HI I am new to Pressure canning food. I was wondering how do I adapt a family...

Asked October 22, 2018, 1:58 PM EDT

HI I am new to Pressure canning food. I was wondering how do I adapt a family recipe to a safe canning recipe? I was under the assumption that if I were to accomplish this safely that I would need to take the lowest acid ingredient in the recipe and can for that amount of time at my elevation? (Ex: beef stew) Am I correct? Also when using a safe approved recipe by Ball canning books, or The United States Department of Agriculture Complete Guide to Home Canning book, and The National Center for Home Food Preservation website, can any of those recipes be altered safely? I want to try some of these recipes but don't like all of the ingredients listed, or I want to try the recipe and want to make it mine by adding a few other ingredients. All the approved recipes for beef stew do NOT include tomato sauce. My family recipe includes tomato sauce. Can I omit certain veggies in a canned soup or stew that my family doesn't like? If I am able to do that do I have to replace something in its place? Also what do I do in the case of an approved recipe calling for alcohol? I don't like cooking with alcohol? Can that be replaced for additional broth? Also can you use canned tomatoes in place of fresh? Last but not least I have a Presto 16 quart dial gauge pressure canner. Where would I take or send my gauge to be tested each year that won't be a million miles away? I live in Garfield Heights. Thank you so very much for your time!!!!! Donna Divis

Cuyahoga County Ohio

1 Response

Lots of great questions here—I will try and answer them next to each question so you can see my response.

HI I am new to Pressure canning food. I was wondering how I adapt a family recipe to a safe canning recipe. I was under the assumption that if I were to accomplish this safely that I would need to take the lowest acid ingredient in the recipe and can for that amount of time at my elevation? (Ex: beef stew) Am I correct? Family recipes are terrific! The only problem is that they have not been tested in a lab to see if the acidity and pH are correct to deter bacterial growth and be shelf stable. The only way you can verify your recipe is safe is to can it and have it tested at a lab. That is usually pretty cost prohibitive. I recommend if you use a family recipe and do not want to change it—freeze it. Leave an inch of head space, then freeze in canning jars. They can go in the freezer now.

Also when using a safe approved recipe by Ball canning books, or The United States Department of Agriculture Complete Guide to Home Canning book, and The National Center for Home Food Preservation website, can any of those recipes be altered safely? The recipes from these sites have all been lab tested the way they are—no substitutions. If you substitute or change the amount of an ingredient—you are back to the answer from the first question. These recipes are to be prepared the way they are to be safe.

I want to try some of these recipes but don't like all of the ingredients listed, or I want to try the recipe and want to make it mine by adding a few other ingredients. All the approved recipes for beef stew do NOT include tomato sauce. My family recipe includes tomato sauce. Can I omit certain veggies in a canned soup or stew that my family doesn't like? If I am able to do that do I have to replace something in its place? Again—you are changing ingredients and changing the acidity and pH—and changing the safety of the recipe, so then it would be unsafe to can. Can you find a tested recipe to can just the meat, and then put your stew together when you eat it? That may be easier—then you can add the veggies your family likes.

Also what do I do in the case of an approved recipe calling for alcohol? I don't like cooking with alcohol? Can that be replaced for additional broth? There are lots of recipes that are tested—I would find another one, as alcohol has an antibacterial affect.

Also can you use canned tomatoes in place of fresh? Yes

Last but not least I have a Presto 16 quart dial gauge pressure canner. Where would I take or send my gauge to be tested each year that won't be a million miles away? I live in Garfield Heights. I cannot speak for where you live, but in Nebraska we have a few offices that test gauges—including mine. If the nearest Extension Office is too far away—I would try your local hardware store where they sell canning items—they may have a tester. I know places like Walmart, Target and other such places will not. Maybe even a kitchen specialty store like Williams and Sonoma or Sur La Table?

In the end, the tested recipes are the only ones we can verify as safe. There are too many cases of people changing a canning recipe then getting sick—or much worse—dying. I think you sound like you have a few great recipes! For your safety—I would freeze them, and then you can safely enjoy them later.