Tuesday, July 26, 2011


You may have heard the terms "Hot Water Bath" or “Boiling Water Bath” and "Pressure Canning” when you are looking into preserving foods at home, but do you know the difference? If you plan to can fruits, vegetables, or meats you will be using both methods. The following is a quick overview on both types of canners.

Bookmark and Share

Whether you are preserving high acid or low acid foods, it is important to read through the instructions and recipe, assembling all needed ingredients and cookware before beginning any canning or preserving process.

High acid foods can be preserved using a Boiling Water Bath. Acid foods include: Jellies, Jams, Marmalades, Fruits, Tomatoes (with added acid), Pickles, Relishes and Chutneys. Because Clostridium botulinum spores do not grow in the presence of acid it is safe to can high acid foods using the Boiling Water Bath method. The canner should be deep enough to allow at least 1 to 2 inches of water to boil over the jar tops. It must have a tight-fitting lid and a rack to keep jars off its bottom.The temperature of boiling water is 212 degrees Fahrenheit this can temperature is achievable using the Boiling Water Bath method of canning. 

When preserving vegetables, meats, seafood – low acid foods you will require a Pressure Canner. Low acid foods include: Vegetables, Meats, Poultry, Seafood, and combination Recipes (those that include low acid and high acid ingredients.) These foods MUST be heat processed at 240 degrees Fahrenheit for a specific, established time. The only way to achieve this temperature is by using a Pressure Canner. 

The Pressure Canner itself is a large kettle with a jar rack, a lid that locks in place, a safety valve, a vent, and gauge. Gauges indicate inside pressure and are either dial gauges, or metal weighted gauges. Individual cannes will come with instructions.  Read them throughly before using your canner.

The National Center for Home Preservation has extensive information on Pressure Canners as well as canning, drying, freezing, curing, smoking, pickling, fermenting and making jams and jellies. Ball Canning also offers a complete guide on canning, including some very helpful canning tutorials in the form of videos.

Whichever type of preserving  you are doing it is important to use ingredients at the peak of freshness. Follow the basic guidelines offered on either of the above websites, keep everything sterile, and your pantry will soon be filled with jars of delicious homemade preserves.


  1. This was on my list of things to learn this year, but it still kind of freaks me out. It might be time to get brave.

  2. Thanks for the informative post! I do have a question though...in order to save on cabinet space, could I just buy a pressure canner and use it to process high acid foods as well? I know it takes longer, but I only have a limited amount of storage in my kitchen!