Can You Safely Pressure Can Everything Instead of a Water Bath?

Nothing is quite as beneficial as canning.

Being able to keep fresh vegetables and fruit for the winter and fill my shelves with jars of jams, pickles and jellies is beyond satisfying – this time of year is what I’m living for!

However, this year, I had “oops”. After falling off the lid of my pressure canner, I broke the dial and had to send out for another.

Due to shipping delays related to COVID-19, it took about a month for me to receive the new piece in the mail. It was disappointing, to say the least, as I had a large amount of produce that I needed.

However, I still had a working water bath canner. This made me wonder what kind of foods can be canned instead of in a water bath.

Unfortunately, not many – that’s what I discovered in my research. This led to another question, which was, “Can I just ditch the water bath canner and pressurize everything next year?”

Pressure canners are undoubtedly more expensive than water bath canners. However, if you can only have one, a pressure canner is the way to go.

They can process a wide variety of foods and do so very quickly.

However, you can’t always swap dishes between the two types of canners.

Although most pressure canned foods are safe to eat, pressure canning food that takes a water bath can produce results that are less than delicious.

Let’s dive a little deeper.

Benefits of pressure canning

If you’ve been canning food for quite some time, you probably already know that using a water bath canner to process foods that would otherwise be canned under pressure is not a good idea.

Foods that are meant to be pressure canned (such as vegetables and meats) need to be processed this way because they have lower acid levels.

A water bath canner cannot heat itself up to a high enough temperature to reduce the risk of contamination.

However, there are so many benefits to pressure canning, leading many people to wonder if they can pressure all foods made for a water bath.

For one, pressure canning, for the most part, works with a wide variety of foods.

It can be used for meats, vegetables and sauces, whereas water bath canning is only suitable for seasoning items, fruits and jams.

Pressure canners often also have a higher load capacity.

While a water bath canner typically holds a 7-quart maximum, a pressure canner can hold up to 20-pints (if you have one that allows double stacking, as I do).

Is pressure canning faster than water bath canning?

Before I answer the question of whether you can pressurize everything, I want to first dispel a myth about pressure canning.

Water bath is not necessarily faster than canning. This Feel Like it is.

This is because the pressure canning times listed on the recipe are usually shorter than those listed for a water bath.

However, if you look at that time and that time alone, you are ignoring other factors.

For one, you need to calculate the time it takes the pressure canner to reach the pressure. This can add at least 15-20 minutes to your processing time.

Also, if you’re eating a large amount of food, you’ll need to give the unit time to reduce the pressure. Otherwise, it is not safe to remove the lid. This adds another hour (at least) to your total time.

Can I do everything only under pressure?

Despite the long time associated with pressure canning, you may still be interested in pressure canning all your food instead of water bath canning.

Perhaps you only want to buy one type of canner or you want to be as streamlined as possible in your approach. I understood!

However, there are some issues associated with pressure canning everything.

If you decide to strain all your food instead of using a water bath canner, you’ll have to do a lot of guesswork.

This is never a good thing when it comes to canning. This is because most reliable recipes have information on how to safely cook food in a way—either with a water bath canner or with a pressure canner.

Without official pressure canning guidelines and recommended times, you’re going to be wandering around in the dark.

Using a pressure canner on everything doesn’t make it safe. Many people assume that pressure is what makes canning everything, because it adds extra heat, adding an extra layer of protection. Unfortunately, this is not true.

2. Degradation of certain food products

The biggest reason I advise against pressure canning everything is that pressure canning can cause serious spoilage of your food. This is one of the most common canning problems.

When you are canning in a pressure canner you may find that your food loses its flavor or texture.

This is true, especially when you’re working with delicate foods like chutneys, jams, snacks, and pickles.

Because a pressure canner reaches such a high temperature, you will find that the resulting products are mushy, soft and colourless. Not pleasant at all, is it?

3. Other adjustments may still be necessary

Some people want to pressurize everything because they are canning at altitude and believe that they do not need to change the timing or pressure when using a pressure canner.

It’s not like that! You still need to make adjustments anyway – there are just a few differences What In particular, it needs to be adjusted.

4. It’s Not Cheap

At the end of the day, relying entirely on a pressure canner probably isn’t going to save you any money unless you have the gear in your kitchen.

Pressure canners easily cost over $100 while water bath canners cost less than half that. You don’t even have to buy an official water bath canner, either—you can use a stockpot with a large lid instead.

alternative solution

There is one great option that you can try to save space and increase your efficiency.

This won’t necessarily take care of all the concerns that you might want to use a pressure canner for everything, but it can help.

You can use your pressure canner as a water bath canner.

All you have to do is fill the canner as you normally would, but add more water than usual and avoid closing the lid (which adds pressure).

Fill the canner with water about 2 inches to the top of the jar and loosely attach its lid.

You can also buy a separate lid that fits snugly on the unit but is not a pressure canning lid.

The advantage of this is that you can keep two water bath canners on the stove at the same time. This will help increase your efficiency (I did a 17-pint canned tomatoes—which can be safely canned in a water bath canner—once last week!).

It also cuts down on the amount of equipment you need to have.

there you go! It really is a win-win solution.

Can some foods be canned in any way?

Yes – some water baths can be canned or pressure canned – go through the list of options.

Pressure canning and water bath canning are two different methods for preserving food. They both have advantages and disadvantages.

It is important to know which method is right for you before proceeding with your conservation efforts.

Unfortunately, some foods are best suited for water bath canners. Others must be canned with a pressure canner.

Stick to classic recipes and try not to shy away from the course.

It can be time-consuming (and potentially expensive) to maintain two separate canners. However, it is well worth it when it comes to the quality and safety of your food.

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