Category: Pressure Canning

How to Pressure Can Potatoes

Every year my husband grows far too many potatoes.

We give some away and we attempt to eat as many potatoes as possible before they grow too many eyes. Fortunately, once the eyes get too numerous and too large, the potatoes are still usable as seed potatoes for the following year’s garden, so there’s no real waste here.

Recently, I’ve started canning potatoes and I’ve found this to be a really handy staple to have in the kitchen.

Canning potatoes is only recommended for red-skinned potatoes because they hold their shape best once they’re boiled and cooked. Light-skinned potatoes unfortunately turn to mush and are thus potentially unsafe for canning.

The process outlined in the recipe is fairly straight forward.

Wash and peel and cube potatoes, storing them in water as you go to prevent unwanted colour changes.

Cubed potatoes patiently waiting for me to cube more potatoes.

Once this is done, rinse the potatoes once more and blanch them as per the instructions below. Pack into pint or quart jars with a bit of salt (or a salt alternative if you’re watching your sodium) and top off with boiling water, then process in the pressure canner.

Since potatoes in water are a low-acid food, this must be done in a pressure canner and cannot be done in a water bath canner. Doing so in a water bath canner runs the risk of botulism, which has the unfortunate side effect of death.

You might be looking at this like I initially looked at this—with a bit of disinterest because canned potatoes doesn’t sound all that appetizing.

What I’ve found, though, is that canned potatoes are perfect for various uses in the kitchen, including:

  • Quick mashed potatoes—since it’s already cooked, you just have to heat and mash
  • Shepherd’s pie—skip the extra step of making mashed potatoes and just pull a jar of canned potatoes out of the cupboard, mash, and top your pie
  • An alternative to gnocchi—we love having gnocchi but I’m not always organized enough to remember to buy it when I’m grocery shopping, so I’ve learned that if I drain a can of potatoes and toss them into a pan with some oil and butter, they fry up nice and crispy and go great with some pesto sauce
  • The first step in gnocchi—if you want to make your own gnocchi, the first step is cooking potatoes, but using canned potatoes means that first step is already done
  • Potato bread (recipe here!)—I recently discovered an Irish potato flatbread where the first step is to boil and mash potatoes, but using canned potatoes cuts down the time dramatically

Canning Potatoes (Pressure Canner)

If you have a bumper crop of red-skinner potatoes and no cold storage to keep them for the long term, pressure canning them is a great way to preserve them. They're fully cooked in the jar, saving time when you're preparing them for dinner or other uses.
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 40 minutes
Course Side Dish


  • 1 Pressure Canner
  • Pint or Quart Mason Jars The exact number needed will vary based on the amount of potatoes you have.


  • Red-skinned potatoes These must be red-skinned potatoes as they hold their shape best after boiling. Other potatoes are not recommended for canning.
  • Water
  • Salt A sodium-free salt alternative could work if you're watching your sodium.


  • Wash potatoes, then peel them and cut them into cubes no bigger than half an inch. Small potatoes (1-2 inches) can be left whole, but must be peeled.
  • As you peel and chop the potatoes, put the cubes into a big bowl or pot filled with water. This prevents them from changing colour and also drains a bit of the starch from the potatoes.
  • Boil water in a big pot. You'll be blanching the potatoes, so it should be big enough to accommodate all of the potatoes, or at least to accommodate batches of potatoes. Boil additional water, either in a pot or a kettle; this will be for adding to the jars with the potatoes.
  • While waiting for the pot of water to boil, rinse the potatoes once more to wash away more starch.
  • Boil potato cubes for two minutes. If using small whole potatoes, boil them for ten minutes.
  • Drain the potatoes.
  • Pack into pint or quart mason jars, leaving one inch of headspace. Add ½ teaspoon of salt to each jar. (Adding salt is optional, but potatoes can be very bland without added salt at this step and sometimes the blandness can't be remedied.)
  • Add boiled water, maintaining one inch of headspace. Debubble and top up water if needed. Wipe jar rims, put on lid and screw band to fingertip tightness.
  • Process in a pressure canner as per your pressure canner's directions. *See note below.
    Pressure gauge at 10 lbs, dial gauge at 11 lbs. Adjust as necessary based on your altitude.
    Process pints for 35 minutes, quarts for 40 minutes.
  • When finished, bring canner pressure down as per canner instructions. Remove jars from canner and set on a heavy towel overnight to cool and seal. The next day, check that jars sealed; if any didn't seal, put them in the refrigerator and use them within a couple days.


Most pressure canners require a minimum load for the canner to work properly. My pressure canner requires a minimum load of two quarts / two litres. Since this is a variable recipe based on the amount of potatoes you have, you could end up with a too-small load. In this case, figure out how many jars need to be added to achieve the minimum load and fill those jars with boiled water and put on lids and screw bands to fingertip tightness, then add them to the canner.
If you can some water to achieve this minimum load, the processing time here is more than enough to safely can water, so you can keep this canned water on a shelf for emergencies or camping.
Keyword Potatoes, Pressure Canner

How to Make Chili in the Pressure Canner

I’m the literal worst at packing a lunch for work. It’s not unusual for me to show up at work with little more than a dinner roll that I grabbed out of the freezer. So when I got a pressure canner for Christmas 2021, I immediately set out to can a bunch of lunch things that I can just grab on my way out the door.

First on my list of canned lunches was chili!

Here in Winnipeg, the east-west centre of Canada, it can get pretty darn cold in winter. As I’m writing the draft of this post in January, we just got through a week of -30C temperatures with a fierce wind that made the “feels like” temperature dip down to -45C. (That’s -22F and -49F.) On days like this, a warm bowl of chili always hits the spot.

When I pull one of these out for lunch, they’re perfectly fine and delicious as-is, but if I’ve got my act together and I’m not literally rushing out the door to get to work, I’ll usually pack a few little containers of toppings. What goes particularly nice on here is a dollop of sour cream, a heavy pinch of shredded cheese (and I usually buy a bag of pre-shredded cheese for the convenience factor), and some dehydrated green onions (which I’ll likely post about this fall).

Alternatively, canning these in pint jars, as the recipe calls for, means you have an easy weeknight dinner for two. Pop open a jar, dump it in a pot, and heat it till it’s simmering.

This recipe is adapted from Healthy Canning.

The recipe is pretty straight-forward and easy to follow. The unsweetened cocoa will sound like a very odd ingredient, but I encourage you to just go for it and add it in! It does not taste chocolatey at all. I’ve had a few dishes over the years with unsweetened cocoa; the one coming to mind were chicken skewers that were coated in cocoa and ground hot pepper and it was super tasty. Despite us in North America thinking of chocolate as only a sweet treat, cocoa powder is a part of savoury dishes in Central and South America.

Chili (Pressure Canner)

Pre-made shelf-stable chili in mason jars makes the perfect workweek lunch or easy dinner.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 15 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 8 Pints


  • 1 Pressure Canner
  • 9 Pint Mason Jars OR 18 Half-Pint Mason Jars


  • 500 grams Dried kidney beans Beans need to be soaked in water overnight. I used 454g / 1lb since that's the size of the bag I bought.
  • 1.5 kilogram Extra-lean ground beef
  • 200 grams Onion, chopped
  • 150 grams Peppers, seeded and chopped I used two jalapeños and part of a bell pepper.
  • 2 litres Crushed tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp Chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp Garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp Ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp Ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp Ground oregano
  • 2 Tbsp Salt
  • 2 Tbsp Unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 Tbsp Lime juice This can be bottled or freshly-squeezed, as it's here for flavour, not food safety purposes.


  • The night before: Wash beans. Place beans in a large pot or bowl and cover with several inches of water. Let stand overnight.
  • Drain beans and put in a large pot (I needed a very large pot; a lot gets added to it later on) and cover with water. Bring to a boil and then lower the temperature and simmer for 30 minutes.
  • While the beans are simmering, put the ground beef, onions, and peppers into a very large pan and brown the beef, breaking it up as it cooks. Drain the fat from the pan once it’s browned.
  • Drain the beans and then return them to the pot.
  • Add the beef mixture to the bean pot. Add the rest of the ingredients. Stir and heat until it boils, then lower the temperature and simmer for five minutes.
  • Pack the chili into canning jars, leaving a 1-inch headspace. Either pint (1/2 litre) or half-pint (1/4 litre) jars can be used. The half-pint jars are great for grab-and-go lunches.
  • Debubble and adjust headspace if needed. Wipe jar rims. Put the lids on and tighten to fingertip tightness.
  • Place in pressure canner and follow canner instructions. Process for 75 minutes. If using a weighted gauge, process at 10 lbs pressure; if using a dial gauge, process at 11 lbs pressure. If you are over 1000 feet / 300 meters, adjust the pressure accordingly.
  • When fully processed and canner has cooled as per canner instructions, remove jars from canner and let sit on a thick towel, undisturbed, for 24 hours. Check after 24 hours. If the lids have sealed, the jars can be stored. If any lids failed to seal, refrigerate and consume within a few days.


Unsweetened cocoa powder can seem like a very strange thing to add to chili, but do try it! Chocolate is a part of traditional Central American cuisine, including in savoury/spicy dishes like chili.
Keyword Chili, Pressure Canner

Canning 101

I’m relatively new to canning—the process of putting food into jars and making them shelf-stable so they can sit in your pantry for up to a year or longer—and at first it seemed super intimidating. While my mom had a water bath canner, she doesn’t know much about canning, which meant that my whole process of learning how to do this was done by reading as much as I could on the internet and then just giving it a try.

After a couple years of figuring out water bath canning, I got a pressure canner for Christmas. This greatly expanded my repertoire of canning recipes and has allowed me to also do things like meals in a jar.

If you’re brand new to canning, here’s what I’d consider the 101 to get you started:

Some Basic Terminology

  • Canning: The process of putting food in jars and making them shelf-stable for long-term storage.
  • Water Bath Canner: Some foods are processed by using a water bath canner, which processes and seals the jars by submerging them in boiling water.
  • Pressure Canner: Other foods are processed by using a pressure canner, which operates similarly to a pressure cooker to raise the pressure (and thus the temperature) to achieve even hotter temperatures to process and seal jars. A pressure cooker cannot double as a pressure canner, even if the pressure cooker tells you it can be used for pressure canning.
  • Headspace: When filling the jars, recipes say to leave a headspace of a certain amount. This is how “full” you make the jars; if the recipe calls for a headspace of an inch, you fill the jar to within an inch from the top.

Water Bath Canning

A water bath canner is essentially a large pot. It includes a rack that sits in the bottom of the pot so that the jars don’t touch the bottom. Once the filled jars are put in the pot, water is added to completely submerge the jars and cover with at least an inch of water. The stove is turned on and the once the water comes to a full boil, the processing time begins. If the water ever stops boiling, the water must come to a boil again and the processing time restarted. (So don’t turn down the temperature too much.)

As the water boils around the jars, the contents of the jars heat up and oxygen escapes. The wax rings on the lids soften. When processing is done, turn off the stove and let the water stop boiling. Let it sit for a few minutes, and then carefully remove the jars using a jar lifter and put them on a thick towel somewhere to sit overnight. Do not tilt the jars or lay them sideways; keep them upright until they’ve fully cooled overnight.

Foods processed using water bath canning are typically high-sugar or high-acid foods. Processing the jars in boiling water kills most pathogens, but there’s still a risk of botulism, which thrives in low-oxygen environments. Canning creates a low-oxygen environment in the jars, but the high-sugar or high-acid content inhibits the growth of botulism, making the foods safe to sit on a shelf and be eaten at a later date.

Pressure Canning

Like a water bath canner, a pressure canner is essentially a large pot. These ones have lockable lids, though, and equipment and attachments to raise the pressure within the pot and monitor that pressure.

I have a Presto 23-quart induction compatible pressure canner. This one comes with a screw gauge to regulate the pressure, but after reading several recommendations on the internet, I upgraded the screw gauge to a weighted gauge. So, rather than me having to constantly fiddle with the gauge through the processing time to ensure proper pressure is maintained, I instead just have to keep an eye on the weighted gauge to ensure it’s “rocking” properly, allowing me to do other things while my jars process. (If the pressure ever drops too low, then the pressure must be raised again and the processing time starts over.)

Pressure canners come with their own specific instructions on how to process jars, so always follow the instructions that come with your pressure canner.

Unlike water bath canning, jars in a pressure canner are not completely submerged. The pressure canner allows the water and steam to reach higher temperatures than can be achieved in a water bath canner, and it uses the steam to process the jars. Similar to water bath canning, most oxygen escapes from the jars and they sit on a thick towel overnight so that the lids properly seal.

Pressure canned foods do not have to be high-sugar or high-acid, because the higher processing temperature kills off any botulism that could be in the jars, making it safe to store in your pantry and eat at a later day.

General Safety Tips

  • Always use lab-tested recipes. Because there are potentially serious health considerations when canning (botulism can kill you), always use recipes that have been fully tested. Some good places to find these recipes include Bernardin, Ball, and Healthy Canning (which generally compiles recipes from elsewhere, though they sometimes customize the seasoning a bit).
  • Follow the recipe exactly. Part of what makes a recipe safe is the density of the food in the jars. If something is too dense, then heat cannot fully penetrate the jar and heat the food to the required level. So if a recipe calls for certain foods, do not swap them out for others or add something the recipe doesn’t call for. This also includes using bottled lemon juice rather than freshly-squeezed lemon juice, if the recipe calls for it, as bottled lemon juice is guaranteed to have a certain level of acidity that you can’t rely on fresh lemons providing.
  • Some variations are allowed. Typically, the only variations that are safe to experiment with come down to any dried seasonings that are added. Always thoroughly research or access help from Master Food Preservers before proceeding.
  • Use the recommended jar size or smaller. Always use the jar size the recipe calls for. You can go smaller if you wish. (I have a family of two, so sometimes I don’t want large jars of food that I open and then have to use up.) You cannot go larger. Going larger means that the contents of the jar might not heat to the necessary level, putting you at risk of food contaminated with bacteria or other microbes that could prove harmful.
  • Be careful when doubling a recipe. In general, it’s okay to double or triple a recipe. It’s usually a good idea to write out the new ingredient quantities before you start canning so that you don’t get caught up trying to do doubling or tripling math on the fly. This does not apply to jams and jellies. Anything with pectin cannot be doubled or tripled unless it is a special type of pectin meant for doubling/tripling. If you try doubling a jam recipe, the jam will not set properly.
    • Before I knew this rule, I had tried doubling a recipe for ginger marmalade (which goes great on a baked brie). It didn’t set properly, so I threw it in the freezer just in case and used it as a cooking sauce for chicken.
  • Always use new lids. You can reuse jars and the metal rims, but you must use a new lid each time. If you reuse a lid, the wax ring has already been used once and may not properly seal when used a second time.
  • Sterilizing the jars is optional. A lot of recipes have you sterilizing the jars as step one. However, research has found that if the filled jars are processed for at least ten minutes, then any bacterial contaminants in the jar are killed off. If the recipe calls for the food to be processed for five minutes, you can generally double that to ten minutes with no effect on the food. If sterilizing the jars is something you want to do for that extra feeling of safety, definitely feel free to do so.
  • Test the lids the next morning. After everything has fully cooled, test the lids in the morning to ensure a proper seal has formed. First is a visual inspection; the lids should be slightly curved inward due to a lack of air in the jars. Second is a manual inspection. Remove the rings and gently try to lift the lid off. If it’s stuck in place, it’s properly sealed. If the lid comes off easily, then the jar did not seal. Any unsealed jars should be put in the fridge and consumed promptly.
  • Remove the rings when storing the jars. It’s generally recommended to store the jars without the rings. They could rust and adhere to the lid, or they could be holding the lid down in a way that makes it look like it’s sealed when it’s not. To be honest, I’m not the best with following this rule. I have, however, once gone to open a jar and after taking the ring off, discovered that the jar had never properly sealed and the ring was holding it in place. I had to throw out the contents of that jar, just in case.

Equipment You Need to Can

  • Water bath canner, if wanting to do water bath canning
  • Pressure canner, if wanting to do pressure canning
  • Mason jars
    • You can order these on Amazon in the sizes you want, but I’ve found they’re usually cheaper at grocery stores, Canadian Tire, and Walmart
    • Jars can be reused as long as they are not cracked or chipped, so you can even sometimes find them at yard sales
    • You should not re-use pasta sauce jars or other similar jars, even if they say the word “mason” on them, since they may not be true mason jars and might crack during processing
  • Metal rings
    • New jars come with metal rings, but when you start re-using jars you might need additional rings in case some get lost or become damaged
    • Again, you could order these on Amazon, but they’re usually cheaper in grocery stores, Canadian Tire, and Walmart
  • Lids
    • New jars come with new lids, so you need these when you’re re-using jars and have discarded old lids
    • Again, you could order these on Amazon, but they’re usually cheaper in grocery stores, Canadian Tire, and Walmart
  • Jar-lifter
  • Digital Scale
    • Most recipes give measurements in weight, as that’s the most accurate
  • Optional equipment
    • Funnel: I really like this. It makes it easy to get stuff in jars without making a mess all over the place, and some of them even have measurements on them so you can accurately assess headspace. This is the one I have; there are cheaper ones on Amazon but they don’t appear to have the measurements to help with headspace.
    • Magnetic lid lifter: If you sterilize your jars, you’re supposed to put the lids in lightly-simmering water to sterilize and warm them. A magnetic lid-lifter lets you pick them up from the hot water and put them on the jar without risking contaminating the underside with your fingers. (I don’t use one of these.) Here’s one that comes with a jar lifter, or here’s one that comes with scrapers.
    • Scraper: You’re supposed to scrape the insides of jars with a non-metal utensil to remove air bubbles that are trapped in the food. You can buy this sort of thing, or you can use a chopstick, or plastic cutlery. I just use a chopstick, but if you’re looking for a fancy one, here’s a couple scrapers that come with lid lifters.
    • Something to open jars: I used to pry them open with my fingernails and that usually ended with chipped fingernails. My mom found a paint can opener at Home Depot that works perfectly for prying off lids. I’ve found some bottle openers similarly do the trick if you can hook it under the lip of the lid. I can sometimes use the handle of a spoon or the ring from the jar to wedge between the lid lip and the glass thread on the jar, giving it a little twist and popping the lid off.