Effect of Pressure canning time

rdgalhOctober 25, 2012

Hi All,

Newbie to canning here. We just got our new pressure canner today. The first thing that I would like to try is a minestrone soup. We have a recipe that we have made for years, and having gone through the guidelines and several canner soup recipes online we believe that our recipe will translate well to the pressure canner. Our question is the timing and its effect of the vegetables. We have seen times listed for as short as 10 min to as long as 90 min. We are very concerned about safety but are addicted to very crisp vegetables in our soup. How long can we pressure the soup for and still have VERY crisp vegetables?

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readinglady(z8 OR)

If you're new to pressure canning the first thing I'd recommend is a practice run with water-filled jars only. Use food coloring in the water. That way you can determine if siphoning is an issue and whether you need to regulate the heat.

Secondly, be aware that canner manuals are seldom updated and generally don't contain the correct processing procedures (i.e. vent and wait times) or processing times for many low-acid foods.

I don't know which sites you've been looking at, but a recommendation of 10 minutes for a soup is crazy-risky. There are only a very few reputable canning sites. Basically the internet is a minefield of inaccurate and sometimes downright dangerous information.

A minestrone generally contains pasta, which is not approved for canning (and wouldn't fare well in a pressure canner anyway). If your goal is crisp vegetables, I'd recommend canning a seasoned meat and broth base and adding the veggies at time of service.

The other option would be freezing.

Many here can provide more specific recommendations and links to appropriate sites, but it would be helpful to know what your recipe is and which sites you have already checked out.


    Bookmark   October 26, 2012 at 4:44AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Excellent advice from Carol. Please do NOT fall into the trap that misleads so many newbies of believing that just because something in pressure canned it is automatically safe to eat. And it is important to understand that it is not something to jump into the deep end in doing. There is a learning curve with pressure canning and homework needs to be done first.

Also please, as some one new to canning, limit your exploration of recipes to tested and approved resources until you gain the knowledge and experience to recognize dangerous recipes. NCHFP is the primary resource online and I linked it below.

One of the cardinal rules of safe home food preservation is that you normally canNOT safely can your own made-up recipes. So as Carol said we'd need to see the whole recipe to evaluate it.

All vegetable soups, unless they contain seafood, are pressure canned for 60-75 mins. depending on jar size. No exceptions. And there is a 1/2 & 1/2 rule (1/2 solids and 1/2 liquids) too as well as no pastas allowed. So if you want crunchy vegetables you likely will not care for it if pressure canned as the vegetables will have the consistency of commercial canned soup.

Your private recipe soup will best be frozen or prepared fresh. Sorry.


Here is a link that might be useful: National Center for Home Food Preservation

    Bookmark   October 26, 2012 at 11:29AM
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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

You've been given great advice already, and I'd just like to add -

That there are cooking recipes with untold flexibility, and canning recipes which are precise and can't be altered. Those tested and approved recipes for canning are what you need, and you'll find them in Dave's link above, and in the copy of Ball Blue Book that you should buy before you go any farther. You'll find it for just a very few dollars at any hardware store that carries canning supplies, Target, Walmart...

It would be wonderful if we could process and preserve all our favorite cooking recipes and have 'dinner in a jar' but that isn't the case. While there are exceptions, most of what we can will be the base for a recipe we'll finish upon opening, so a time saver, but not always complete and plate ready after heating.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2012 at 12:06PM
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Thanks for the advise. I am well aware of the minefield that the web can be and limited myself to recipes that came from published sources, not home recipes. Although I am reluctant to trust "Pressure canning for Dummies" that advised the 10 min timing. We have read through (yes, completely) both the USDA and NCHFP guidelines.

The recipe is not currently in an electronic format but I can address a couple of the items of concern. First, we are vegetarians so there is no meat concern. Second, we have always cooked the pasta separately, so that is not an issue. There are no beans or rice in the recipe just veggies. The only modifications that we have concluded are necessary, are, how to limit and drain off the olive oil used for sauteing the onions and celery (only about 3tbsp), and how to work in the potatoes (may need to do these separately as well).

I am disappointed that the veggies don't stay crisp. We will have to consider freezing for this one, but there are many other soups out there where this is not an issue.

I will be sure to do some test runs first with water to calibrate the canner with our setup. Thanks for the tip there.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2012 at 1:19PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

limited myself to recipes that came from published sources

Publishing does not insure safety. Publishers do not require any testing documentation and authors are immune from liability due to a simple disclaimer.

There are many published "canning" books that are USDA approved and safe. However there are many more that are not considered safe to use. The book you cite is one such book as many of its instructions fail to meet the minimum standard guidelines.


    Bookmark   October 26, 2012 at 3:46PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

First, be aware that many published sources are unreliable also. There are horror stories on this forum alone about the terrible advice promulgated in published canning books.

Even formerly reliable canning books I now regard with a skeptical eye. I was just looking at the newly-published Sunset Essential Western Cookbook.

Sunset used to be one of the most reliable canning resources out there with a top-of-the-line testing kitchen, but in this case I noticed in their instructions on canning tomatoes that they recommend Fruit Fresh for acidification. That is totally incorrect. The first ingredient is dextrose (i.e. sugar) and that product is far from pure citric acid. I consider that an egregious error.

I'm not familiar with Pressure Canning for Dummies. It's not one of the recognized Dummies-series books. Their book, Canning and Preserving for Dummies used to be pretty good but now contains out-of-date information like canning mashed pumpkin or insufficient processing times, i.e. shell beans.

So the fact that a book is published is no guarantee. It's basically the same minefield as the internet.

If you've checked the USDA/NCHFP sites then you are already aware that pints of either vegetable-based or meat-based soups is 60 minutes processing and quarts are 75. Sauteeing or oven-roasting veggies with just a drizzle of olive oil should be OK as the processing times are allowing for the natural fats remaining in the meats or broths of non-vegetarian soups.


    Bookmark   October 26, 2012 at 3:57PM
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