Friday, March 16, 2012

Update on canning booklets

I'm making great progress on my e-booklets on canning. Right now I have three either finished or almost finished: one on water-bath canning, one on pressure canning, and one on FAQs about canning.

But boy oh boy, did these turn out to be bigger projects than I anticipated. The water-bath booklet is finished and approved by a friend who's a Master Food Preserver, so that's one part done. I started working on the booklet on pressure canning and got about 2/3 done when I diverted my attention to the booklet on FAQs, trying to address everyone's basic canning questions. What I optimistically began thinking would be 50 basic FAQs is now approaching 85 and likely to go higher.

I thought I knew a lot about canning -- and I do -- but it's nothing to the education I've received in the last three weeks of research and writing. It's like I'm giving myself a course on Master Food Preserving (which, let it be known, is not available anywhere in our region -- I've checked). And it's all thanks to the wonderful list of questions you all provided when I asked.

Here's the rough Table of Contents so far for the FAQs. This is by no means in the final order, nor is it necessarily complete. It's just the working Table of Contents as it exists at the moment.


• What is Canning?
• Why was canning more popular in the past?
• Why hasn’t the tradition been continued?
• What are the benefits of home canning?
• What is the difference between water-bath and pressure canning?
• What equipment do I need before I start canning?
• What are the differences among canning jars?
• Is it safe to use half-gallon jars?
• What are “spoilers”?
• What causes food poisoning in home-canned food?

• What are acidifiers?
• What are high-acid foods and why is it safe to water-bath them?
• What kind of lids should I use?
• If I heat up a lid for canning and don’t use it, is it still good?
• If I find a loose lid in a drawer, how can I tell if it’s been used?
• Why can’t I re-use flat lids?
• How tight should the rings be screwed on?
• What is water-bath canning?
• Why must I add acidifiers to tomatoes before canning?
• What are low-acid foods and why must they be pressure-canned?

• What is botulism and why is it dangerous?
• What is pressure canning?
• What kind of pressure canner should I buy?
• Can I use a steam canner instead of a pressure canner?
• Can I use a pressure cooker to can food?
• What should NOT be pressure canned?
• How tightly should I pack food in jars?
• Can I speed up how fast a pressure canner loses pressure after processing?
• Can I can fruits without sugar?
• Can I use artificial sweeteners in place of sugar while canning?

• Can I can without salt?
• What is the difference between canning (or pickling) salt and regular salt?
• Can I shorten the processing times while canning?
• Can I process low-acid food longer in a water-bath canner, instead of pressure canning?
• How are processing times determined?
• How do I get over the fear of canning?
• How long will home-canned food store?
• Where’s a good place to get canning jars? What type should I buy?
• What is the difference between difference sizes and styles of canning jars?
• Can canning jars be purchased second-hand?

• Can I re-use spaghetti sauce or mayonnaise jars?
• What causes jars to break during canning?
• Can I process two layers of jars at one time?
• Why do I have to pre-heat my lids?
• Why didn’t my lids seal?
• Does leakage from a processed jar mean it won’t seal?
• How do I know if my lids have sealed properly?
• What is head space and why does it matter?
• How many rings do I need?
• Should I store my jars with the rings on?

• Can I use Grandma’s old jars, zinc lids, and rubber gaskets while canning?
• How long and at what pressure should I pressure-can foods?
• Instead of worrying about what foods should be water-bath canned versus pressure-canned, should I just pressure-can everything to be on the safe side?
• Why must I adjust for altitude?
• How much water should I use while water-bath canning?
• How much water should be in the canner while pressure canning?
• Can I re-can foods?
• Must I sterilize canning jars before use?
• Will my dishwasher sterilize jars?
• Can jars be sterilized by baking them in the oven?

• Can I use my oven to can food? (Oven canning)
• Can I preserve food using the open-kettle method?
• Can I use a microwave to can foods?
• How do I know if canned food is safe to eat? Is there a test to detect botulism?
• If mold is detected inside a jar of home-canned food, is it safe to eat?
• While canning, at what point should I start timing?
• Should I use only pre-approved recipes while canning?
• But what if I want to use my own recipes while canning?
• What if I want to can my own salsa recipe?
• Can I can my own homemade condensed soups?

• Can you give some basic canning recipes?
• How can I keep fruit from turning brown when I can?
• Can I use a pressure canner if the bottom isn’t perfectly flat?
• What if I drop my pressure canner?
• Can I can my own baby food?
• Can I stack my sealed canning jars in the pantry?
• How should I label my processed jars of food?
• Can you describe how to can in metal cans?
• Do I need to boil or cook home-canned food before eating?
• How important is it to remove air bubbles from jars before canning?

• Can I can on a wood cookstove?
• Can I use a camp stove for canning?
• Can I use a glass-top stove for canning?
• What’s the difference between hot-packing and cold-packing jars?


  1. Can't wait! Especially for the one on if food is good when it spills over during pressure cooking. I had beans do that too me here that all sealed and I'm assuming they are good to go. They are looking more like refried beans though, I think I soaked them too long.

  2. Great progress Patrice. I can't wait to purchase your booklets. I'm hoping you will consider posting to Australia :-)

    1. Originally I was thinking on making them available through Amazon via a Kindle download, but I found I would only get 30% of the sales price (of $1.49) so I'm looking into different options, perhaps Clickbank. Standby.

      - Patrice

    2. $0.447 x 100,000 sales over time through Amazon might turn out better than a larger portion of $1.49 but with fewer sales through an outlet that people are not commonly aware, particularly if the booklet turns out to be a big hit.

      (Except for the very rare exception), books, like software, make money only in volume sales.

      Consider also the leverage effect. If everyone is already going to Amazon for your "The Simplicity Primer", they might also go to Amazon for your booklets. (BTW, my wife and I really enjoyed the Primer!)

      Seth Godin has some thoughts on publishing with the new model of Internet, ebooks, etc. See:

      No matter which channel you choose, I'll sign up for the entire series! :-)


    3. You're right, Petek, and I'll probably end up getting them on Amazon at some point. In other words, I'll try selling them through both outlets. Thanks for the Seth Godin link, I'll check it out.

      - Patrice

  3. Is it safe to can alcohol?
    Like a homemade rum or whiskey based mix for Hot Toddies with honey?

    What about canning HAM?
    Can it be cold packed?
    Same for LARD, CANNED in jars?
    Also, can you use an autoclave sterilizer to pressure can?

  4. Food for thought:) U of I has an online (through Boundary County Extension .. and web streamed) 'Preserve at Home' class (that began in January) .. they may offer it again?? and it mentioned that 'This course is available at other times and for groups upon request.'

    1. Funny you should mention this, I talked to the course instructor a couple months ago and she sent me the syllabus of the online course. Unfortunately while I could get all info necessary to become a Master Food Preserver through that course, I wouldn't be certified because certification requires hands-on coursework... no matter how much canning experience I have. Nuts.

      - Patrice

  5. Patrice,
    I can't wait for your booklets, and thank you so much for taking on this huge task!

  6. I think you should raise the price a little. People drive through for fast food and spend more than $1.49. There is great value in information. If it is too cheap, people might think it is not very good. Even at $4.99 it would be a great deal. I know you want to get the info out, but this is new merchandise and not a garage sale. Two cans of anything cost more than $1.49 and this information could save someone a lot of money in future canning. I love spending money on 'how to save money' categories; bread baking, yogurt making, ice cream making, and wine making. I also like Amazon. I have used them a LOT and have no complaints! Just my two cents and it's probably worth what you paid for it!
    --K in OK <><

  7. Your e-booklet will certainly be making its way over to Denmark where we have next to nothing in book stores etc. about canning :-)

    One thing though - on your list of FAQ's; the question "can you give some basic canning recipes" - isn't the answer to that a little e-booklet in itself? Just an idea :-) Have a nice weekend!

    1. I welcome your interest! However I'll offer apologies in advance since of necessity I've focused on American equipment, measurements, and sources.

      - Patrice

  8. Here is my question... Can you make then printable through amazon? I think recipes are good to print. Am afraid of ebooks lol..

  9. I will buy them no matter how you publish them but Amazon sounds like a rip off. If you sell them on Amazon can you retain the rights to sell them, for the same price, on your website? If at all possible that would be the way to go.

  10. Great-just in time for the canning season-think we will be geting an early start in this part of the country(NC.)

  11. Today is the first time I have discovered your blog and webpage. But, I am now hooked. I am from the south and have been a prepper for 37 years. It has proved to be life saving on more than one occasion. I to have had people laugh at me and call me a hoarder, but, as I have stepped in and helped when people had a tragic lose, and have been able to restock my supply , many whom I have helped have picked up the practice to a great extent and are preppers their selves. I am only in my mid 50's but I was my mothers last child and lived with her till I married at 16. My mother was a prepper until she died at age 84. Many people often called my mother a hoarder, but you could go to her home at anytime and she could feed a whole family in just a little time. My Mother lived thru the Great Depression and she knew hunger, so she raised my siblings and I to realize that it is our reponsibility to be prepared and not depend on the Government. My mother lived and died and NEVER had to turn to the government for assistance. She reaised 8 children and 2 nephews. She became a single parent at the age of 42 when our father passed away and she never slowed down. It took a year for her to ever recieve social security for the siblings left at home, but we never went hungry.

  12. I LOVE your blog!

    Help me please. I too am husband of the boss. The boss is a wonderful cook who creates the most excellent meat based sauces. Her spaghetti and lasagna sauce are to die for. I have tried pressure canning her red meat sauce and her chilli. The results are almost inedible, bitter or burnt tasting. I can't bear to ruin any more of her hard work. Typically these are simmered for 6 + hours to create and then canned. I am paranoid about canning anything else for fear of ruining it. Trouble is we just got 1/4 of a beef and I don't have room in my freezer.

    Any thoughts?

    Best wishes,


  13. I LOVE your blog.

    Help! Canning all my wife's hard work as been a real bust. The wonderful ground beef spaghetti sauce and chilli she makes end up tasting burnt or bitter or way over cooked. She spends 6 or more hours simmering and cooking and I ruin them in 90 minutes at 11 lbs....

    I am pressure canning them. I have 1/4 beef coming with almost no room in my freezer. Any suggestions of technique or perhaps seasonings to avoid???

    Best wishes,


    1. Jeff, why don't you email me privately at and we'll see if we can get to the bottom of this.

      - Patrice