pressure canning 101

pressure canning 101 learn to pressure can

Pressure canning is scary. Scary like the ancient wooden roller coaster at the PNE – you feel like you’re defying death, but it’s so exciting its worth the terror.

At least, that’s what the roller coaster is like for me.

But then, I’m afraid of heights . . . and my pressure canner.

Some great reasons to face your fear and learn how to pressure can:

> Quick & easy meals ready and waiting on the shelf. Stew, soup, meats, chilli, skettie sauce, you name it.

> Keep your freezer clear for more important things – like bulk orders of organic pastured meat from Big Bear Ranch.

> An endless supply of homemade stock, ready and waiting and cheap as chips.

>The opportunity to avoid BPA-laced canned foods. (If you get reusable glass lids like these.)

Recipe: Quick & Simple Chicken Stock for Pressure Canning

> One chicken, preferably pastured and organic. (Old laying hens make the best stock.)

> Two medium onions, quartered.

> 4-5 sticks of celery, roughly chopped.

> 2-3 carrots, roughly chopped.

> 1 or 2 bay leaves.

> Sprig of thyme.

> Toasted whole coriander.

> 1 tsp. pepper corns.

> Salt to taste. (be generous)

Method: Bung it all in a big stock pot, cover it with water and bring to a boil. Let it simmer for a while ( a good couple of hours or all afternoon). Strain into a pot, cool and skim fat. Taste and adjust seasoning as required.

Do what you like with the chicken. Pot pie, sandwiches, soup, whatever you please.

Now you’re ready to can.

You will need: a pressure canner, canning jars and lids, a ladle, a clock or timer, a pot full of hot water, a kettle on the boil, tongs or canning tools like a magnet, jar lifter etc. some paper towel soaked in vinegar, tea towels and patience.

First things first – READ THE DIRECTIONS FOR YOUR CANNER. I take no responsibility for you blowing yourself up if you don’t use your common sense.


1) Inspect your canner and be sure its safe to use. Look through the steam vent and be sure it is clean and clear. If not, clean it. Take this time to also check over your jars for nicks or cracks.

2) Put on the kettle to boil.

3) Next. Heat up your stock and get your jars and lids ready. (That means heat them in a pot of boiling water.)

4) Put the required amount of  boiling water from the kettle into the bottom of your pressure canner.

5) Fill hot jars with hot stock. Leave 1 inch of room (headspace) at the top. Wipe the rim with the vinegar-soaked paper towel. Put on the lid and seal to “finger tip tight”. i.e. Don’t weld it on. Place in the pressure canner.

Repeat until you’ve used all your stock or your canner is full.

(A good-sized stock pot seems to make about enough stock to fill a good-sized pressure canner. My recipe made just over 8 500 mL jars, which is exactly what my pressure canner holds.)

6) Put the lid on your pressure canner and make sure it’s sealed properly.

7) Over medium-high heat, bring the canner to a boil.

DO NOT put the weight on yet. The weight is the centre picture on the image above.

8) You will know the canner is boiling when steam starts spewing out of the vent. It should be steady. Adjust the heat to keep it steady if you need to. Let it go like that for 10 minutes. Don’t be afraid to use fairly high heat, or you’ll be there forever.

9) After 10 minutes, put the weight on the vent. Don’t burn yourself.

10) You will know the pressure is starting to build when the pressure lock pops up. After this point the dial will slowly start to rise.

11) Keep an eye on the heat and the dial until you get to 10 pounds of pressure.

12) Once you hit 10 pounds of pressure, start timing. Chicken stock needs 30 minutes for 500 mL jars, 35 minutes for 1 L jars. Keep an eye on the heat and adjust it as needed to keep the pressure at 10 pounds.

13) Turn off the heat. Let the pressure come back down to zero on its own. Wait a few minutes past it hitting zero and the pressure lock going down before you open the lid. Take off the lid and wait another 10 minutes or so for things to cool down.

14) Remove the jars, cool and store.

There, that’s all there is to it! Easy peasy. Just remember to read the directions and follow the instructions in your recipe and you’ll be good to go!

That wasn’t so scary, was it?

One thought on “pressure canning 101

  1. Pingback: eat better for less : part two | The Slow Foods Mama

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s