Which Canning Methods should I choose?

with Sharon Peterson

Which Canning Methods Should I choose?

Do I choose a Water Bath Canner or a Pressure Canner? and Why? That is a common question ~ and a good one. The canning methods you choose are the most important factor in canning safety.

Canning methods come down to two styles: water bath or under pressure. Learn which one you should be using for different kinds of foods. SimplyCanning.com uses USDA safety methods, with good reason!

First, you need to choose the food or product you intend to can. When selecting your food, it is important to keep the following things in mind:

  • Try to select local fruits and vegetables. If you leave near an orchard or u-pick farm, purchase your produce directly from the farmer. Not only is the quality better, it helps support your local community. Make sure to call before your visit to see what is available.
  • Look in your own garden. Do you have a strawberry patch? Try making strawberry jam.
  • What does your family eat on a regular basis? Does your family eat a lot of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches? Try making your own grape jam.
  • Start with something simple, something that you will be excited to eat and share. If you preserve something you love, you will be encouraged when you open a jar. You’ll be able to say, I did this! It will motivate you onward and upward.

Once you decide what food you’d like to can, you must choose a canning method to match the food type. The two recommended, safe methods are pressure or hot water bath.

Are You Preserving Low or High Acid Foods? Do you know the difference?
The canning methods you choose will depend on the acidity of the food you are preserving. If you are like me, you have absolutely no idea of the pH levels in your foods. So just remember two easy things:.

Low Acid foods contain very little natural acid. They will have a pH of 4.6 or higher. Vegetables, meats, dried beans and all soups are low acid foods. These will need to be preserved using a pressure canner.

High Acid foods contain enough acid to have a pH level of 4.6 or lower. All fruits and fruit products, jams, jellies, and fruit spreads such as apple butter are included in the high-acid group. These will need to be preserved using a water bath canner.

Pickles also may be safely water bath canned because of the added vinegar or fermentation. This adds to the acidity of the food.

Tomatoes are a special case. The most recent recommendations indicate that you should add lemon juice to acidify tomatoes before canning.

There are also unsafe methods that you should avoid. Methods that your grandmothers may have used with no problems and taught you about. You have to decide if you want to take the risks associated with these.

Botulism is a type of food poisoning that thrive in low acidity. This is why it is important to process low acid food by pressure canning. A pressure canner obtains the high level of heat necessary to kill botulism spores.

Still Feeling Overwhelmed by the choice?

If you are just learning to can, I recommend starting with fruit and a water bath canner. Canning peaches or making applesauce is a great way to start.

The black canner you see here is inexpensive and can often be found used. Personally I love my stainless steel waterbath canners they are beautiful as well as useful.  But if price is holding you back.  Try the less expensive route to get started.

Waterbath canning is less intimidating. Plus, the results are so yummy! Achieving a delicious product will encourage you to continue canning.

Once you’ve gotten your feet wet, you’ll realize canning is a fun, satisfying and valuable hobby. Or a way to bring healthier foods into your diet.

For the ambitious!

I don't even like to use the phrase ambitious because it makes it sound so scary and hard.  It is not! For those who are ready to plunge in... start pressure canning.  Really, it is not hard, just do it right and you will be filling your pantry in no time at all. 

Information on Canning Methods with recipes and canning tips.   

You might be interested in the instruction from Simply Canning the website in book form.  If so check out what I have created.

Sharon's Books. 

Online Canning Classes

Learn Home Canning

I've been teaching home canning for a long time.  I'd love to share what I've learned with you.  

Simply Canning School is what you need to start filling jars.

The Legal Stuff

by Sharon Peterson, Copyright © 2009-2020 SimplyCanning.com

 Advertising Policies

Privacy Policy

Join The Community

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites."

Any statements or claims about the possible health benefits conferred by any foods have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. You are encouraged to verify all canning and food preservation advice on the USDA food preservation website. 

See my Full Disclaimer here.