Follow these step by step instructions for pressure canning using a pressure cooker (note:Make sure you use a 4 qt. pressure cooker or larger for safe canning).
pressure canner canning jars lids, rings jar lifter funnel towels and pot holders pots and bowls spoons knives etc. Food
- Fill your canner with 3 quarts of water. Remember, pressure is the key to safety in pressure canning. The pressure buildup is what causes the high heat necessary.
- The jars do not need to be covered like a water bath canner. Set rack on bottom and heat water until hot, not boiling. Keep warm.
- Wash and rinse your jars and lids. Jars can be washed by hand or in the dishwasher. You don't need to sterilize jars in pressure canning. The high temperatures reached in the canner will sterilize everything. You DO need to start with clean jars.
- Keep jars and seals hot until ready to be filled. (Options to Keep Jars Hot: Place the clean jars upside down in a large pot with 2 or 3 inches of hot water. Bring to a boil and turn off heat. Leave the jars in the water until ready to be filled. OR Wash the jars in the dishwasher and then simply leave them there until ready to fill. Keeping the door to the dishwasher closed keeps in the steam and heat. Remove the jars a couple at a time as needed.)
- An easy way to keep seals warm is place the seals in a small pan of water. Bring to just below a boil and remove from heat. Leave the seals in the water until ready for a jar. I usually move this pan to a potholder just to the side of my stove because often I need all the burners.</span>
- Prepare and pack food according to instructions in your recipe.Fill jar leaving the recommended head space. Remove air bubbles by running a non-metallic spatula around the inside of the jar. I like to use a plastic orange peeler for this step. It is small and easily slides down. A small rubber spatula will also work.
- Wipe the rim of the jar clean with a damp tea towel or paper towel. Place seals and rings on jars. Tighten finger tight. You really don't have to crank down hard, snug is fine.
- Place jars on the rack in the pressure canner. The jars must not sit directly on the bottom of the canner. Be sure jars are not touching each other. Steam needs to flow freely around each jar. Sometimes this takes a little maneuvering, twisting the jars so that the flatter sides leave more room.
- Place the cover securely on the canner. Heat to boiling. Do not place the weights on yet. At this point steam should be escaping from the vent or the weighted gauge opening. Allow steam to vent for 10 minutes. This is an important step don't skip it. This pushes all the air from the canner. After the 10 minutes, close the vent or put on your weighted gauge and let the pressure build. When canner reaches correct pressure, lower your heat to maintain pressure level. Adjust heat as needed to keep it at the correct pressure.
- NOW start timing. Time needed will be given in the recipe. Again be sure to adjust for altitude. Check your gauge often. In pressure canning you must maintain the correct pressure. If the pressure drops below the recommended level, start your time over. The best way to avoid this mistake is to make it a point to stay in the kitchen and do other stuff, checking the gauge occasionally. You can be cleaning up, or getting your next load ready.
- When time is up, turn off the heat. Do not remove weights or open petcock. Let the canner set until pressure comes back to zero.
- NOW is the time you can leave the kitchen. DO NOT try to speed up the cooling process by pouring cold water over the canner or some other artificial method. Just let the canner cool and release pressure all by itself.
- When the pressure in the canner is at zero, pressure is released, you may now remove the weight or open the vent. Then wait two minutes. Carefully remove the lid, be careful CONTENTS ARE HOT AND STEAMY. Tilt the lid so the steam will not hit you in the face.
- Using a jar lifter, carefully remove the jars and set upright on a wooden board or a thick towel to cool. Be sure they are in a draft free area and leave 1-2 inches space between each jar so air can circulate.
- As the jars cool the seals (or flats) will pull down and seal. You will hear a pinging sound. Do NOT press the lids at this point. After jars have cooled, NOW you may press on the lid to check the seal. The seal should be sucked down and not pop up. If you find a jar that did not seal, simply put the jar in the fridge and plan on using the food within a few days. Remove the screw cap and wash the jar. The outsides will often be sticky. It is a good idea (but not essential) to store without the screw cap. Sometimes the caps will rust if you leave them on. If you have one that is stuck don't force it, you may break the seal. Just go ahead and store it with the screw cap in place.
- Label the jar with the food type and date.
Store your jars in a cool, dark, dry environment. Usually a pantry is fine. Don't store in a utility room where there are hot pipes or high humidity. Do not leave them near direct sunlight.