Pressure canning can be very intimidating for new canners, I know it was for me! But truth told, once you pressure can a couple of times, you’ll see how simple it really is! I want to take you through the process, step-by-step, as we learn “How to Can Carrots in a Pressure Canner for Beginners”!
I prefer to can carrots by the “raw pack” method, meaning that the carrots will not be cooked, but rather packed raw. I feel that more nutrients are preserved this way.
First, we’re going to need some fresh carrots to can! I picked up these carrots at a farmer’s market and I couldn’t wait to get home and process them.
Many times, there is confusion about canning methods. Why are some foods preserved in the steam-pressure canner and yet other foods are preserved in the water-bath canner (boiling water)?
It’s simple science, let me explain because as a new canner, this is very important for you to understand.
Foods are grouped into 2 categories:
- High-acid foods
- Low-acid foods
High-acid foods consists of mostly fruit, and includes tomatoes. High-acid foods have a pH of 4.6 or less. Sometimes, lemon juice or vinegar is added to increase the acidity, as with tomatoes and figs. However, it is considered safe to water-bath can these foods.
Water boils at 212 degrees at sea level. When food is processed in boiling water, the heat is transferred to the product because it surrounds the jar, lid and band. The instructions will indicate how long the 212 degrees must be maintained to kill molds, yeasts and some bacteria, including inactive enzymes.
Common High-Acid Foods:
- Sour cherries
Common Low-Acid Foods:
- Green Beans
- Lima Beans
Low-acid foods cannot be processed by the water-bath method because boiling water cannot reach a high enough temperature to kill all of the bacteria present.
In order to achieve 240 degrees, the temperature required to kill bacteria, their spores and other toxins, you must use a steam-pressure canner. Period.
It doesn’t matter if your mom, aunt or grandma did it another way and so far hasn’t made anyone sick. I couldn’t live with myself if I made a family member sick. Remember, you can’t see or smell botulism, and this is some serious bacteria, enough to be fatal.
Don’t be afraid, just follow the recipes for either water-bath canning or steam-pressure canning.
Why Can’t I Just Pressure Can Everything?? The answer is that high-acid foods don’t require that kind of heat or pressure to be preserved safely, and you will find yourself with poor results i.e. very soft/mushy fruit. More about that here.
Now let’s get down to the business of pressure canning these carrots!
What You Need:
- Steam-pressure canner – I will be using the one with a weighted gauge
- Jars, lids and rings
- Canning utensils: jar lifter, jar funnel, bubble remover, lid wand and head space tool
- Always clean your produce before anything else! Remove any debris or dirt the best you can.
Next, put your canning jars in hot, soapy water to wash. Rinse with hot water and allow to dry. When pressure canning, it is not necessary to sterilize the jars, just make sure they’re clean.
Decide how many lids you will need and put them in a pot with a couple inches of water and simmer…do not boil!
Always clean your work area before canning.
Set up your work area, you’ll need:
Peel all of the carrots that you will be pressure canning.
Once they’re peeled, go ahead and rinse them off again.
Then bring your carrots over to the cutting board and cut them how ever you prefer. I like mine in bite-sized chunks because I frequently use them in soups.
Ok, so fill your jars until you have 1″ of head space.
It’s time to add the salt, 1/2 tsp. for pints, 1 tsp. for quarts. There is no need to stir the salt.
Now we’re going to pour boiling hot water over our carrots until the water reaches that 1″ space line.
It’s important to slide a rubber spatula around the edges of your jar to release any air bubbles. After doing this, you may need to add a little more water to meet that 1″ head space.
Wipe the rim with a clean wet rag to make sure there will be a clean seal. Just one granule of salt can interfere with the sealing process.
Using tongs, lift one lid at a time from your simmering pot and place it on the jar.
Put the rings on and tighten.
Before putting your jars in your canner, fill the canner up to the indicator line with warm water. Every canner is different. It’s important that you find this indicator line or read your instruction book. The arrow shows where the line is for my canner.
Place the lid on the canner after checking your seal to make sure it’s intact. Make sure the lid is on correctly.
Turn the burner on high.
As the canner heats up, keep an eye on the safety gauge.
As the canner heats up, pressure builds up inside.
You’ll see the safety valve begin to hiss, but it’s not ready yet. Once the valve completely lifts (like shown), place the weighted gauge on. Carrots require 10# of pressure.
Now we wait again, until the weighted gauge begins to “jiggle”. This part is frightening for many new canners. Let me assure you that if your seal was in good shape and you put the lid on correctly, the chances of something “bad” happening is extremely low. There would almost have to be a structural problem with the canner itself i.e. damaged or cracked.
Try not to worry and enjoy the process of preserving your own food!
The minute you hear the gauge start to “jiggle”, it’s time to start counting your processing time!
Carrots in pint jars take 25 minutes of processing time, quarts take 30 minutes.
Now that pressure has built up in your canner, we need to turn the heat back to medium-high (or possibly even medium heat, depending upon your stove).
The heat is too high if the gauge is “hissing” and not “jiggling”. The “hissing” indicated too much pressure in the canner, but “jiggling” is the right amount of pressure.
From this point, let the canner do it’s thing until the timer goes off.
Let the canner cool, this will take quite a while. When the canner completely stops hissing, you can remove the weighted gauge. You will likely hear more hissing. Let it finish releasing all of the air inside until you hear absolutely no more hissing or air being released.
Now, you can open your canner’s lid facing away from you, because believe it or not, there will still be steam inside!
Place a kitchen towel on the counter top where you want your jars to cool. At this point, using your jar lifter, gently lift the jars one at a time and place them on your clean towel.
Give the jars space in between to allow air flow so that they can cool off.
Look at how beautiful they turned out!!! You did it!
Here’s a video re-cap that features the “hissing” and “jiggling” sounds!