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Canning your own potatoes is easy to do at home! The only trick is, you really do need a pressure canner. You might ask why can them, since potatoes are readily available year round, but if you grow your own organic potatoes, don't have a cold cellar to store them, or simply want potatoes that are ready to use in cooking (like mash potatoes, scalloped potatoes, etc.) then this is the way to go. So, here's how to can potatoes! The directions are complete with instructions in easy steps and completely illustrated. In the winter when you open a jar, the potatoes will taste MUCH better than any store-bought canned potatoes.
Prepared this way, the jars have a shelf life of about 12 months, and aside from storing in a cool, dark place, require no special attention.
The most important step! Select small to medium-size mature potatoes of ideal quality for cooking. Tubers stored below 45ºF may discolor when canned. Choose potatoes 1 to 2 inches in diameter if they are to be packed whole.
You can use red, white, yellow potatoes of any variety. Boiling potatoes tend to can better than bakers.
You can grow your own, pick your own, or buy them at the grocery store. It takes about 10 to 14 pounds of potatoes to make 7 quarts; OR 5 to 8 pounds to make 9 pints. This works out to an average of 1 to 2 pounds per quart. But it can vary a lot, depending upon the shape, depth of the eyes, bruises, how deeply you peel, etc.
This is a good time to get the jars ready! The dishwasher is fine for the jars; especially if it has a "sanitize" cycle. Otherwise put the jars in boiling water for 10 minutes. I just put the lids in a small pot of almost boiling water for 5 minutes, and use the magnetic "lid lifter wand" (available from target, other big box stores, and often grocery stores; and available online - see this page) to pull them out.
We will use this water to pour over the potatoes and fill each jar with liquid, after we've packed them full of potatoes. I use the large sauce pan or 10 qt pot, so that there is plenty of clean, boiling water ready when I need it.
Rinse out your pressure canner (at right in the picture), put the rack plate in the bottom, and fill it to a depth of 4 inches with hot tap water. (of course, follow the instruction that came with the canner, if they are different). Put it on the stove over low heat, with the lid OFF of it, just to get it heating up for use later on.
I'm sure you can figure out how to rinse the potatoes in plain cold or lukewarm water and a vegetable scrubber
Just like when you were in the army! And if you weren't, just use a paring knife or peeler to peel them and cut out eyes and any soft or discolored areas.
NOTE: According the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service at NC State University, to Potatoes must be peeled before canning. Potato skins contain a high bacteria count increasing the chance of botulinum toxin formation.
Small potatoes (2 inches or less) may be left whole. Larger potatoes should be cubed, cut into 1/2 inch cubes. If you are unsure which to do, the uniform size of the cubed potatoes produces a higher quality finished product.
Place in ascorbic acid solution (1 cup lemon juice to 1 gallon of water, or 2 tablespoons of fruit Fresh to a gallon of water) to prevent darkening; until you get the jars filled. How long is pretty much immaterial; your are trying to keep the potatoes from being exposed to air until you can get them sealed in the jars. The ascorbic acid / lemon juice prevents oxygen dissolved in the water from browning the cut potatoes, too!
Just pour off the water and discard it. Obviously, KEEP the potatoes...
Cook cubed potatoes for 2 minutes in the large pot of boiling water and drain again. For whole potatoes, boil for 10 minutes and drain. Actually, this is more of a blanching step than fully cooking, and it helps to release some of the free starch and keep down the swelling and resultant water loss in the jars.
You'll see videos on YouTube where people complain of their potatoes being mushy after cooking for 10 minutes, but I guess they didn't read the part about cooking the cut up potatoes for only 2 minutes!
Fill jars, leaving a full 1-inch of headspace. You may add 1 teaspoon of salt to each quart jar, if desired, for taste (it is not a preservative - it is only for taste. I omit it).
Fill jars loosely with potatoes. Be sure to leave 1 inch of space at the TOP of the jar. That is called "headspace" and is needed for expansion during heating.
Fill the jars up to 1 inch from the top with clean boiling water.
Use a ladle or pyrex measuring cup to carefully fill each packed jar with water from pot of boiling water. The potatoes should be covered and there should still be 1 inch of airspace left in the top of each jar. Be careful not to burn yourself, (or anyone else - children should be kept back during this step!)
Put the lids on each jar and seal them by putting a ring on and screwing it down snugly (but not with all your might, just "snug").
Using the jar tongs, put the jars on the rack in the canner. By now the water level has probably boiled down to 3 inches. If it is lower than that, add more hot tap water to the canner. When all the jars that the canner will hold are in, out on the lid and twist it into place, but leave the weight off (or valve open, if you have that type of pressure canner).
Put the heat on high and let the steam escape through the vent for 10 minutes to purge the airspace inside the canner.
After 10 minutes of venting, put the weight on and close any openings to allow the pressure to build to 11 pounds.
If you have a dial-type pressure canner like I do, once the gauge hits 11 pounds, start your timer going - for 35 minutes. Adjust the heat, as needed, to maintain 11 pounds of pressure.
Note: the charts at right will help you determine the right processing time and pressure, if you have a different type of canner, or are above sea level.
Recommended process time for Potatoes in a dial-gauge pressure canner.
|Canner Pressure (PSI) at Altitudes of|
|Jar Size||Process Time||0 - 2,000 ft||2,001 - 4,000 ft||4,001 - 6,000 ft||6,001 - 8,000 ft|
|Pints||35 min||11 lb||12 lb||13 lb||14 lb|
Recommended process time for Potatoes in a weighted-gauge pressure canner.
|Canner Pressure (PSI) at Altitudes of|
|Jar Size||Process Time||0 - 1,000 ft||Above 1,000 ft|
|Pints||35 min||10 lb||15 lb|
It is important to learn how to operate your pressure canner by reading the owner's manual that came with your particular canner. If you cannot find your owner's manual, you can obtain find one online: Here is where to find some common manufacturer's manuals:
or by contacting the company that made your canner. Give the model number to the manufacturer, and they will send you the right manual. Click here for more information about pressure canners and a variety of models you can order.
When the processing time from the chart above is up, turn off the heat, and allow the pressure canner to cool and the pressure to drop to zero before opening the canner. Let the jars cool without being jostled. After the pressure drops to zero (usually, you can tell but the "click" sound of the safety release vents opening, as well as but the gauge. Let the pressure in the canner drop to zero by itself. This may take 45 minutes in a 16-quart canner filled with jars and almost an hour in a 22-quart canner. If the vent is opened before the pressure drops to zero OR if the cooling is rushed by running cold water over the canner, liquid will be lost from the jars. Too rapid cooling causes loss of liquid in the jars!
Lift the jars out of the water and let them cool on a wooden cutting board or a towel, without touching or bumping them in a draft-free place (usually takes overnight), here they won't be bumped. You can then remove the rings if you like, but if you leave them on, at least loosen them quite a bit, so they don't rust in place due to trapped moisture. Once the jars are cool, you can check that they are sealed verifying that the lid has been sucked down. Just press in the center, gently, with your finger. If it pops up and down (often making a popping sound), it is not sealed. If you put the jar in the refrigerator right away, you can still use it. Some people replace the lid and reprocess the jar, then that's a bit iffy. If you heat the contents back up, re-jar them (with a new lid) and the full time in the canner, it's usually ok. You're done!
Q. I am wondering if the potatoes have to be peeled? I have always just left the skins on when cooking and would rather can them that way if possible?
A. According the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service at NC State University, to Potatoes must be peeled before canning. Potato skins contain a high bacteria count increasing the chance of botulinum toxin formation.
See the canning supplies page if you need any of these.
From left to right:
If you want to can low-acid foods such as red meats, sea food, poultry, milk, and all fresh vegetables with the exception of most tomatoes, you will need a pressure canner. These foods fit into the low acid group since they have an acidity, or pH level, of 4.6 or greater. The temperature which must be reached and maintained (for a specified amount of time) to kill the bacteria is 240 F. Pressure canning is the only canning method recommended safe by the U.S.D.A. for low-acid foods such as vegetables, meats, and fish. Ordinary water bath canners can only reach 212 F and cannot to kill the types of bacteria that will grow in low acid foods. This temperature can be reached only by creating steam under pressure as achieved in quality pressure canners.
There are several manufacturers of pressure canners. The two leading ones are Presto and All American (Wisconsin Aluminum). They are more expensive than water bath canners, but extremely well built - I bought mine in 1988 and it still looks and works like new!
Presto 01781 23-Quart Pressure Cooker/Canner
Amazon usually has this (through the links at left) for about $79. (which is a GREAT price for a pressure canner). Click on the links at left for more info and current pricing.
Shown at left is the Presto 23 quart pressure canner. Features below and
click here for more information or to purchase from Target.
All American Pressure Canner and Cooker #921
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