Friday, April 8, 2011

Boiling Water Bath or Pressure Canning? What's the Difference?

Boiling Water Bath Canning
Boiling water bath canning is a method of home canning in which sealed jars of food are immersed into a pot of boiling water for a preset amount of time. There are a few universal rules to water bath canning, but not all foods get treated the same. 
For high acid or high sugar foods only:
- Fill jars to within a half inch of the rim of the jar with hot food or hot liquid.
- Check for air bubbles trapped under the surface of the food or liquid.
- In the case of pickles or other free floating food, a butter knife is handy to knock air bubbles loose.
- Removing air bubbles allows the air to escape the jar during canning which gives you a better vacuum.
- Apply lids and rings finger snug, not tight.
- Place jars into the boiling water and make sure they are covered by a minimum of 2 inches of water.
- Put a lid on the canner or pot to help hold in the heat.
- Start the timer when the water comes back to a full boil.
- When the time is up, turn off the heat and wait until the water stops boiling.
- Remove the jars from the water bath and set them aside for two minutes.
- After a minute or so, tighten the lids fully to “complete” the seals. A silicone oven mitt is a good tool for this purpose.
- This step is unnecessary, but greatly increases the chance that your jars will seal.
- Place the finished jars aside at a minimum of one inch apart to cool.
- Within a couple minutes, you should see and hear the first jars sealing. (Listen for the "ping" of a successful seal!)

Pressure Canning
If you are going to get food poisoning, it is likely to be from low acid and low sugar home canned foods that were improperly preserved. This doesn't mean not ever to even try pressure canning, it means to follow the tried and true guidelines. If you do this, you won't have any problems and you’ll love the results! Pressure canning MUST be used when preserving food that doesn't contain enough acid or sugar to kill the worst bacteria. Also, pressure canning relies totally on heat to kill the bacteria spores that are almost certainly found in the food.
- Most pressure canners come with an instruction manual, which will help a lot with the details.
- Depending on the type of canner you have, you’ll want one to two inches of water in the bottom to begin with.
- Distilled or rain water is the best because it leaves no calcium or deposits on your jars. These are sometimes very difficult to remove.
- If you want to use tap water, add a little vinegar to avoid these water deposits to some degree.
- Here's one way that pressure canning differs from water bath canning: the jars don't have to be completely submerged. 
- Now is a good time to preheat the canner, but make sure it isn’t sealed so that it builds up pressure yet.
- Put hot food and or liquid into hot jars to within a half inch of the jar rim.
- Check for air bubbles trapped under the surface of the food or liquid.
- In the case of green beans or other vegetables, a butter knife is handy to knock air bubbles loose from around the food.
- Put lid and ring on and tighten it to finger snug, not tight.
- Put the jars of food into the canner and apply the lid.
- It’s very important to turn the heat up high at this point and allow the canner to vent steam steadily.
- Once the water begins to boil, it usually takes 10-20 minutes for the steam to force out any remaining air in the canner.
- You’ll notice the air escaping the canner going from white to clear even though it is blowing air out the entire time.
- This means that steam is replacing air inside the canner, which is important.
- Steam will give you a more accurate pressure reading and it cooks the food more completely. 
- When it blows out steam constantly, it’s time to apply the weight and build up pressure.
- When the pressure reaches (a minimum of) 10 pounds, it is time to start the clock.
- At this time you must reduce the heat to just maintain 10 pounds (or more) of pressure.
- If you don't have a gauge, use the weight as your guide. If the weight is moving, you are at pressure.
- If you allow the canner to get too hot, the jars will lose liquid and might not seal properly.
- The pressure and time are both variable to your specific food and altitude.
- When the time is up, you simply turn off the heat and wait for the canner to cool down and de-pressurize all on it’s own.
- Pressure decreases as the temperature decreases, reducing pressure prematurely will cause big problems for your efforts.
- If you manually release pressure at this point, you could break jars or force liquid out of the jars.
- When the pressure is zero (between 30 and 90 minutes), you can begin to check your canner.
- Start by lightly jostling the canner weight to see if the pressure is gone.
- If the canner still has pressure on it, leave it for another 10 minutes or more to cool on it’s own. Don’t get in a hurry.
- When you are very sure the pressure is gone, slowly open the canner lid until it is loose and peek at your jars.
- The jars will still “boil” for quite some time, which is normal, but taking the lid off too quickly could result in fluid loss or worse.
- Allow them to cool for a few minutes with the lid loosely attached, this will help cool the jars more slowly than fully open.
- You should be able to safely remove the jars no more than 20 minutes later.
- Many times, the jars will start sealing right inside the canner, which is normal.
- Remove the jars and wait a minute or so before “completing” the seal by tightening the lids firmly.
- This step is unnecessary, but greatly increases the chance that your jars will seal.
- Set them an inch or more apart to cool and you are done.



  1. So I have a question....I canned about 2 dozen jars of pickles last summer. I did not have a pressure canner and just used a water bath as you described in your post. The pickles had a great flavor but were soggy and not crunchy. Do you know if the canner would have made them crunchy or did I do something wrong?

    1. Hi SARITA

      I love canning and I never process my pickles....they are crunchy all the time and will keep for a couple of years....The first place my kids go when they visit!!!! PICKLES!!!!! lol lol ....I sterilize my jars in the oven at 235F for 15 min. and my lids are hot on the stove and my vinegar solution has boiled and is hot and everything else is set is a hot job, need oven mitts or something to help hold the jar...a set of tongues to help get the jars out of the oven.... I put my garlic(as much as you want), dill head or whatever you choose, pickles, another dill head, brine wipe rim and seal and thats it! I have never ever processed my pickles or relishes or bread and butters!! and I get great reviews!!!!

  2. Sarita, That happens a lot with home canned pickles, you didn't do anything wrong. Some people add alum or lime to help retain the crispness. Make sure you use small, very fresh cukes (the longer they sit after harvesting, the more chance for sogginess) And process them for as little time as possible.

  3. First time canning. Made some fresh Tomato Sauce out of tomatoes from our garden. Added the lemon juice, salt, soaked lids, heated jars, and put the lids on finger tight (IE snug). Put them in the water bath and I could see tomato parts coming from the jar.... any ideas? Also saw a few air bubbles coming from the lids.... Stopped after a few minutes (IE water started boiling). Is this typical? Thanks

  4. Basically what air there is inside the jars comes out during processing allowing the lid to form a vacuum seal. Sometimes a little liquid as well, but only a tiny amount... did you leave a half to one inch of headspace? Did your jars seal correctly after you removed them from the canner? Did they stay sealed? I always leave my jars sitting on the counter without moving them for about 24 hours so I can make sure they're not gonna come unsealed. If you left headspace, your jars sealed and stayed sealed, you should be good to go.

  5. I am curious if I can cut time out of my canning by using a pressure canner instad of a water bath. I am making Mrs Wages pasta sauce and according to the directions on the packet, I need to process the jars for 40 min in a water bath - I have a large pressure canner and would rather use it, but don't know how to convert the canning time.....any ideas? Thanks!

  6. I'm not sure about how to convert the times, and I personally use a boiling water method any time I am able because it's easier and safer than pressure canning. However, similar recipes, such as some salsas and other high-acid sauce recipes, can be pressured canned at 10 pounds of pressure for 20 minutes. I feel like pressure canning tends to overcook high acid foods and turn them to mush, but it can be done. This is according the the University of Georgia's website. Thanks, ~~Granny

  7. Hopefully this post wasn't so long ago you won't get the comments. I just canned some pickles. It was my first time trying to can anything. I used a tested recipe I found in a canning book and a boiling water bath. I processed my pints for 45 minutes due to my altitude. When I took the pickles out of the water bath there seemed to be a lot of air escaping the jars and movement of the spices within. Each jar pinged as it cooled but it hasn't been long enough to see if they've sealed (still cooling). They have been sitting on the counter for about 30 minutes and there isn't any movement in them. I can't see any bubbles anymore either. I haven't touched them since setting them down. I was just wondering if the air escaping and movement of the spice would be normal or if I needed to eat these pickles really really quickly. Thanks so much for any help!

    1. Sounds like everything is working perfectly, just as it should be doing. ~~Granny

    2. Oh good! I'm going to leave them set a while longer without touching. Thanks so much for your help!

  8. I'm impressed, I must say. Seldom do I encounter a blog that's equally
    educative and engaging, and without a doubt, you have hit the
    nail on the head. The issue is something which not enough people are speaking intelligently
    about. I am very happy that I came across this in my search for something relating to this.
    Feel free to visit my web-site ... Provillus

  9. I read this article fully concerning the resemblance of hottest and preceding technologies, it's amazing article.
    Also visit my web page ::

  10. I do not know if it's just me or if perhaps everyone else experiencing problems with your website. It looks like some of the written text within your posts are running off the screen. Can somebody else please provide feedback and let me know if this is happening to them as well? This may be a issue with my web browser because I've had this happen before.
    Appreciate it
    Here is my homepage :

  11. Very nice article, exactly what I was looking for.
    Here is my web page : Provillus

  12. May I simply just say what a relief to find an individual
    who actually understands what they're talking about online. You definitely realize how to bring a problem to light and make it important. A lot more people really need to read this and understand this side of the story. I was surprised you aren't more popular since you most certainly
    have the gift.
    Also see my page: Vernita

  13. I’m not that much of a internet reader to be honest but your sites really nice, keep
    it up! I'll go ahead and bookmark your website to come back in the future. Many thanks

    Here is my webpage ...

  14. Having read this I thought it was rather informative.
    I appreciate you finding the time and energy to put this article together.
    I once again find myself personally spending way too much time both
    reading and commenting. But so what, it was still worthwhile!

    Here is my site ::

  15. Hello, its nice piece of writing on the topic of media
    print, we all understand media is a enormous source of data.

    Stop by my web-site - provillus

  16. I am really enjoying the theme/design of your blog.
    Do you ever run into any internet browser compatibility problems?
    A number of my blog readers have complained about my website
    not operating correctly in Explorer but looks great in Chrome.
    Do you have any recommendations to help fix this problem?

    Feel free to visit my website -

  17. Great delivery. Sound arguments. Keep up the good work.

    Feel free to surf to my website ...

  18. I'm not sure why but this weblog is loading extremely slow for me. Is anyone else having this issue or is it a issue on my end? I'll check back later on and see
    if the problem still exists.

    Stop by my site

  19. Great post, you have pointed out some excellent points, I as well believe this is a very superb blog. Please keep up the effective work. click here


html, body, div, span, applet, object, iframe, h1, h2, h3, h4, h5, h6, p, blockquote, pre, a, abbr, acronym, address, big, cite, code, del, dfn, em, font, img, ins, kbd, q, s, samp, small, strike, strong, sub, sup, tt, var, b, u, i, center, dl, dt, dd, ol, ul, li, fieldset, form, label, legend, table, caption, tbody, tfoot, thead, tr, th, td { margin: 0; padding: 0; border: 0; outline: 0; font-size: 100%; vertical-align: baseline; background: transparent; } body { line-height: 1; } ol, ul { list-style: none; } blockquote, q { quotes: none; } /* remember to define focus styles! */ :focus { outline: 0; } /* remember to highlight inserts somehow! */ ins { text-decoration: none; } del { text-decoration: line-through; } /* tables still need 'cellspacing="0"' in the markup */ table { border-collapse: collapse; border-spacing: 0; }