In order to preserve food at home in jars, the correct canning method must be done. However, which canning option do you choose? Here are all the things you need to know about pressure canning vs water bath canning for your home food preservation.
Pressure canning requires a piece of special equipment called a pressure canner. Not a pressure cooker, that is a completely different piece of equipment. If you try and use and instant pot for pressure canning, there will be problems.
A pressure canner is a very heavy duty pot with a vent, a pressure gauge, and some screw clamps. It gets hotter than boiling water. Jars are sealed in a water level of just a few inches of water and the temperature rises to about 240F-250F. Depending on how many pounds of pressure the canning recipe calls for, determines what the higher temperature will be.
Pressure canning is for preserving low-acid foods. Think soups, stews, meats, and even entire meals! Meats and beans should always be pressure canned. Only a pressure canner can reach the temperature needed to kill off all the bacteria. It sterilizes the contents of the jar and also creates a sealed environment that does not allow bacteria to come in and spoil your food.
Isn’t Pressure Canning Scary?
Pressure canning is similar to water bath canning, just more extreme. Instead of boiling the jars, they are being put under pressure. This is where people start to panic and get scared. However, these days, there are safety measures put on pressure canners to ensure that nothing blows up. Even if the pressure gets up to the highest pounds, 15, and you ignored the very obnoxious knocking noise, the weight would eventually pop off and steam would spew out the steam vent.
But, let’s say that malfunctions. For some reason, you don’t hear the very loud weight knocking about and the weight never ends up popping off. There is a small, black rubber plug that will pop out if pressure gets too high. So, there isn’t any reason to worry about your pressure canner blowing up your kitchen.
Boiling Water Bath Canning
Boiling water bath canning is much more simple than pressure canning. This doesn’t require you to go out a buy a special piece of equipment. Unless, of course, you don’t own a big pot already. It’s basically just a large pot that you place a rack on the bottom of. If you don’t have a rack, you can actually even place canning rings on the bottom to make a makeshift rack.
The canning jars are filled with foods and then completely immersed in boiling water for a specific amount of time, depending on the recipe. After doing this, the jars cool down, and a vacuum seal is formed. Unlike pressure canning, water bath only heats food up to boiling water temperature.
Pressure Canning Vs Water Bath, Which One to Use?
If the food and canning method don’t line up correctly, that’s when food safety becomes an issue. Botulism is something that could happen. Botulism bacteria can survive boiling water temperature, which is why certain foods need to be in a pressure canner or have the pH changed.
All low-acid foods must be processed in the pressure canner. Basically, all animal products, beans, and and unpickled vegetables.
Acidic Vs Non Acidic Foods
Acidic foods or high acid foods are things like:
- Pickled foods
- Jams and jellies
- Tomatoes – if you add more acid with something like lemon juice, citric acid, or vinegar to change the ph level
Non-acidic or low acid foods are:
- Vegetables such as carrots, green beans, spinach, and asparagus
The Best Canning Supplies
Other Food Preservation Methods
Canning isn’t the only way to preserve food. Here are some other methods:
- Dry canning
- Freeze drying
Now that you know what the methods are and whether to use hot water bath canning or the pressure canning method, you can start home canning food and get those glass jars on your pantry shelf. It will make a big difference to your family’s health now that you are not depending so much on a grocery store for food. Go rock this!