Pressure Cooking

Skip down to Guidelines for Processing Times Two pressure canners on the stove

    Some people are afraid of pressure cooking, but you don't need to be. They are easy to use but MUST BE attended to at all times. As long as you keep your eye on the pressure canner, you have nothing to worry about.

CAUTION: If your pressure canner has a weighted pressure regulator, and the reading on the gauge goes very much over 15 pounds, something is wrong. TURN THE HEAT OFF, take everyone out of the room and LEAVE IT ALONE until the pressure has come back to zero for a while. Then and only then can you open the lid to see what went wrong. If your pressure canner does not have a weighted pressure regulator, you need to adjust the heat to prevent the pressure from approaching the caution zone.

    ***If the instructions that come with your pressure canner conflict with any of these instructions, follow your pressure canner's manual.

At the beginning of each canning season, have your pressure gauge tested. Check with your local county extension office to see if they will do this for you.

The pounds of pressure that you process at when pressure cooking is determined by your altitude. Your local extension office will give you this information, Or you can refer to the table below.

I suggest that you use a 23-quart pressure canner. If you are pressure cooking a lot of food, get two. It speeds up the process.

Filling Pressure Canner

Place your filled jars on the rack in the pressure canner. You can fit 7 quart jars or 20-pint jars in a pressure canner at one time. You need two racks when filling the canner with pints. One goes on the bottom and one goes between the two layers. For quarts just put one rack on the bottom.

Pour three quarts of water into the canner. The water should be about three inches deep.

Twist and lock the pressure canner lid down into place.

Steam Venting from Pressure Canner Turn the stove on to high heat. (DO NOT do any pressure cooking on an outside camp stove. The heat is too fast and hot for a pressure canner.)

After a while, steam will start to come out of the vent pipe. When you see a steady stream, set the timer for 10 minutes, and let it vent.

Pressure Gauge at zeron  - Pressure canner

When the timer rings, put the pressure regulator on the vent pipe. The pressure in the canner will start to rise.

    NOTE: Do NOT take the pressure regulator off for any reason until the pressure has come back down to zero.

Pressure Canner safety lock

As the pressure rises, the air vent/cover lock will pop up. The lid is now locked on. The air vent/ cover lock also releases some air from the canner as the pressure goes up. This is a safety feature of the pressure canner.

Heat the canner until the pressure gauge comes up to pressure, then adjust heat to keep it at that pressure. gauge up to pressure at 15 - Pressure Canner The newer pressure canners have a pressure regulator that will start rocking and releasing pressure at about 15 pounds. This is a safety feature.

If your pressure canner doesn’t have a weighted pressure regulator, you need to adjust the heat to keep the the pressure from going too high. These older pressure canners have to be watched very carefully.

If you are processing your food below 15 pounds of pressure you will need to adjust the heat to keep the gauge at the right pressure.

(At 5,000 feet I am supposed to process at 13 pounds. When pressure cooking, I process at 15 pounds because I don’t want to have to fiddle with adjusting the heat so much. But I do turn the heat down a little once the gauge gets up to 15 pounds. I am over-processing my food by 2 pounds. Never under process your food.)

Now that the canner is up to pressure, set the timer.

Guidelines for Processing Times

Vegetables, meats and poultry (low-acid foods) must be canned in a steam pressure canner at 240 degrees F for the appropriate time to destroy heat-resistant bacteria. At sea level to 2000 feet, 11 pounds of steam pressure will produce this temperature. Above 2,000 feet, steam pressure must be increased to reach 240 degrees F as illustrated in the pressure cooking altitude adjustment table.

Table 2: Pressure required to reach 240 degrees F.
Altitude Pressure Required
Sea Level-2,000 ft. 11 lb.
2,001-4,000 ft. 12 lb.
4,001-6,000 ft. 13 lb.
6,001-8,000 ft. 14 lb.
8,001-10,000 ft. 15 lb.

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Taking the lid of the pressure canner When the timer rings, turn off the heat.

Leave the pressure canner alone until the pressure gauge comes back down to zero.

Once the gauge is back down to zero remove the pressure regulator and open the lid away from you.

Lifting jars out of pressue canner

I’m going to say it again, do NOT take the lid or pressure regulator off until the pressure gauge comes down to zero. This usually takes about 30 minutes.

Take the processed jars of food out of the pressure canner with your jar lifter.

Place your hot jars on a double layered towel. Leave them there to cool overnight.

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