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Discussion Starter #1
I'm interested in other's experiences and understanding with canning. I've been doing a lot of research and experimenting with my newly purchased canner; however, I'm still a bit concerned with a couple of things.
It appears the "authority" on canning is NCHFP, but the way I take what's being published is the recipes shown on their website are the only recipes that are guaranteed to be safe. That being said, I completely understand that they're only able to test so much due to resources (or a lack of).

I guess my questions ultimately are:

How long are foods (realistically) expected to be good when pressure canned? Or does it depend on what the food is? Obviously, how it's stored is a major contributing factor.

Is it a good or bad idea to add a little bit of citric acid to foods being canned to prevent the potential of botulism? I realize this will affect flavor, but I'm just scared of the whole botulism thing.

Also, I'm a bit confused with the water bath process vs. pressure canning. It seems to me that pressure canning everything is the way to go, no?

Your guys' input is greatly appreciated!
 

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gardener & news junkie
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First of all, welcome to the site! You're about to step into the satisfying experience of putting up your own food! Congratulations on getting a new canner. Just a few things from my experience...

One canning book that has been pretty much the standard for years is the Ball Blue Book from the maker of canning jars. It's a softcover book that contains methods for both pressure canning and water bath canning and a slew of recipes for veggies to pickles, meats, soups, stews, jams and jellies. It's available at Amazon and other sites.
https://www.freshpreserving.com/ball-blue-book--guide-to-preserving-(37th-edition)-1034026.html

How long are canned foods good for? With a proper seal and good storage conditions, a long time! Mine only last about two years before they're eaten up and replaced with fresh but there are some folks who have foods they've canned 5-10 years ago.

Citric acid is added to some things being hot water bathed. It makes them more acid to insure safety. For example, due to climate, variety, etc, some tomatoes aren't as acid as others. Tomato canning recipes usually call for adding citric acid to each jar to make sure they’re acid enough to eliminate the possibility of spoilage. Pressure canned foods don’t need citric acid because the process itself kills any harmful bacteria.

Pressure canning is used for non-acidic foods like meats, vegetables such as beans and potatoes, or combinations of such like soups and stews. Pressure canning is a longer process time-wise as you will see when you start comparing recipes. There’s no need to pressure can things that can be waterbathed.

Just be sure to read the directions that the manufacturer has provided for how to use your canner. They are safe to use. The only canner I’ve ever heard of that blew up was involved in an act of terrorism in Boston.

The only other thing I will add is that one can never have too much information or recipes. Get a few good canning books and spend some time reading them. The more you read, the more comfortable you will become with the process. Then get in there and just do it. :D

I’m sure others will add more good information here. You’re going to be successful!
And please don’t be shy about asking questions! There’s no such thing as a dumb question.
 

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CAW!

Remove the rings after the seal has been set, we wait about hours.

The reason for removing the rings? If by chance your jar has been compromised the lid will most likely pop off. The ring keeps the lids on whether there is "bad food inside or not"..



ymmv of course
 

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reluctant sinner
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Keep a log of what you use and do - makes it easier to reproduce good results and not bad ones. Shop on sales and can that stuff. I always try and run a full canner load, usually 2 loads back to back is enough for one day.

You are the quality control person - didn't clean the rim good enough - well that jar might not last as long as a properly cleaned one. Storage conditions are important.

I screened in part of my covered porch to make a summer kitchen (8'x12'). Canning puts out tons of heat and moisture I don't need in my house. I use a turkey fryer as my heat source. Sitting under the ceiling fan listening to the gentle rattle of the pressure weight is one of my favorite things.

I always look at the jar before opening to inspect the contents - I listen for the vacuum breaking sound and I give it the sniff test before using.

These are two of my books, I have others.

A Guide to Canning, Freezing, Curing & Smoking Meat, Fish & Game by Wilbur F. Eastman Jr. ISBN 1-58017-457-4

Complete Guide to Home Canning and Preserving Second Revised Edition U.S. Department of Agriculture ISBN 0-486-40931-7
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the quick responses.
That makes me feel better, as far as someone else's understanding of what to pressure can and what not to. So, you pressure can your own recipes? I feel like this has opened a whole new world in my life. The sky is the limit, it sounds like.

Another question:
When hot packing your meat - say chicken for example, it obviously cooked and packed with water, but let's say that you're going to use the chicken in a casserole. Is the chicken fully saturated with water at the time of use? If so, how are you getting rid of the excess water, other than the initial draining? That may be an elementary question, but I've got to ask.
I know, I know, there are no stupid questions... only stupid people. JK! Thanks!

Yeah, that was what I got from the storing procedure, too. They (all the people I've been following) stress to only use the bands while processing and to store them without the bands. Again, thanks!
 

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Gumpherhooberpelt
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I don't know if it's possible to make Pemmican from chicken.

Pemmican (not commercially available)
http://www.practicalprimitive.com/skillofthemonth/pemmican.html
http://www.tacticalintelligence.net/blog/how-to-make-pemmican.htm
Pemmican is made by first separating the fat and meat from each other so that they can be processed individually. Meat is best preserved by drying, and fat by rendering. If there is fat in the meat, or vice versa, either could spoil. However, once each is prepared they can be mixed together and the resulting product will have good keeping quality. For travel it is tightly packed in sealed containers (similar to stuffing sausage in casing) so that it will not rancidify.
. . .
During the Second Boer War (1899–1902), British troops were given an iron ration made of four ounces of pemmican and four ounces of chocolate and sugar. The pemmican would keep in perfect condition for decades.
- - - -
Check out "shelf stable" products, too.
Sausage, dry cured (shelf stable)
Dry sausages include:
● Sopressata (a name of a salami)
● Pepperoni (not cooked, air dried)
● Genoa Salami

● Salami, hard
● Summer Sausage
 

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After I can, I LOOSEN the rings after they have sealed? Some take the rings off, but I like to keep the LOOSE rings on them just in case things 'bump'. To each their own.

Pressure Canning will turn things to mush if you are not careful. Things with high acids (non-meats) I have no problem water canning and them lasting for at least 2-3 years. I haven't canned meats yet since I mostly just freeze or make jerky (Deer, Elk, etc.).

For optimal flavor though, I think food tastes better after you let sit for a few months post canning... But flavor will degrade over time, starting around 9-months or so.

Store in cool, dry place where the temperature is constant as practical.

Get yourself a food-mill, you can thank me later.

For those beginning, I recommend canning salsa, pickles, tomato sauces first...they are fairly easy. As you progress, experience with other canning recipes. For example, I like Bread-n-Butter pickles but after doing a batch of Lime Pickles, now that is my new favorite pickle to can.

Welcome to the world of canning...where you will experience the great taste of food not experienced by what you can buy in stores.
 

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I have a water canner but never use it. I always use the pressure canner. With the water canner you have to sterilize your jars lids land rings and with a pressure canner you just fill the jars cap them and all is sterilized along with the food. I have been canning for 30 years. yesterday ate some chicken I canned in 2013 and it was fine. Took the lid off after making sure it popped I smelled it, put it in pot boiled it for few minute tasted it and tasted good so continued with my recipe. Buy the blue book of canning for help. Someone on here once said they found canned foods 100 yrs old and back then they didn't have pressure canners. A lot of canning people will say the food will last forever and maybe that's true . We have had no ill effects from our canned food, Make sure when you can always wipe the rims of your jars good. Tomatoes are scid based so I have bought canned tomatoes on sale and recanned them in glass jars.
 

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Just some random thoughts:
I used to waterbath jams, now I just pressure can everything including tomatoes. I use my waterbath pot to sterilize the jars so it does get some use.

Take the rings off after everything cools down.

Asparagus I canned in 2017 has lost all its flavor. Just tastes like mush. ugh. won't do that again


Wipe top of jars with a water/vinegar solution after filling and before putting the lid/ring on.

My DIL bought me a food mill for Christmas a few years ago. I love the thing.


Welcome to the world of canning. It is so much fun/work/satisfying :)
 

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off-grid organic farmer
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...
How long are foods (realistically) expected to be good when pressure canned? Or does it depend on what the food is?
Many decades.



... Is it a good or bad idea to add a little bit of citric acid to foods being canned to prevent the potential of botulism?
Can't hurt.



... Also, I'm a bit confused with the water bath process vs. pressure canning. It seems to me that pressure canning everything is the way to go, no?
We do both methods.

High-acid vs. lo-acid.



btw, I was banned here one time, because I did not say 'be safe' frequently enough.

So, be safe. Practice safety.

Both high-acid methods AND lo-acid methods work, just be safe.
 

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First of all, welcome to the site! You're about to step into the satisfying experience of putting up your own food! Congratulations on getting a new canner. Just a few things from my experience...

One canning book that has been pretty much the standard for years is the Ball Blue Book from the maker of canning jars. It's a softcover book that contains methods for both pressure canning and water bath canning and a slew of recipes for veggies to pickles, meats, soups, stews, jams and jellies. It's available at Amazon and other sites.
https://www.freshpreserving.com/ball-blue-book--guide-to-preserving-(37th-edition)-1034026.html

How long are canned foods good for? With a proper seal and good storage conditions, a long time! Mine only last about two years before they're eaten up and replaced with fresh but there are some folks who have foods they've canned 5-10 years ago.

Citric acid is added to some things being hot water bathed. It makes them more acid to insure safety. For example, due to climate, variety, etc, some tomatoes aren't as acid as others. Tomato canning recipes usually call for adding citric acid to each jar to make sure they’re acid enough to eliminate the possibility of spoilage. Pressure canned foods don’t need citric acid because the process itself kills any harmful bacteria.

Pressure canning is used for non-acidic foods like meats, vegetables such as beans and potatoes, or combinations of such like soups and stews. Pressure canning is a longer process time-wise as you will see when you start comparing recipes. There’s no need to pressure can things that can be waterbathed.

Just be sure to read the directions that the manufacturer has provided for how to use your canner. They are safe to use. The only canner I’ve ever heard of that blew up was involved in an act of terrorism in Boston.

The only other thing I will add is that one can never have too much information or recipes. Get a few good canning books and spend some time reading them. The more you read, the more comfortable you will become with the process. Then get in there and just do it. :D

I’m sure others will add more good information here. You’re going to be successful!
And please don’t be shy about asking questions! There’s no such thing as a dumb question.
Keep a log of what you use and do - makes it easier to reproduce good results and not bad ones. Shop on sales and can that stuff. I always try and run a full canner load, usually 2 loads back to back is enough for one day.

You are the quality control person - didn't clean the rim good enough - well that jar might not last as long as a properly cleaned one. Storage conditions are important.

I screened in part of my covered porch to make a summer kitchen (8'x12'). Canning puts out tons of heat and moisture I don't need in my house. I use a turkey fryer as my heat source. Sitting under the ceiling fan listening to the gentle rattle of the pressure weight is one of my favorite things.

I always look at the jar before opening to inspect the contents - I listen for the vacuum breaking sound and I give it the sniff test before using.

These are two of my books, I have others.

A Guide to Canning, Freezing, Curing & Smoking Meat, Fish & Game by Wilbur F. Eastman Jr. ISBN 1-58017-457-4

Complete Guide to Home Canning and Preserving Second Revised Edition U.S. Department of Agriculture ISBN 0-486-40931-7
Good information in those two posts.

Thanks for the quick responses.
That makes me feel better, as far as someone else's understanding of what to pressure can and what not to. So, you pressure can your own recipes? I feel like this has opened a whole new world in my life. The sky is the limit, it sounds like.

Another question:
When hot packing your meat - say chicken for example, it obviously cooked and packed with water, but let's say that you're going to use the chicken in a casserole. Is the chicken fully saturated with water at the time of use? If so, how are you getting rid of the excess water, other than the initial draining? That may be an elementary question, but I've got to ask.
I know, I know, there are no stupid questions... only stupid people. JK! Thanks!

Yeah, that was what I got from the storing procedure, too. They (all the people I've been following) stress to only use the bands while processing and to store them without the bands. Again, thanks!
Just drain the water and use the chicken/beef/pork that you have canned as you normally would. When you drain it save the juice to use for broth or gravy for your meal or the one you will be having the next day. That goes double if you canned bone in. Lots of good flavor there.
 

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I'm eating canned goods, including pork, beef, bacon, salmon, and butter - along with jams and some veggies that I canned between 2009-2012. It has, for nearly a decade, been stored dark and cool though has survived -3- summer seasons of rented/unregulated temps. Opened and used butter from 2009 and bacon from '12 just last week and am here typing about it.

I would never recommend keeping any food this long, but stuff got out of control for the last 8 yrs. I'm finally catching up a bit and am glad 'cause now I know that the food I so carefully preserved all those years ago will still sustain life...even after it's suffered some abuse.
 

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and, BTW, your 'chicken' question, using straight from jar? YES.

I do an amazing chix noodle soup using dehydrated onion and celery simmered in just the juice to re-hydrate and add some very fine cooked pasta. A little pepper and salt along with a few grates of carrot and you've some of the best home made chix soup you'll ever taste in under 20 minutes. :thumb:
 

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gardener & news junkie
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Just a few random thoughts generated by reading input from other replies:

kokosmom2 had a good tip there about wiping the jar rims with vinegar, especially when canning meats. It will cut through any grease so that the lid will seal well. I just dampen a paper towel with vinegar and use that.

When putting the rings on jars prior to putting them into the canner, don't tighten them down too hard. I've come to learn that just snug is good, real tight results in a few lids not sealing properly.

I've gotten my best sealing results by leaving the jars in the canner for 5-10 minutes once the canner lid off before taking the jars out and putting them on a rack. Many times you'll hear that "plink" of the jars sealing before they even get to the rack.

I usually leave the jars on the counter overnight before removing the rings. That way I know they're completely cool.

Books on pressure cooking will usually have a long list of foods and tell how long they need to be processed. A general rule of thumb for canning mixed contents, like stew or soup, is to use the longest canning time of the individual ingredients. For example, in a jar of beef stew, the item in it needing the longest canning time will be the beef so use that canning time.

Just be sure to never ladle hot foods into cold jars and risk jar breakage. Leave them in the hot water of the water bath canner before filling. Or if pressure canning, maybe consider filling them with hot water and letting them sit a minute right before you fill them. You sure don't want to open the canner to find the contents of one jar swimming around because the jar broke. It doesn't happen often because I preheat my jars. Sometimes you just run into an older jar that has developed a hairline crack you can't see.

It's a good practice to wash off your jars after the rings are removed. That will prevent any food residue that might have been expresssed during canning from molding while the jars are in storage.

Don't forget a last step of labeling the finished jars with contents and date of canning.

I second the recommendation of keeping a notebook with records of what was canned and when. My records include the date, contents, quantity and jar size and what recipe was used (book name, page number). It is so handy to be able to look back and see how much of this or that you canned during the year. It will help you figure out what you did too much or too little of. You can also write in remarks such as "This was great!" or "Don't make this again!" :D:
 

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Meats can be "raw packed" or "hot packed" try both ways and see which you prefer. I always seem to inconsistent with split peas and lentils. Sometimes it worked others it didn't (keeping a notebook is a great idea).

I take the rings off while hot after hearing the "ping sound" Once cool, I aggressively double check they are still under vacuum and rinse the jar then label them.
 
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