12 Lifesaving Canning Rules

Know your canning rules. But don’t worry, this is not hard. It’s really quite easy to do safe canning.

When it’s that time of year for canning your garden bounty, or when canning any time of the year, before you dust off your canner and heat the stove, first refresh your memory with these 12 lifesaving canning rules.

Having just canned 18 pints of beans myself, time for a refresher:

Canning is entirely safe when done properly. However certain precautions should be observed.

Generally, I will say that the most important thing to remember (especially for newbies) is to follow the instructions of a modern canning recipe. From a trusted source.

Choose a reliable source for home canning recipes. Why? Because they are tested, proven, and designed to provide a wide margin of safety. I use the following two canning books:

Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving
(view on amzn)

USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning

Canning Rules For Safety

Canning Jar Size

Most people use pint size or quart size canning jars. But don’t use jars larger than a quart. Home canning technology cannot guarantee that larger quantities will be sufficiently heated through for enough time. Rather, the food on the outside will overcook, while that on the inside won’t get hot enough for food safety.

Water Bath Canner

A water-bath canner may only be used for high acid foods such as tomatoes, fruits, rhubarb, sauerkraut, pickles, and jams/jellies. However a pressure canner MUST be used for low acid foods including vegetables, meats, and stews.

Most popular Pressure Canner: Presto (view on amzn)

Modern Canning Recipes

Use only modern canning recipes from reliable sources (especially when first learning canning as a beginner). I’ve linked the two recommended books above.

Jar Lids

Never reuse jar lids. Used lids aren’t reliable for sealing correctly. If a screw-on band is rusty or bent, it won’t work right and should be discarded and replaced.

Jar Type

Don’t use antique or ‘French’ -type canning jars. They aren’t as safe as the modern, regular ‘Ball, Kerr’ type.

Jar Rims

Check the jar rims carefully every year by running your finger over the top of the rim and checking for nicks. Even the tiniest nick makes the jar unusable for canning. A nicked jar rim won’t seal reliably.

Raw Pack

Raw pack is not safe for certain foods: beets, all kinds of greens (spinach, etc.), white potatoes, squash, okra, a tomato/okra combination, and stewed tomatoes. Refer to the recipes.

Head Space

You must allow the correct amount of space (head-space) between your food, together with the liquid that covers it, and the jar lid (follow the recipe instructions). Until you get used to the head space dimensions, you might use the following tool:

Ball Head Space Tool

When To Start Counting – Water Bath Method

Water Bath Method: Do not begin counting the processing time until after the water in the canner comes to a rolling boil

When To Start Counting – Pressure Canner Method

Pressure Canner: Do not begin counting the processing time until after steam has vented for 10 minutes AND until after the pressure gauge has risen to the recommended pressure (after placing the weight on the vent pipe after the venting time).

Time & Pressure

Process the full recommended time (and at the recommended pressure if using pressure canner).

Jars That Don’t Seal

If a jar did not seal, discard the lid, check to see if the jar rim is chipped (discard jar), check for food residue on the rim (clean), put on a new lid, and reprocess. Or consume the food and/or put in the refrigerator as you would any other leftover food for later consumption.

Some recommendations gathered from The Encyclopedia of Country Living

Top-of-the-line “All American Pressure Canner”

All American Pressure Cooker Canner
(view on amzn)

Add your own recommendations below:


  1. Also…….there are some new tomatoes out there that are low-acid. If you don’t know for sure what you have , just presssure can it to be safe.

      1. You can also buy ascorbic acid as well. I believe Mrs. Wages sells it. We use it for all of our tomato recipes as the lemon juice may add some flavor.

      2. Yes you always acidify tomatoes even when pressure canning. Pressure canning recipes for tomatoes are meant to duplicate waterbath.

  2. Question: for water-bath canning, is it safe to do so if lemon juice is added to increase acidity? For example, my dad did water-bath canning with tomatoes that are low in acid but said it would be OK to use the water-bath method since he added lemon juice to increase the acidity to acceptable levels. I’ve never read anything about such a thing, though, and am wondering if that would still be a safety risk.

    1. @Tasha – I add an extra Tablespoon or two of Vinegar to my tomatoes into the jar when I can them. I also boil my tomato products, uncovered for ten minutes before tasting. Botulism spores live in sealed jars. Oxygen kills the spores. Therefore, boiling after opening without a lid, will kill any left over spores that may have lived through the water bath canning method.

    2. @Tasha,
      I’ve heard of the lemon juice trick for low acid tomatoes, but I’ve never tried it. Mainly because I can’t find any recipes using it, and I wouldn’t know how much is needed to increase the acidity enough to be safe. I only plant heirloom tomatoes now, and they have plenty of acid. I imagine the ‘cardboard’ grocery store tomatoes have very little acid (and taste) so I don’t even try canning those with the water bath method.

      I think best bet for tomatoes is to grow your own, and know what varieties you have, OR buy them at a farmers market/farm, and find out what variety those are. A lot of the newer hybrids have no acid or very little.

      The key here is safety: if you don’t KNOW it’s safe, don’t do it, it can make you very ill, or even kill you.

      1. If you can’t find recipes calling for adding lemon juice or vinegar to tomatoes, then you haven’t read proper canning books like the

        Ball Blue Book

        USDA canning guides

        Because they certainly do talk about adding it to tomatoes. ALL tomatoes have acid, no such thing as no acid tomatoes, some seem lower acid because of their sweetness.

  3. These are all great ideas. I would also emphasize that you should NEVER modify a canning recipe unless the recipe allow for it.

  4. Good article, but item #9 needs to be clarified. Yes, you do vent the pressure canner for 10 minutes before placing the weight on the vent pipe, but the processing time starts when the pressure gauge comes up to the recommended pressure (or if your model doesn’t have a gauge, the processing time starts when the weight starts rocking and venting at the corresponding pressure). The Ball Blue Book, your instruction manual that came with your pressure canner, and your county extension office are all great sources of canning information.

  5. and maybe it is a good idea to cook everything again or 15 minutes before you eat it.

  6. All of these aspects are why I only dry-can dehydrated items, which can be stored indefinitely and without concern over the seals on the jars being compromised. I have an Excalibur food dehydrator which I used to dehydrate all sorts of vegetables (mostly spinach and carrots at the moment) and some meats–mostly chicken, as I’m not a big beef eater. Since dehydration removes all of the water, there’s no worry over spoilage.

    1. Sorry, but dehydration does not remove ALL of the water from food. The goal in dehydration is to remove 90-95% of the moisture. Dehydrated meats can and DO spoil. I think it’s mostly due to the oils in meat going rancid, even if it feels extremely dry.
      You can make pemmican with dried meat and it will last a lot longer because you render the fat that is mixed with the dried meat. Rendering makes the fat more stable, removes impurities and kills all the bacteria present.

      1. Been looking into getting one of those freeze dry machines because of that exact reason, think it could be worth its weight in gold.

        1. I didn’t even know they finally made a freeze dryer for home use. I looked once many years ago and was disappointed they there was only commercial dryers. I checked them out. I am drooling to get one. Freeze dried is the best tasting food. I will have to talk this over with my better half. In the long run, it would be cheaper than buying the freeze dried food.

        2. Check out harvestright dot com
          Nice little machines, i think in the 3500$ range, but if you consider the cost of freeze dried foods is a good investment,
          That would be the focus of a PV system for me, to make sure icould run a freeze dryer and or dehydrator for extended periods with no grid power. Pressure canning will be tricky on a wood stove.

  7. “9. Don’t begin counting the processing time until after the water with the jars in it comes to a good rolling boil if using the water-bath method, or until after steam has vented for 10 minutes from your pressure canner.”

    Nope. Timing starts for a pressure canner when the canner has come up to the recommended pressure. Yes you need to vent the steam for ten minutes, but it can take many minutes after that for the required pressure to be reached.

  8. There are several issues with these “rules”:
    #3 — Once you understand the basic science behind water-bath and pressure-canning, you can easily use your own recipes. I have canned for years and years and have never had any problems with my own canned foods.
    #4 — I use Tattler lids and rubber rings for many canned foods and they are reusable.
    #5 — The French system is perfectly fine to use, but would not recommend this type of canning jar to a beginner.
    #9 — Most experienced canners know that jams, jellies, and pickled foods are only in the water-bath canners for sealing purposes. In fact, some of these foods are often preserved in a slow oven instead of the canners. The best pickles are those cold packed cucumbers with hot brine and have only been in a water-bath canner for 5-10 minutes from the minute they go into the boiling water, not timed after the water returns to a boil.
    #9 — Pressure canning is achieved when the correct amount of pressure is attained. The “processing time” begins the moment when the pressure canner stat reaches the correct pressure required. A 10 minute steam-release prior to pressurizing the pot is unnecessary. I watch for the power of that steam-release which is an indicator that the internal pressure has built up.

    In general, if only water-bath canning certain vegetables and the question of acidity is of importance, get pH test strips and learn what the acidity level really is instead of making assumptions.

    1. Wrong on several points, Homestead Gal.

      #9 Water-bathing high-acid foods does more than just create a seal. Jars will seal by putting the lid on a hot jar of hot food. It makes sure the contents of the jar reach a certain temp, and kills bacteria that causes food to spoil.

      Oven canning has never been an approved canning method.

      The 10-minute venting period for a pressure canner is necessary. Read any canning book or the canner’s manual and it will tell you why it is necessary.

      1. Agreed. Don’t mess with the 10 minute steam release, it is necessary to remove air. Hot air is not not enough to pressure can, it has to be steam. Venting for 10 minutes forces out the air and fills the pot with steam, you can see it. What’s 10 minutes anyway?

    2. @Homestead Gal — I agree with your points 100% and have been canning for 30 years.

      I do not use the pH strips though because I pressure-can all of my tomato sauces and tomatoes. It’s easier and eliminates the worry of low acid issues.

      Those who disagree with us are probably some of those “canning experts” who take one of those County Extension courses and become the experts among those who have done this for decades. ROFL!

      1. Sorry honey, 30 years of canning experience doesn’t stand up against physics.

        1. @Thox Spuddy
          Your one-liner argument on physics has offered nothing whatsoever to me or to other readers here. So let me enlighten others since you didn’t.

          The increase of pressure (psi, or pounds per square inch) of the interior of a pressure cooker correlates to the boiling point, the rise in the boiling point, and the temperature beyond the boiling point (212 degrees F or 100 degrees C). There is a max point at which the cooking temperature can be achieved at a given pressure. At 212 degrees F, the internal temperature of a pressure cooker will be approximately 0psi. No one should attempt to “pressure can” foods at 0psi as the internal pressure isn’t pressurized — that’s why the gauge will read “0”.

          At 240 degrees F, the pressure gauge will indicate 10psi, the typical standard pressure for many pressure-canned foods. Personally, I pressure-can all of the “recommended” 10psi foods at 12psi, to allow for variables.

          The standard American-made pressure canner is built for 15psi and at this threshold, most pressure-canner gauges will make ‘warning’ sounds.
          All pressure canning times must be adjusted for the variable of atmospheric pressure. There is less atmospheric pressure as elevation rises. Pressure canners will need increased time to build the internal temperature due to the effect of the atmospheric pressure drop at higher elevations. Hence the requirement for the adjustment in cooking time at higher altitudes.

          Lastly, my ID here is Lynn, not “honey”.

        2. Lynn, I have no dispute with that, but with the idea of not venting for 10 minutes before you put the weight on.

        3. First of all, it would be biology not physics. 🙄 Secondly, for literally hundreds years foods were processed without pressure canning. So let’s start with science. Botulism is killed at 185f or above. So assuming the jars, lids and funnel are sterile, you could boil tomatoes, can them and you’re good to go. Which is what my family has done for 100+ years (called open kettle canning). You can water bath anything…it just takes a looooong time. But please canning police, keep scaring these people into thinking they’re going to die because of “physics”

        4. Jessica
          Ya know; you were doing a fine job there, until you had to elaborate your discussion into nothing but gibberish with the;

          “But please canning police, keep scaring these people into thinking they’re going to die because of “physics”.

          Actually the process of Pressure Canning IS Physics and Thermal Dynamics while assisting the Biology part (killing the ‘bugs’) while preserving foods.

          But good try.

        5. I’m glad you made this post people back in the day didn’t have pressure canners I’m new to canning I only have a water bath canner so I have to make do

        6. Tina
          Look on Craig’s list for canning supplies. Check the local ads for a pressure canner, sometimes they will be purchased then the buyer changes their mind do to all the work involved. Ask family or friends to be on the look out for this item.

  9. well, I cannot comment on canning practices, as I have not skill/knowledge in this at all…

    however, fifty some yrs ago, my Mother canned everything, from tomatoes/chicken/beans/relish, and it all turned out wonderful. Old wood stove/a large pot with rack in (back then this qualified as canning equipment)…

    and my grandparents even more stuff canned, back much further.

    all was canned except for pickles and sauerkraut, that was put down in crocks. All canning and crocks was stored on shelves in dirt cellar.

    my observation with this all being, I do not recall even one incident of any canning going “bad” (and my grandparents had some for MANY yrs), or anyone falling ill from it. Guess the techniques were passed on automatically.

    I am glad that these days there are sites like this to educate folks about canning, as well as many other concerns.

    1. I do agree with the methods you share. I even water bath can green beans still.
      I read that the method used by our ancestors won’t work today because of the chemicals, sprays, GMOS used on the crops now.
      Just sharing what I read–seriously, search for food poisoning as I have done.
      The cases are minimal. The most were in Alaska-blubber cases.

  10. Whenever I read about anyone saying, in effect, “we did it this way in the past so it’s good enough for me”, my brain screams, “We did not have all the antiobiotic-resistant germs back then that we have now!” There are more germs, and more resistant, germs now!

    1. It cracks me up when someone says “my brain screams” when someone doesn’t do something the same way I do. LOL. Do whatever you want your way. I’ll do it the way I always have. All these germ-a-phobes are where the “more resistant germs” come from. To build immunity to germs you have to encounter them. Put down the hand sanitizer and live a little. I can only think of two jars both were blatantly obvious. If you’re that paranoid, you better stick with the crap at the grocery store.

      1. Thats funny what you mention about germaphobes,,,
        When i was a kid we lived on a ranch, would take our lunches when out working cows or whatever,
        Cow shit, dirt, bug goo, more dirt etc etc,,, i remember just wiping my hands on my pants and pulling out my PB&J sandwich and some chips without a second thought,,,
        My mom pointed that out one day, guess im going soft,

  11. I do can green beans using water bath but, you have to devote 2 hours to the canning process after water boils. I always hot pack and add salt. Mom, aunt and grandma used and I have used for years with no issues.

    1. Amen–common sense used. I boil longer, add salt, and lately add 1/2 tsp lemon juice.
      40+ years here also.

  12. Learned how to can about 5 yrs ago. Was afraid I would kill myself and my family :)

    Grandma ALWAYS boiled anything that came from store or home canned for 10 min to kill what ever might still be lurking.

    I am fastidious when I can. My counter is cleaned and set up like an operating room. I sanitize the jars in boiling water for 20 min before putting any kind of food in. I always follow tried recipes and only do my thing if it in general follows the rules of tried recipes.

    Remember ! If you don’t put botulism in, you won’t get botulism out.

    So far, we still live :)

  13. Question on pressure canned stuff older than a year,
    Keep or toss?
    Have a bunch of green beans from about a year and a half ago, just tasted some the other day, seem fine,
    But know the recommendation is 1 year
    What are your experiences with that.
    Also, pressure canned corn, it expanded, sort of freaked me out, didnt lose all the liquid but definitely some, would hot pack be better with corn? Followed the All American book and said cold pack,

    1. @ Kula
      See my post… HAHAHAHA
      I have been using Green Beans that are 3-4 years old that I canned. I think the trick is to make sure you cook the stuff well.

      PS; I guess I better cover my azz with a disclaimer.
      Please use ALL recommended FDA and other Alphabet Government Agency guidelines for food and food storage.

    2. Kula, we finished our 2013 green beans a few months ago. The “experts” typically warn people that home-canned produce is only good for a year. That’s rubbish. Consider the source — These are the same people who produce all of the ignorant consumer warning labels on devices that makes you question if every human on Earth could possibly be so stupid. (Oh wait!! lol)

      Some loss in liquids can be expected in a number of the cold pack veggies. Just remember not to over-fill and then be sure to screw the jar rings correctly.

      1. Lynn,
        The jars seemed to seal good, at first i was sort of looking at the bottles thinking it looked wierd, then googled it and then looked normal. Sometimes i over think stuff.

    3. We are eating fish and venison we canned last century. Its good! No problemo. Got to look at it and use your head.

    4. OMG..In 2012, I ate green beans water bath canned in 1992. Yep–20 fricking years–which is the purpose of canning!!!

      Tomatoes, tomato juice, 15 years canned and eaten.

    5. Kulafarmer
      My cousin , who’s been canning for quite awhile said IF canned properly and stored properly most is edible after the one year limit. She has a really good root cellar attached to the basement. She told me she is eating things she canned back in 2009, hasn’t had a problem so far (knock wood). Having said that it’s up to you and your comfort zone. DH wasn’t comfortable with eating the applesauce we water bathed canned in 2011( I did go a bit overboard with the sauce Tee Hee) so bless his pointed little head , threw it out in 2014 NOT just the sauce but threw out ALL the jars rather than emptying them. I coulda bopped him but I understood, just told him we were going to have to buy more AND as it was after canning season, he wasn’t to kvetch about the cost LOL.

  14. Great article/reminder on a lot of stuff about canning, and some good input as well from the comments, Thanks All.
    I have a question for the group. How long will home canned foods last. Now I know commercial foods are 1-2 years to the “best by”. What are your experiences on “how long to store”.
    FYI, My mom has some canned Green Beans that were canned in 1983, I sending off a couple of jars to get tested. Will be interesting to get the results back, and if interested I will post here.
    Personally I have and still use home-canned foods that are will over 5 years with no problems.

    1. Keep them in a dark, cool space and they will be safe to eat for a long, long time. I would guess like any stored food the nutritional value will decline. the nice thing about canned food in jars is that if some bad stuff starts to grow inside the seal will break and you will know to discard it, not so with canning in cans or store bought cans.

      1. @ Mack. Not true Mack. We had two #10 cans that looked like basketballs because they were bulging so much. I was afraid to touch them. They looked like they were ready to explode. Strange thing, it was a scone mix, all dry ingredients. I didn’t dare try to open them, they went directly into the trash.

        1. Peanut Gallary, Thanks for making my point. If that would have been a jar the lid would have popped off and you would know it was bad. I never indicated canned food in a can never showed signs of deterioration, my point was it may NOT show signs of going bad and the lid would be intact nonetheless.

        2. Your right that some cans show no visible signs of contamination. What you need to do when opening a can, is listen to the can when you open it. If it releases air, throw it away. You want to hear air being sucked in when you first open it. I have had to throw out one or two in my lifetime. It is a rarity, but there is always a chance.

  15. I did improvise on one recipe, found recipe for pickled water bath canned pearl onions, found recipe for pickled water bath canned red onions,

    Only problem was i wanted to make our local style Portugese pickled onions, are refer pickles though but i dont like the idea of having to refrigerate them, so made up the brine and packed as per the recipes for the other two types with the water bath, and am crossing my fingers,,,,

    Would be ideal, can just have them on the shelf for whenever and dont need to take up tons of refer space to hold them. Did pints rather than quarts as well.

    My prepping sends me back to the 1800s, i dont want to rely on tech heavy anything, if theres no power im not going to worry about it. So everything i practice reflects that,

    One exception, still cant take the jump to hand saws etc,,,, thats just too much work!

    1. @ Kula
      I shivered at the mention of that “hand saw”. Being a carpenter by trade 40+ years ago I still have a few nailed to a “antique” wall as a reminder.

      1. Ive been trying to talk myself into clicking the complete order button on a bunch of hand saws and planes at Woodcraft and some other specislty saws and blade tools at Lee Valley, i know i want them but also know if things are that bad i most likely wont be needing them,,,,
        At the moment the “hand tools” seem like more of a novelty, hard to think my power tools wont be able to be powered one way or another, after dragging my worm drive and framing guns around for so long my arm goes limp thinking about the alternatives,,,

    2. Not enough detail there to know what you did exactly, but I’ve done the following (which I copied from someone else): I put the vegetables in a salt brine of 2-3 tbs of pickling salt per quart of non-treated water. The brine water has been heated up not enough to dissolve the salt and is poured into the jar of raw sliced vegetables. Not whole. A snug fitting lid is placed and the jar sits in the room for 1-3 days and will ferment. After that the brine is poured into a saucepan adding white vinegar to make a vinegar to water ratio brine of 1 part vinegar to 2 parts water, adding another tbsp of salt, no sugar. This is boiled, the jar of sliced vegetables sits in a pan of hot water and the hot brine is poured in. Lid and band the jar and sit it in the room for a day. Into the refrigerator for a week, take it out and leave it on the shelf forever.

      This ferment/pickle process of salt, vinegar is safe.

  16. I think when discussing canning it is important to realize there is a risk with any stored food spoiling or becoming dangerous to eat. Canning procedures have become more and more conservative over the years, just look at some dated canning books and you will see that. The USDA or any extension office is going to be “risk averse” and will tell you the most conservative rules, just like food companies and expiration dates, its based on a lot of CYA. Use common sense, and as a beginner follow the current rules, however, don’t throw out grandma’s 100 year old jelly recipe because it didn’t use a water bath, good grief, she lived to be 103 and here 9 kids are now 90 years old and still eating her preserves!

    I really like this site Ken, you do a great job. I have noticed something within the prepper community that often makes me go hmmm, and it is not at all about your blog. It is our love-hate relationship with the .gov.

    We will believe what they have to say about safe canning, but not vaccinations;
    we agree with their reports on the risk of an EMP, but not what they say about having Ebola under control;
    We believe in their “organic” certification standards, but not their determination that GMO foods are completely safe…

    The list could go on, just food for thought.

    1. I have to agree.
      I read a lot of the so called fear mongering sites.
      And have to do a lot of fact checking before I believe what I read.
      I do like this site, it falls closer to truth than fiction.
      Ken , you always bring to the table,Things of real concern.
      Well done!
      Canning, been doing it since I was a child with my grand mother.
      Good points here, but really it’s not rocket science. A skill every one should know, and use.
      Always! Stay safe.

      1. Otarn (and Mack), thanks for the kudos. And thanks for your contributions via the comments. I really enjoy hearing (reading) what others have to say about an issue – lots of new thoughts and ideas spring up…

  17. #4–you can use lids from vacuum sealed jars. The rubber has not been compromised.
    Been using those for two years now. Just erase the sharpie marks and apply new date/item.
    ***It cracks me up when someone says “my brain screams” when someone doesn’t do something the same way I do. LOL. Do whatever you want your way. I’ll do it the way I always have. All these germ-a-phobes are where the “more resistant germs” come from. To build immunity to germs you have to encounter them. Put down the hand sanitizer and live a little. I can only think of two jars both were blatantly obvious. If you’re that paranoid, you better stick with the crap at the grocery store***

    Well said, AMY. Check the records for # of cases of botulism. They are in Alaska and canners of blubber!!!

    I have been making a No-NO for 40 years like my grandmother and mother and have possibly consumed many germs from water bath canning green beans. Have a shelf of those at this moment.

    Kula?? Me too and in a paper bag!!
    Kula, I have eaten tomatoes, tomato sauce, 20 years old and green beans over 10/maybe 15 years old–all water bath canned and no lemon juice added.
    My last can of green beans, water bath canned in 1992, were eaten in 2012!! Do the math; and they were absolutely delicious.

    1. That was why i was wondering, i opened a bottle the other day and just ate them straight off, seemed fine, not like freshbut heated up with some rice would be grinds,,, i just cand imagine what the diff would be from tin canned store bought to home pressure or water bath canned,

  18. Great topic!I read not long ago that they found a can of corn from 1963 in Ca. they tested it and found it was safe to eat but had lost some nutritional value.They also found cans in a ship sunq from the 1800’s that was still good.Point is,if done right it’s safe.No short cuts!Many let the conditioned fear uncle Sam pushes overcome their common sense.I called a co. about their corned beef in cans cuz their best date was not clear.Their Rep told me their corned beef is guaranteed 7 years past the canned date if the can is not damaged.That was 5 years ago.Not sure if they still say that but ya get the point.I just saw on local news about exp. dates on medicine.Point was only certain meds have an exp. date…Common sense is the order of the day…sadly in short supply for most people not prepping…

  19. My grandmother taught me to can many many years ago. She had a second kitchen in the basement and would only use the pressure canner in that kitchen. She taught me a healthy respect for the whole process. I pressure can meats as well as low acid vegs. with no problems. We did toss out 2 jars just because we were not real sure of the smell. ( it was probably good) I have canned sweet potatoes and white potatoes with no issues and I will can just about any type of meat. Not all meats come out well after pressure canning. It is amazing how many people will not even consider canning saying the canner can explode. Some even laugh at me. As for our home, it feels good to have many jars full of food we prepared.

    1. @ patriot
      Interesting you mention canning meats, I have in the past canned Bacon, it’s extremely good although it does seem to “fall apart”.

      I have also canned chicken, beef, pork all with no problems. I’m actually picking up an additional 80 pounds of chicken tonight, guess what I’ll be doing this weekend. That’s right, making Ketchup with 150 pounds of tomatoes I was given yesterday… HAHAHA Plus the garden got hit with a hail storm so I need to pick the rest of the Peppers, Swish Chard, Carrots, Beets, and Turnips….. I wonder if I’m going to have a busy weekend?

      1. You go with all that canning. And yea bacon does not do real well being canned. BUT , its still bacon. lol Deer meat also comes out really tender. Enjoy all those canned goods

  20. Don’t try to remove the lid of the pressure canner while still pressurized and don’t remove the weight to relieve the pressure. Allow it to cool down slowly. the contents will continue to boil for 30 minutes or more.

    If you move hot jars wear long sleeves, thermal gloves and safety glasses.

    Always set jars removed from canner on a towel, not a cold surface.

    To speed up the process use two or more canners instead of rushing the process.

    (underline) DO NOT OVEN CAN TOMATOES !

    Store lids in refrigerator to preserve the seal, it has a shelf life.

    Keep a canning notebook with details of the project, don’t assume you will remember. Label each jar with date and contents, indexed to the notebook.

    Pint jars are quite inefficient for meat as some meat, pork, can shrink so much that the jar will end up half full.

    Do not can pumpkin, squash.

    Any dense food, such as potatoes should be hot packed.

    All canned food has to be boiled for 10 minutes before using.

    Recycle your jars.

    1. @ Thox
      Ok here is a stupid question, and don’t Misinterpret this, if one cans (pork or meat) in a pint and “shrink so much that the jar will end up half full.” wont the same happen if you use quarts? The meat will shrink the same wont it?

      1. We don’t have that happen with beef, but with pork, I don’t know if the fat content is to blame or not. In a quart size no it doesn’t shrink to half but the amount of pork ends up being more than double of what two pints contain. If both are filled to the inch border the pint will be fat and empty halfway. The quart will be down about the same amount in inches, but will have more meat. Copy?

        1. @ Thox
          I don’t can a lot of pork (mostly Bacon so far), so it’s interesting that “it” shrinks like that. I ALWAYS welcome good advice, thanks.

  21. I oven can crackers!! Because vacuum sealing crackers only gives a shelf life of 6-9 months. Longer with oven canning; something about heating the oils in crackers make them last longer.

    1. Speaking of oven canning–I did check BOBs today for K103 and in the food bob I checked the Ritz crackers–they were dated Dec., 2015 and tasted as fresh as bought today.
      Yum…20 months.

  22. I have this book in the German language, and have been using it for the past 30 plus years. It is my cooking bible. Kind of expensive, but it is worth the money. Once I find the english language version, I will post the link.

    It has nutritional values, pictures of herbs, fish and seafood, wild game, poultry, canning and preserving, substitution, how to make your own sirups for juices, how to make your own cheeses, sauces, you name it. We did use it in school during cooking and householding class ( for lack of better words-I guess it is called today food science today ).

    Here is the ISBN for the book in the German language : ISBN-13: 9783920105048.

  23. I haven’t begun the journey of canning yet. It’s on my to do list, that’s for sure and someday I’ll get into it. I admire those who already have the knowledge and practice. Although, after hearing all of these stories about canning I’m starting to wonder if it might be cheaper and maybe even safer for me to build a winter greenhouse instead. I mean living down south I already have a long growing season as it is. Even if it’s just temporary frames over the raised beds. Any thoughts?

    1. @ Grits
      Honestly there is not a better sound than that “pop” as a canning lid snaps down as the jars cool. I have actually canned for (including helping my mom when young) a good 47 years. I could not imagine a fall/winter without the fun (yes fun) of canning. After the expense of a “good” canner/pressure-cooker it’s actually rather cheap, I find jars at Garage Sales or on sale at stores. I just picked up another 10 cases of Ball Pint Jars at Ace Hardware, @ $7.00 per case of 12. That’s right at 58¢ per jar (reusable jar, next year the jars are free), for new jars, If you grow your own or is given to you, the food is at no cost, the additional supplies also are cheep. So lets say 60¢ per pint (16 OZ) that’s around 40¢ cheaper than an average can of food at Safeway. Plus did I mention it’s actually fun? And in a great way very satisfying to know what’s in that jar your opening. And the fact that you “did it yourself” and did I mention it’s fun? HAHAHA

  24. Great conversation! As an avid gardener and canner I enjoyed reading the comments. I too have a concern about #2 having tomatoes as low acid, but that concern has been addressed via others’ comments.

    Don’t forget you can preserve juices, soups, etc. There are tons of safe, researched recipes out there. I know there is a love/hate relationship with TPTB, but great resources are Ball/Kerr, The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension, and National Center for Home Food Preservation.

  25. Has anyone mentioned canning dried beans yet? How do you do that? D’ya put the dried beans uncooked, soaked or what?

    1. Yes, I can them often. Cover dried beans with cold water and soak overnight. Drain. Cover beans by at least 2 inches water and bring to boil. Boil 30 minutes. Pack hot beans into hot jars leaving 1 inch headspace. Add salt if desired.(1/2 tsp. pints or 1 tsp. quarts). Remove air bubbles and pressure can. Pints 75 minutes and quarts for 90 minutes at required pressure for your altitude.

    2. I do them uncooked–sort and wash, then into the jars. As long as you have sufficient liquid they do fine. I use 1/3 to 1/2 c beans for a pint jar and 1 c beans for a quart jar. Pour the liquid over them (pork and beans, ham and beans, chili, etc) and pressure can. Beans have to be pressure canned. Different kinds of beans have different expansion ratios, so experiment with that. Go for a smaller amount of beans on your first batch if you’re uncertain. Better a slightly watery bottle than soaking up all the liquid and leaving the beans only partially hydrated. This is why a lot of people prefer the soak-cook-soak-cook process, but for me the time savings is worth it.

  26. Here’s what I found to work perfectly for dehydrated onions, peppers, oatmeal, rice and beans. I waited till Harbor Freight had their vacuum pump on sale. I got it for $70.00 out the door. I bought vacuum seal tops on Amazon.

    Fill the jar with oatmeal, place the seal on the jar, top it with the vacuum seal top, turn on the vaccum pump and stick the hose in the hole in the sealer, wait about three seconds and remove the hose. You now have a completely vaccum sealed jar of oatmeal, beans, dried onions, dried peppers.

    I steam beets, or make a big pot of beef stew and I vaccum seal the jars before they go into the fridge. I will eat these within days, but I still figure they will last longer if vaccum sealed.

    1. @ Old Boy Scout
      That’s the exact same method I use for vacuum sealing all dehydrated jars. I also use it to reseal my “wall” of misc. beans/pasta/lintels/etc. I also vacuum out Mylar bags with the pump, using a 1/4 inch tube and an Iron to finish the seal. It really makes a difference.

  27. My only experience with canning was watching my grandmother do it and that was over 40 years ago. In her day all canned goods were sealed with a food grade wax plug. Basically when the jars were up to temperature (for heated items) melted wax was poured in until it reached the rim. These were allowed to cool to room temperature and simply shelved.

    Non heated foods such as pickled vegetables and jams/jellies were also sealed with melted food grade wax, but of course the wax plug solidifies and sealed in minutes.

    Is anyone familiar with that old style method and do you think it is safe to use?

    Another thing she did (not canning related) which I thought was odd, but seemed to work was how she froze venison (deer meat) after my grandfather had gone hunting. 70 plus lbs of meat takes time to consume and freezer burn is normally a problem after a few months.

    She would wrap the cleaned and cut meat in plastic wrap. She would then line old shoe boxes with plastic wrap and pour in a 1/4 inch layer of melted wax. When it cooled she would stack the wrapped meat in the shoe box and pour a final layer of melted wax and let it solidify. Then she would stack them in a freezer in the basement. The meat would keep this way free of freezer burn for more than a year.

    She also made venison jerky by hanging marinated strips from a clothesline in the sun.

    I probably possess these skills, but am too paranoid to practice them.

    1. well, I think what the wax accomplishes, is to seal the meat packet so no air gets at it. I have bought commercially vacuum sealed meat pieces, and used them after a year in the freezer, and they do not have any freezer burn. trick being, all the air is sucked out. suspect many that have the home machines can accomplish same.

  28. Our trick for storing veggis is to dry them, vac pack a mix in a big bag, break it up into smaller bits, and then put them into the freezer. That way a break in the bag won’t allow them to reabsorb. I also like to have the wood stove rolling to pull the humidity down while we vac-pac.

    We then take the mix bags and add them to pretty much every thing. Keish with our extra eggs and then frozen, spaghetti sauce, pulled pork, or any slow cooker soup stew, or bean mix you want.

    Bottom line is if it all goes bad, power is out, we can pull the vac packs out of the freezer when it is done and have 6 months of veggie additives after eating the freezer down.

    The first 2 weeks many rural people won’t be hungry as they eat down the need-to-be-eaten food. Then canned food will be the thing. After that, vegetables will be sought after in any form. But thats all season dependent.

    If you are a bulk staple owner, just think how much better your rice (month 2) would taste with a packet of dried veggies added to it..

    Dried and Vac-packed might be the way to go.

  29. We live in Northern California, very small town, out of the main and up in the hills. It feels safe here. We have a large veggie garden and I can EVERY THING! (I get a lot of joy giving my canned goods to people) Sorry, I got side tracked,I heard that the Gov can take your property, is there anything we can do to prevent that from happening? I plan on bugging out right here, we’re off the grid, have 2 huge generators/with a 500gal diesel tank and solar panels and a root cellar full of canned goods from the garden! In other words we’re in heaven guns and ammo hidden in the woods. But I’m freaking out about having our home taken away!!! Feedback? Please ease my mind?

  30. Some say that is necessary to keep the screw-on ring on jars until the contents are used. Some say that it is not necessary, even that it is in fact, dangerous to do so.

    Is there a definitive answer to this issue?

    1. @ Rich
      All my life I have kept the Rings on when there are full. After a lot of discussion here on MSB I have come to the conclusion they (the rings) are not needed, so now I remove them, sometimes. I guess it may also depend on if you stack the jars or not. The ones I stack I leave the rings on, if not than not.
      I also run short on rings at times and now have no problem stealing them.

      So to directly answer your question…. Yes, No, Maybe. It’s totally up to you.

    2. I think it is likely best, especially long term, to remove the Metal Rings…

      I am not a canner, but I base this on childhood memories…

      My Mom/Grandma never removed them as I recall. However, I also recall, that after a time some were quite difficult to get off. So, removing them might prevent trouble later on.

    3. Moisture under the rings can cause the rings and lids to rust. Those who live in a dry environment it doesn’t matter as much, but in areas with high humidity it’s suggested to remove the rings so they don’t rust.

      Some say that the rings are necessary to maintain a seal for a longer period, but I haven’t seen any difference in that area.

      1. I have definitely seen the situation where there’s a bit of rust related to the rings over a period of time. Lately I have removed the rings from our canning jars, and so far there has been no issues. The lids are nice and ‘tight’ (under a good vacuum as they should be).

    4. My Gramma taught me to remove the rings. Her reason was if the jar didn’t properly seal, the ring might hold the lid in place, hiding the fact there was a problem. Without the ring on, the lid would “blow off” and it would be obvious. Beach’n

  31. I, too, remove the rings to reuse them but I also loosen them before I put the jars away to negate the possibility of them rusting in place. One exception is when I use the Tattler lids. Not being metal they won’t rust to the ring and I just feel safer with the ring holding the lid on.

  32. #4–I started a test reusing lids in February of 2015. So far my seal rate with reused lids is higher than with new lids and they stay sealed. I’m satisfied that the lids can be reused at least once. I’m working on the 2nd test. So far those are all working as well. I’m keeping them in a separate area so I can keep track of the test. This has worked for pressure and water bath.

    Watch for the pressure button–on some of the newer lids it stops working after the first seal. Still seals, but it may not pop back up when the seal is broken. In that case make sure it pops up before you reuse the lid.

    Inspect lids before reusing. If they are bent, don’t use them. If the seal is broken or damaged, don’t reuse them.

    The main purpose for this test was to see if the lids could be reused in a situation where lids were unavailable. I also don’t trust someone who sells a product and says it can’t be reused for safety reasons…

    1. I’ve read that the Amish often re-use lids; if there is no seal, they re-can. Since then, I’ve used some (without cracks from opening the first time) with no problems. Laura

    2. I’m hoping you will all keep my identity secret so the canning police won’t be knocking on my door. I’ve got about 60 of the old fashioned bail jars, Atlas and Kerr, and I use them for most water bath canning. In 6 years I’ve only had one fail to seal. I strongly recommend that you do not follow my example (for most of my life including my earliest childhood I’ve be a dependable ‘bad example’ for most folks who need one – teachers, preachers etc.) The reason I’m skating on the edge is the reusability of those lovely red rubber rings. Oh, and I like the look of those old jars too. It’s always a thrill when I pull on the tab and the jar goes “phffft”.

      1. As long as the “phffft” is a vacuum release and not a pressure release!

        1. The trick to determining the whether the ‘phffft’ will be an ‘inney’ or an ‘outee’ is to lift the jar by the lid after the bail is dropped. No, don’t lift it over your head, just an inch or so off the table.

  33. Regarding longevity of canned goods; two years ago (in 2015) I was talking on the phone with a friend that was just finishing up a jar of pickle relish her mom canned with a date on the underside…1977; thirty-eight years old.

    Over the last three years I’ve canned a lot, I mean a lot of poultry and meat. Let’s redo this posting in a couple of decades and I’ll let ya know how meat products fair…if I’m not dead from the testing phase!

  34. I was at Harbor Freight website a couple of years ago looking at manual vacuum
    pumps, the kind you use to drain the oil from your power steering reservoir, and I
    was surprised to see an attachment you could buy to seal jars as described above
    in the comments. So, power goes out, no problem.

    Jackie Clay once wrote that even though she had been canning for over 40 years she
    always got out the recipe and followed it each and every time she canned. She advised
    against bottled lemon juice because of the varying acidity levels. When asked how
    long canning food would last she used the word “indefinitely” a whole lot.

    For those who have no area to garden or access to a community garden like myself,
    use your local supermarket as your garden and stock up when sales and best buys
    show up. The expert canners to so all the time. Whether it’s Jackie Clay from Backwoods
    Home Magazine or NRP from MSB.

    I have made a personal decision that I choose not to can for a deep larder but dry can
    those items that perhaps will be lighter up to a years supply. Should I have to leave
    quickly, and am able to do so, I may be able to carry more provisions with me. Great

  35. If using a pressure gauge pressure canner then the gauge needs to be tested before each canning season to insure accuracy. I personally prefer the weighted jiggler type. Pressure also needs to be increased according to your altitude. I live at 3000 feet so I use 15 lb. pressure.

  36. I was in a hurry tonight so I didn’t have time to read all the posts. Did anyone mention that the required pressure will change as the altitude of the process increases? That’s critical for achieving the correct processing temperature in pressure canning. Make sure that you are using the correct weight to achieve the pressure you need at the altitude of your location. If in doubt (my alt. is around 1760 ft. so I go for 15 lbs.) bump up to the higher weight.

    1. Good advice. Recpies from trusted sources do specify altitude pressure compensations. We are above 1000 feet so we up it to 15 psi instead of 10.

  37. the only problem with canning is SPACE in a small apartment space is EVERYTHING i started drying food for that very reason and it takes up MUCH less room

  38. Not sure if this tip had been discussed above but from my experience I would highly recommend a pressure canner with dial gauge rather than using the “rattle” method. They might be a little more expensive but it really takes the guess work out of it. If you need 11 pounds, then you just adjust the heat to keep at 11 pounds, no counting “jiggles” per minute or anything. Anyways, my 2-cents.

  39. According to the USDA, All tomato varieties are now considered low acid, with no exclusions, even heirloom tomatoes. They also specifically indicated that no amount of any acid, lemon juice, vinegar, ascorbic acid & so on will make tomatoes or tomato products safe for home water bath canning.

    The only things now still approved for water bath canning are pickles and most preserves. They even recommend fruits and applesauce be pressure canned.

    There are still a ton of recipes and books written before that revision all over everywhere, and people using them! And worse! Some are still pushing oven canning and just packing the hot product in hot jars then capping and flipping them until they seal, without processing at all! I can’t tell you just how extremely dangerous that is.

    How you decide to can your food is ultimately your personal decision. You will make it based on what you can learn, how you feel about food (un)safety in this modern world, and what trust you place in the safety of your chosen method.

    There are many more bad things besides botulinum toxin , it’s just very difficult to treat. We can’t always save victim’s of botulism.

    I do suggest you go online to the USDA.gov section on canning and food preservation, & check the current canning recommendations. Ball.com might have what you need. And check the dates of your canning cookbooks. Ball has a half dozen or more books in print, some are years old. They just put out a 2019 edition.

  40. How the tin can became our food of choice for the apocalypse

    Object Lessons of a Pandemic: Canning was developed in France in the early 19th century. Today, it’s ideal for doomsday planning and stockpiling

    series looking at the COVID-19 and pandemics through the history and meaning of the objects that surround it — all the strange, ordinary and essential things that the rise of coronavirus has made us think about in new and unexpected ways.

    Canning was developed in France in the early 19th century by Nicolas Appert, who discovered that food sealed in a glass jar and heated could remain edible long after it should have otherwise expired. He didn’t understand the process, but the heat was killing the microorganisms that would have spoiled the food and sealing the container was keeping further microorganisms out.

    Shortly after Appert’s discovery, Peter Durand patented the traditional tin can in the United Kingdom. It immediately became the prevailing standard for western canning. The British were interested in canning as a method of preserving large quantities of food on naval voyages, and in the wake of this change, tin cans of fruits, vegetables and meats became ubiquitous throughout the world.

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