Home Essentials Food First Time Pressure Canning? A Concise Beginner’s Guide

First Time Pressure Canning? A Concise Beginner’s Guide

I’ve been wanting to start canning food for quite a while, but to be honest, I was a bit afraid. Today I finally took the jump and did some pressure canning for the first time!

Pressure Canning for the First Time

Pressure canning is intimidating. You have to pressurize a container with steam and regulate it so that your food is preserved and sealed from the elements, while not destroying your home. It’s a pretty big deal.

I’ll give you the process I used and the lessons learned, so that if you’ve never pressure canned food, you will have some insights, that I was lacking!

Today I pressure canned Turkey and some Turkey stock. Why Turkey?

Because it’s winter and there are no fresh vegetables to harvest from my garden for this pressure canning experiment.

I pulled out my Oil-less deep fryer, the Char-Broil The Big Easy. This is an amazing device that can “fry” a turkey without oil, and cooks at about 10mins/lb, so it’s very efficient!

Char-Broil The Big Easy
Char-Broil The Big Easy Oil-Less fryer

If you’ve never seen the Char-Broil The Big Easy, you can click the link to check it out, and read its rave reviews on Amazon.

Once the turkey was cooked, I brought it in and started carving it up. I carved a nice bit for dinner for my family, and then carved the remainder, for canning purposes.

Once the carving was completed, I tossed the bones, skin and other odd turkey bits into a pot of water to simmer for about 3 hours. This would be my turkey stock.

The turkey was cut and the stock was simmering so I took this opportunity to wash my quart sized, Wide-Mouth Mason Jars, for their first use.

Quart Sized, Wide Mouth Mason Jars
Quart Sized, Wide Mouth Mason Jars


While the Jars were drying, I started simmering about 3 inches of water in the bottom of my Presto Pressure Canner (without the lid).

I filled 5 of the Wide-Mouth Mason Jars with turkey, then poured hot turkey stock over the meat, using the funnel that came with the canning kit, so that the level was about 1 inch from the top of the jar. I used the remaining Turkey stock  and filled 2 more quart jars.

Pressure Canning

This is where I started to get nervous. I made sure that my phone was set to speed dial my sister or mother if anything went awry, and got started.

I was able to fit all 7 jars into the Presto Pressure Canner, and locked the lid in place, without the pressure regulator. I then turned up the heat to let it start doing its thing.

After a short while I could see steam jetting out the pressure regulator tube, I let that continue for about 10 minutes, then placed the pressure regulator over the steam pressure tube.

Pressure canner with pressure regulator
Pressure canner with pressure regulator

I wasn’t sure what to expect..except the worst. I saw steam fizzling out of a metal valve at the very front of the pressure canner, but the pressure gauge still read 0 lbs of pressure.

What the heck was going on?

I grabbed the instruction manual that came with the Presto Pressure Canner and it indicated that the valve would pop up, to indicate pressure and would go back down when the pressure subsided.

Next think I know the pressure indicator was up and the pressure gauge started climbing. I wanted to maintain 11 lbs of pressure for 90 minutes.

To regulate the pressure I had to raise and lower the heat on the stove burner, turn it up a bit when the pressure goes below 11, turn it down some when the pressure starts going about 11. I think I can handle this.

After 90 minutes I turned off the stove and let the pressure canner sit and cool down. Once the pressure indicator dropped back into place, I removed the pressure regulator and let the canner sit for a while longer to ensure there was no pressure.

Once I was sure all pressure was gone, I slowly and cautiously unlocked and removed the lid. I did NOT touch the jars yet.

After 10 minutes I used the Jar lifter, from my Canning Kit, to move the jars to a place where they could sit and cool for until the next morning.

Canned Jars of Turkey and Turkey Stock
Canned Jars of Turkey and Turkey Stock

As the jars cooled the lids made odd popping noises as they sealed themselves. I was told that his was a sign of success. Hooray!

I have to say I successfully Pressure Canning for the First Time tonight. There were some resources that were very helpful and I couldn’t have done it without them.

Let me give some credit to:


  1. A nit, Maybe I missed it, but make sure the readers know to add water to the pressure canner, I use about 2 quarts. I have pressure canned for many years and I really would like to see a better way to regulate the pressure than by manipulating the heat source continually. I usually wind up canning all my meat products at 15 pounds for 90 minutes, and for some meats this results in a ‘scorched’ flavor but I know the jar is safe to eat. Thanks for the article.


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