BWB, Pressure Canner or Oven Canning?

maggiegOctober 24, 2008

Hi Everyone,

I have canned for years using BWB, but lately have had non-acidic things like green beans not seal and when some did not seal I didn't trust the others. They would seal then pop. So I bought a pressure canner. Did some tomatoes and some of the juice boiled out of the jars. Didn't really like that whole process. I have a friend who uses her oven for canning at 250 at 20-40 minutes depending on what she is canning. So my question is --Is it safe to still use BWB. What did I do wrong with the pressure canner and how does the oven process sound? Thanks...

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

I'm sorry but oven canning is not considered at all safe and hasn't been for years. Per USDA: This can be dangerous because the temperature will vary according to the accuracy of oven regulators and circulation of heat. Dry heat is very slow in penetrating into jars of food. Also, jars explode easily in the oven.

Further, pressure canning for green beans has been required since the mid-80's - about the same time they started requiring bottled lemon juice or citric acid added to canned tomatoes. There is no safe option for processing green beans in a BWB because they are low acid and only the pressurized heat of the PC can kill the botulism spores. Green beans is listed by USDA as one of the 2 most common sources of botulism poisoning.

But pressure canning does take some practice. ;) The "boiling out of the liquid" is called siphoning and guidelines are available to prevent it happening. It basically boils down to controlling your heat source and allowing a 10 min, interval between 0 pressure, opening the canner, and removing the jars. See PC Problems and Solutions

I'd like to give you the link to the National Center for Home Food Processing, the recognized authority on safe home food processing. There you will find all the current guidelines, approved and tested recipes, and use tips for both BWB and pressure canning. You'll find it exceptionally helpful but if it doesn't answer all your questions, please let us know.


Here is a link that might be useful: NCHFP

    Bookmark   October 24, 2008 at 10:27PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

Oh boy.

Actually, the USDA recommended pressure-canning of low-acid vegetables and meats in 1926 but allowed boiling water bath if no other option was available. By 1943 the USDA was definite that pressure canning is the only acceptable option.

In other words, boiling water bath has not been approved as safe for green beans (as Dave said, botulism) for 65 years.

You cannot kill botulism spores with a boiling water bath and you can't kill them with oven canning either. It's a bit of a learning curve, but getting comfortable with a pressure canner is the appropriate option. Siphoning is common until you figure things out and learn your stove.


    Bookmark   October 25, 2008 at 12:46AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Thanks for that info Carol. I thought it had been much longer than the 80's on the beans but that was the oldest date I could find in my notes. ;) Updating notes.


    Bookmark   October 25, 2008 at 12:52AM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

Dave, that information comes from a document called Home Canning  History and Safety, a Food Preservation Fact Sheet from Susan Brewer at University of Illinois Extension.

For some reason it's been removed from their site (or removed from consumer access). IIRC, it also used to be accessible from the NCHFP, but they don't list it anymore either. I know NCHFP used it in their training materials.

Googling didn't help. I finally used the dead link and located a copy cached on the Web Archives (Wayback Machine). If you're interested, save to computer. I'm not sure how long they keep documents on that server or whether it'll eventually be blocked. I've known it to happen.


Here is a link that might be useful: Web Archives dot Org Home Canning History and Safety

    Bookmark   October 25, 2008 at 4:10AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Thanks for the link Carol. I have it saved now. ;)


maggieg - I hope we haven't discouraged you too much. Honestly, pressure canning can be easy and once you get a handle on it it opens up many more things that you can safely process at home.

Let us know how we can help.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2008 at 4:07PM
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Thank you everyone! I guess I just need to practice with the pressure canner. I will check out the links. I followed the directions, but practice will make perfect. I agree your responses about oven canning, but my friend will not listen. I am an organic gardner and grow plenty of vegs, herbs and fruit. What a wonderful feeling to open one of those jars in the winter! AH--satisfaction. Thank you again for your help.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2008 at 9:30PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Suggest that you print out the current home canning rules, or are they safety guidlines. Hand it to the oven canner person. I bet that they had at least one jar explode! In any case, the current guidelines are designed for anyone (old or young) to home can things that should be safe if the current recommendations are followed.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2008 at 12:22PM
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val_s(z5 central IL)

Unfortunately, you can print out all the pages of info you want but some people won't change. My Grandma swears by this "open kettle" type of canning so when I told her about the research I'd done and that her way wasn't considered safe anymore I got the typical response....."I haven't killed anyone yet". She's in her 90's so I'm not arguing with her.

I did decide to not take any more of her canned tomatoes anymore and learned how to do it myself. I'm 50 but I can still learn new things. My Grandma has gone to live with her daughter now so I'm hoping she'll stop canning but the problem is that my cousin (who's my age) has decided to take over were Grandma left off. I tried to tell her that Grandma's way wasn't really the best way but I got another typical response...."If it was good enough for Grandma then it's good enough for me." ARRGH!


    Bookmark   October 28, 2008 at 12:18AM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

People have deep emotional connections to food and canning is no exception. For some people, the "old way" is a valued link to tradition and the loved ones who taught them. I can respect that, but it is ironic that people will insist on sticking to outdated methods of home preservation while never considering driving a Model-T or sticking with an old icebox or wood cookstove. They'd think it was absurd.

I'm sure you recognize that "I haven't killed anyone yet," is hardly a recommendation. All it means is that so far the odds haven't fallen in the other direction. Let's hope in your relatives' case that it never does.

Carol (who never eats her cousin's green beans canned BWB.)

    Bookmark   October 28, 2008 at 12:27AM
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Carol thanks for that link. Really interesting and I've saved it.

There is an error in the article, although I don't think it makes any practical difference.

A PH of 14 is not very low acid but rather very high alkaline. Probably it would kill you, but so would a PH of 0 in any quantity.

Very low acid would be a number just smaller than 7.0 which is neutral and the PH of distilled water.

Here is a link that might be useful: The Art of The Pig

    Bookmark   October 28, 2008 at 6:06AM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Grandmas don't swear. They take fate into their hands instead. If people get food poisoning, the grandmas are the ones most likly NOT to get sick, call it fate, or chance. Are you absoluty sure that no one has gotten sick in these '90 years'? It may be that some people accept the home canned goods, but do not even open them, in fear of getting some kind of illness. They can also 'travel' as in the case of a grage sale where you sell home canned products. If I were given something that an elderly person made for many years and it was done with an unapproved method, I wouldn't try to convince them, but instead, toss the item out when I got it home. If the jar was reusable I would just keep the empty jar. In any case, its a bit risky without some serious consideration about the current changes made by the US in regards to home foods preservation.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2008 at 10:50AM
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val_s(z5 central IL)

Well...I can't swear no one's gotten sick but Grandma doesn't just give out her staples. You have to come and help to get the freebies. Which my cousin and I did for years. She did make a zucchini relish that she would take to her church and card clubs...don't know if anyone got sick or not.

The thing is that Grandma didn't can enough spaghetti sauce and it always got used up before the next season. I wanted more so that's what got me starting to think about canning myself. In doing research, one click led to another and that's when I discovered Grandma's way wasn't necessarily the right way.

If it wasn't for that, I'd probably be canning Grandma's way too. So for my cousin to keep doing it, I'm not surprised but does she have to be so stubborn about not learning new ways?! Hopeless.

Oh and one more can NEVER keep the jars of an old person. They will remind you constantly to return the things.


    Bookmark   October 28, 2008 at 11:24AM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

I used to print the labels with 'please return the empty jars', but to no avail. Unless the person was aware of how expensive they can be, they simply toss the jars out. I lose more jars that way too. Sometimes people are persistant and will not bend due to a belief that their home canning is a 100% safe. It may help some to direct your cousin to this harvest forum to see the real info, as opposed to hearing about it. Some kind of show last fall, had a canning episode, that proved to be unsafe. Many posters here sent off email to the host and they quickly replied and made a disclaimer statement after that episode was aired.

My dads old jars were the rubber ring and glass dome type. These are not considered very safe today either. Its difficult to know if there is actually a vacuum inside, as there is no real visual proof. I gave all those old jars away. With todays metal canning lids, they simply pop 'in' slightly at the middle where the small dimple 'bump' was.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2008 at 11:45AM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

ntsc, I only used that document for the timeline and didn't even read the latter portion, but of course you're right about the pH. I see later in the document the pH information is correct so it appears to be an editing error.

Who knows? Maybe the document was pulled for correction since I could only find it at the Wayback Machine.

I think even when you know, it's counter-intuitive for a lot of people that low pH is high-acid.


    Bookmark   October 28, 2008 at 11:54AM
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