Pressure canning is a little intimidating. There, I said it. But it’s only scary until you’ve done it a time or two. I promise it will be completely normal to you in no time!
And even though it might be a little intimidated, it is definitely a worthwhile skill to learn. Unlike water-bath canning which is used for fruits and tomato based foods, pressure canning allows you to can vegetables and meat for use later on!
In this post I’m going to go over exactly how to can potatoes so that you can get a feel for the entire pressure canning process – step by step!
… this is long. Like, really long…
But I’m giving you every single piece of information so that there is zero guess work when you get started. Like, I’m telling you when to wash what, and when to boil water… this is super detailed.
I’m going to include a simplified version first, just so that you know it’s not all that complicated… then you can read the detailed one as you work, just to make sure you have all you need!
Read through the super detailed one at least once before you start your first batch. You don’t want to realize that you are missing something when you’re halfway through the process…
What you Need Before you Start
1 pressure CANNER (not a pressure cooker, see more below)
7 quart canning jars, lids, and rings
1 canning kit (funnel, jar lifter, lid magnet, canning knife)
1 large stock pot (for boiling water)
1 small pot (for simmering lids)
1 baking sheet (to take jars in and out of the oven)
6 pounds of white potatoes
1 cutting board
1 chopping knife
1 clean kitchen towel
Before you Start – Things to Check
First, you need to make sure that you have a pressure canner – not a pressure cooker. Big difference!
Next, check that you have clearance to remove the jars from the canner without hitting a range or microwave.
Once you’ve done that, check what type of stove you have.
Gas really is the best for pressure canning, but you can pressure can on electric stoves as well, though you may need to do a few things first.
Canning on an Electric Stove
What type of glass stove do you have: coil burners or a glass top?
If you have a glass top then you need to make sure you have a pressure canner that is cleared to work with your stove top.
The one I use is theoretically able to be used on glass top stoves without a problem… But you should double check with them regarding your exact make and model.
If you have a coil burner stove you should be fine to just can like you would on a gas stove, but there are things you can do to set your self up for a better canning experience.
Get all the pots out that you would need to work with and set them on the stove at the same time… do they all fit? Good!
That’s the biggest challenge conquered!
The next thing to make your experience better, but isn’t strictly necessary, is to buy a canning burning for electric stoves.
This burner is made specifically for pressure canning on an electric stove and will help with the weight of the canner. The base is reinforced to hold more than a traditional coil burner, and some people say it even heats up faster than their regular burners!
It looks like it works with most stoves, just be careful to check that it works with your particular model.
I Don’t Have a Stove that Seems to Work for Pressure Canning!
Not to fear! My mom is in the same boat.
After just a bit of research, we found this fabulous portable burner that works great for pressure canning! It is a 220 volt though, so make sure your kitchen can accommodate the plug requirements.
How to Pressure Can Potatoes
Alright, now that we are all set up and know that our tools fit the space, let’s get down to the actual canning part.
I’m going to walk you through the process with potatoes because I find them to be the fastest and easiest vegetable to pressure can.
Pressure canning potatoes as your first foray into the art of pressure canning will give you the confidence to can more challenging items without wearing you out on your first attempt.
Step-by-Step Guide to Pressure Canning: The Simplified Version
1. Prep jars like you would for water bath canning.
2. Boil a pot of water and peel and cut potatoes.
3. Fill jars with potatoes and pour boiling water on top. Leave a 1″ headspace.
4. Place jars in pressure canning and follow canning instructions to bring canner to 10lbs pressure. Process for 40 minutes.
See?? It’s not really all that bad!!
The next bit is super detailed, but I wanted you to see that it’s not really all that complicated! Ok, ready? On to the detailed instructions…
Step-by-Step Guide to Pressure Canning: The Super Detailed Version
1. Prepare your jars by washing them thoroughly and placing them on a baking sheet in the oven at 250°.
2. Place all the hand-washed lids and rings into a pot of water and place on low.
3.Fill the pressure canner with about 3 inches of water (make sure your canning base is in the bottom), and set on medium heat.
4. Fill a large stock pot with water (this will go over the potatoes, so make sure you are comfortable with the quality. I use filtered) and set to high.
5. Peel 6 pounds of potatoes and cube them into medium pieces (toss them with a tiny bit of lemon juice if you want. Mine don’t turn brown when canning, but I’ve seem them to that to others). I cut mine like I’m putting them in a pot roast.
6. Once the stock pot of water is boiling, remove the jars from the oven and fill them with potatoes. Leave a 1 inch of space from the top of the potatoes to the top rim of the jar (where the lid will actually sit). This is called “headspace”.
7. Ladle the boiling water over the potatoes until the jar is full (still leaving a 1 inch headspace).
8. Use your plastic canning knife (found here) to go all the way around the edge of the jar (with the knife touching the bottom of the jar), pushing in on the potatoes slightly to help remove air bubbles.
You don’t want to use a metal knife as it can cause damage to the jar and they might break during the canning process.
9. Add more potatoes and water if necessary to fill the jar back to the 1 inch headspace level. Add 1 teaspoon of sea salt or canning salt to the top of each jar (optional, but I would recommend it!). Don’t use table salt!
10. Dip a clean rag in boiling water and wipe off the top edge of all the jars.
11. Place a lid and ring on each jar and tighten to “finger tightness”. That just means tighten them as much as you can without bearing down and really trying to tighten it hard.
12. Place each jar into the canner. Try to space them so they are not touching. I use my jar lifter for this process to avoid touching the hot pot with my arm.
13. Align the lid to the arrows (or whatever markings your pressure canner has to show you where to align the lid). Make sure the gap around the edge is even on all sides.
This takes some patience when you’re first starting out, but it is a crucial step, so take your time.
14. Tighten the bolts around the edge two at a time. Always tighten the two opposite from each other at the same time. Do this for all the bolts.
I like to re-tighten them all after I finish the last set, just to make sure. You can’t over-tighten here…
15. Once the lid is secure, turn the heat up to high.
16. Eventually the steam valve will start to whistle. Let it vent for 10 minutes and then add the weight.
Potatoes process at 10 pounds of pressure, but other foods may be more. This canner has 3 different options to weight, make sure you are putting the weight on at the right number for your recipe.
This weight is clearly marked, which I love!
17. Keep the heat at high until the gauge hits 10 pounds. Once it reaches 10 pounds of pressure, turn the heat to medium, and set a timer for 40 minutes.
This step can take some time to get right until you have done it a few times… because every stove is different.
If the pressure is above 10 pounds, the weight will rattle and you need to lower the heat. If you lower the heat TOO MUCH then the canner will lose pressure… so it really is a bit like being a safe cracker :-)
Keep an eye on it for your first few sessions and you will quickly find that sweet spot for your stove and future sessions will be much easier for you.
18. Once the timer goes off, cut the heat to the canner. Allow the gauge to get all the way to zero and then set a timer for 10 minutes.
19. Now that the canner has been at zero for 10 minutes, remove the weight (it’s hot, so use a hot pad or tongs) and allow the remaining air to vent.
20. Loosen all the bolts, I do this two at a time with the opposites as well… Then remove the lid with the back up first. This way the heat doesn’t hit you right in the face!
21. Allow the jars to sit for another 5 minutes and then remove from the canner. Make sure you remove them with a lifter STRAIGHT UP and place them onto a towel on the counter.
This will reduce the chances of breaking.
22. Leave them on the counter, undisturbed, for the rest of the day and overnight. If I can at night, the jars are cool and ready to be moved by the next morning.
23. Make sure all of the jars have sealed before storing. If they haven’t, keep them in the refrigerator and eat within 2 weeks.
You can check the seal by removing the ring and feeling the lid. If it doesn’t move easily (don’t try too hard), then it is sealed!
This is way too much and now I’m overwhelmed!!
I know. It’s a ton of steps. But honestly, it’s really easy.
Go back and look at the simplified version… you’ll see the whole process in a new light now!
Then read through the detailed steps a few times, read the manual for your canner, invite someone over to help you, and just jump in!
This is really such a worthwhile skill to develop and I promise you, I PROMISE YOU, it gets easier and easier every single time.
If you have ANY QUESTIONS please ask me in the comments.