Pressure Canning a Partial Load: Does a Pressure Canner Have to Be Full of Jars?

Does a Pressure Canner Have to Be Full of Jars?

Do you need to fill your pressure canner completely with jars? Or can you do a partial load? 

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Video Transcript - Edited for Clarity

Today's Canning Chat question is from my Simply Canning Facebook Group. The group isn't active at this time. However, you can join our newsletter instead! Learn more.

The question is, "Do I have to completely fill my pressure canner with jars? I have some carrots that I'd like to can, but I don't have enough to fill seven jars, only about three. What would happen if I tried to pressure can just three jars? Would the jars float all over the place and bang together?"

Will Your Jars Float Around When Pressure Canning a Partial Load?

First, I don't believe your jars will float around. Remember with a pressure canner, you're only putting a few inches in the bottom of your canner. The jars are not covered with water. The water will be boiling, but I don't believe your jars are going to bang around at all.

Should You Add Jars When Pressure Canning a Partial Load?

Second, since you have three jars, if they are quart jars, you can just do those three jars. You'll be fine. If they are pint jars, however, I would encourage you to add a couple of waters. This is the reason.

I found on the Ball website, which is freshpreserving.com, that they do have a recommendation that you pressure can with a minimum of two quart jars or four pint jars. With the three quart jars of carrots, you'd be fine. But if you only have three pint jars of carrots, add a jar of water.

This is the only place that I have found this recommendation. I trust Ball. I usually go by the recommendations they make, but I haven't found it anywhere else. Go with your personal preference. Since I saw the recommendation, I will go ahead and add a jar of water if I only have partial loads.

You can save that water. Maybe it will be an emergency stash. You'll just build up jars of water every now and again. If you're not going to save the water, use an old lid. You don't have to use your new lids on those jars of water, if you're just going to dump them and throw them away anyway.

But I would recommend having those extra jars in there. Keep in mind that you don't have to have a full seven quart jars. Two quarts is fine, or four pints is fine.

I hope that was helpful. You have a great day, and we'll see you in the next Canning Chat. We'll talk to you later.

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Page last updated: 11/19/2020

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