Does ph matter if I PRESSURE can?

woohoomanAugust 4, 2014

Thinking of canning some maters and I've read some varieties of maters are acidic enough not to have to add an acid when canning the normal way.

But, if I use my pressure cooker to can some of ANY variety, do I still need to add an acid to bring down the ph to an acceptable level?



Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

According to the current guidelines, yes you do. Not only does the claim that "some tomatoes are acidic enough" not hold up to testing but the acidification guidelines allow for shorter processing times than would be required without the added acid.

In general there is a mis-understanding within some of the canning community that pH is not relevant when pressure canning. But that isn't true. While its role is somewhat less important than with BWB canning, pH plays a definitive role in determining the length of the processing time required and the resulting quality of the food. The lower the pH the longer the time required and the greater the negative effect on the food.

Of course you always have the option of ignoring the guidelines but please understand that the recommended pressure canning processing times given for tomatoes assumes the proper amount of acid has been added. If you elect to leave it out the time will have to be increased substantially.


NCHFP - Canning Tomatoes and Tomato Products

Here is a link that might be useful: NCHFP - Acidification Requirements for Tomatoes

    Bookmark   August 4, 2014 at 11:04PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks Dave. Say I don't want to add any acid and I want to can some Celebrity tomatoes -- blanch and peel first. How long would I need to pressure can 1 quart jars?


    Bookmark   August 4, 2014 at 11:22PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
dgkritch(Z8 OR)

That's the problem.........there's no way to know how long when using an untested method. There is no direct correlation between acid level and processing time because other factors come into play like density, type of food, etc.

Not arguing, just curious why you are opposed to the acid?


    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 9:05AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Deanna: Pretty much flavor change. I'd much rather add an acid at meal prep time(if I want to, depending on the dish) than to have an acidic(flavorwise) can of tomatoes with each and every can of tomatoes.

Do commercial canners add acid to ALL of their tomato products? If so, I did not know that. What about those cans of whole ortega chiles with no liquid added. How do they achieve that? Certainly a chile doesn't fall under acceptable ph levels, no?

Please excuse me for my ignorance. I've done zero canning whatsoever.


    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 11:16AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

They all add citric acid. The acidification requirements allow for bottled lemon juice*, citric acid, or vinegar. Many of us much prefer using the citric acid powder rather than lemon juice as the citric acid doesn't change the flavor.

Personally I like the lemon juice option flavor but the wife and the grandkids like the citric acid ones better so that is what we use. One of the small jars of Ball's Citric Acid lasts for a couple of years so worth the price.


*bottled lime juice is also approved.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 11:23AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Ok.. I guess I'd still be required to buy a $50 ph tester then huh?

Crap! That's a lot of store bought organic canned tomatoes!

Would I still need to PRESSURE can maters(and not the normal HWB way), when doing the acid thing?


This post was edited by woohooman on Tue, Aug 5, 14 at 13:32

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 1:19PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Kevin - more like a $500 (OK, maybe $400) if pH is over 4.0.

Not a big deal to throw 1/2 tsp citric acid in the jar - I don't even taste it. PCing lets you do the tomatoes in 15 minutes instead of 85 minutes (assuming a raw pack without added liquid). Supposedly more nutritious too.

I'm not familiar with those peppers - I don't go to grocery store often in summer but I'll look for them next time.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 1:48PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

Kevin, you may pressure can or BWB (boiling water bath) the tomatoes but will be adding something to acidify either way if you are following current guidlelines. Many of us prefer to pressure can them for the reasons ajsmama gave you but it's your choice

Looking up Ortega products online, I find three sizes whole chilies on their website, all with the same ingredients list. Checking the label shows ingredients as fire roasted green chilies, water, salt, CITRIC ACID, calcium chloride. I don't find an Ortega product with no water, no citric acid.

Here is a link that might be useful: Ortega

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 3:07PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

And Kevin, there really is no point in comparing what we can do at home to commercial products. Not really true of the chilies, but for the most part we can't duplicate the extensive and high tech equipment used by those companies in our own kitchens.

Example, we'll can our chicken soup with vegetables but no rice or pasta and add either of those when opening the jar to heat/serve, leaving the chicken noodle soup complete in cans to Campbells :)

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 3:26PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Ok. So, I really don't NEED a meter? I just need to make sure I add enough citric acid per recipe guideline to reasonably assume that the ideal ph is reached?

The Ortega product I'm speaking of was a single Anaheim packed in a can with no water. It's been so long since i bought one since I've been growing my own for the last 12 years. After listening to you guys/gals, they must have been soaking them in citric acid et al prior to canning. So, non pickled Jalapenos in water would have citric acid added also, i assume? If that's the case, then I don't think I'll have a problem at all with adding citric acid. Because i definitely don't taste any "sourness" with those.


    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 11:27AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Kevin - you were talking about canning tomatoes. Dave gave the link to the acidification guidelines for those (pints and quarts, doesn't matter whether you're BWBing or PCing).

Now, if you're talking other "recipes" then you have to follow the recipe - with the exception that if a recipe calls for vinegar you can substitute the SAME amount (not less) of bottled lemon or lime juice (or a mixture). You can't safely change lemon juice to vinegar. And you can't just decide that 1/4tsp of citric acid is equivalent to 1Tbsp of lemon juice (just as you can't assume that 1 Tbsp lemon juice is the same as 2 Tbsp vinegar) just because all 3 are given as options when acidifying tomatoes.

So if you're making up your own salsa or hot sauce recipes for canning, you do need to have a pH meter - a good one as I discussed over on Hot Pepper forum. And as I told Jason (judo) if you're selling it you have to get the recipe ("process") approved and tested by a lab the first time you make it, and keep meticulous records of each batch after the product is approved. Any time you make a change to the process (even just changing size of container) it needs to be re-submitted.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 12:00PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Kevin - no you don't need a pH a meter. All you have to do is follow the already tested and approved instructions for each food provided in Ball and NCHFP. They already did all the necessary testing for you.

However you cannot safely generalize from one food to another. The acidification requirements we have been discussing applies to tomatoes. Canned (not pickled) jalapeno peppers are a different issues. They do not require added citric acid although it is not prohibited either.

Commercial canned peppers are first irradiated and then briefly pressure canned. Some brands may also add citric acid but if they don't list on their ingredients we can only assume it was not added.

Home canned peppers cannot be irradiated first - we can't have the equipment - so the processing time is increased accordingly and is much longer. That's why they tend to be softer in texture than commercial canned ones. That's why some of us also add Pickle Crisp to help keep them more firm.

Sure you can add citric acid to them if you wish but it isn't required.


Here is a link that might be useful: NCHFP Canning Peppers

This post was edited by digdirt on Wed, Aug 6, 14 at 12:03

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 12:01PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks all. I'm understanding now.

Ajsmama and Dave: So, just canning maters seems like a pretty simple procedure as long as I stay to a proven recipe guideline.

Let's go off topic a tad though. I do make my own salsas and sauces though, but I fridge or freeze them. I'm not spending hundreds of bucks though just to put them on my SHELVES. And I'm not selling any.

Let's take hot sauce though. I do a fermented mash and sauce. Obviously, there's not any one recipe for MY particular sauce. Peppers, garlic, some carrots, maybe some onion, and seasonings, etc. And I'm sure there's many guys/gals that make up sauces and shelf them that are doing it without a 500 buck meter. What are they doing to make themselves feel at ease?

Same thing with salsas -- The base for mine is primarily maters, peppers,onion, garlic. etc. Once again, I know each of these have different ph levels and my recipes are going to be different than anything the NCHFP has in it's archives. Is there a GENERAL guideline one can use to add enough acid to make salsa safe? For example, let's say I find a proven recipe guideline that calls for(these are all numbers thrown out there) 4 lbs of maters, 1 lb peppers, 1 lb onions, 2 heads of garlic. But my recipe calls for FOUR lbs of peppers and EIGHT heads of garlic(once again, hypothetical #s). Is there a simple acid guideline to use to offset those differences that one would feel reasonably safe?

Obviously, there aren't thousands of people out there making shelved salsas, without meters, to the LIMITED recipes of the NCHFP.


    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 12:34PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I don't ferment anything except cucumbers so I won't address the mash - there have been discussions here on it.

Just didn't know where you were headed with the reference to "recipes" - yes, canning plain tomatoes (crushed, sauce, etc. all good as long as you don't start adding low-acid veggies) is very straightforward and it' all there on NCHFP site also in Ball Blue Book.

Salsa - that's a can (no pun intended!) of worms but the NCHFP did add a Choice Salsa recipe that's a bit more flexible. They did publish a study on salsa acidification, but only tested tomato/onion/pepper blend as well as separately testing how much acid (lemon juice but lime is the same and more appropriate to salsa) was required to acidify full pints of either onions or peppers. Once you start adding garlic and fresh herbs like cilantro though you're in uncharted territory. Annie did get her recipe (in 2 recent threads, the Condensed Leesa thread and the Auntie Anne's) tested, revised, and re-tested, there is some room for customization there too as discussed.

But basically you have to start with a tested safe salsa recipe and then sub lemon/lime juice mix for vinegar if preferred (I mentioned above can't decrease the fluid volume), sub hot peppers for bell (again, by measure/weight not count - if the recipe says "1 medium bell pepper" then consult the Ball Complete book to see how many cups that is, then measure your prepped chiles to substitute), sub onions for peppers and vice versa, omit sugar, adjust salt, black pepper, and dried spices to taste. Beware of changing dried herbs - some don't can/store well, for example, I would rather leave oregano out than sub basil b/c basil goes bitter.

If you have any questions about whether a recipe is safe to can, just post it here and Dave or one of the other MFPs can review it (usually by comparing to an approved recipe, so if you've modified one it helps to post the original, its source, and your modifications).

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 1:12PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Current Botulism cases
The Oregon State Public Health Lab has confirmed that...
Katie's Roasted Garlic Tomato Soup
I made her soup the other day and I am here to tell...
Roasted Tomato Garlic Soup
I had about 20 - 1 gallon bags filled with tomatoes...
Pickled beets from store canned beets
I want to can some pickled beets using canned beets...
New low fat way to make "creamy soup" !!!!!!
I got this from "Cooking Light" Most recipes...
Sponsored Products
Madison Park Skylar 84-inch Fretwork Border Window Panel
Artemide | Talak LED Table Lamp
Concentric Ibiza Indoor/Outdoor Rug
$10.99 | zulily
Vista Antique Cherry 22" x 60" Large Cheval Mirror
Lamps Plus
Malibu Flood Lights Low Voltage Aged Brass 20-Watt Flood Light 8308-9603-01
$24.97 | Home Depot
A & E Toddler Mobile Bookcase - 500324C
$322.00 | Hayneedle
Thermostatic Shower System, Triple Valve, Showerhead, Riser & Handset
Hudson Reed
Claudia Outdoor Area Rug
Grandin Road
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™