How to pressure can

I’m warning you now, once you start learning how to can, and pressure can, it can be so addicting! In a very good way. HA. It’s become a new favorite hobby of mine that also makes my life easier as a mom and homemaker.

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Why I think you should pressure can.

There are so many reasons to love preserving food and pressure canning is no different.

I know what’s in my food.

The last year or two I’ve been on a mission to really look into ways I can provide for family in a healthier way. Which led to making things from scratch more. When I can food, I either grow it myself or I bought from a source I trust. I know exactly what goes into my cans and there are no extra ingredients added or needed.

It saves me time.

Now, canning can take time itself, but I save so much time when it comes to actually preparing meals. The ease of grabbing cans of food off my shelf and have a meal ready in 15 minutes at the most more than makes up for it.

Saves me money.

I love shopping at warehouse stores and things are usually cheaper when you buy it in bulk. One awesome thing is to preserve and can the food that you won’t use right away and save you money in the long run.

Not only is buying in bulk a great idea, but I make my own chicken broth from the chickens that I buy. When you make your own food, such as broth, it is so much cheaper and so much better for you than store bought.

It reduces waste.

Food from gardens that don’t get used right away tend to go bad. If you pressure can your food, means you can preserve your food and prevent waste.

Have you ever needed a carrot or two for a recipe, but the rest of the carrots don’t end up getting used and they sit in your fridge and go bad? No longer with pressure canning. You can easily pressure can carrots and then have them on your shelf for the next time that you need carrots.

It makes me happy.

For real though! I love making food for my family (even though I hate cooking) and knowing what I’m feeding them. I love that I can have a shelf full of food and can easily make a good home cooked meal within 10-15 minutes even on busy nights.

I go into some of my favorites that I like to keep on my shelf and why here. Once you get into pressure canning, it can be so addicting.

What can I pressure can?

Pressure canning is for foods that are non-acidic. Every food item has a pH value. Anything above 7 is considered alkaline. Below 7 is acidic. Here are some of my favorite things to pressure can:

  • Meat
  • Broth
  • Beans
  • Ready-made meals
  • Sauces
  • Vegetables
  • Soups, chilis and stews

Now, keep in mind that there are things that shouldn’t be canned. (There are rebel canners who do can some of these things but according to the FDA, there are things that are unsafe to can such as: dense purees (think mashed potatoes), dairy, eggs, foods with oil and starches.

What you’ll need

There are a few items you’ll need that are different than water bath canning, including a different canner. You can water bath out of pressure canners (most, not sure of all of them) but you canNOT pressure can out of a water bath canner. There are similar supplies needed between the two, but for now, I’m going to go over everything needed for pressure canning.

  • Pressure Canner
  • Racks
  • Weight
  • Jar Lifter (this set is similar to what I have and use)
  • Funnel
  • Headspace tool/air bubble remover tool
  • Clean jars (not all glass jars will work. Some are not strong enough to withstand the pressure)
  • Lids (not all lids are created equal)
  • Rings

Here I talk about my favorite canning supplies.

How to Pressure Can

Pressure canning is time consuming. From the food prep, getting the food in the jar, cleaning jar, putting the lids on, steam venting, getting the canner up to pressure, the processing time and then waiting for it to come down in pressure. So, when you get ready to pressure can, just know that it can be time consuming.

If the food you’re canning is going to be warm, your canner and jars should also be warm. If you’re cold packing, your jars and canner should also be cold (or room temperature.)

  1. Prepare your canner by adding water (put as much in as the instructions says to. For example, my presto 23 quart calls for 3 quarts of water to pressure can in.) Turn the heat on medium. Let the water start to warm up. Add in your clean, sterile jars so that they can also warm up with the water inside the canner. (If you’re cold packing, don’t turn on the stove and don’t add your jars to the canner until they are full).
  2. Prepare your food that you are wanting to can.
  3. Remove one jar at a time from the canner and pack your food into the jars.
  4. Use your tool (or the end of a wooden spoon, don’t use metal) to remove any air bubbles inside your jars.
  5. Wipe the rim of your jars. I typically use just warm water and a clean rag. However, if I’m canning meat or something that’s greasy then I will use vinegar instead of water. Some people just use water regardless of what they are canning, and some people stick to strictly vinegar.
  6. Add the lids (I will have them in a bowl of warm/hot water) and put the rings on.
  7. Place the jars back into your canner.
  8. If you find that your canner still has room for more jars than what you have prepared, place empty jars inside the canner and fill them with water. No need to put a lid and ring on them. You just don’t want empty space for your full jars to tip over inside the canner.
  9. Put your lid on your canner and turn the heat up. If cold packing, slowly turn up the heat.
  10. Once you have a steady stream of steam coming out of the top of the canner, set a timer for 10 minutes.
  11. After the 10 minutes is up, put your weight on. Depending on where you live will decide how much weight to have on. I pressure can at 15 lbs of pressure.
  12. Watch your pressure gauge. Once I’ve reached the halfway mark (about 8 lbs for me) I will start lowering my temperature on my stove. You don’t need it on high the entire time you can. In fact, mine sits at 2 before I reach my desired pressure. Then, it stays there until my processing time is done.
  13. Once you reach your desired pressure and your weight does it’s happy dance, start your processing time.
  14. Be sure that your canner stays at the correct pressure the entire time. If it dips, you’ll need to restart your processing time over once it gets back up to pressure.
  15. After your processing time is done, turn off your stove and let the canner depressurize naturally. It typically takes mine an hour to depressurize.
  16. After it depressurizes, wait 5 minutes before opening your canner.
  17. Once you take the lid off your canner, I wait another 10 minutes and leave my jars alone.
  18. After that 10 minutes is up, I remove my jars using my jar lifter. I place them on a kitchen towel on my counter.
  19. Let the jars sit (seriously! Don’t touch the lid to see if it sealed yet. You could cause a “false seal”.) for 12-24 hours. Be patient with the jars. Soon, you’ll hear the “pinging” of the lids sealing. Don’t pick up the jars and shake them, move them to a different location, just let them be. So, when you take them out of the canner, put them in a place that they can sit undisturbed for 24 hours.
  20. After they have sat for 12-24 hours (I typically wait 24 hours) then I wash my sealed jars with soapy water to remove anything from the outside of the jars that could’ve come from any siphoning. Then I dry them and place on my shelf.
  21. You’ll want to check your jars to make sure that that they don’t come unsealed.
  22. For the jars that didn’t seal, you can put them in the fridge to use within a few days.

That’s it! Most food you’ll be able to use right away (although, that’s a lot of work to use the next day.) the only exception I can think of is when you’re pickling something. Then it needs to sit for a bit to let the flavors mend.

I love pressure canning!

Ok but seriously, how cool is it to be able to have food ready to go on your shelf that YOU cooked? Or even that you GREW? So cool. You will always know exactly what is in your food and feel confident in feeding your family.

Let me know, what’s your favorite thing to pressure can? Or if you haven’t canned yet, have I convinced you yet?


Thanks for being here, in this space with me. It brings me so much joy providing for my family (even though I hate cooking) and to be able to help others do the same just fills me with joy.

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