How to can potatoes

Because our neighbors have a huge potato farming operation, we have the opportunity to forage tons of potatoes for free. Ok, maybe not tons, but many, many pounds. More than we can carry at once and more than I’d like to think about having in my kitchen waiting to be canned at one time. The best news about these potatoes is that they are PERFECT for canning because they are small and oh so tasty.

canned potatoes harvest 2009

Whether you grow your own potatoes or forage them, be sure to avoid those with green spots. The green usually appears after the potatoes have been laying out in the sun for a day or so. In fact, when we harvested the first round of  potatoes, they looked fine but as they sat waiting for me to can them for a couple days, many of them turned green. The green does actually signify that there are toxins in the potatoes. Granted you would have to consume mass quantities of them to actually make yourself sick (so the occasional green tipped potato chip is ok to eat), you only want to preserve the best, smoothest, most unblemished potatoes possible. Leave shriveled or black potatoes out of the batch as well. You can cut little damaged sections out of them as needed. We had so many potatoes to can that I started to be thankful for those green taters after a while…it just becomes insanely redundant at some point.

Preparation of Potatoes

Wash the potatoes and scrub or peel off skins. Wash them again. Leave small potatoes whole and quarter larger potatoes or cut into uniform cubes. Place in a stainless steel pot or bowl of cold water after cutting to prevent browning. If you’re going to hot-pack them, go ahead an put them in a large pot so you don’t have to switch them to something else before boiling them.

You need 2-3 pounds (around a kilo) of potatoes for each quart/liter jar that you can. That’s about 15 medium sized potatoes…or several dozen tiny ones like we had. I started peeling them initially but the potatoes were so small that it became too tedious. So I just started scrubbing them down really well (still kinda tedious but it goes faster) and canned them that way. I used a pot scrubbing sponge with a course pad on it to clean the taters. If you go this route, I suggest wearing gloves because your fingers, nails and cuticles will begin to suffer before long.

Canning Potatoes

Potatoes, like many other vegetables, can be hot- or raw-packed. The process for canning potatoes with raw- and hot-pack methods is not all that different and both require a pressure canner because of the low acidity of potatoes. In general, the hot-pack method is recommended because the vegetables will be more pliable and you can get more vegetables packed into each jars But when you’re doing many, many jars of them and your pressure cooker only holds 3 jars at a time (going to have to get my hands on an American canning pressure cooker one day), you decide that the raw-pack method will do just fine. Just keep in mind that when you raw pack, the vegetables may shrink or soften and the jar may not end up as full as you initially intended. You may also end up with a much lower water level in the jars because the potatoes absorb it, but this is no cause for concern. And the white sediment in the bottom of some of the jars? That’s just starch from the potatoes–absolutely harmless.

Always wash and clean your jars and lids before using them and keep them warm in a pot of boiling water until you are ready to pack them.

To hot-pack potatoes, place potatoes in a large pot and cover with water (if you didn’t do this already after washing them). Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil small cubes for 2 minutes and small whole potatoes or quartered potatoes for 10 minutes, until heated through but not soft. Drain, discarding cooking liquid. Pack hot potatoes into hot jars, leaving 1 inch (2.5cm) headspace, and pressure can as instructed below.

To raw-pack potatoes, firmly pack cleaned potatoes into hot jars, leaving 1 inch (2.5cm) headspace, and proceed as follows for pressure canning.

To pressure can potatoes:

  1. First add 1 teaspoon of salt to quart/liter jars or 1/2 teaspoon salt to pint/500mL jars. Ladle boiling water over potatoes, still leaving 1 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace if necessary by adding more hot water. Put a lid on the jar and secure it.
  2. Place jars in the pressure canner. Adjust water level, lock lid and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Vent steam for 10 minutes, then close the vent. Continue heating to achieve 10 lbs (69kPa) pressure and maintain pressure to process. Pint (500mL) jars require 35 minutes and quart (1 L) jars 40 minutes. (Consult your pressure canner manual if you have a dial-guage canner or if you’re canning at higher altitudes.)
  3. Turn off the heatn and let the pressure return to zero naturally. Wait 2 minutes longer, then open the vent. Now you can remove the canner lid. Wait another 10 minutes, then remove the jars, let them cool and store in a cool, dark placeeaaaa.

We ended up with 17 liter jars of potatoes. We will use them for mashed potatoes when we have no fresh taters at home, and they are also fantastic as home fries for breakfast or roasted potatoes with a little onion, bacon, salt & pepper. I used to make my home fries with potatoes I’d pre-cooked in the microwave, but this route is even faster because the potatoes are already cooked due to being canned in the pressure cooker.

If you’d like to learn more about canning, get yourself a copy of the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. It’s got over 400 recipes to help you use up all sorts of goodies from your garden and orchard. Pick up a copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.de

Comments

  1. I have canned so many things, but never potatoes. Yours look delicious!

  2. Hi Tiffany,

    Love your article on how to can potatoes.

    Would you allow us to print your lovely article on our website? We have a free networking website for homesteaders and I know they would enjoy this read.

    Warm regards,
    Diane

    • Hi Diane,
      Glad you enjoy the article. Sure you can share it on your site. Just please don’t forget to link back to me :)
      You’ve got yourself a great site there. I loved the sustainable washing machine idea!

    • I would like to visit the homesteader site could I get the address… I am moving soon and will finally have room for a garden and need all the ideas I can get… I love the article thank you I am just learning to can and will get the ball book as well….

      • Congrats on your new homestead! You can read all the latest posts about what we have going on at http://www.noordinaryhomestead.com –or just click on the Home link. You can also subscribe to daily or bi-weekly updates in the sidebar — or use the search feature on the side to locate posts about particular subjects you have questions about.

        All of the Ball books are really great — well worth the investment and you will use them for many years to come!

  3. becky howard says:

    Thanks….very helpful!

  4. I’m really curious how they’ll taste after 5 years. I’m a little bit sceptic whether i really wanna eat 5 year old potatoes.
    Cheers Peter

    • Don’t know how they’d taste after 5 years, but I can tell you that 2 1/2 year old canned potatoes taste exactly the same. We just finished eating the last of ours from this canning batch and they were still perfect. :)

  5. Can I as where you got your jars? They are beautiful!

    • Tiffany says:

      Here in Germany glass jars like these with glass lids are the norm (from companies like Weck). So I managed to buy several hundred of them for about 10 cents each — and got a bunch more of them for free since a lot of people just don’t use them anymore. They are also sold in the US but are quite expensive. In fact, even here in Germany they are rather expensive if you buy them new.

      Ball jars with two-piece metal lids are virtually unheard of, although you can get single-piece metal lids but I find them a bit harder to verify the seal on.
      I was quite apprehensive about using the glass jars at first, but I’ve now found I really love them. Now if only I could find an American-sized pressure canner over here!

  6. Hi! If you are still interested in getting an American canner I may be able to help you. I live in the Midwest and there are lots and lots of people that are into preserving food around here. I was able to pick up a 22 quart pressure cooker brand new in the off the shelf for $45. Granted that was a clearance once in a life time buy, lol. But I could probablly get you one for somewhere in the neighborhood of $100. Of course I would have to ship it to you, but I would be more then happy too. Let me know if you still need one or want and if I can help!
    Your article helped me very much! My Ball book has disappeared on me for the moment and I have had 50 Pounds of potatoes wished off on me. Thank you very much!

    • Tiffany says:

      Thanks so much for the wonderfully sweet offer. Although hat is a fantastic price, I fear that it would cost a small fortune to ship over to Germany…so I think I’m just going to have to keep lamenting about the lack of huge pressure cookers in Germany for a while longer and just hope to be moving back to the US soon. ;)

      So glad my post was able to help you. Ball canning cookbooks are truly invaluable :) Hope you’ve got plenty of canning helpers to get through that potato pile!

      • sonja corterier says:

        have you tried to look for an old fashioned einmachautomat

        • I actually haven’t tried that, but are they actually pressure cookers or just steam? Things like potatoes need pressure to be canned because they have such a low acid content and will spoil otherwise. But I should probably look more into einmachautomats.

  7. Thank you for your post, we just harvested our potato crop and have over 300 potato’s. Red, Kennebeck, Yukon Gold, and Russet. I will store some fresh but so happy to be able to can them. Question, did you cold pack or hot pack yours? I’ve been reading that hot pack might be better, but didn’t want to add that step if I didn’t need to. Your jars look beautiful.

    Thank you
    janna

    • Tiffany says:

      Hi Janna,

      I cold pack my potatoes because they are so small and by the time they come out of the pressure cooker, they are cooked. We use them right out of the jar for mashed potatoes and home fries. Have never had any problem with them this way although I know most books insist on cooking the potatoes first and hot packing them.

      Hope this helps and happy canning! ;)

  8. I was recently given 60 pounds of potatoes from a farm. Although I never liked the taste or texture of canned potatoes purchased from the store, I decided to attempt to can my own. The difference was dramatic! This recipe produced potatoes that came out the jar ready to eat! They were perfectly salted with a “potato salad” ready texture. And, in fact, that’s exactly what I made just this past Labor Day. Thank you so much for changing my entire outlook on canned potatoes!

  9. Hello Tiffany, I am a student at Archer High School in Atlanta, GA and I am having to do a food science project on perishable foods. The project is to come up with a shelf stable canned food that is more uncommon to the market and exactly how its better for families to choose my product. I was wondering if canning french fries would be a good idea? Please respond asap thank you!

    • Well that’s an unexpected question. ;)
      My fear would be that because you must pressure can potatoes, the actual fries would end up very overcooked. Plus most fries end up with some sort of coating to make them crispy, which you’re likely going to have problems with in canning. How about exploring some baked goods in a jar?

  10. sonja corterier says:

    tiffany, now that you are eating german potatoes, what is my best bet to get decent potatoes of a similar kind over here, would you know?
    ty

    • I would suggest Yukon Gold — they are most similar to the little yellow taters we get here all of the time.

  11. Beth Wooten says:

    Hey Tiffany, I am so glad I found this site. I stumbled across this because I was thinking of a way to make our potato crop last longer. We do a garden for ourselves every year but so many potatoes go to waste before we can eat them all. I would like to do the raw-packed method because of so many to do. How would these be if I just opened a jar and warmed them in a pot to eat that way. That is how I normally cook them fresh here. How long will these stay preserved and what is the best way to store them? Thank you so much for your help!!

  12. Bill Schumacher says:

    Would this canning process work with a hot water bath canner instead of a pressure cooker?

    • No, you need to pressure can things like potatoes because of the low acid content. Otherwise you’ll end up with a breeding ground for botulism.

      • WANT TO SWITCH TO WECK JARS BUT CAN’T FIND PROCESSING TIMES THAT i UNDERSTAND TO USE THE WECK JARS. tHERE ARE SO MANY DIFFERENT SIZES THAT DON’T COMPARE TO MASON/BALL JARS I JUST DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO. i CALLED WECK.COM AND THEIR DIRECTIONS ONLINE ARE JUST AS CONFUSING THEY SPEAK IN LEVELS AND THE TIMING IS SO LOW FOR PRESSURE CANNING I JUST NEED SOMEONE’S EXPERIENCE TO HELP ME.
        MY EMAIL IS b4foreclosurehelp@gmail.com

        PS Is there a WECK or european version of American Ball Blue Book to help ?

        thank

        • I use the same processing times for the Weck jars as I do any other canning processes (so the same as those used for Ball). Most of the ones I have are 1 liter (or 1 quart) or 1/2 liter (which is about 1 pint). I have not tried using the larger jars for canning because I personally feel they are a bit large to be practical for a small family of 3 (like my own).

          I have canned peaches, pickles, vegetable soup (with a tomato base) and similar things in a water bath with Ball instructions without any trouble. As for pressure cooking, I have done potatoes in them (as for the post you’ve just commented on) without trouble.

          So you don’t need any special books but will just need to make sure you have the right tools like clamps and tongs that are large enough to get a good grip on the jars as you put them in the water.

  13. GardenGal says:

    Those are really pretty jars. Where did you get them?

    • These are the old style Weck canning jars. They are really popular here in Germany and you can often get them for free via Freecycle or for pennies on Ebay.

      In America, it’s another story entirely though — they’re really expensive because they’re more or less collectors items. And the new Weck jars are expensive no matter where you live. ;)

  14. I have canned potatoes a few times. When you have an abundance of tators you mys well. Only cost is your labor. Have you ever done the cold pack? And how did they turn out? When I have lots and lots I cook up and mash tators, use a big ice cream scoop and over flow and plop on aluminum foil sprayed with noncooking spray. After frozen I pop in freezer bags for my dad. He loves them :)
    Thank you for sharing :)

  15. Cynthia says:

    Really love this info! One question – after you’ve canned your potatoes, how to you use them to make mashed spuds? Do you tip the whole jar in a pot, bring to the boil, then mash as usual, or what?

    • Hi Cynthia,
      Yes, I basically just heat up the potatoes and start mashing them. They pre-cook during the pressure canning process and are essentially fully cooked when you open the jar. If you don’t want to use the extra water, you could also just start mashing them from the start and heat them a bit more slowly to prevent sticking & burning. Basically like what you’d do if you were reheating mashed potatoes without a microwave.

  16. Carol Martin says:

    I canned raw potatoes one time years ago and followed the directions my
    canner book provided. For some reason the potatoes were very hard, once
    the pressure canning process was over and I had opened one pint to use
    out of it. I never did understand why this happened and did not ever try
    canning potatoes again. I didn’t try pre-cooking them as thought they
    might be turned to mush in the canning jar if I did that. I always pour
    boiling water into my jars of vegetables before I lid and ring them, so
    that couldn’t have been the problem. At the time I asked other farm
    ladies who canned various veggies, and none of them had ever tried
    canning potatoes so I never found out why they turned out so hard. It
    was almost as if they were still raw, but they were done…just had a hard
    texture, certainly not one to be mashed! Would you have any advice? I
    would sure welcome it! Thanks. Carol Martim

    • Hi Carol,
      What size potatoes were you using for the canning? Large potatoes would surely take longer — but I’ve canned potatoes several times with this recipe and never had any trouble with them being undercooked. There are probably a few types of potatoes that might not cook as quickly as others though, which would also result in problems.

      Hope you experiment a bit more and find a solution!

      • Carol Martin says:

        Hi Tiffany! Thank you for your reply. I put the potatoes in pint jars, so I would have used small chunks of cut up potatoes…of a size to fit into the pint jars, but not tiny as in diced. In my canner I can get 18 pints into it. I can everything I put away at the 10 pound pressure reading. I’ve never had to replace that gauge and after over 45 years of canning I’m still using that same pressure canner with its same gauge. I’ve replaced the safety valve several times, though. :-) And actually those potatoes have been my only failure to produce the desired canned result. You are correct. I should not give up and try it again. When I do I will let you know how those turn out! I will add more minutes to the canning process as that is the only thing that could have been wrong, but because the potatoes were like rocks I didn’t consider what may have gone wrong. The amazing thing is that those pints kept their seal! I do thank you for your input and advice!

  17. disqus_mOZ5V9TIW7 says:

    Will a normal pressure cooker do? My mom has one, I don’t have a presser cooker

    • Yes. Canning pressure cookers are VERY expensive in Germany and quite difficult to find. So I bought a large pressure cooker that I found at a reasonable price and just use it. The only difference is you don’t fit so many large jars in one — but it functions the same.

  18. I am curious if the hot pack would have less starch and better tasting potatoes after time then the raw? Since you dump out the water after some cooking some of the starch would be removed from the canning process.

  19. Prairiemom3 says:

    That’s a pretty picture, but you really should tell readers that those kinds of jars are NOT safe for canning.

    • What makes you think that classic Weck jars with glass lids are not safe for canning? I’ve used them for years and people in Germany have used them for generations. Similar jars are still on the market around the world, even in the US.

      Yes you do need to be more careful with them and make sure you get a clean seal — but the air is removed just like Ball or other jars. And you also don’t have to worry about BPA in the lids either.

  20. Drain and pat these canned potatoes dry with paper towels, then deep-fry in hot oil until they’re golden brown. If you wish, serve with melted butter. Totally decadent but delicious! Here in the SW corner of Minnesota we call these “Boston Browns”….this is the only place in the US I’ve ever found them served.

  21. Thank you for posting this method! I have been gifted about 20 pounds of Yukon Gold potatoes and my sweetheart-husband and I will only be able to consume a certain amount of potato salad. :) Now I need to find my mother-in-law’s pressure cooker, pronto! :)

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