Help! I don't Understand The Pressure Canner Instructions!

KerenR(7)July 4, 2012

I have an All American Pressure Canner. I am having a hard time understanding when to take the selective pressure regulator weight off. Is it before or after the steam gauge reaches zero? Here are the exact instructions:

"After canning in glass jars, turn heat off and permit cooker to cool gradually until the steam gauge drops to zero. Remove the selective pressure regulator weight slowly and do not release steam pressure too rapidly as liquid will be drawn from the jars."

I removed it after the gauge reached zero last night, and my jars took about 10 minutes to seal after I removed them from the canner. Is that okay? Should I have removed it as soon as I turned the heat off, or after it reached zero like I did?

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

Normally we don't recommend using the canner manual for canning instructions simply because they aren't well-edited and often not current with the home canning guidelines. The NCHFP step-by-step How to Use a Pressure Canner guidelines are the best.

In this case, once the gauge reads zero carefully tip the regulator a bit to see if pressure/steam/hissing is still escaping. Zero doesn't always no pressure left - a bit is. If yes wait a few more minutes then check again, if no then remove it. THEN WAIT 10 MINS. BEFORE REMOVING THE LID.

The main point is don't try to rush the process. You can always wait a few mins. after the gauge reads zero to check the regulator and once the lid is off you can always wait a few min. for the jars to quit actively bubbling to remove the jars too.


    Bookmark   July 4, 2012 at 10:05AM
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Great, thanks Dave. I just read that and it was much clearer and helpful. Do you think that my jars from last night that took 10 minutes to seal on the counter are okay? I made 14 quarts of spaghetti sauce, and all of them but 2 took the additional 10 minutes or so. I did push down on a few of them, which I know not to do now. I took the rings off this morning to see if the lid came off easily. None of them budged and reasonably appear to be sealed well now. Are they safe?

    Bookmark   July 4, 2012 at 12:32PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Assuming that you used a safe, approved recipe to begin with then they should be fine. Taking 10 mins to seal isn't unusual. Often it can take even longer.

NCHFP is considered the prime source of home food canning info and you can usually find answers to most of your questions there. Or here. :)


    Bookmark   July 4, 2012 at 1:47PM
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Linda_Lou(SW Wa.)

They don't normally seal within 10 min. That is the 10 min. wait time IN the canner, once the pressure is at zero. You remove the weight, then, as Dave said, you set the timer for another 10 min. before you open the lid and remove the jars.
Well, it all depends if they are safe. Did you use a safe, tested recipe or did you make up your own ? If you made up your own, then, no, they are not safe !
Plus, the ones you forced to seal may come unsealed as they sit.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2012 at 1:49PM
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I used a recipe from an ex-Amish lady specifically for canning that has been used for a very long time. I followed it to the tee, except I processed it longer (than she does) according to the Ball Blue Book recommendations just to be ultra safe.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2012 at 2:59PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

I used a recipe from an ex-Amish lady specifically for canning

Sorry but that doesn't qualify as an approved, tested recipe. There are specific, recognized sources for home canning recipes and friends, family, and neighbors aren't included. Indeed many of those "family" recipes have repeatedly been proven to be UNsafe. So there is no way to guarantee that your sauce is safe.

Home canning safety depends on using only lab-tested and approved recipes and there are plenty of them. This is especially important when one is working with low-acid pressure canned recipes and when one is new to the process and has little or no understanding of the underlying issues. So using that source is done at your own risk.

It is your choice whether to keep the sauce or not but most of us aren't comfortable with the "no one has died from it yet" approach to home canning.

Post the full recipe if you wish and maybe we can evaluate it for potential problems.


    Bookmark   July 4, 2012 at 4:39PM
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Okay, point taken. Do you have any links to an awesome spaghetti sauce? The recipe I have is delicious, but I do want to be safe. I have the updated version of Annie's salsa from this site that I plan to can this weekend. So, if anyone has a great spaghetti sauce, I will use that recipe instead of the questionable one I used this week.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2012 at 11:06PM
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Oh, sorry Dave. I didn't see your request to post the recipe until just now. (I am still open to any awesome recipes you guys love the way everyone loves Annie's Salsa) Here is the one that I used this week: (Can you add zucchini to this?)

20 qt cooker full of peeled tomatoes
6 sweet peppers
4 large onions
1 cup sugar
half cup salt
4 T parsley flakes
1 T oregano
3 cloves garlic
1 bunch celery
4 12 ounce cans tomato paste
1 scant cup veg. oil

Boil tomatoes 2 hours. Grind onions,celery,pepper,and galic and add to the tomatoes,along with herbs. Simmer another hour. Mix paste with oil,sugar and salt and beat till paste is dissolved. Mix with toatoes and bring to boil. Put in jars and pressure cook at 10 pounds for 25 minutes.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2012 at 11:12PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

From my perspective that recipe is asking for trouble. Lots of low-acid veggies, and the oil. It may be safe but really, there's no way to tell.

This recipe might not have presented problems previously if the sauce was brought to the boil and cooked for at least 10 minutes after opening. That would kill any potential toxins and is the principal reason some of these old canning practices have not made anyone ill (that we know of).

Today, however, people tend to prefer fresher flavors and are less likely to prepare the "overcooked" green beans and such of the past.

I have a great deal of respect for traditional home preservation practices but they often occur in conjunction with other practices at time of service that mitigate safety issues (not to mention that farm people have stronger immune systems).


    Bookmark   July 5, 2012 at 3:01PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Keren - if you compare that recipe to one of the tested and approved ones (linked below) you'll see that the ingredient measurements differ greatly. The approved one allows for only 1/4 cup oil and much less of the low acid ingredients. The approved one is a thinner sauce which allows for better heat penetration and much more accurate measuring while the one you used would require a much longer processing time even if it was safe. Plus, as a general rule oils are not allowed in home canned goods but the approved recipe does allow a small amount after testing.

But 1 cup of oil? No, sorry that is way too much and allows for far too much bacteria to be insulated by the oil and not killed by the processing.

As to approved canning recipes for Spaghetti Sauce there are many to be found in approved home canning books such as the Ball Blue Book of Canning, the Ball Complete Book of Home Food Preservation, NCHFP, So Easy to Preserve, Small Batch Preserving, etc.

There are many discussions here about approved books and sources and about unapproved sources. But trying to home can with using one of those sources is just asking for trouble and unsafe foods. The first rule of safe home canning is that you cannot just make up or can your own recipes.

As I said before, the choice to accept your recipe or to do it correctly with a guarantee of safety is yours to make. Personally I would not trust or eat the recipe you used.


Here is a link that might be useful: NCHFP - Spaghetti Sauce

    Bookmark   July 5, 2012 at 4:30PM
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I can see why the low acid veggies would be a no-no if she were water bathing it, but she's pressure canning this.
What makes this different than canning other veggies?
Other than the oil...

    Bookmark   July 8, 2012 at 6:59PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

The density. pH is just as much as issue with pressure canning as it is with BWB processing.

Density is the other big issue with pressure canning because it and the pH is what determines the amount of time needed. Just because something is pressure canned doesn't mean it can be any pH or any density you want.

Look at the processing time required for mixed vegetables - 75-90 mins. vs. 25 mins in this recipe.


    Bookmark   July 8, 2012 at 7:22PM
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Thanks for replying!
Density wasn't mentioned before, just the low acid veggies.

Oops, I stand corrected, you did say:
"The approved one is a thinner sauce which allows for better heat penetration and much more accurate measuring"

I was just curious about all the talk of low acid veggies being the determining factor.

Thanks for explaining!

    Bookmark   July 8, 2012 at 7:51PM
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I made the approved recipe for spaghetti/pasta sauce, and I have to admit, no one in my family cared for it at all. So, I was wondering if I can safely freeze the recipe I listed on here (see my comment above) from the Amish lady. If I freeze instead of canning, does that remove the bacteria risk?

    Bookmark   July 9, 2012 at 7:36PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Sure you can freeze it. That is always the best option with questionable recipes. From pot to freezer.

But since it has been longer than 24 hours you will have to reheat it all now to boiling and cook for 10 mins. prior to filling the freezer containers. Freezing doesn't kill any bacteria that may have developed in the intervening time so the reheating is necessary.


    Bookmark   July 9, 2012 at 9:00PM
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