait two more minutes, and remove the weight and unlock the lid, taking care to tilt it away from you.
Remove the jars from the canner and put upright on a towel to prevent jar breakage that might occur from temperature changes. Leave the jars undisturbed for 12-24 hours. Don’t go back to retighten the bands as that could interfere with the sealing process.
Check the lids for seals. If it flexes when pushed in the middle, the seal isn’t there. Remove the bands and try to lift lids off with your fingertips. If you can’t, the lid has a good seal. If the lid doesn’t seal within 24 hours, you can immediate reprocess the jar or refrigerate it.
Label your jars and store in a cool, dry, dark place for up to a year.
Congrats! You just pressure canned!
About the Author
Susan is a Colorado Master Gardener, as designated by Colorado State University. She is the voice behind our Green Thumb Gossip, a weekly blog where she shares her expertise on things like when to plant what, tricks of the trade, and how to make your yard the talk of the town