Canning Split Pea Soup & “Dry” Beans

Fall is coming, and already here in some places, and the need of a hearty warm soup comes to mind.

While shopping for groceries, I noticed that the price of Campbell’s condensed soup continues it’s upward rush. What used to be 50 ¢ had risen to ‘near a buck’ a couple of years back, so I started buying it at Walmart. Now, even at Walmart, a can of the “cheap soups” like chicken noodle and cream of {whatever} can run to $1.35. While at Safeway, they had a ‘sale’ on soup… Their usual gimmick is to jack the price up and then give a “discount” back to near the original. They did not disappoint. Many soups that, just a few weeks back, were about $1.65 / can were priced as “Regular Price $1.99” or near that, with a “discount” to the $1.45ish range. (You could get it to $.99 / can if you buy more than 4…) Since I refuse to be tagged and bagged with a record of everything I buy, I don’t use their “discount track-me system”, nor do I like the “pump and dump” price games… so I rarely shop there anymore (but they do have lamb at good prices and quality, without the gimmicks).

Now I love pea soup. One of my favorites, along with ‘bean and bacon’ and ‘chicken noodle’. Some years back I’d made a passable ‘bean and bacon’ replacement, but got lax about making jars of it since we discovered tomatoes cause the arthritis to act up and ketchup was one of the ingredients. (Note to self, find or make non-tomato ketchup…).

Well, no way in hell I was gonna pay $2 for a can of pea soup.

Yes, I’ve been through this before:

But that posting mostly looked at generic canning of soup and how to make a Cream Of Whatever analog. I wanted ‘ready to go’ condensed pea soup.

Well, I succeeded, and this is the story of it. But first, a

Spoiler Alert! Skip This Paragraph For Surprise Ending.

While I got it to work, it takes some fussing and frankly, isn’t worth it for the ‘condensed’ feature. The next batch will just be made ‘ready to eat’ with full water content.

Obligatory Warning

This is all experimental and undoubtedly violates somebodies idea of what is right or safe. I deliberately do things that are strongly advised by those who know all to be avoided by folks at home (because you just aren’t as smart as them and don’t have their fancy toys tools and equipment nor degrees). So do this wrong, it can kill you. Do it right, who knows. If all you do is look at what I did and cluck your tongue and run away to save yourself, that’s probably the best thing you could do. Only the brave, smart, or stupid would do what I did… Don’t do it. (Is that enough lawyer repellent? I hope so…)

Making The Soup

I used a very simple recipe, based, roughly, on a couple from Joy Of Cooking. While hers are a bit overly complex, the one I found on the package (AFTER I’d made mine…) is similar. I’ll be comparing mine to the package one a bit later. Note that this makes a puree kind of soup, but without any need to strain it nor blend it.


Cutting board
TBS measure (15 ml)
1/2 cup measure (125 ml)
Pint canning jars ( quart for full water version) with lids
Pressure canner (dial gauge preferred)
Jar lifter, lid lifter magnet, filler funnel, etc. nice to have.


Some ham or bacon – I used a cooked shoulder that was a bit tougher than I’d expected, so lots available to dice.

Dried Split peas – I used green, but yellow ought to work fine. Variations with any split bean or dal ought to be interesting too.

Fresh carrot – diced small

Fresh celery – diced small ( I trim 1 cm off any dry brown ends, but use it leaves and all)

Fresh onion – diced small (though dried onion granules ought to work too, with a different amount)

Note that you could likely use packaged frozen diced vegetables if not interested in chopping, or even fine chopped from a food processor. I just like using a knife ;-)




Into each jar, I put 2 Tbs (30 ml) each of onion, carrot, celery, and ham dice.

Add 1 Tsp ( 5 ml) of salt and 1/8 tsp ( 1/2 ml ) of sugar.

(Optional grind of pepper but the spouse doesn’t do pepper)

I don’t know if the sugar really does much, but a pinch of sugar in peas is traditional… ;-)

1/2 cup (125 ml) of dried split peas.

Fill with very hot water to a full 1 inch down from the rim. You NEED lots of head space. Extra is good.

the lids are rinsed and applied to the jar tops. IF desired, you can heat these in boiling water, fish them out with a lid magnet, and apply them hot, but it doesn’t really matter.

Now the water causes the peas to swell and they want to jam up in the jar, so as soon as I have the lid tight, I gave each jar a shake. This mixed the bits together and helped distribute the peas with space between them for water to circulate. I don’t know if that is really needed, but I think it helps with heat distribution and flavor mixing. I then set them down and tighten the lids to the ‘semi-loose’ state for normal canning (air must be able to get out during heating, so the usual is a slight tight. I tend to ‘tighten almost snug’ then back off 1/8 turn, but I’m prone to over tighten things and had breakage of two canning jars long ago until I did this trick).

Set them in a steam pressure canner with hot water in it. The water must come up to the ‘food line’ in the jars (for mine, that is just below the threads about 1/8 inch down). You want the food to be able to cool via conduction to the water bath. This matters.

Heat to 10 PSI (the paranoid directions say 11 psi Gauge as they are worried your gauge will be off by a bit, but let you use a 10 psi ‘rocker’ weight… I think my gauge is fine, thanks, and besides, on ‘low’ my stove tends to run it up to 11 or 12 psi after the jars are heated through…) and keep it there for 1 hour 15 minutes. Then shut it off and let it cool slowly. Note: if more than about 1000 ft above sea level, use higher pressure as in the usual canning guides, or a 15 psi rocker weight.

When the pressure drops, open the canner, use the jar lifter to take the jars out (and with boiling hot water just below the rim you really want that jar lifter…) and set on a counter to cool and seal.

Now I’m the impatient sort, so I like to set them on a towel and put an ice cube on top of each lid. This lets me put a bit of down pressure on the lid while the ice causes steam inside to condense and form an instant vacuum and instant seal. You go through a lot of ice cubes, and get a wet towel, but I’ve had exactly zero “failure to seal” or “bad seal” since doing this.

When cool (hours later) remove the rings, wash and store.

The Tricky Bits

OK, THE big problem is heat flow through a thick paste. Anyone who has eaten pea soup knows the top 1/4 inch cools and the insides will burn your mouth… So first off, you need to get heat IN to the center of the soup. That works fairly well via convection of water until the peas are cooked and swell. So not much in the way of worries. Staying with small jar sizes (pints, or cups for single serving) and cooking for a long time ( 1 1/4 hours) takes care of that. (Well, so far I’ve not gotten sick or died ;-)

Cooling is the hard bit. The center just doesn’t cool enough by conduction. It tends to little bubbly volcanic mud pot blurps. This tries to spit soup stuff out the lid and into the canning water. To prevent this, we use small jars and a big head space and a long slow cool down. I did one run with a cut from “low” to “warm” for 15 minutes before shutting it off, and that seemed to helps some too. (at the expense of 15 minutes longer cooking, though at dropping temps).

In the end, I succeeded at making a condensed “Ham & Pea” soup.

Next Time?

I now have 5 pint jars and they all look good. Well, really, 4 1/2 as one was, er, sampled… yum ;-)

BUT, it is just a lot of fuss for no good reason, really. I don’t really need “condensed”. So next time I intend to use this “pint” recipe in a quart jar and just can the extra water of the non-condensed variety right in it. This ought to give a thick but convecting soup and cool / seal better, with less ‘blurp’ into the canning water and seal risk. “We’ll see”…

I may also try one with even less canning water, call it 2 inch head space. This may give me a soup without all the peas being mush (more like split pea soup) and again, less splatter. Just enough water to cover the ingredients and let me cook them effectively in the jar.

Now I also found this other recipe on the package of peas. It says for 2 cups of peas to use 1/2 cup each of celery and carrots and ‘one onion chopped’. Onions vary a lot in size so who knows how much that is. Now 1/2 cup is 4 ounces is 8 US Tbs. That makes it 4 x 1/2 cups for the peas, which means they, too, use 2 Tbs each of those ingredients (modulo the onion size issue). They use 2 tsp salt, which would be 1/2 tsp per 1/2 cup of peas… guess I like a saltier soup… and they use 2 TBS of ‘bacon drippings’ instead of ham (or 30 ml / 4 = 7.5 ml per jar, call it 1 1/2 tsp) I’ll take the ham, or a chopped up bacon slice… Finally, they add 2 1/2 cups of milk and ‘season to taste’ at the end. Since canning milk ‘has issues’ I’m not going there…

In any case, it more or less ratified my ratio selections, but do note the salt level is personal and that I’m happier with ham fat than milk fat. And that pinch of sugar ;-)

Canning “Dry” Beans

Prior to the soup, I canned a few pints of “dry” beans. A bit of web search turned up all sorts of variations on the “official approved” method. The Official Only Thing To Ever Do: Soak the beans in the usual ways (overnight cold, or boil for 3 minutes and wait an hour), then cook for 30 minutes (changes of water a good idea); then, and only then, fill jars with hot cooked beans and can for 1 hour 15 minutes at 10 psi / 240 F (or higher pressure above sea level). This, BTW, is why I have “dry” in quotes. You are not canning dry beans, you are canning rehydrated formerly dry beans…

Now some folks decided that cooking beans to then cook them in the canner just made them mushy, so simply skipped the cook stage. So soak, then can.

Other folks went all the way and, figuring the soak was just to assure you didn’t have the beans swell too much and break the jar, put 1/2 cup of dry beans in the jar, water to 1 inch head space, and canned away.

All of these are reported to work by their advocates.

Why can “dry” beans? Well, because sometimes you don’t want to wait overnight, or even 3 hours, to make chili or refritos…

BTW, this was where I picked up the idea that 1/2 cup of split peas would make a pint of condensed soup… thus this article.

Now one of the things that drives me a bit around the bend on beans is the ‘social convention’ of talking about processes that make beans “more digestible”. As a ’20 something’ with a fair amount of biosci under my belt, I knew that digestion didn’t improve with any particular water changing. What I didn’t know was that this was a ‘polite lie’ aka euphemism for “you will fart less”. Consequently, for a few years I congratulated myself for being bright enough to just skip all those pointless water changes and be more “efficient”… while farting more… (Why, oh why can’t people just speak plainly and honestly…)

OK, for that reason alone the dry beans in the jar method is ‘right out’ for me. What is really going on in the ‘digestible’ business is that a non-digestible pentose sugar is leached from the beans, so it is not left in the gut to feed gas making bacteria. So you DO want to leach that sugar out of your beans. While it doesn’t make the bean any more ‘digestible’, it does starve the bugs in the gut of their gas making raw material…

So the method I used was simple. Dry beans in water, boil a minute or two, soak an hour. DRAIN THE WATER, and refill with hot tap water, stir, drain again. This washes a lot of the pentose sugars out. Now, with a strainer spoon, load beans into jars to about 2 inches from the top. (Not being cooked for 30 minutes, they still have some expansion to go). Top with fresh hot water to 1 inch head space. Pressure can 10 lbs / 240 F (higher pressure above sea level) for 1 hour 15 minutes.

When I go to use the beans, I once again dump any liquid in the jar, fill with hot tap water, and dump that out. This removes more of the pentose sugars that leached out during canning.

The end result is a bean with much less tendency to gas than the regular commercial stuff…

Oh, and you can also buy Gasless Jacob’s Cattle beans if you really want a quiet evening… ;-)

Bean ‘Jacob’s Cattle – Gasless’
This bean resulted in crossing ‘Jacob’s Cattle Bean’ and ‘Mexican Black Turtle Bean’ by Sumner Pike of Lubec Maine in the 1950’s. It’s reported to produce half the flatulence of regular ‘Jacob’s Cattle’ beans. Excellent flavor. Bush habit. 70-75 days. 25 seeds. Item #1302

So, IMHO, canning a bunch of them via that ‘multiple washes’ method is about as fast and easy a way to get ‘chili and refried beans the whole family can live with’ as possible ;-)

It also can cost a whole lot less. 1/2 cup of dry legumes runs about 25 ¢ while a can of them runs over a buck… The lid costs as much as the beans you can (which is why I’ve ordered some of the reusable lids mentioned in that prior DIY soup posting).

In Conclusion

Between pints of beans for 25 ¢ (maybe 35 ¢ with electricity costs…) and soup for about 40 ¢ / pint (bigger than the cans that are about 12 ounces…) I figure I can make about $15 to $20 / canner load lightly loaded. Now that takes about 2 hours all told, and $10 / hour doesn’t sound like much, but remember that is “tax free”. As, in places like California, you get 11% State Income Tax, 6% Social Security tax and 9 to 11 % sales tax on what you spent for soup, and to live here you must be in the 30%+ Federal tax bracket to afford the place, it takes about $20 of income to have $10 left over (IF you are lucky). I’m OK with making $20 / hour net-net, having a better product, and getting to watch TV for most of that 2 hours (or do something else that saves a pile of money…)

Besides, my soup tastes better, I can make a KCl low sodium version for the spouse, and the beans are more socially acceptable too ;-)

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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36 Responses to Canning Split Pea Soup & “Dry” Beans

  1. gareth says:

    Soooop – Oh Winter comfort food :-)

    Two tips:

    One: Rather than an overnight soak, put in the pressure cooker and cover with boiling water. Wait an hour then pressure cook for half an hour (you will need to fiddle with the timings according to bean type, kitchen temperature, QFE, etc…)

    Two: Canned mushy peas (widely available in Blighty, Stateside availability unknown), mashed up over fried onions and a bit of bacon makes a “delicious, cheap and nutritious” soup.

    Preparing for hibernation in 5 . 4. 3. 2. 1….

  2. E.M.Smith says:


    The local “upscale” Lunardis grocery has canned mushy peas in their British section… so ‘around’ but not in every store…

    Never got into pressure cooking beans loose (only when canning) due to the constant paranoid warnings about never filling more than 1/3 and watching out for foaming etc. clogging the exit pipe…

    Though frankly, given how effective it is cooking them in jars in the pressure canner, I’m likely to make my next big batch of cooked beans that way…

    Bacon and Onions and Liver and Onions… Ah, reminds me of what Mum would make on cold winter days… (Yes, I’m strange, I like Liver & Onions…)

    BTW, I don’t hibernate, I estivate ;-)

    This is a widely used strategy across all forms of hypometabolism. These physiological and biochemical concerns appear to be the core elements of hypometabolism throughout the animal kingdom. In other words, animals who aestivate appear to go through nearly the same physiological processes as animals that hibernate.

    During hot spells I become lethargic and torporous and just lay next to the swimming pool or hot tub…

    In the winter, I’m very different. Nowhere near the pool… mostly on the couch… entirely different ;-)

  3. Larry Ledwick says:

    Interesting — due to the weather/season change I was in the mood for a hearty soup this afternoon.
    I for many years have found the store bought vegetable beef soups unpalatable, something about them tastes plastic (sort of like the brown gravy mixes) So – – – for a long time I stay away from them and buy the Campbells vegetarian vegetable soup as I prefer the taste.

    Problem — I wanted a hearty soup.
    Being a bachelor I have also gravitated toward convenience quick serving style of cooking. Regarding ground beef, I buy the 1 lb or 2 lb beef tubes and toss them in the freezer then after they chill enough to be firm I pull them out and slice them up in hamburger size patties (right through the plastic tube) and toss them in a zip log bag and back in the freezer. Result I end up with some quick single serving size frozen ground beef.

    I got a wild hair today and took out one of those frozen patties thawed it a bit in the microwave until it was easy to peel of the plastic sleeve and tossed in a small fry pan and quickly browned the hamburger than dropped it in a Pyrex bowl with a can of vegetarian vegetable soup and a can full of hot tap water, mix and toss in the microwave for a minute or two until it tries to boil.
    Let it rest a bit to cool to 140 deg (an infrared thermometer is a great cooking utensil) and ready to eat at the perfect eating temperature.

    Great flavor and no plastic beef after taste — I am going to do this much more in the future!

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  5. E.M.Smith says:


    Interesting… back when we were eating a lot more beef (before it started to make the joints creaky) I’d get the hamburger chubs and slice them as you describe (sometimes I’d use the bread knife as it gets through the plastic easily, other times the point of the carver first, then slice.)

    I’d take the plastic ring off of each slice while still on the cutting board, then put them in ziplock baggies or in plastic sandwich tubs in the freezer. Then very easy to take one out and just put in a frying pan on warm to thaw / then turn up to fry…

    Also easy to ‘pull out a few’ and use them to make chili or lasagna… I wish lamb or ground turkey was available in chubs. Found Turkey once at Safeway IIRC at too high a price…

    We now buy lots of frozen turkey patties for the same role.

    Nice idea with the burger in the soup… Since veggies can be canned much faster than ‘with meat’ and without the fat spatter on the seals issue, even making home made canned veggy soup might be better with that process at serving time. Would also let me make 1/2 vegetarian and 1/2 w/meat as the guest list requires… Hmmm…

    I’m working on “Chicken Noodle Soup” canning right now… but maybe I’ll toss in an attempt at canned vegetable soup while I’m at it. The same mirepoix mix that’s my base for most things, plus some potato cubes and maybe some peas or lentils, with a spoon of bouillon powder… and any other left over vegetable bits in the fridge. Hmmm….

    BTW, if you are “into” quick and easy, canning things can be a big time saver. Yes, it’s about a 2 hour process ‘up front’ from set up to clean up; but: At the end, you have a lot of “dump and heat” finished product for low cost and just the way you like it…

    I now have about a gallon of Ham and Peas soup from my experimental run, all in small just right sized servings / jars… That’s a lot of “dump and heat” and time saved in the future…

    Well, about time to start planning dinner, and I think I’ll work in a 2nd round of canning experiments focused on both Chicken Noodle and Vegetable Stew base…

  6. PaulID says:

    E.M Not sure if you have a Winco anywhere near you I know there are some in Cali, but they have a 5 pound chub of ground turkey in the freezer section if you can find one nearby that might work for you.

  7. Ralph B says:

    A different kind of ketchup…catsup

  8. E.M.Smith says:

    @Ralph B.:

    Finally got time to watch… looks like an easy to make ketchup…and sounds tasty. I think I’ll try making it. Thanks!


    There was one near me in Florida, don’t remember one here…
    Puts the nearest about one hour away in the Central Valley area… close enough when I visit friends there…

  9. Gail Combs says:

    EM “… (Yes, I’m strange, I like Liver & Onions…) “

    I like bacon, onions and chicken livers if the liver is just cooked to no red and not cooked to shoe leather.

  10. Gail Combs says:

    I am going to get lessons on canning from the lady across the street. I know there are books and vids available but there is nothing like one on one.

    If I find a Round Tuit, I would also like to get into drying. Since we are in the south a black metal roofed building with wiremesh venting system might work just dandy without having to use an oven.

  11. gary turner says:

    1. What’s weird about loving liver and onions?

    2. There’s are reasons that only liquids should be measured by volume. Everything else should be by weight, as what the hell is a medium onion?


  12. E.M.Smith says:


    Well, ran an experiment with rice and soup noodles. (My chicken soup trial had waaaay too much noodle in it and became ‘canned noodles with chicken flavor’…)

    For a 1 cup jar, a single TBS of rice gives a nice level of rice throughout, so I’d use 10 ml to maybe 15 ml (2 to 3 tsp) of rice to the cup of soup. The noodles were similar, but a TBS (15) ml looked OK out the gate. Basically, for rice and noodles, use more sparingly at first… So on TBS to two TBS per pint of soup.

    Armed with that, I can now return to that whole “Chicken noodle soup” thing, though I’m going to start with Chicken & Rice as it looks more manageable and amenable to the long cook time.


    Our Oklahoma Cook (hey, I was only 8, and never really knew her name, other than cooky…) made a killer “chicken innards”. She would season with traditional poultry seasoning, flour, and load into a large flat “steam table” pan (stainless steel about 4 inches deep and about 12 x 24 ?). They were so tender you could cut the gizzards with a fork…

    I asked her several times “but how do you cook it?” and she would repeat the above and ‘put in the steam table’… and I’d ask “But how do you cook it?”… repeat…

    Only a decade or three later, when I got a slow cooker / crock pot did it sink in that the steam table was about 180 F and she got to work for the breakfast shift at about 5 AM… so there was about 5 or 6 hours between start of prep and “lunch rush” with them slow cooking to a fine gravy and flavor… She had told me all along how to “cook” it, but I was looking for a process and not a method… fry / bake / saute not ‘slow cooked in the steam table’…

    Chicken innards, for folks unfamiliar, is the set of livers, gizzards, and hearts that used to come in every chicken, now often gone to cat food. What a waste… IMHO it can be the best part of the bird. Done Oklahoma style…

    Mum made liver and onions about once a week, and we had it on the menu in the restaurant. As you pointed out, best done with bacon grease and / or a slice of bacon in the pan. Liver ought to never be cooked past the point of ‘just losing pink’. That’s why it is sliced so thin. Lay it down, floured, on a frying pan or griddle, about 30 seconds to a minute depending on thickness, turn it… when blood doesn’t show if poked, take it off (even if a tiny bit pink, carryover ought to finish it if done just right…

    Every so often I’ll find a store selling tubs of chicken livers (often dirt cheap) and I’ll do a chicken liver fry. Trickier than calves liver as they are thicker. Low and slow, more like a low butter simmer (yes, butter…) I usually end up way too stuffed… (Onions sauteed in butter in a separate pan, then combined, as the onions take way longer than the livers would stand…)

    Per Canning;

    It really is simple. Yes, there are “tricks” and occasionally some “special technique” for particular things. (Like my thick soup process).

    Key things to know:

    Cooking longer isn’t much of a problem. Nor is cooking hotter. It mostly just makes things a bit mushier and less fresh tasting. Still fine to eat. You can tighten up times and temps later to improve product texture and flavor. Some folks go all paranoid if they find a pressure canner has dropped to 8 PSI and pitch the whole thing. Just dumb. First off, it is likely just FINE as is, there’s slop in the rules. But second, IF, say, it dropped for 4 minutes, just run it back up to 10 psi and add 4 minutes at the end. It is total time at target heat that matters.

    In my experience, broken jars comes from too tight a lid. This is one of the more ‘tricky bits’. The description of it isn’t all that helpful, and this is where an experienced hand can be very helpful, in training that ‘feel’. For me, I’m mostly self taught (though there was some ‘watching while 7 years old’ in the brain… and then some working in the peach cannery that isn’t as helpful as you might think – different gear and processes). That’s why I came up with my personal variation of “tighten snug then back off about 1/8 to 1/16 turn on the ring. You want that lid loose enough to let hot air out in the canner, the ring is just there to keep it from blowing off and the actual seal happens AFTER it is out of the canner.

    More water in the cooker is better. Yes, it slows the warming and cooling at the lead in and exit from the canning process, but it also more effectively sucks heat out of the jars on the cool down / pressure drop phase… LOTS of reduction of water loss from jars, spatter into the cooker, etc.

    It’s OK to have a seal fail to set. Put those in the fridge and eat them later, or freeze them, or just run them through the canner again. (Yes, double cooking makes quality of flavor and texture a bit worse, but so?) As I said before, I now just put an ice cube on the cap and gently push down for about 5 seconds and that forces an immediate and fine seal. I’ve had zero failures to seal since doing that.

    Start with the easy stuff, work up to the hard. Easy? Fruit and fruit preserves. (Sugar preserving). 1/2 and 1/2 crushed fruit and sugar, boil and into the jars. ( I’ll put up some old recipes in a posting ‘soon’) Don’t even need a water bath and certainly not a pressure canner. Then move to water bath. Just a big pot with boiling water over the jars. Start with acidic fruits (stone fruits, berries, etc.) Basic sugar water and fruit bits into the jar, use a poker or knife to let air bubbles out, put the lid on, and into the water bath. Lift them out with a jar lifter when the time is up (tables of times on line or in Ball Blue Book of canning). Then move up to pressure canning green beans. Why green beans? They are very cheap, so if you blow a batch with a busted jar, who cares? They are VERY forgiving of overcooking, so any reprocessing doesn’t really matter. They don’t take very long to process unlike things with meat in them or finicky vegetable. They are very tolerant of overheating so if the pressure runs up to 15 psi vs the preferred 10 psi, nothing changes (unlike potatoes and other starch bits that tend to mush up more).

    FWIW, last night I found 6 old cookbooks on line from about 1900. Several of them have old canning recipes in them. Now the “modern” books all say to just never ever do it the old ways as you will surely immediately die. The reality is that yes, they are a little more risky, yet millions of people and hundreds of millions of meals made that way and did not get sick. So, IMHO, they are both an interesting history and a marker of the lower bound of safety. One example: I found a canning corn recipe that has the corn processed in a water bath (boiling water) for 3 hours. Now corn is about as risky as you can possibly get when canning. It just LOVES to grow botulism. Current recommendations are to only ever use a pressure canner. While I’m never going to can corn other than in the pressure canner, I find it interesting that folks DID use boiling water bath in the past – but coupled with the good sense not to eat things with a bulged outward lid, that were gassy when opened, etc. Oh, and they would boil the product when opened for cooking for a good 20 minutes before serving that also tends to break down bad stuff… Now, were I in a post disaster scenario, I’d like to know that it is possible, though with a bit more risk, to can corn in a water bath… But that’s for the posting to come ;-)

    The main takeaway from those old ways and old books for me? It really isn’t all that picky or all that precise and if you are a little bit off on one thing or another, it’s likely going to still be fine.

    Essentially, for the first two levels of canning (sugaring and water bath) it literally IS the case that if you can boil water and fill a jar you can do canning. It isn’t hard at all. (Frankly, making the pea soup via the canner was much easier than cooking it in a large pot… Just fill the jars, run ’em through the pressure canner, and I’m done.)

    I’d start by just buying a flat of pint jars and using them to store dry goods and leftovers in the fridge. You get used to the handling of them and washing the lids and rings (which is the hardest part, IMHO ;-) Then do some jams and preserves. Then a boiling water bath in a big pot for some vegetable or other. (It is perfectly fine to practice on some leftover greenbeans after dinner… or that pumpkin that was left over from Halloween… after your first few jars, the confidence goes way up fast and you’ll be canning other stuff quickly).

    Per drying: Not hard. Just remember to cut things consistently thin, make sure bugs can’t get to it, and don’t cook it by overheating. Start with a flat cooky pan in the oven on ‘warm’ (electric oven works better as gas ovens make water when the gas burns…) and some fruit you didn’t pay much to get… Apples during the “way too many” harvest time… Once you know you like it and can do it easily, then move to the commercial dryer or a built box.

  13. E.M.Smith says:

    @Gary Turner:

    Yes, for perfection and absolute repeatability, by weight is best ( it certainly improved my bread making as flour is notoriously fickle…) However: It is way easier to use a quick scoop of minced onions than to do the weighing thing, especially when filling a half dozen jars with 2 TBS each… and a variation +/- 2 or even 5 grams will not be detectable at all in the finished product. This is soup we’re talking about here, not a stoichiometric polymer formula… ;-)

    Per “medium onion”: Yeah… I have no clue… All I can figure is that in the days pre-fridge and storage in odor proof jars, they just didn’t want any onion left laying around so “use it all” was the goal.

    Per your #1:

    All I can say is “Ask my spouse”… She runs from the house if I cook liver and onions… I only get to have it when she is away somewhere (preferably over night as the house needs a good 24 hours of ventilation or her nose wiggles…) or at the few restaurants that have it on the menu. I don’t understand it either, but I’m the only one of 6 in our immediate family grouping that likes it…

  14. Larry Ledwick says:

    Side note on canning, you can also raise the boiling water bath temp by processing in a brine rather than clear water. One of the key things about food processing is how long it takes for the food product to heat up and pass through the critical temperature window of about 90 deg F to 140 deg F both on heating and cooling. That is the temperature zone that most bad critters like, reaching 165 – 180 degree food temps quickly and like pasteurization you only have to dwell there for a short time to effectively sterilize the food.

    To increase the safety of some foods (like modern low acid tomatoes) pick up a small jar of citric acid crystals when you buy your canning jars. A pinch added to the mix will lower the ph so that bad critters are less of a problem and citric acid unlike vinegar does not add much of any taste to the food, as it is nearly tasteless. I have started adding a small pinch of citric acid to my spaghetti sauce and it keeps much better in the fridge too.

  15. E.M.Smith says:


    Interesting point on the brine, but I wonder what that does to the temperature / pressure profile… though the steam is pure water, so maybe nothing…

    FWIW, the “standard” guidance on Botulinum:

    The control of foodborne botulism is based almost entirely on thermal destruction
    (heating) of the spores or inhibiting spore germination into bacteria
    and allowing cells to grow and produce toxins in foods. To prevent foodborne

    Use approved heat processes for commercially and home-canned foods
    (i.e., pressure-can low-acid foods such as corn or green beans, meat, or

    Discard all swollen, gassy, or spoiled canned foods. Double bag the cans
    or jars with plastic bags that are tightly closed. Then place the bags in a
    trash receptacle for non-recyclable trash outside the home. Keep it out of
    the reach of humans and pets.

    Do not taste or eat foods from containers that are leaking, have
    bulges or are swollen, look damaged or cracked, or seem abnor

    mal in appearance. Do not use products that spurt liquid or foam
    when the container is opened.

    Boil home-processed, low-acid canned foods for 10 minutes prior to serv

    ing. For higher altitudes, add 1 minute for each 1,000 feet of elevation.

    Refrigerate all leftovers and cooked foods within 2 hours after cooking (1
    hour if the temperature is above 90 °F).

    One of the most common causes of foodborne botulism is improperly
    home-canned food, especially low-acid foods such as vegetables and
    meats. Only a pressure cooker/canner allows water to reach 240 to 250
    °F, a temperature that can kill the spores.
    Consumers who preserve foods at home should follow the guidelines in the
    USDA’s Complete Guide to Home Canning, 2009 Revision
    , at
    Information is also available from the National Center for Home Food Preser

    vation at

    Somewhat overly paranoid in my experience, then again, lots of room for folks to not know their altitude, pH, read gauges right, use broken gear, have a wrong thermometer, etc. etc…

    FWIW, I’m usually fine with a tsp of vinegar added to raise pH as I like the taste of it ;-)

    I’m still looking for that botulinum nomgraph of time vs pH vs temperature… Sigh. I do wish I’d bought that book back in the ’80s…

  16. E.M.Smith says:

    Hmmm…. Don’t let your smoked fish get near your carrot juice in the fridge unless you run it way cold:
    (bold by me)

    HOW IS C. botulinum CONTROLLED?

    Control of C. botulinum in food products requires destruction of the spores through processing or prevention of growth through formulation, temperature control, or a combination of these factors.

    A commercial canning process that delivers a standard “botulinum cook” or “12D process” offers a substantial margin of safety by inactivating 12 logs of contaminating C. botulinum. For many canned products, processes that exceed a bot-cook are necessary to prevent spoilage. More recently, alternative processes are being evaluated to improve product quality. Highly trained thermal process authorities must be involved with the development of such processes to assure not only safety, but commercial sterility. Home canning processes need the same degree of stringent control.2

    The goal of formulation is to prevent spore germination and outgrowth. C. botulinumdoes not grow below pH 4.6 or water activity value below 0.94, and is inhibited by certain preservatives such as sodium nitrite. A combination of these can be used to control C. botulinum growth. Low-acid products (pH >4.6) need careful handling to ensure that their thermal process inactivates C. botulinum. Although the toxin is heat labile and can be destroyed by cooking, inactivation by cooking should not be used as a control strategy for processing.

    Temperature, if strictly controlled, can also be used to control C. botulinum growth. However, refrigerated products that rely solely on temperature for safety have been involved in botulism outbreaks. For example, an outbreak was associated with garlic in oil that was not properly refrigerated.3 As a result of that outbreak, the U.S. FDA requires that garlic in oil be acidified to less than pH 4.6. Botulism has only rarely been associated with dairy products, including an outbreak attributed to temperature-abused mascarpone cheese in Italy.4 Pasteurized, refrigerated carrot juice was also involved in a botulism outbreak in 2006. Temperature abuse was suspected, since the type of toxin involved cannot be formed at temperatures less than 50°F (10°C). The U.S. FDA now recommends that low-acid juices, such as carrot juice, include factors that will control C. botulinum, such as processing or pH <4.6, in addition to refrigeration.5 Smoked fish has also been involved in botulinum outbreaks. The strains sometimes associated with seafood (non-proteolytic strains) may grow at lower temperatures (39°F; 4°C) than proteolytic strains, but have higher water activity requirements (0.97).6 Spores will survive freezing and are more resistant to irradiation than many other bacteria.

    So another reason why canned fish is processed in thin sections and for longer? Maybe…

  17. Gail Combs says:

    Thanks for all the info EM

    I am thinking of starting with tomatoes. Acidic, easy to grow and do not really dry well.

  18. E.M.Smith says:


    Looks like the toxin for botulism has made a crossover into some of the less important species of Clostridium and caused some food born outbreaks of botulism in a few places places and with foods that normally are safe… Found in the local soils, so not moving around much. Yet.

    Not an issue for folks outside those areas, so our canning here can ignore it. But since bacteria do exchange genes, it’s one of those interesting things to watch.

    Ooooh! Found a very interesting place for jar and lid stuff:

    Has stainless steel bands! Couple those with the reusable lids and you have a perpetual stock…

    Though I can’t find a quantity listed for the package, which implies it might be $9 for ONE BAND… If so, that’s crazy high and not worth it… But nice to know someone is headed that way.

    A good link on what to can in the boiling water bath method:

    When you preserve something in a boiling water bath canner, you heat the jars and their contents to the boiling point (that temperature varies depending on your elevation, but at sea level the boiling point is 212 degrees F). That heat is enough to kill off the micro-organisms that can cause spoilage, mold, or fermentation, but it’s not enough to kill botulism spores (they require far higher temperatures). The process of boiling the jars also helps to drive the oxygen out of the jars, creating a vacuum seal. For jars that have sufficient acid content, the result is a jar of food that is safely preserved and shelf stable.

    The way food scientists (and home canners) determine whether something is high or low in acid is by pH. If something has a pH of 4.6 or below, it is deemed high in acid and is safe for boiling water bath canning. If the pH is 4.7 or above, it is considered low in acid. We’ll talk more about how to preserve those foods that are low in acid and have a pH of 4.7 or above another day, but to give you just a hint, that’s often where a pressure canner comes in.

    If a food is close to the 4.6 pH point, you can often add enough acid to bring that product into the necessary safe zone. Fruits like tomatoes, figs, asian pears, melons, persimmons, papaya, white peaches and white nectarines, and bananas are often just a bit too low in acid in their natural state for safe canning. So in order to lower the pH to a safe level, we add either bottled lemon or lime juice, or powdered citric acid to products featuring those ingredients. Once the acid levels are high enough to inhibit the botulism spore’s ability to germinate into a deadly toxin, that product is safe for boiling water bath canning.

    However, there are a world of foods out that naturally have a pH that is well within the zone for safe preservation in a boiling water bath canner. Here’s where we come around to the peach jam I mentioned in the introduction to this post. That recipe specifically calls for yellow peaches, which typically have a pH of 3.4 to 3.6. I know the general pH range for yellow peaches because the FDA provides a handy reference page on their website that lists the general pH range of most common fruits and vegetables.

    The FDA link they give:

    I think I want a food pH meter for Christmas ;-)

    Sauce 2.4
    Juice 2.3 – 2.5

    Yow! That’s acidic!

    A nice pdf on commercial canning from Oklahoma State U:

    It mentions the regulatory environment and points out that commercial low acid food canners have a high burden (high acid fruit canners not so much…)

    Anyone wishing to can low-acid foods must be
    registered with the FDA, use certified equipment, have received
    proper training at a “Better Process Control School” and keep
    extensive records as specified by federal regulations (21CFR Part
    113 for FDA-regulated foods and 9 CFR Part 318 for USDA-
    regulated foods).

    Also hae a very extensive table of food acidity levels in it.

    On causal inspection, it looks like “limes” are the winner for pucker factor:

    Grapefruit juice
    3.4 – 4.5
    Lemons (fresh)
    2.2 – 2.4
    Lemon juice (canned)
    1.8 – 2.0

    I think I’m going to use “bite the lemon” with my Tequila rather than limes ;-)

    For comparison:

    3.4 – 3.6

    Maybe citric acid does beat vinegar for ‘acid per unit of taste impact’ ;-)

  19. E.M.Smith says:


    Yup, tomatoes are easy.

    Be advised you will run into paranoid pages ranting about NOT using water bath canning of tomatoes due to “new modern” tomato varieties being low acid. OK, then grow the old ones with real flavor and some tartness in them…

    The two “fixes” are to either add some vinegar (IIRC it’s like a tsp / pint or some such – you’ll see it in the postings / docs out there) or run 5 min at 5 PSI in a pressure canner i.e. almost nothing.

    I’ll look it up later and post the correct values.

    I’d go for a bit of vinegar and water bath as the product will be of better texture AND, IMHO, better flavor. I like a bit of vinegar on a tomato… think salad with Oil & Vinegar dressing ;-)

  20. Gail Combs says:

    I am fine with the vinegar. You should taste my old Billy goat. I had to add sugar and make the sauce “sweet and sour” since I went a bit overboard with the lemon juice. (No bones to neutralize it.)

    When I made apple pie it was 1/2 the sugar and add lemon juice. I grew up on Late Northern Spy apples and they are TART. I find most apples bland after years of eating northern spies.


    Skin color is a green ground, flushed with red stripes where not shaded, and it produces fairly late in the season (late October and beyond). The white flesh is juicy, crisp and mildly sweet with a rich, aromatic subacid flavor, noted for high vitamin C content. Its characteristic flavor is more tart than most popular varieties, and its flesh is harder/crunchier than most, with a thin skin.

  21. cdquarles says:

    Don’t forget that human stomach acid is 0.1N HCl plus the pepsin and some other things ;p. Not only does the mucosa have glycoproteins coating it, it has the glycoprotein mucus, too. Food, though, dilutes the acid (pepsin doesn’t work well at pH 1.0) down to pH 4.0 or so, where pepsin can do its job optimally.

  22. andysaurus says:

    @Larry I would avoid microwaving your beef patties with the wrapping on. I asked my organic chemist brother why not and he said he wasn’t sure but probably because it releases polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, that are carcinogens.

    I love LAMB’s liver and onions more than any other food in the world. As they say here in Aus, good on ya E.M.

  23. E.M.Smith says:

    Thanks, Andysaurus!

    Unfortunately, here stateside, while lamb is hard to find, lamb liver and kidney are essentially impossible. If you can find a kosher or halal butcher, maybe… (they don’t have the bulk deals with pet food companies of the large companies). At the kosher places, they sometimes sell the non-kosher cut to goyem at good prices (kosher states certain cuts with large nerves are forbidden… how they new about mad cow and prions in cattle nerves 2000+ years ago is an interesting question…)

    Last time I had lambs liver was about 1965 or so… in my home town with real butchers and local raised stock. Come to think of it, that was about the last time for chitlins and menudo too… but I had sweatbreads at a fancy Swiss restaurant in the ’80s… The old butcher had a couple of gallon jar of pickled pigs feet on the counter… for the brave :-) You could buy brains (for scrambled eggs and brains) and intestines (sausage casings) and real ox tail for soup… Oh, and pigs ears… IIRC, both raw and smoked… Country is a whole ‘nother country 8-)

  24. philjourdan says:

    Menudo! It’s whats for breakfast! My wife made a pot (she made me cook it in the driveway) and I froze it in quart sized containers. But getting her to make it is hard. She cannot stand the smell. Or the texture of the tripe.

    But she does a good bean soup as well. We just do not try to can it.

  25. Gail Combs says:

    Gee, EM, I just gave the lamb’s liver to the neighbor for catfish bait….

    I do not eat store bought soups and haven’t for over 30 years. Instead I make a big pot and freeze it. In the fall or winter I will spend a couple days cooking up soups and other meals so I have quicky homemade meals without having the mess. I rather do the cooking and clean-up ONCE.

    Soup #1
    Star Market in New England used to have store brand French Garlic Sausage. I would do up a 15 bean soup but instead of using the little ham flavor packet, I added bits of loose raw sausage (~2lb) and about an hour before the soup was done onions and celery, about an 1/2 hour before the soup was done mushrooms and bell peppers. (My mouth is watering just thinking about it.)
    I have made it with jimmy dean sausage, 1 hot one mild and 1 hot and other brands but nothing comes close to that French Garlic Sausage. You can of course use ham or pork or even turkey sausage. The nice thing about the sausage is you do not have to add any additional spices. This is another soup you could make vegan (by adding spices) then add meat as you wanted.

    Soup #2
    Boil up any of the bones stashed in the freezer that were saved for soup. (Actually simmer) Add ~ 1 tablespoon? of vinegar or lemon juice. (I do not measure) Once you have made the stock, add chunks of beef cook slowly for a couple hours or so depending on how tough the meat is. About an hour before the soup is done add onions, carrots or parsnips, celery and spices. I gave up on potatoes because the texture goes weird after freezing and I no longer eat potatoes anyway.

    Soup #3
    Yea, Ole Chicken Soup.
    I normally cook fresh chicken in a covered pyrex casserole, I add a lot of spices and about 1/4 cup? of good wine (Never Ever cook with a wine you would not be happy to drink)
    The chicken gets de-boned and the bones (and skin) saved for making stock. The liquid left in the casserole also gets saved and frozen. (Some of the meat gets saved and frozen too.)

    When I want to make soup I boil up (actually simmer) any of the bones stashed in the freezer that were saved for soup with the lemon or vinegar. For chicken bones I wait until the meat still clinging falls off the bones and the bones start going soft. I also toss into the pot the hearts and gizzards. Once you have made the stock, toss in chunks of cooked chicken, onions, and celery then wait ~1/2 and add mushrooms and spices. I have found it is better to cook the rice separately and add it into the individual servings other wise it will grab all the water it can find so you end up with chicken rice mush.

    ~~When I make stock any and all bones go into it, pork, beef, chicken, goat, anything except ham bones which are reserved for the 15 bean soup. You can use any spices you wish to add variety. I just go through the spice cabinet and toss in what ever I find that looks interesting so my soups are never the same twice. This is where you can add the spices that are good for you like celery seed, turmeric and cumin.

    With the moussaka and the fried rice with veggies and meat, you now have 5 meals that can be popped into the microzot for quick evening meals when you are busy.

    My other standbys are:
    Beef stroganoff
    The Meat/onion/mushrooms are already cooked and frozen so just add garlic, wine, dill and sour cream. Serve over rice or noodles.

    As I mentioned on the other thread I cook up a large pan of sausage, onions, mushrooms and peppers make up omelet size packets squashed flat so when I want an omelet all I have to do is grab a packet and leave it on the counter while I grate the cheese and whip up the eggs. Normally the packet is thawed by the time I need it because the size is so small.

    Again I cook up the meat, onion, celery, mushrooms, peppers and what ever other veggies I want in my sauce and freeze it. I can then open a jar of tomato sauce place it in a pan, add the thawed mix and spices and I have a really good tasting sauce in a short amount of time. You can also freeze the completed sauce. — Now you know why I want to be able to can tomatoes. Normally I have been using store bought sauce and adding to it but it is full of salt.

  26. E.M.Smith says:


    Smell? What smell? :-)

    Must be that I’ve butchered and prepped things from fish and chickens to small mammals. .. After you have tried wet plucking a wild pheasant and drawing it, well, other things just don’t seem to smell anymore ;-)


    I used to make soups and chile and stews and freeze them in pint wide mouth canning / freezing jars. But now we have a small freezer compartment in the fridge and it has accumulated some jars of seeds and my old roll film stock (probably ought to dump it as I’ve not used my film cameras in years…) and 9 of those Corningware lunch buckets… and something had to give. Frozen things that could be canned instead was it. Had I a large freezer, I’d use it first for most things.

    Having grown up in the restaurant, I’m prone to a weekly large roast ‘something’, then separated and meat used for sandwiches, frozen lunch buckets, ‘stuff’ on a shingle, etc. for the rest of the week. The bones, having reposed in the freezer, along with any residual meat and vegetable leftovers become a soup pot, usually gone by the end of the next week…

    But that doesn’t work very well for split pea soup, as the leftover ham makes about 5 gallons of soup!… thus my interest in canning that particular soup. And the beans (next stop canned Ham & Beans). I’m working on chicken noodle just because the spouse likes to have it ‘on demand’ some times when a roast chicken was not en queue… Then the ‘cream of something’ is for my convenience when making slow cooker dump meals (chicken, veg mix, can of cream soup, 1/2 cup water, wait 6 hours…) without spending more for the soup than for the chicken…

    But things like the regular bird & rice soup or pork stew, or even the ham & lentils soup are likely not going to be canned… or frozen unless it lasts more than a week in the fridge.

    What was a very pleasant surprise was the ease of making the peas soup in jars by canning. It was just so easy that it is now my ‘go to’ method for peas soup. I may even find where the blender went in the kitchen… just chopping the vegetables in the blender and loading jars is nearly trivially easy. So with a chunk of left over ham, chopped, measured into jars, measure and chop vegies, fill jars, then process in the canner. Now I don’t have to spend 4 hours with the peas soup process in a giant pot nor eat it for 3 weeks straight :-)

    Oh, and thanks for the recipes!

  27. philjourdan says:

    @E.M. – There is one way I can get her to do it again. If one of her sisters make it, I can rave about it, and she will do it just to show me she is the better cook! (She is). ;-)

  28. Gail Combs says:

    EM we have a large freezer (now full of 2 yr old ram and an injured 10 yr old doe goat) Before that in Boston MA area, I had a 3.5 cu ft mini chest freezer (25″W x 22″D x 33″H ) Nice and small so it fit but still allowed me to take advantage of sales and bulk food prep.

    If we didn’t have a farm and the need for storing a whole animal that is what I would go with since I dislike the ‘frost free’ freezers in a regular frig. It just does not keep the food tasty like a big freezer does.

  29. E.M.Smith says:


    Grew up with a “cow sized freezer” on the back porch. Dad would put two steers in it each year. Just past vealers and finished on 2 weeks of rolled oats and molasses. Very special flavor to it… special order for the feed at the feed store… if you haven’t tried it, do!

    That little one looks like a good idea. I need to clean up and toss some junk first, though.

    Yes, chest types don’t have the food damaging “warm to above freezing” defrost cycle so food keeps flavor better. I wrap extra and put in plastic tubs for long duration storage as that prevents the defrost cycle from reaching the food…

  30. Dan_Kurt says:

    Pea Soup made with dried split peas.
    I am an amateur cook in my mid 70s. The easist soup I can suggest is split pea soup. If one wants the recipe just ask. But here are two free points. Time from start to finish is 1hr and 15 minutes tops.
    Two things that really help: 1) Stick Blender (recommend, 2) Ham Base (recommend

    Dan Kurt

  31. E.M.Smith says:

    I just made a batch of soup in jars. 6 x 12 oz and 2 pints. This is the same recipe as above, but as full water (i.e. not condensed) so 1/2 as much solids per jar.

    It looks great!

    The 12 oz “jelly jars” that are relatively tall and thin, lost maybe 1/4 or 1/8 inch to internal evaporation (boiling as the canner looses pressure and venting steam from the jar) while the pints are down about 1/4 inch (1 cm) or so. Clearly for a thick but liquid soup, the single serving size 12 oz jars are ideal, and the pints”workable” but best with a slower managed cool down.

    OK I’ve got my final formula. Full water eating concentration in 12 oz single serving jars.

  32. Gail Combs says:

    I have more goat marinating in wine. This time with KCl, garlic and dill. I also used the crock pot for marinating so I do not have to do a transfer when I cook. I will probably finish it off with sauted mushrooms and onions and add sour cream at the last minute to make a ‘stroganoff soup’

  33. E.M.Smith says:

    So, Gail, what time do I show up fordinner?


  34. Gail Combs says:

    @ 7:00 pm the goat just went into the slow cooker.

  35. E.M.Smith says:

    I’ve finished my chicken & rice soup canning series of tests. There will be a posting on it “soon”. The bottom line is that Chicken & Rice works well with one TBS (15 ml) of rice per pint ( 500 ml) jar. I used white rice, and it does swell up a lot, but is good. Reports are that brown rice works better, but I’m ok with the white for now.

    Basically just raw chicken, vegetables & rice with bullion in a jar and can it. 1 1/2 inch head space worked best (fill jar just to the middle of the curve of the upper shoulder). 1 hour 15 min for pints at 10 psi at sea level.

    The chicken noodle experiments are “ongoing”… canned vegegtable soup (as above for chicken & rice without the rice) works well if, when opened to heat and serve, you add soup noodles and simmer for 12 minutes. Again, one TBS (15 ml) per pint (500 ml). I learned this after canning a jar with 1/4 cup of soup noodles and ending up with a jar of solid noodles vaguely tasting of chicken…

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