Filling the pressure canner

I am new to pressure canning but have started canning a few things. My question is do I have to fill the canner up? Can I just do say 2-3 jars?

Just curious as I wanted to can some beef from my freezer but didn't have enough to fill the canner. BTW it need to be cooked as its been in the freezer about 5-6 months.


Yes you can run a partially filled load. It is more efficient to have a full canner but, if you only have 4 jars full and you really need to get it processed, it is perfectly safe to do so.

You need to follow the same instructions as if you had a full load. Do not reduce the time or pressure.

Great Question.

Comments for Filling the pressure canner

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Filling canner before or after jars are in.
by: Rickie Palmer

Hello. I am very new to canning and while I have successfully made four batches of jam, I am not sure I am doing it "right." I've seen some pictures with the bottles in the canner without the water (which seems so much safer than lowering hot jars into boiling water).

I do not have a basket that can be lowered with all the bottles at once (which I have also seen online), so I was wondering if there is a more effective way to lower jars into the water or if it just becomes easier with practice.

Thank you

Hi Rickie, You need to have water in the canner and already hot before you put in your jars. Do you have a jar lifter? This is a hand tool that enables you to grab the jar and lower it into the water easily. Or the same with removing the jars. Here is a page with pictures and a description.

Jar Lifter

I use mine constantly! They are not expensive and I'd highly recommend one. You can also buy canning racks. Both the jar lifter or the canning rack are not too expensive.

By the way if you are making jam... you don't need a pressure canner. You'd just need to use a waterbath canner. Here are some instructions. Waterbath Canning: step by step instructions.

jar lifter
by: Tamara

If you don't have a jar lifter, you can use a silicone oven mit. It's much easier to get ahold of the jars, in my opinion.

Is it okay to have partial fills?
by: Woodlawn Canner

If I don't have enough of my ingredients to do a full jar, is it okay to only partially fill?


Sharon's thoughts.....

It depends on just how low the jar is filled. You are better off putting that last little bit in a smaller jar and process it like that. You can go ahead and process with the larger jars... it may be a little over processed but that is better than under processed.

The other option is to just put it in the fridge and use it up soon.

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