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Pressure Canning Low-Acid Foods

To can low-acid foods, you use a pressure canner. Pressure canning is the only safe way to can low-acid foods. Each step of the pressure-canning process is important to produce safe, home-canned foods:

  1. Assemble your equipment and utensils.

    Examine the jars for nicks or chips, screw bands for proper fit and corrosion, and new lids for imperfections and scratches. Wash them in warm, soapy water, rinsing well to remove any soap residue.

  2. Place clean jars and lids in a kettle of hot, not boiling, water.

    Never boil the lids because the sealant material may be damaged and won’t produce a safe vacuum seal.

  3. Fill your canner with 2 to 3 inches of water and heat the water.

    Refer to your owner’s manual for specific instructions.

  4. Fill the jars.

    You want the food snug, yet loose enough for liquid to circulate into the open spaces.

  5. Ladle boiling water into the jars, then release any air bubbles with a nonmetallic spatula.

    Leave the amount of headspace stated in your recipe.

  6. Wipe the jar rims with a clean, damp cloth. Place a lid on the jar (seal side down) and secure the lid in place with a screw band.

    Hand-tighten the band without overly tightening it.

  7. Place the jars on the rack in the bottom of the canner.

    Make sure you have the recommended amount of simmering water in the bottom of the canner.

  8. Lock the cover.

    Follow the instructions in the owner’s manual.

  9. Allow a steady stream of steam to escape from the pressure canner.

    Continue for 10 minutes or the time recommended in your manual.

  10. Close the vent, bringing the pressure to the amount specified in your recipe.

    Processing time starts when your canner reaches the required pressure. The pressure must remain constant for the entire processing time.

  11. After the processing time has passed, turn the heat off and allow the pressure to return to 0.

    Don’t disturb the canner while the pressure drops; jars that are upset may not seal properly.

  12. Approximately 15 minutes after the pressure returns to 0, remove the canner lid.

    Open the cover away from you to avoid the steam.

  13. After 10 minutes, remove the jars from the pressure canner with a jar lifter and completely cool the jars.

    Place them on a clean towel, away from drafts with 1 to 2 inches of space around the jars. Cooling the jars may take 12 to 24 hours.

  14. Test the seals on completely cooled jars by pushing on the center of the lid.

    If the lid feels solid and doesn’t indent, you’ve produced a successful seal.

  15. Remove the screw bands of the sealed jars and remove any residue by washing the filled jars in hot, soapy water.

    Make sure to thoroughly clean the lids and bands.

Label your jars, including a date, and store the jars (without the screw bands) in a cool, dark, dry place.

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