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Pressure Canning Mistakes – Avoid These 5 Common Mistakes

by | Mar 6, 2021 | Preserve

Pressure canning meat and meals is a great way to get easy convenience meals on the shelf for dinner in a hurry. But when pressure canning, if you make any of these mistakes, your canned food can be dangerous! Avoid these five pressure canning mistakes.

Photo of an all American pressure canner sitting on a gas stove.

We love the convenience of canning and preserving the bounty from the farm and garden to enjoy year-round. But there are some dangerous mistakes that can be very costly if not followed correctly.

We’ve discussed water-bath canning mistakes in a previous post, and today we’re covering the common mistakes we see with pressure canning.

Do Not Wing the Recipe

Pressure canning mistake number one is when people make alterations to the recipe.

Make sure that you’re using safety approved recipes to make sure you’re within the proper pH and thickness guidelines for the food that you’re canning.

This can be as easy as going to an approved publication like the Ball Bluebook, or finding safe websites online from bloggers who are using the latest safety information for creating canning recipes.

Do Not Trust an Untested Dial Gauge

The dial gauge of a pressure canner pointing to zero.

Pressure canning mistake number two is relying on an untested dial gauge. If you don’t have your dial gauge tested yearly, it could be giving you an incorrect reading, meaning your food could be improperly canned and dangerous to eat.

If you want to avoid this issue, you can switch to using a weighted gauge or jiggler instead, which never have to be tested.

Make sure you’re always canning at the pressure you’re supposed to be canning at by using a tested gauge, or a weighted gauge/jiggler.

Do Not Overfill Your Canner

Quart jars of chicken broth inside a pressure canner.

Pressure canning mistake number three is over filling the canner.

Never fill your pressure canner with more than two inches of water from the bottom, no matter how many jars you’re canning.

This differs from water bath canning which requires jars to be submerged.

When pressure canning, under no circumstances should your jars be covered with water up to their necks, or even worse, covering their lids when pressure canning.

This holds true even if you’re canning a double layer of jars.

Do Not Ignore Head Space

Six jars of raw packed canned stew with a canning tool sliding into one jar to remove air bubbles.

Pressure canning mistake number four is not having the correct head space.

There is a reason there are differing head space requirements depending on what you’re canning.

The headspace (or empty space) requirements are there to ensure you get a proper seal on your food. Most recipes require at least one inch headspace at the top of the jar in order for the jar to be sealed correctly.

Do Not Quick Cool Your Canner

A jar of home canned chicken chili being lifted out of the pressure cooker.

Pressure canning mistake number five is trying to hurry along the process by cooling or releasing pressure too quickly. After your processing time is entirely complete, it takes a while for the canner to come down to room pressure before you can take your jars out of your canner.

This process is crucial to the canning process, so don’t try and hurry it along by tapping the jiggler, removing the weight, or putting your entire canner into cold water.

Putting your canner into water will change the pressure too quickly and you can either ruin your seals, crack your jars, or you could even ruin your pressure canner.

Pressure Canning Recipes

Now that you’ve learned what NOT to do, it’s time to get into the kitchen and can up some convenience meals! Here are some of our favorite pressure canned recipes:

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