Weekend Preserver Series: Why Can Low-Acid Foods?

Home canning has experienced a terrific upswing in popularity--but mostly  jams, jellies, pickles, relishes, and acidified tomatoes--and this is a good thing. But, what about low acid foods?

What are low acid foods? Low acid foods include all vegetables except properly acidified tomatoes, pickles, and fermented foods. Plus, all meats, poultry, fish, and seafood. Or combinations of these.

Stock the pantry with canned black beans, lima beans, corn, garbanzos, asparagus, soups, broths, stocks, meat, fish, poultry, and the list goes on of low acid foods that must be pressure canned. Keep in mind that improperly canned low acid foods is often the common denominator in cases of foodborne botulism--never substitute boiling water canning with pressure canning!

What are the benefits of canning low acid foods?

  • Often less expensive than commercially canned foods, especially organic canned foods.
  • Convenience.
  • No defrosting required. 
  • Time saving.
  • Energy saving when preparing large batches and no energy is required to store.
  • Avoid BPA and other plasticizers.
  • Accommodate food restrictions and preferences.
  • Could be useful in an emergency. Of course, most of us are canning in jars which isn't optimal if we need to take our show on the road.
  • o can to recycle. We just have to think of creative ways to re-purpose those metal lids. By, the way I don't recommend Tattler lids because 1) failure rate out of the canner, 2) failure rate after being on the pantry shelf, and 3) composition of the plastic plus the cost.

October 1939. Mrs. Botner's 800 quarts for winter. Note the crock with a cloth as well as the box for Kerr jars behind it. In 1937 the Farm Security Administration (FSA) was charged with working on the complex problem of farming and rural poverty. Self-sufficiency thus home food preservation were a part of the program. Library of Congress, Prints and Photography Division, FSA/OWI Collection, #LC-USF34- 021432-E.

Why can beans?

  • Get the work done up front. My rule of thumb is 5 pounds of dried beans will yield 18-20 pints of canned beans. That's a lot of beans and ready to add to favorite recipes.
  • Stock the larder. Large pressure canners hold 18 or more pint jars rather than cooking a couple cups of beans at a time.
  • Selection of dried beans. Support those heirloom bean growers! Or better yet, grown some yourself!
  • It's fun and rewarding.

Why can meat, poultry, and fish?

  • Ditto almost everything above.
  • Tough cuts of meat or stewing hens are transformed into wonderful additions to your favorite recipes. 

Why can broth, soups, and stews?

  • Ditto almost everything above.
  • Roasting more than one chicken along with paring and prepping vegetables and then canning soup and stock is great when you run out of day to get a wonderful, healthy dinner on the table.
  • Making a double or triple batch of a soup or stew. Some for now and some for later.

Where to find recipes?

Always refer to current, reliable recipes. What does that mean? That means that there are recipes that can be found in current cookbooks that may not be safe. Guidance can change based on new research! 

Where to go for reliable recipes?

Pressure Canner Manuals

  • All American pressure canner manual
  • Mirro pressure canner manual
  • Presto canner manual, 23-quart & 16-quart Contact Presto for annual inspection of the dial gauge or contact your local extension office. New dial gauges must be inspected too!

Put up jars of food, ready to heat up! Be sure to can items that your family likes and enjoys. No sense in having 19 pints of lentil soup and no one likes lentils.

Remember low acid foods MUST BE PRESSURE CANNED

Be safe and eat well.