Interested in learning to pressure can? Water bath canning is wonderful for putting up side dishes, but pressure canning opens the door to preserving entirely different groups of food. Let me walk you through the 7 benefits of pressure canning at home!
Like many women, I first starting canning food using a water bath canner (also known as a boiling water canner). It was easy to understand the process, equipment was affordable and I thoroughly enjoyed preserving foods in season so we could enjoy them later in the year.
Looking at my shelves lined with jars of homemade pickles, fruit, jams, jellies, applesauce and tomatoes…well! It always left me feeling deeply satisfied, like I had a role to play in the home and had played it well.
However after a few years, I lost a wee bit of the infatuation I’d initially felt and found myself wishing I could fill those jars with some real food staples. You know. Things you can actually make a meal from.
I wanted to learn how to start canning broth, meat, beans for chili, tomato sauce with meat and even soups or stews.
And that’s what pushed me into the world of pressure canning.
Oh, I was intimidated by pressure canning too! But once I understood the process, it really wasn’t as scary or complicated as I had thought.
Here are some of the key benefits of pressure canning at home.
Pressure Canning Makes Non-Acidic Foods Safe to Preserve
If you’ve done any water bath canning, you probably know that only foods with a pH or 4.6 or lower (meaning more acidic than 4.6) can be safely preserved in the boiling water bath canner without worry of botulism developing inside of your jar.
Do you want to learn more about the simple science behind safe water bath canning, check out my beginner’s course Waterbath Canning Made Simple.
This means (most) fruit and fruit-based products, tomatoes, tomato sauce, salsa and pickled vegetables are safe for water bath canning. But it also means there are lots of foods you can’t safely preserve in a water bath canner!
And that’s where the pressure canner steps in to save the day. Pressure canners get hotter than boiling water (212F or 100C), reaching temperatures anywhere from 240-260F (115-127C).
These high temperatures ensure that botulism spores are completely killed off in non-acidic foods, which opens the door to canning a much wider variety of foodstuff.
Pressure Canning Makes It Safe to Preserve the Following Foods
Here is a list of foods that are safe for pressure canning. Just take a peak through them and you’ll understand the benefits of pressure canning at home!
- Beans (cannellini, black, navy, pinto, etc)
- Beef (strips, cubed or ground)
- Bone broth
- Meat Broth
- Peas (chick pea, dried peas, etc)
- Tomato juice
- Tomato sauce (with or without meat)
- Vegetables in lightly salted water
- Venison & wild game
- Wild fowl (duck, goose, grouse, pheasant, pigeon, etc)
There is also another list of food types you can use in small amounts when creating combination recipes (like soups, sauces and chowders) but I won’t burden you with that list here and now!
Pressure Canning Allows You to Create Quick & Healthy Meals
I know I’m not the only woman who has days when she needs to be able to pop open a few cans of something and make a meal.
It drives me crazy that I can’t find a can of chili beans or pre-made tomato sauce at the grocery store that doesn’t have fillers and unwanted ingredients (don’t even get me started on the topic of unlisted ingredients!)
While it comes to pressure canning, you get to decide where that food came from, what goes into the jar and you can tweak flavors and ingredients to create something your family loves.
On busy days, it can bring real peace of mind knowing that your “fast food” is still healthy and nourishing. You already approved of everything that went into it!
Pressure Canning Saves Money on Canned Foods
Pressure canning your own beans, meat and vegetables can save you money. If you’re conscious about it, that is!
Here are some tips that will really help keep the cost of your pressure canned food to a minimum.
Tip 1: Source Ingredients in Bulk
Whenever you buy ingredients for pressure canning, try to source these things in bulk. Whether it’s meat, dried beans, vegetables or tomatoes, you usually get a better price when you buy in larger quantities.
Tip: You can absolutely freeze meat before canning it up, so don’t be afraid to buy it in bulk! And if you’re planning to make homemade tomato sauce, you can also freeze whole tomatoes and make sauce later.
Tip 2: Buy and Preserve Food in Season
Staples like meat don’t really have a season. But all the different types of produce do! Take advantage of the low prices while vegetables are in season (or in the garden) and pressure can them up for later.
Tip 3: Use a Large Pressure Canner vs a Smaller Model
Pressure canners come in a variety of sizes. The bigger your canner is, the more food you’ll be able to put up in a single batch. I like to use a 21 quart canner (which just means it holds 21 quarts water).
A larger canner like mine can hold 7 quart (7 litre) jars or 20 pints (500 ml). And it’s been well worth having a 21 quart as opposed to a smaller canner that only holds 4 quarts or 10 pints. It saves on time and heating energy.
Tip 4: Find the Cheapest Way to Heat Your Pressure Canner
One of the key ways you can keep the cost of pressure canning to a minimum is to use the cheapest source of heat in your area. For many, this means using either a propane or gas stove.
I currently have an outdoor propane stove that I use during the summer months (this is the exact one HERE).
Not only does it keep the heat outdoors during canning season, but it’s the cheapest way for me to process a batch of food in the pressure canner.
And while it does cost something upfront, I think it’s been worth every penny we’ve paid. With 3 burners, it also makes a wonderful cook stove when we go camping!
You Can Preserve Meat & Meat Products in a Pressure Canner
I know we’ve already touched on this, but perhaps one of my favorite things about pressure canning is that it allows me to keep pre-cooked, shelf stable meat & meat products on hand.
One of my shortcomings as a home cook is that I often forget to pull meat from the deep freeze until it’s too late. And I find myself trying to cook up half-frozen roasts or chicken.
But when I have canned meat on hand, all I have to do is pop open a jar and presto! I have fully cooked and flavored beef, chicken, fish, pork or venison ready to be added to my recipes.
The same is true when I need a good broth or a tomato meat sauce. Everything is there in a jar, just waiting to be used.
You Can Create Your Primary Dish from Pressure Canned Food
While water bath canning has it’s place in the preserving kitchen, I usually think of it as a way to put up “side dishes.” You can’t really make a meal from pickles and applesauce!
Don’t get me wrong. I love water bath canning and what it brings to my kitchen. And I love having side dishes on hand to round out a meal. But pressure canning opens to the door to preserving foods that you actually use to create your primary dish.
Whether you make canned chicken, homemade spaghetti sauce with ground beef, corn chowder, chili or even just a simple broth for the base of your homemade soups and gravies, the pressure canner opens the doors to making real meals with your preserved food.
Pressure Canning Enables You to Create Custom Recipes
When it comes to water bath canning, you don’t really have the freedom to fudge or change up your recipes. This is primarily because you’re dependent on the proper acidity levels for food safety.
But with pressure canning, you totally CAN change things up in your chili, soups, stews, meat and meat sauces. You just need to understand the basic rules.
Once you do, you can turn a chicken soup recipe to a beef-based recipe, if you like. Or perhaps you want to add more vegetables to your stew mix? Omit some?
Maybe you dislike tomato in homemade chili and would like to have a chicken-flavor instead?
Even in your tomato meat sauces, you have options for customization!
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Benefits of Pressure Canning at Home
There are lots of reasons women face their fears and learn how to operate a pressure canner in their own kitchen. I just walked you through the 7 key benefits I’ve discovered, and there’s still so much more you’ll gain by learning!
At this point, you might be wishing you had someone to help you get started? Just to make sure you’re doing it right and won’t destroy anything in the process?
I get it. And that’s why I created my online course Pressure Canning for Beginners!
I’ll help you understand the process in a way that will settle your fears. We’ll talk pressure canners, choosing the right model for your kitchen, how to operate your canner of choice, food safety rules and tutorials that show you how to pressure can each of the food groups.
It’s time you learned how to start pressure canning in your kitchen. Because the benefits you’ll receive are totally worth it!