Pressure Canning for Preppers

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Editor’s Note: This post is another entry in the Prepper Writing Contest from Cannin’ Nancy. If you have information for Preppers that you would like to share and possibly win a $300 Amazon Gift Card to purchase your own prepping supplies, enter today.

Pressure canning is, by its nature, done by those who wish to preserve an overabundance of fresh food for consumption at a later date, and as such is an activity routinely engaged in by many preppers. Of course, there are many other reasons people do their own pressure canning: environmental (only a thin metal lid to dispose of as the jar is reusable); nutritional (you know what’s in that jar); financial (saving energy by cooking several meals at once and by having convenience foods on hand).

However, most people preparing for the dark days ahead don’t use their pressure canning to its fullest potential. Often people just don’t realize how important it is going to be to have variety in the diet, especially in a world where fresh and frozen foods will be lacking. Having a wide variety of pressure canned foods, many of which really aren’t available commercially, will be a welcome addition to our diets.

Most people look at pressure canning as a means of preserving garden produce and maybe some meat or a few stews here and there. And for those reasons alone a pressure canner is a worthwhile investment. But there is so much more that can be done. So let’s take it to the next level. The Ball Blue Book of Canning (hereafter the “BBB”) should be found in every prepper’s library and will provide all the guidelines for canning the basics. It should be consulted for all matters related to food preparation and processing times. This article is focused more on preserving some of the foods you really want to have on hand, those that will make meals a little more delicious and boost morale in difficult times.


Most of what is in the BBB regarding vegetables is pretty straightforward and beyond jazzing them up with spices or peppers, there isn’t a whole lot to discuss, with two exceptions. The first is canning shredded zucchini. Most people prefer to simply freeze their shredded zucchini to use later in zucchini breads and cupcakes (a favorite around here) and soups. But we’re preparing for when we won’t have freezers. So every year we can a few jars of shredded zucchini so that we can make our treats. The zucchini simply gets shredded in the food processor, packed in jars, and processed per the BBB.

Ball Blue Book Guide To Preserving

Ball Blue Book Guide To Preserving should be found in every prepper’s library

The other exception is potatoes. Yes, potatoes are routinely canned so as to be able to make soups and mashed potatoes long after the fresh potatoes in the root cellar have run out. But in this case we’re talking about that other main food group in the American diet: the French fry. Even if the pressure canner was not used for anything else, it would be worthwhile (in this family, at least) to acquire one just to be able to have French fries when the grid goes down. These fries are so incredibly divine. Unfortunately, I can’t give you a taste. You’ll just have to trust me.

You’ll want a French fry cutter to make preparation a whole lot faster. Amazon sells them for about $15. (Use the larger blade—1/2”. The smaller blade is just too fine and the fries will kind of disintegrate. ) Buy a bag of large potatoes—not the super huge ones. The potatoes need to be scrubbed well, but as long as they are being used for fries, they don’t need to be peeled (soil can harbor the botulism spores, but deep-frying will kill the botulism, so no need to worry about peeling). Cut the potatoes into fries and follow instructions in the BBB, except instead of boiling potatoes for 10 minutes, only boil for three. Place the fries in wide mouth canning jars. Continue canning per instructions from your BBB.

When you wish to eat some fries (which will be often!), open the jar and put the fries into a strainer. Thoroughly rinse and drain to remove excess starch. Deep fry in peanut oil until they reach a golden brown.

Dry Beans

Dry beans aren’t a particularly exciting item to can, unless you get excited about saving money, time, and energy. Dry beans normally take hours to prepare for each meal. By utilizing a pressure canner, you prepare beans for several meals at once, saving money now and time down the road. So how is it done?

Pressure Canning for Preppers - The Prepper Journal

By utilizing a pressure canner, you prepare beans for several meals at once

Soak beans for several hours or overnight. Rinse and drain beans several times, then fill jars about halfway. This is the part that is a little tricky, and I can’t be more precise than “about halfway.” You see, the exact amount to put in the jar will vary due to several factors—the type of bean, for example black beans usually expand more than pinto beans; the age of the bean; and how dry the bean is.
After filling jars about halfway with beans, add salt (1/2 teaspoon per pint, 1 teaspoon per quart) and boiling water. Process per instructions in your BBB.


For those who haven’t ever ventured into the world of canning meats, but do have experience with canning fruits and vegetables, don’t be scared. Yes, you need to follow directions and be careful, just like for produce, but canning meats is so much faster and easier! All meats are canned exactly as outlined in the BBB; what I present here, however, are some ideas for preparing and packaging meats for other uses generally not discussed elsewhere. Having a variety of dishes in our menus will be critical to good morale in the coming crisis.


I can a good quantity of stew meat to be used as is in stews, but also to be shredded for use as taco filling, French dips, etc. Ground beef also gets browned and canned so that I can make soups and casseroles very quickly. Most people who are preppers and canners are already familiar with this. However, I know it will be very nice in the future to also be able to have a hamburger now and then. Obviously stew meat won’t work for this purpose, and neither will ground beef that hasn’t had a little extra preparation.


So this is what I do to have some hamburger patties. Form about one pound of ground beef into a log and roll it up in parchment paper that has been cut so that it is about an inch wider than the wide mouth jar being used for canning. Fold the parchment paper over the ends to help hold the hamburger log together. Put the hamburger log into the jar, making sure that you have one inch of head space. Process as per ground beef instructions in your BBB.

When you’re ready for some slider-sized burgers, run the jar under hot water for a minute or so to loosen the hamburger from the sides of the jar. Carefully slide the hamburger log out and remove the parchment paper. Slice the patties about ½” thick and fry them in a little butter or bacon grease for extra flavor. Serve with buns and all your favorite condiments.


Some pork is canned in chunks for later use in chili or to be shredded for taquito filling or super quick pulled pork sandwiches. Leftover ham from Christmas and Easter (we always get a large one for just this purpose) gets canned for adding to soups or fried rice.
I think bacon will be one of the most important morale boosters in the food department, so I can quite a bit. To can bacon strips, cut a piece of parchment paper about two inches longer than the height of a wide mouth pint jar. Lay the bacon strips (which you have cut into halves or thirds) side by side down the middle of the parchment, fold the parchment over the bacon ends, and tightly roll the bacon up as you go. You’ll need a few pieces of parchment, and you’ll want to overlap each additional parchment strip with the previous one to hold everything in place. Stop when the roll is large enough to fill the jar and place the roll in the jar. Process per BBB instructions for canning pork. When you wish to cook your bacon, you’ll need to run the jar under hot water to soften the fat and be able to remove the roll from the jar. Lightly brown the bacon and enjoy.

Pressure Canning for Preppers - The Prepper Journal

Can there be such a thing as too much BBQ after the grid goes down?

I also can bacon ends and pieces. These are typically sold in three-pound packages. There is usually quite a bit of fat, but there is also quite a lot of solid meat, and there are some pieces that look more like regular bacon. They all get canned separately. I use the bacon fat in some of my cooking, and the meat will become bacon bits for salads and baked potatoes. Some will say that in a TEOTWAWKI situation, bacon bits will be a bit of a ridiculous luxury. And I might have agreed a few years back, but for this one experience. A few years back we had a phenomenal crop of potatoes, and as such baked potatoes were a frequent dinner in our home. The kids were getting a little tired of them, so I decided to fry up a can of bacon bits to add to the spuds that night. I could not believe what a difference it made in the kids. They were so excited! Another lesson learned in avoiding flavor fatigue.


This is probably what we can the most of in the meat department, mostly because I have one son who cannot have beef or pork. Home-canned chicken is perfect for making quick casseroles or adding to a summer salad for a main dish meal. And with a can of chicken on hand, it takes no time to get homemade chicken noodle soup ready when someone comes down with a cold.

Chicken bones. No, this isn’t being recommended as food for people, but chicken bones can be pressure canned (using directions for canning chicken meat) for feeding cats. Because the bones are hollow, after being pressure canned they can be easily mashed with a fork and fed to cats. Unfortunately, the chicken bones are too high in protein to be fed to dogs. (Too much protein can cause kidney damage in dogs.)

Convenience foods

Pressure canning is mostly about preserving the harvest, but it’s also just as much about making life easier. It’s what people have been doing for decades when purchasing processed foods at the grocery store. However, as more of us realize what kind of garbage is being added to commercially produced convenience foods, we’re opting to do more of our own. While we all enjoy freshly prepared meals, sometimes that just isn’t an option—the chief cook is sick, there’s been an emergency, or labors that day were needed elsewhere.

Pressure Canning for Preppers - The Prepper Journal

Keeping a ready supply of stew, chili, soup, and spaghetti sauce on hand for just such situations is a great way to reduce stress and be prepared at the same time.

Having some home canned convenience foods can really save the day. Keeping a ready supply of stew, chili, soup, and spaghetti sauce on hand for just such situations is a great way to reduce stress and be prepared at the same time. Because every family will have their own favorite recipes, I’m not providing any here. Most any recipe can be adapted for canning; one just needs to always remember to process for the time stated for the ingredient that needs the most time and highest pressure.

Traditional favorites for convenience foods to can at home are stews, soups and chili. Bear in mind, however, that some items just don’t do as well in a pressure canner at home. I’m not sure what the difference is between commercial canning and home canning, but unlike their commercially canned counterparts, noodles and rice just seem to go to mush when canned at home. So in this house we always add those ingredients just before mealtime.

With dark days ahead, and days that could quite conceivably turn into years, why not invest in a pressure canner and start preserving your own (at significantly greater savings over purchasing commercial products)? With more and more food being sourced from who knows where and with increasing reports of unsavory individuals employed at food processing plants, why not take control for more of our own food needs? A pressure canner is going to cost $100-$300. But the peace of mind that comes from preparing your own food? Priceless.

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Could the author explain the difference between water bath canning and pressure canning? A lot of things can be put up by water bath canning method which the canner is also sold on Amazon, use search at bottom of this page. For those who cannot afford a pressure canner a water bath canner will work to can some but not everything. Also like the author to explain the reason the All American pressure canner which is pictured in the article is better than a Presto or some other brand that has a replaceable gasket. The All American is the best… Read more »

R. Ann

Just going to touch on something tangentially: You don’t need to buy a dedicated WBC if you already have a tall stock pot, spaghetti pot, or anything else tall enough to leave an inch of boiling water over the jars and 1-2″ above that to not get splashing. You just need something (dish towel, old rings, cake cooling rack) so that the jars are not touching the bottom of the pot. Also (until the author comes back): WBC requires high acid foods. WBC uses a fairly high amount of pectin, sugar, salt, and-or vinegar, and veggies have to be done… Read more »

Nancy Hart

As Ann stated below, a water bath canner will work for high acid items such as fruits, jams, pickles, and jellies. A pressure canner (not to be confused with a pressure cooker) is needed for canning low acid items such as meats and vegetables. I use the All-American for three reasons: 1. I am lazy to some extent and do not want to take my pressure canner out yearly to be tested; 2. When our society collapses, I do not think the county extension office is going to be around to test my canner for me; 3. When our society… Read more »


Hey Nancy. Just wondering what is involved in the “Testing” you mention? I have had my pressure canner for years and have never sent it to be tested. I inspect it myself of course but I can’t imagine what anyone else can test that I can’t. Especially any test that would exclude one cooker over another. Just curious. 🙂


Maybe I can explain a little better for you. Contrary to what has been said below, you are able to process just about anything with the water bath method as you can with the pressure canner method, meats, fruits and vegetables. The difference is that the water bath only gets the temperature up the boiling point of water whereas pressure canning allows the temperature to get much higher in the pressure environment thereby shortening the processing time. So water bathing will take generally three times longer to process the same foods. For this reason alone the pressure canner is preferred.… Read more »

Nancy Hart

While there are certain groups of people who advocate the use of boiling water baths for canning meats and vegetables, it is NOT safe. Low-acid foods need to reach an internal temperature of 240 degrees to kill botulism spores. No matter how long you run a water bath, you are not going to get above 212 degrees. Yes, Amish and our grandparents or great-grandparents may have simply used a boiling water bath and didn’t die, but do you really want to run that risk? And besides, they would run those boiling water baths for meats and vegetables from 7 to… Read more »


You are fear mongering Nancy. There is no argument that pressure canning is better. But even my handy KERR Home Canning book gives the proper times for water bathing meats and low acid foods. The cook times are usually three times longer than pressure canning, 7 to 12 hrs is an exaggeration. But I have already mentioned the economics of processing times which in itself makes pressure canning preferable in itself so that’s a non argument. It is not the botulism spores(which we try to kill during processing) that cause illness, it is the toxin released by the spores. The… Read more »

calamity janet

And this is why I never eat items canned by other people. You never know what they think is “safe.”


So tell me why didn’t all those water bathed low acid foods kill everyone who ate them before the new “rules” came out? Because if prepared properly they will can properly. But people like you should definitely stick to the canning script of the day for reasons I mentioned earlier.
And just to be clear to anyone else reading, I have not advocated water bath canning over pressure canning. I only point out that it can be done safely and successfully if done properly and intelligently IF NEED BE.

R. Ann

Similar just popped up on a FB canning group I belong to. Apparently, somebody’s oven canning and then feeding those items to the kids in a daycare they run, using the “my grandma never died” argument and overlooking the potential that one of those kids may not pull through a “stomach flu” that likely at some point hit old-timey households (for any of many reasons). Fingers crossed that one stops.

calamity janet

And no, not all strains of botulism will cause the food in the jar to have an off smell. A few strains do not produce an odor. The risk isn’t worth it when times are good; why would the risk be worth it when medical care could be difficult to obtain?


I wish people would learn to read.

Helen Eakin

Well, I’m not too sure I would use a water bath for meat or vegetables, but as an amateur historian I’d really like to see the reference for your Kerr Canning book. A picture of the page(s) and citation for publication year would be even better. Any chance you can do this?


Sure, if you can tell me how to upload a picture on this forum I will do that. But until then I can provide a front cover picture of the same book on this Ebay listing. Like I said, I do not advocate water bathing over pressure canning (and neither does this book) but you have to ask yourself: If it is impossible to safely water bath meat or vegetables then why would the process be given in such a book in the first place? And why weren’t people dropping like flies from eating water bathed foods? I stand… Read more »

Nancy Hart

I’m not going to debate.

For those who are wondering, here are links to the Ball And Kerr website and the Centers for Disease Control. Read what they have to say about the canning of low-acid foods. Then you can make an informed decision.


My husband doesn’t want me to remove the rings from the jars because he says the lid may get knocked of and lose it’s seal. Does it take a good bit to break the seal?

Nancy Hart

If a simple touch knocks off the lid, the jar was not sealed and the food should be tossed. Having the ring on the jar will not prevent a jar from losing the seal. It will prevent everything from sloshing out when jars are being moved. In general, filled jars should not be stored with the rings on to prevent rust and mold. That being said, people who live in the desert can get away with leaving the rings on, providing that the threads on the jar have been washed after the canning process to remove any liquid that may… Read more »


Nancy is correct. The vacuum seal should firmly hold the lid in place. But there are times when it is good to have the rings handy, aka leave them on. SHTF aside, you may have a jar of something that will not be eaten all in one day so you will need to have the ring to close the jar after opening. Jelly, jam, preserves, pickles, relish are just a few cases in point. Also Nancy makes another good point in that the rings on the jars can keep you from making a big mess if a jar does unknowingly… Read more »

Mike Lashewitz



This is one of the better articles in this series and I have just a few comments. A used lid is not necessarily a bad lid and they can be reused if you are intelligent enough to properly inspect them. If the S really does Hit The Fan then you may not be able to purchase new lids to can any game or produce you grow afterward so in that situation don’t be so quick to throw those lids away. I do not tear up the lids when I remove them and after careful inspection I have reused many lids… Read more »

Nancy Hart

Well, like I said in the article, dried beans can really well. Canning is especially useful for beans that have gotten a little old and do not soften readily. And it takes far less time and fuel to can seven quarts of beans for use in seven meals than it does to cook seven batches of beans for seven meals. Of course, we are planning for times of limited or no refrigeration (so no way to save leftovers from a big batch of beans), stressful situations with little time to prepare a meal, and wanting to conserve fuel. But that’s… Read more »


Two things. First, although I reuse lids if I deem them acceptable, which has worked well for me, I made it clear that I was talking about canning things after a major SHTF scenario where your thirteen cents wont buy you anything. Secondly, I find it interesting that you try to turn all my comments into an argument yet you wont answer the only question I have asked you in all sincerity. I don’t get it. But one last thing about lids. Don’t buy the cheap Walmart knock-off lids. I have had a horrible failure rate with them. Ball and/or… Read more »

Nancy Hart

See above.


Nancy, thank you for a very nice article with some great ideas.

Sadly, I see by the comments that some suggest ill-advised methods of home canning. I don’t want to get into an argument with anyone here, but I hope all readers will have the good sense to learn and follow current guidelines for safety in home canning.


Just as I thought, you don’t know.

Nancy Hart

1. I did reply to your question [actually, twice now], but apparently it did not actually post. For that I apologize. It is recommended that all canners with a dial gauge and rubber gasket be tested annually to make sure the gauge is still accurate. Visual inspection will not show that. That is according to what I have read. I preferred not to go that route, so I got an All-American that does not need annual inspection. Pressure cookers are not the same as pressure canners. Most people do not recognize the difference. A pressure cooker should never be used… Read more »

Helen Eakin

I’m sorry, I’m one of the few remaining people who has no idea how to upload pictures to anything. But I appreciate your willingness. Maybe someone else will chime in and help. The book is from 1945? Well, I would guess by the end of the Depression and WWII people were taking all kinds of chances. And post WWII research and methods for gathering data would have vastly improved. Maybe data showed that a lot of people did in fact die of food poisoning from home-canned goods. I don’t know. I try to keep things in perspective. Even Russian roulette… Read more »

R. Ann

Given the fact that this is also about the time tinned food evolved, we decided to implement standards so we didn’t eat quite as many rats, and we hadn’t yet figured out exactly how antibiotics worked… This is also the last portion of the population where it was not just normal to loop all stomach illnesses into one pot, and all cardiovascular into another, and we were still using lead paint on lead toys. There’s also the point that foods contained more vitamins (soil hadn’t been stripped out), bodies had already been exposed to more things from common lifestyle (building… Read more »


Here is the picture. At least now you know I’m not a liar. I have been searching in vain to find any complete numbers on botulism deaths from home canning during that time period and earlier. But I am learning a lot about the beginnings of canning.
comment image

R. Ann

There’s a gray box in the bar below the window where you type. Click it.
A window opens.
Follow the path routes to your photo.
Click the “Open” button.
Poof, a picture. (Which will now appear wherever your cursor was when you clicked to add that photo.)


Thanks. I posted it above.

Nancy Guy

I Have done a lot of canning in my life, my grandmother taught me how to do it the old fashion way, in a wash tub over the fire outside. Once it boils you keep the fire going for 4 hours and then leaving the wash tub on the fire just let it go out. When the water cools remove the cans. (Wash Tub, $22.00 at Lowes, you can do 30 quarts at a time) I have a pressure cooker and yes it makes it easy, but if SHTF we won’t have eletricity, so it will be the old fashion… Read more »

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