Is barley okay to pressure can?

cream_please(z5 PA)April 6, 2009

Hi Folks.

I know rice and pasta are no-nos, but can I add a little barley to my beef vegetable soup when pressure canning?



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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Sorry. no it is just another grain crop like the others so has the same limitations.


    Bookmark   April 6, 2009 at 10:16PM
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Linda_Lou(SW Wa.)

No. Same thing as Dave said. It is considered a thickener, it will change the density of a soup, and also will change the ph level.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2009 at 1:07AM
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gran2(z5 INDIANA)

Quick cooking barley is a great addition to soup, though, and it will cook very quickly if you add it when opening. We try to bring home-canned soups to a bubble for 3-5 minutes anyway, and the barley could well be done by then.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2009 at 2:25PM
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It seems that the majority says you can't pressure can barley.But, I use a vegetable soup recipe that has been used by my family with great success for 50 years. It has 1 T pearl barley in it

    Bookmark   April 15, 2009 at 3:17PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

It seems that the majority says you can't pressure can barley.

It isn't that you can't pressure can it. The guideline is that you can't add it to anything home canned regardless of processing type.

Thickeners such as rice, flour, barley, pasta, cornstarch, etc. can't be used because they change the density of the product and so make it more difficult for the heat to penetrate. Cooler pockets are created where bacteria can remain untouched by the heat and the soup (or whatever) is at risk. If you alter the density the processing time is no longer valid.

But, I use a vegetable soup recipe that has been used by my family with great success for 50 years.

Yes, many have old family recipes, but that doesn't make them safe. Some can be modified to meet current safety standards, some cannot. It is your choice to do so of course as long as you recognize the risks. But you need to know that it isn't generally accepted nor recommended to others.


    Bookmark   April 15, 2009 at 3:29PM
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In response to Linda Lou's comment above, I don't know how much 1 Tbsp. of barley in a quart jar would change the ph, but ph is not even relevant to discuss in pressure canning. It is only relevant in hot water processing.
In pressure canning we have a lot of issues to consider in the product being placed in the jar, but ph is not one of them. We pressure can things because we know in advance that the ph will not permit us to hot water process.
Jim in So. Calif.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2009 at 5:29AM
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Linda_Lou(SW Wa.)

What? Ph not relevent in pressure canning ? Where have you gotten your information ?
I teach food preservation safety and ph is one of the major factors in both BWB and pressure canning..... so is density, the size of the food pieces, whether the food is raw or hot packed....

    Bookmark   June 18, 2009 at 5:30PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

Just for interest, here's an excerpt from an NCHFP fact sheet on testing and the process of determining processing times:

"The time and temperature combinations at which C. botulinum, its spores and other bacteria are killed are established under certain conditions. However, the substrate (food) in which these bacteria are found is an important variable factor in the rate of destruction. The food factors that will influence the amount of heating needed to kill bacteria include: the consistency of the food; the pH (acidity); and, the presence of nutrients that are "protective" for bacteria (e.g., high protein and sugar levels). Other influences on the amount of heat delivered to the food in the jar are: the shape and size of the jar; the size, shape and texture of food pieces; the solid to liquid ratio; the temperature of the food at the beginning of the process; and, the temperature inside the canner. For example, heat penetration through a mass of liquid (faster) will be very different from heat penetration through puréed or mashed food (slower). This is apparent during stove-top cooking too, where different foods heat up differently based on their composition and consistency.

If the food is thick, puréed, or mashed; if there are large pieces of food in the jar; or, if the food is packed in too tightly, heat penetration can be slower than in more liquid or loosely packed foods. If a specific heat process is not calculated for each food and style of pack, the heating may not be adequate, and the food will be underprocessed."

The entire document can be accessed at the link. So far I haven't found anything (for myself as a layperson) that answers the "Why" regarding pH and its role in determining a safe processing time. That would be interesting to know.


Here is a link that might be useful: Heat Processing and Testing Fact Sheet

    Bookmark   June 18, 2009 at 6:48PM
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dgkritch(Z8 OR)

Can the soup without the barley and add at cooking time as suggested above! You can cook a BIG batch of barley and freeze it in smaller portions, then it's just a matter of reheating everything together. Quick. Easy. And most of all....Safe!


    Bookmark   June 18, 2009 at 7:20PM
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Linda_Lou(SW Wa.)

I am unsure as to what is confusing to you. Each food has a ph level. It will take longer to destroy the botulism spores in something with a higher ph level than a more acid food. Then, if the food is more dense, like meat, compared to green beans, it takes longer for the heat to penetrate that more dense food, so longer processing times. Is this what you mean ?? It isn't just a matter of ph, but all the factors together that will determine processing time.
Look at tomatoes and tomato juice. Same food, just the chunks of tomatoes are more dense than the juice. Therefore the chunks take longer than the juice to process.
When it speaks of the sugar, it binds up water to keep water from being available for certain bacteria to grow in. (Like mold grows in moist conditions) It is a factor in full sugar jams and jellies. The amounts in jars of fruit in liquid are not affected by the water activity. The sugar is not thick enough to help in those cases. It is usually in concentrations of approx. 65 % when sugar acts as a preservative.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2009 at 9:51PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Barley takes a long soaking, then simmering for a long while before ite edible. It could be prepaired in a beef broth and frozen in small amounts. Then add it to the soup once you open a jar.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2009 at 2:13AM
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To Linda Lou,
Ph is relevant to both BWB and pressure canning only in so far is that all low acid foods must be pressure canned.
What I meant by what I was saying is that we do not concern ourselves with the ph of carrots being canned. We know they must be pressure canned. After that, we get into issues of size, viscosity, transferability of heat, etc within the caning container.
When we get into tomatoes, and whether above or below 4.6 ph, then we have to deal with the options in preservation (BWB or pressure canning). With carrots or chicken, we do not consider what the ph is before we decide how to preserve it (BWB or pressure canning). I don't know that home preservers use ph strips on chicken to be canned.
Hope that clarifies what I was talking about.
Regards - Jim in So. Calif.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2009 at 5:31AM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

pH test strips might be cheap, but don't offer a good, accurate result, especially if the liquid being tested has any color in it. A pH meter with probe would be more accurate. For tomatoes, pH can vary greatly depending on the stains, as well s growing conditions. The requirement of adding citric acid or bottled lemon juice to insure that the end product is down to the proper pH level is needed.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2009 at 1:04PM
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Do you know of a ph meter that is reliable each time and over time, does not have to be calibrated every time, and is not such a pain to use. I know that tips have to be replaced periodically and that is not a problem. Some, but not all, of the reviews I read on the $100 or so or more HANNA or Hanna type pocket ph meters have been filled with complaints from owners as to the dependability of the readings on the meter. Some I have read have said they can make two readings in a row and get a widely different ph reading out of the same container without altering or adding anything to the container which is not scientific to say the least. If the unit is accurate to 0.01 it should measure constantly within that range on the same product. Unless you have a backup meter, you don't know if you have a good one or a bad one according to what I have read from some of the owners of these units. Maybe the incident of incorrect readings are the result of improper cleaning, storage, etc. People with units that don't work properly tend to complain much louder than those that are happy. What the real reliability of these units is unknown to me.
In any case, if you cannot depend on the reading received, the $100 meter is not of much value. I've seen some huge units the size (or half the size) or a microwave oven, and I like you, do not have the room in my kitchen and cannot justify the expense in any case as the industrial/commercial units are pricey. Used ones are always sold "As Is" and I don't feel comfortable taking one of those on as a repair project (I don't have your repair skills).
Any suggestions? If you don't it is OK. Just give me a "NO" and save yourself some minutes. Glad you are there just to ask this question of - don't know anyone else I could ask except a Hanna rep. or similar and I know what they would say.
Jim in So. Calif.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2009 at 1:34PM
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Linda_Lou(SW Wa.)

Ok, Jim, I am glad you clarified that for me. I try to nudge people in the way of pressure canning all tomatoes, too.
I know I have gone to only canning tomatoes in the PC.
Especially since doing in the BWB now takes 90 min. That is so long, I would rather pressure can due to the time alone. I have 2 pressure canners, so that helps, too.

We ABSOLOUTELY DO NOT endorse trying to test your foods at home. Foods may test ok at first, but they can and do change after processing as they sit in the jars.
Some people even try to rely on soil test meters for canning ! I don't think they understand the safety of home canning fully.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2009 at 4:11PM
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Linda Lou,
I did not mean to offend you and I look to you as a resident EXPERT in canning issues and I am so glad you are here.

I to am extremely careful in canning and would NEVER experiment with any recipe just to see if it would work. I do change some things but within parameters I know are safe. I to am shocked at some of the old recipes that some people use. I have a friend who always cuts the vinegar in half with her pickled beets and replaces it with water (she does not like the taste of vinegar). It is a USDA approved recipe and I have not been able to convince her not to do it. She simply says that I have warned her for years and nothing has ever happened to she, her husband, and all the people she gives it to. Not much more I can do.
I got in trouble with some poor lady in a Miss Vicki Pressure Cooking forum who said she was considering teaching a class on canning at her local adult education and she was soliciting online comments about what she should tell her perspective students, as she knew NOTHING about canning. I advised her NOT to teach the class as she could cause a great deal of harm and she thought I was very mean! She though she and the students could "learn how to can together in class from each other". Miss Vickie sided with me and told her that I was correct. She was either from Arizona or Texas and I was shocked that the public school system's adult education in her area would allow someone teach a class with NO TRAINING or EXPERIENCE of any kind in such a critical area with so many safety issues.
Anyway, I did not mean to come off as ignorant - I guess I could have stated my observations more clearly. I thought that I would have been understood. Never thought of using my garden ph tester in the kitchen! They are a great deal cheaper however (don't worry, I won't).
Thanks again for your time.
Regards Jim in So. Calif.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2009 at 2:37AM
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Linda_Lou(SW Wa.)

I truly appreciate your message today. I did not ever feel you were offending me. I just really stress that safe preservation is that important. Amazing how someone thinks they can teach and learn at the same time ! That is not mean, that is caring enough to speak up. Sure, we all have to learn from someplace and someone, but not from a person without any education in the field at all.
Jim, even though you get flack from people, keep spreading the word. Funding for the extension offices is drying up. Many have already closed this part of their service. Trying to get an answer, much less get a gauge tested, etc. is getting so hard for people all over the country.
This is my last week in a series up in another city. Been going up there once a week for 5 weeks. Teaching 2 hours each session. It has been fun, but I am tired and ready for a break, too. I was teaching 3 days a week for a while. Maybe we will actually get something for our own pantry so we can eat this winter, too.
I have heard some of the craziest things over the years. People trying to "can" their food in the dishwasher. Blanching corn in the dishwasher, just to name a couple.
Glad you are here to chat with us, Jim.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2009 at 3:27PM
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rosieo(7 NC)

There are recipes for canning beef and barley soup.

Here is a link that might be useful: canning barley

    Bookmark   August 20, 2012 at 5:53PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

There are recipes for canning beef and barley soup

There are recipes out there on the web for canning all sorts of things. That doesn't mean they are safe to do.

Many of the so-called canning recipes posted on the web are well proven and well documented to be unsafe.


    Bookmark   August 20, 2012 at 6:46PM
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Linda_Lou(SW Wa.)

Yes, but this is some person who made this up. Notice the margarine, too!

    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 1:01AM
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