These directions are for pressure canning low acid foods. This includes any meat and most vegetables.Pickles, jam jelly, or fruits are all high acid foods. If you are preserving these you need to be on my Water Bath Canning Page.
Fill your canner with 3 quarts of water. Yes, that is all the water needed. Check the manual for your particular canner to verify how much 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 the rack on the bottom of the canner 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
Keep jars and seals hot until ready to be filled.
My preferred method is to place your jars in your canner. The water should be warming anyway as you prep your food. With your jars in the canner they will get heated up at the same time
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.
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.
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. ~ Bummer ~ I hate it when that happens! Yes, I've done it. 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. Take a break! You deserve it. Have a cup of coffee or tea or ice cold water! Put your feet up.
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.
arefully 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.
Did you hear it? This is my favorite part. As the jars cool the seals (or flats) will pull down and seal. They make the coolest little pinging sound. For some odd reason I love that sound. It is so satisfying. It means all my work is... well... working!
Resist temptation to press the lids at this point. If your kids are like mine keep them away too! Just leave the jars alone until completely cool. This may take 12 hours.
I leave mine on the counter overnight. I love waking up in the morning to the jars sitting out on the counter with the morning sun shining off of them.
Label the jar with the food type and date.You may think that labeling the type of food isn't necessary if you can obviously see it is canned pears. However, what if you are canning applesauce using different types of apples for each batch? You will want to know which is which when you open them later. You can then decide which you like better for next time.
Always record a date, at least the year. That way when you find a jar in the waaaay back of your cupboard, you will know how old it is. You think you will keep them straight, but it is so easy to forget and so easy to label them now. Trust me. Just do it.
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. Direct sunlight is a no-no as well.
You are Done!!