It’s Canning Season! Has Your Gauge Been Tested?

— Written By

If you want to can low-acid foods such as red meats, sea food, poultry, milk and all fresh vegetables with the exception of most tomatoes, you will need a pressure canner. These foods fit into the low acid group since that have an acidity, or pH level, of 4.6 or greater. The temperature which must be reached and maintained (for a specified amount of time) to kill the bacteria is 240 degrees F. Pressure canning is the only canning method recommended safe by the U.S.D.A for low-acid foods such as vegetables, meats, and fish. Ordinary water bath canners can only reach 212 F and cannot kill the types of bacteria that will grow in low acid foods. This temperature can be reached only by creating steam under pressure as achieved in quality pressure canners.

Only the dial gauges require any maintenance. Each year, they should be tested to see if they are reading the pressure accurately. Additionally, you should have the gauge inspected if the cover has been submerged in water or dropped, the gauge glass is broken or has fallen out, parts are rusty, pointer is not in the “0” block, or if you believe the gauge may not be accurate.

If your gauge reads high or low by two (2) psi or less, you may use it with following compensation:

  • If your gauge reads up to two (2) psi HIGHER than the master gauge, you must add that amount of difference to the required pressure so that the food is not underprocessed.
  • If your gauge reads up to two (2) psi LOWER than the master gauge, you may subtract the same amount it differs from the required pressure to prevent over-processing.
  • If your dial gauge reads high or low by MORE than two (2) psi, it will need to be replaced.

Montgomery County is offering a FREE test day for all pressure canners on Monday, July 20, 2020 from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Due CO-VID restrictions and adherence to social distancing guidelines, all testing must be completed during scheduled appointments only. To schedule your appointment, please call our office at (910) 576-6011 or email rtpeters@ncat.edu.