Canning is a great way to preserve your garden harvest or farmers market haul. Learn about a minor adjustment you may need to make to the recipes, based upon your elevation.
Why You Need to Know Your Elevation when Canning Food
If you live at an elevation above 1000 feet, the boiling temperature is lowered. Instead of boiling at 212° Fahrenheit as it normally would, it may boil at a much lower temperature. So the fact that the water is boiling, doesn’t mean that the water is actually at the needed temperature to kill pathogens that could be in your food.
If the proper temperature isn’t reached, and held for the correct amount of time, pathogens like fungus, mold or Clostridium botulinum (botulism) could survive the process. Then it would live and reproduce in the food that you worked so hard to can.
Botulism in particular is especially harmful because it only thrives in environments without oxygen, like inside a canning jar, making canned food the perfect environment to grow in. Considering that it is odorless, colorless, and flavorless, you don’t want to risk it.
How to Compensate for Elevation in Canning
When it comes to hot water bath (or steam canning) high acid foods, you will need to adjust the processing time.
When you are pressure canning low acid foods, the pounds of pressure will need to be increased at higher altitudes to destroy heat-resistant bacteria like botulism, and to ensure that your home-preserved food products are safe for your family and friends to enjoy.
For the most part, unless you see a chart that clarifies the adjustments to be made for your elevation, the recipe will be providing the details for elevations from 0-1000 feet.
First of all, you need to know what the elevation is for where you live.
There are many ways to determine this, from smart phone apps to websites, like What Is My Elevation. It is best to use a tool that can determine your exact location, particularly if you live in an area where the elevation could vary drastically within a zip code.
Hot Water Bath Processing Time Elevation Chart
This chart shows you how to adjust your processing time for high acid foods that are processed in a hot water bath canner.
Remember, base recipes will be 0-1,000 feet unless otherwise stated.
|Elevation:||1001-3000 ft||3001-6000 ft||6001-8000 ft||8001-10,000 ft|
|Additional Processing Time:||5 minutes||10 minutes||15 minutes||20 minutes|
For Example: Peach Habanero Jam processes for 10 minutes. If you lived at a 3,200 foot elevation, you would add 10 minutes of additional time for a 20 minutes processing time.
Pressure Canning Elevation Adjustment Chart
When compensating for altitude in pressure canning, the pressure is adjusted rather than the time.
This is a general guide for adjusting the recipe to your elevation. However for the most accurate information, reference your pressure canner’s user manual.
|Altitude in Feet||Dial Gauge Canner||Weighted Gauge Canner|
|0-1,000||10 lb pressure||10 lb pressure|
|1,001-2,000||11 lb||15 lb|
|2,001-4,000||12 lb||15 lb|
|4,001-6,000||13 lb||15 lb|
|6,001-8,000||14 lb||15 lb|
|8,001-10,000||15 lb||15 lb|