pressure canner
Photo by Frank Jardim
When under pressure, a pressure canner can be dangerous. It is important to follow these safety steps.

Canning foodstuffs for preservation without refrigeration was once a lot more commonly done than it is now. Anyone who grew up in a rural area in the middle of the last century had a family that canned or knew someone who did. Time consuming on the front end, it was a necessity for many families. Safe pressure canning of food can easily last a whole year. Increasing affluence and improved efficiency in the production and distribution of food made it easier to buy food at the grocery store. Canning gradually became an anachronism.

Canning is far from a lost art. Its benefits may be more important today than they were to our grandparents. More than anything else, canning allows you to take complete control of your food supply. It goes hand in hand with growing your own fruits and vegetables, raising your own livestock and harvesting your own fish and wild game. If you do any of these things, it’s probably because you desire good, healthy, natural food uncontaminated by pesticides and unaltered by genetic enhancements or growth hormones. When you can your own food, you know what you’re putting in your body.

Before you start canning, here is a must-read list of safe steps to take.

10 Steps to Safe Pressure Canning

  1. Read all the instructions that came with your pressure canner prior to getting started.
  2. Check dial gauges for accuracy before use each year and replace if they read high by more than 1 to 2 pounds of pressure. Gauges can be checked at most county Cooperative Extension offices.
  3. Clean canner lid gaskets and apply a light coat of vegetable oil once a year. Nicked or dried gaskets should be replaced.
  4. Make sure all vent pipes are clear and contain no trapped material or mineral deposits.
  5. Center the canner over the level burner.
  6. Always stay nearby when pressure canning to monitor the pressure gauge.
  7. Be sure to follow the recipe’s headspace instructions. Too little headspace can cause food to escape over the rim and cause the jar not to seal.
  8. Vent all types of pressure canners 10 minutes before pressurizing.
  9. At the end of processing time, allow the pressure to drop to zero naturally and wait two to five minutes before opening the lid.
  10. Do not set processed jars on a cold surface or expose to breezy conditions as they can crack.

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