Using Your Pressure Canner.
Lesson 1 – Chicken Broth

One of the comments I get a lot from readers, friends and neighbours is … what is that thing on your chin and do you think it will ever go away?

I grew a blemish on my chin a few days ago that is so large and angry when I bend over I can feel it hurt and pulsate.

The second most common comment I get is … “I wish I weren’t so afraid of pressure canning”.

Today I’m going to tackle the canning.

For years when I made chicken broth I would put it into baggies and shove it into the freezer. Just fill the baggie, lay it flat to freeze and then you can stack them all up in the freezer so they’re all in there nice and neat.

Except they slip. And slide. And when you want to use them you have to defrost them.

I wanted instant chicken broth. The kind where you just pop the top and pour it into your soup, stew, cereal or whatever.

So once I got my pressure canner I started to can my broth and I haven’t looked back (into the freezer) since then.

Pressure canning is not difficult, not dangerous and not all that time consuming.

And at the end of it you have beautiful jars filled with stuff that’s even more convenient that stuff from the store because it’s already in your house.

Today I’m going to walk you through the basics of pressure canning your own chicken broth. If you’re interested in doing more of this sort of thing you’ll need a couple of things. A pressure canner (duh) and a good, tried and true, book on canning. I have a few. My favourites are The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving and Ashley English’s Canning & Preserving.

I am by no means a pressure canning expert.  I’ve been preserving and canning since I was young(er) but only started pressure canning in the past couple of years.



First things first.  You need to make some chicken broth.  Here’s my recipe which is really more of a guide of what to throw into the pot.  When I buy or make roast chicken we never eat the leftovers.  Instead, after one meal I put the rest of the carcass into the freezer for making chicken broth with later.   It always works out that by the time I’ve used up all our chicken broth, there are enough frozen chicken parts in the freezer to make broth again.  The roast chickens are great to use because they have that roasted flavour to them which is perfect in broth.  PERFECT I SAY!

I make the broth the day before I know I’m going to can it.  Making broth and canning all in the same day is for crazy people.

 Organize yourself.  Get everything ready.

Pressure Canning 1



Gather your tools.  A funnel, magnetic lid lifter, a jar lifter and a damp cloth or paper towels.

You can buy a kit with the jar lifter, funnel and magnetic lid lifter for about $12 at most hardware stores.

Pressure Canning Tools



Fill your jars with hot broth.  In canning, the “headspace” is the amount of space you leave between the rim of the jar and whatever you’re filling it with.

Each thing requires a different headspace.  For example canning tomatoes might require a 1/2 head space while canning chicken broth requires an inch.

So make sure you have 1″ headspace between the broth and the rim of your jar.

Pressure Canning Fill

Even if you use a funnel you’re bound to drop into the rim of the jar.  Always wipe the rim with a damp cloth.

If anything at all is on the rim of the jar it won’t seal.

Pressure Canning Wipe Rim


Using your magnetic seal lifter, pull out a seal from your pot of hot (not boiling) water and place it on the jar.

Pressure Canning Seal



Put your ring on and finger tighten.  You don’t have to put your rings in the pot of water. I just do it because I always have.

Do not over tighten your rings.  As a side note, once your jars have sealed you can remove the rings.  There’s no reason for them to remain on the jar.  The seals are what keeps the  jar sealed.  The rings are only needed during the actual sealing process.

Pressure Canning Ring

Using the jar lifter, place your hot packed jars into the pressure canner.  Different products and sized jars require different processing times.

For chicken broth in 500 ml jars (pint) you process for 20 minutes.

If you are using 1 litre (quart) jars, process for 25 minutes.

Pressure Canning


Pressure Canning Top Rack


Before processing you need to “vent” your canner.  Get rid of the air/steam inside so you can build up the proper pressure.

Just put the lid on (without the weight on it) and turn it up to medium/high.  When steam starts coming out of the top, set your timer for 10 minutes.

Once those 10 minutes are up you’re good to go.

Pressure Canning Venting


Put your 10lb weight on the canner and wait for it to come to pressure.

When the weight jiggles or knocks a few times every minute, your canner is up to pressure.

Only start your timer for processing once your canner is up to pressure.

Getting a canner up to pressure can take several minutes.

Once your weight is jiggling and you’re at pressure set your timer.

20 minutes for 500 ml (pint) jars

25 minutes for 1 litre (quart) jars

Pressure Canning Weight


When your timer goes off and your jars have finished processing, turn the stove off.

Leave the lid on and allow the pressure canner to return to normal pressure.

Once the pressure is down to normal you can remove the lid.

Wait another 10 minutes and then remove your jars.

Pressure Canned Chicken Broth

These instructions are for someone who has a basic knowledge of canning. For instance, one area of variation in pressure canning and water bath canning is altitude. Since all pressures and processing time are based on the boiling point of water … if you live above 1,000 feet above sea level you need to change your processing times and/or pressures. This is because water boils at a lower temperature the higher your altitude. All canning books explain this.

It sounds scary and complicated but once you understand it, it’s not.

The only time canning is dangerous is when you don’t follow the directions. You MUST follow the instructions exactly. If you under process you’ll be in trouble. If you don’t use the proper headspace you could be in trouble. If you don’t use the exact ingredients called for you’ll be in trouble.

But as long as you can follow the rules … no trouble.

I’ve had my canner out on the stove for the past couple of weeks and I imagine that’s where it will stay until the end of summer. Every few days I bring in a bunch of tomatoes and jar them so I’ll have fresh diced tomatoes for soups, stews and chili in the winter.

It’s a big gawdawful looking thing sitting on the stove. And I love it. This big gawdawful looking thing on my chin? Not so much.


  1. My husband got me a pressure canner for my birthday. The first birthday we spent as a married couple. Most wives would lose it, but I nearly cried with joy. We mainly use it for salmon and halibut (yum) but now I have a really good recipe for chicken broth….thanks!

    PS- If you ever want to come fish for some of the greatest Pacific salmon in the world, just drop me a line……after the fishing we can process it together!

    • Karen says:

      Hmm. I do enjoy fishing … And one of the fish that I’ve never caught … (or went fishing for really) is a salmon! Unless you count a rainbow trout. Which, why would you? ~ karen!

  2. My parents used a pressure cooker all the time, put me off for life.

  3. Gloria says:

    I have never canned but really want to. Is there a big difference between a regular canning pot and a pressure one?

    • Karen says:

      Gloria – Yes. A regular canning pot is only tall and deep. It probably has a rack to put at the bottom of the pot. It’s meant for water bath canning only. A pressure can has a lid that locks in place, safety vents, and gauges or weights that keep the contents inside the canner at a certain pressure. You cannot substitute a regular canning pot for a pressure canner/cooker. ~ karen!

  4. Ann says:

    I am planning on buying a pressure cooker soon. I have to be careful to buy one that says it can be used on a glass top stove. Who knew when I was coveting a smooth top stove that they would be so picky about what type of pans worked on them?

    Anyways, for now I put my chicken stock in the straight sided jars and freeze them that way. They stack nicely in my freezer. Also I can thaw them pretty quickly by either placing the opened jar in the microwave to get it started or in a jar of warmish water.

    Also Ball now has a new sized jar. It is a pint and a half with straight sides. Perfect for putting up asparagus or dilly beans but also very useful for freezing broth, tomatoes and other assorted things.

    • David says:

      I use my canner on my glass top stove all the time. Just make sure the stove is level, and clean. It can not have anything like built up burnt foods on it. Lowe’s has a kit for cleaning it. It comes with a razor blade w/ holder, a jell cleaner, and a scrubbing pad that will not scratch the top. Can away.

  5. sarah says:

    another thing someone has thought of to do with mason Jars – on kickstarter…….

  6. cred says:

    I just water-bath canned some salsa last night. But a pressure canner would be so much more useful for me.
    Any tips on the best one to buy one and the best price? I was looking at pressure ‘cookers’ (different, I know) but I haven’t shopped around for canners.

    • Donna T says:

      cred… I’ve used pressure cookers for years. For canning I like the one with the gauge best, I think I got it at Sears, but they’re available lots of places. I like the one with the “rocking weight” for cooking meals quick! (About 30 minutes for cooking meat or a pot of beans!)

      I use the UNpressurized canner (water bath) for jams, jellies, fruit, tomatoes, or anything else with a high acid content!

      Karen… I found one of those blue things with the magnet in my mom’s stuff… now I know what it is! Thanks!

    • Trish says:

      I’ve been looking to can some salsa. I have a recipe, but its just for making one serving. I’m not sure how many servings it would take to fill up a pint let alone a quart.

      Would you mind sharing how many servings you make and the amount of jars you use to put them up? useful tips, etc.

      Thanks! trish

  7. christine hilton says:

    I kinda wanted to see your zit.

  8. Patti says:

    I have to say, though I don`t have the space for a pressure canner, for those of you who do – you can make other people`s DAYS by sharing the fruits of your labour! I just recently got married and a friend of ours put together a fabulous gift for us – wicker basket with cloth napkins, metal wine glasses, red and white wine, and YUMMMIES: jarred tomatoes, pickles, hot pickled veggies, apple sauce, salsa, jam – oh, what an AMAZING gift!! Since wedding season is still in full swing, just thought I`d put that out there for you guys!

  9. Thera says:

    Very much a newb here, so how long does the food last once properly canned?

  10. Elaine says:

    I started doing this last year and I’m hooked! I’ll never freeze stock again. It’s so much more convenient to use it when you don’t have to defrost it first. I also pressure cook my chicken stock. It takes no time at all and you get very flavorful, rich colored stock. If you want to get the fat and murky bits out, just let it cool in the fridge first and skim the top. I’ve also tried pressure cooking pulled pork with great results. Have you used your pressure canner for cooking?

    • Karen says:

      Elaine – I haven’t yet. My pressure canner is so HUGE that cooking in it just seems bizarre. I’m kind of a snob when it comes to pulled pork (do it only on the smoker) but I’d love to try stock in it, or stew … or … pretty much anything. ~ karen

  11. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    I used to can also Karen..but never used a pressure canner..I am seriously contemplating getting back into canning so maybe I will read a bit more about canning this way..Your jars of broth look so nice!!

  12. marne says:

    I have a regular water bath canner, but I’m starting to look at pressure canners, there’s a huge range of prices! Any suggestions what to should look for?

    • Karen says:

      Marne – Well I got mine for Christmas so I didn’t have any choice in it. I probably would have gone for an All American with a dial gauge as opposed to the Mirro with weighted gauge. However … the one thing about the weighted gauges as opposed to the other ones is you don’t have to have them adjusted. With the dial gauges you have to have them tested to make sure they’re still in sync every few years. And go for the biggest you can keep in your house. I have a HUGE one and I still often have to do 2 batches of canning because the canner isn’t big enough to hold all the jars. ~ karen

  13. Kathe says:

    Am I correct: a pressure canner should not be confused with a pressure cooker?

    • David says:

      A pressure cooker is usually a lot smaller than a cooker. It is not generally a good idea to can things in. A pressure canner is built for both, although you may not want to cook in it because of it’s size. It will have a rack in the bottom to place the jars on. I’m not sure about the pressure gauge though.

  14. Sarah In Illinois says:

    I am one of those readers that emailed you that I am scared to death of pressure canning.

    The way you described it sounds a little less intimidating! I will definitely borrow one of those books from the library and research more. I may just attempt this with next year’s bounty from the garden! Thank you so much!!

  15. Carolyn says:

    Ok, this post of yours made me finally order a pressure cooker & the tools to go with it! I grow tomatoes & have been thinking about canning them since we won’t be able to eat them as fast as they ripen. I love making chicken broth too, so this will definitely be helpful. No more store bought broth! Thanks Karen!

  16. Gayla T says:

    You would have liked my mother. When I married she bought me a very special shower gift. A canner and the Blue Balls Book. You might think the name of it is the Ball Canning Book but no, It’s the Blue Balls Book. And it will be to you now, too, because once you have heard it called that it never leaves your brain. She had a lot of those little jewels and that is totally what is wrong about me. I’m like old Rosie the Riveter to a T. She left Kansas when my dad joined the Navy and went to work in a ship building factory on the Gulf of Mexico at Galveston TX. riveting the metal plates into place. Once again you have taught this old dog a new trick. I have never seen let alone owned a magnetic lid lifter. That’s a great invention. Have you canned deer meat? It’s to die for. We always pick deer meat to death and get all the muscles and sinews off so it’s just meat. Fill a quart jar w/it and add about 1/2 t. salt, a garlic clove, a bay leaf if you like it and a little piece of beef suet. I don’t remember how long we process it because it’s been 3 years since anyone has given us a deer but it tells in the Blue Balls Book. Last time we did one we were at my daughter’s neighbor’s and a guy honked to tell us that a grain truck just ran over one of their cows so we cleaned and canned it and then the guys brought us wine coolers and a hog. We worked way into the night and had 3 canners going at once. I have swooned away in a faint that has taken days to recover from when anyone mentions getting together to can a deer. It was awful. We froze most of the hog but did can some sausage as it is great to make biscuits and gravy since it’s alreaady cooked and you don’t have to make room in the freezer. Back to the deer meat……open a jar and heat it up and pour over rice and it’s dinner and so darn good. It’s so tender and juicy. Now, I’m getting the bug to can deer again and it’s too much work. Even w/o the cow and hog.

  17. Liz says:

    Sooo why don’t you just freeze your chicken broth in ziplock bags? It’s way easier! I like the magnetic lid lifter though, didn’t know they existed. Will have to look for one.

    • Karen says:

      Liz – 2 reasons. a) Like I said at the beginning of the post, I used to freeze my broth, but I find it incredibly inconvenient to have to stack it in the freezer and then defrost it. I hate it. I much prefer opening the jar. b) This *is* called The Art of Doing Stuff. Not the art of doing whatever’s easiest. Especially when easiest isn’t better. Sometimes easiest is better … but not in this case. ~ karen!

      • Deb says:

        I can’t even tell you how much I love this idea! I freeze my stock now and hate having to defrost those bags before I can use it. I am going today to buy a pressure canner. If I use it for nothing more than stock, it will be worth every penny. (I have been water bath canning for years and just bought the magnetic lid thingy this year. No more burning my fingers! LOVE IT!)

        Thank you AGAIN for a great idea.

        • Deb says:

          Pressure canning my first batch of broth as we speak! SO excited. Can’t wait for them to get out the ‘cooker’. THANK YOU AGAIN!!

        • Karen says:

          Oh you’re welcome! Once you start canning your broth you’ll never go back. ~ karen!

  18. carey says:

    It never occurred to me that one could can chicken broth, brilliant.

  19. Raymonde says:

    Hi Karen,
    I ‘ve been pressure canning for a few years now and I love it! I can chicken stock, vegetables, soup, spaghetti sauce, couscous, meat, etc…
    I’ve been told that heating your jars in the oven will make them fragile and more prone to breaking, so I just put them through the dishwasher on “sanitize”. It gets them to the right temperature! 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Raymonde – I’ve done that too. Also, the best thing to do is just keep the jars in the hot water in the pressure canner. Still … hard to break the oven habit. 🙂 ~ karen

  20. Marty says:

    Do your chickens know about this?

  21. Dru says:

    We can using the hot water bath. And now you have convinced me to use this method for chicken broth. Yum!!

  22. Zoe says:

    Starting to freeze my bones – am excited to make real chicken broth – i may not have room for a pressure cooker but now I know how to get rid of the icky fat and make yummy broth
    Thank you

  23. Zoe says:

    Pressure canner even

    It’s Friday

    I’m sorry.

  24. Penny says:

    Er… newbie pressure canner here… I have a guage on my pressure canner – am assuming it needs to be at 11 pounds, same as for fish? Reading through the above, can I ask, I was told only high acid food can be hot water bath canned, but meat, fish etc needs to be pressure canned only to kill the bad bugs? Also, I cook in a pressure cooker (have done for years even though was V scared to begin with) but bought a proper pressure canner to do meat, fish etc… also from the west coast, so my first shot was fresh caught coho and it was sooooo much better than the store bought stuff when we opened it!!PS love your blog.

    • Karen says:

      Penny. If your altitude is 0 – 1,000 (normal) then you would have your gauge at 10 lbs. If you’re 1,001 – 2,000 ft you would go to 11 lbs. Good luck! ~ karen

  25. Contrarian says:

    Respectfully, some of your terminology is wrong.

    One does not “jar” tomatoes, one “cans” them. Regardless of the container in which food is preserved, it’s “canned” food, not “jarred” food. (If you want to “jarred” tomatoes, slam them down on the counter, or call their mother a cucumber.)

    This may seem like a nitpick to some, but using made-up words makes the speaker sound foolish and ignorant.

  26. I’m writing a blog post on making chicken broth in pressure cooker and found your post. I also prefer canning my chicken broth rather than freezing and never thought about heating my jars in the oven! What a great idea!

  27. Teresa says:

    What is the brand name and where can you buy a pressure canner that holds more than 7 quart jars. I noticed that you canned with two layers of jars.

  28. Kathie says:

    A few years ago I began canning apricots, plums, and peaches from my trees in a water bath. This year I took the plunge and bought a pressure canner. I’ve canned split pea soup, lentil soup, and goulash. This weekend I plan to can chili made with ground turkey. I love the pressure canner. It’s a little scary the first few times, but I just read the instructions very carefully and very thoroughly every time and haven’t had any problems. I turn up my water heater to “high” when I’m going to be canning, and fill a deep dishpan with very hot water, then heat my jars in that.

  29. Theresa says:

    Ok, so I followed this recipe exactly, about a month or two ago. We’ve eaten a couple of cans of broth since then, but we just opened one up to find some dark grimey stuff on top. Seems like we shouldn’t eat it. Looking in from the side, the remaining jars all seem to have this issue. Did I do something wrong? Or does this always happen and they are ok to eat?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Theresa – If it’s greyish dots they’re fine. It’s probably marrow. And if it’s lighter it’s probably fat. Take it and squish it between your fingers. You’ll be able to feel right away if it’s fat because it’ll be greasy. The marrow will sort of mush apart and appear to be mushy grey stuff. It’s very hard to tell you what to do though, since I can’t see the jars and wasn’t there when you made it. But as I said, if it’s as I described it’s normal and will all disappear once heated. ~ karen!

  30. Sandra says:

    I have just canned some broth and soup. I have a large Pressure cooker and did a double layer of pints. My bottom layer is lighter in color (the same as the pre-canned color) the top layer is darker and clearer. Is this normal?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Sandra – I’ve never heard of that before. Did you pressure can it or hot water bath it. I assume you pressure canned it with the normal 2″ or so of water in the bottom. The only thing I can think is that when you were ladling your broth into the jars you weren’t stirring it, so the last jars you filled had all of the darker bits from the bottom of the pot. That’s quite a stretch though, LOL. I’m afraid I really have no idea what happened! 🙁 ~ karen

  31. Jeri Favreau says:

    I enjoyed the dialogue here! I have two compelling reasons to pressure can: 1. Freezer malfunction. My freezer had a meltdown of unknown origin and I lost everything. 2. I can reuse the jars…no plastic bags or containers in the landfill. No chemicals from the plastic. I have an All American pressure canner. I love it. Spend your money on quality and it’s American made! Happy canning and healthy eating!

    • Karen says:

      Glad you liked the post Jeri. But I’m Canadian so the made in America thing isn’t necessarily a selling point for me, lol. 😉 ~ karen!

  32. Pauline says:

    I’ve been canning now for about 2 years, I started because my husband sails on the west coast and one year did a circumnavigation of Vancouver Island and need food for almost a month that didn’t need refrigeration. I’ve been processing chilli, spaghetti sauce chicken pie filling and even took on a boeuf bourguignonne that they raved about. It’s been one of my most successful experiments. As I write I have 8 jars of condensed turkey broth on the go. I’ve read that all meat products need 70 minutes at 10lb pressure, is that what you’d recommend?

  33. Susan Boxwell says:

    I need one question answered please. Should water cover the jars when canning or not? I did chicken broth as you instructed, but books say water should cover the jars. You said that the water should come up at least half way when put in the canner. Which, or is both correct.
    Thank you,

    • Karen says:

      Hi Susan – It depends on what method you’re using. There are two canning methods, each for different purposes. There’s a boiling water bath (where the entire jar is covered), or pressure canning (where a smaller amount of water is put in the canner and then it’s brought up to pressure). For absolutely anything that includes meat (because it’s so low acid) you should be using pressure canning which gets to much higher temperatures than the boiling water bath in order to kill any bacteria, pathogens etc. Hope that helps. ~ karen!

      • Linda says:

        Thank you for a great blog – you are hilarious and very resourceful. I love DIY projects.

        I tend to do things and only read instructions once I mess up. I have the huge 22 quart All American canner. I canned tomato meat sauce for pasta and also roasted tomatoes using the pressure canner this year. Tomatoes I only pressure canned as I roasted them with olive oil. Now I covered jars with boiling water (an inch over the tops) and it took forever to bring this humongeous pot to full pressure (and that is with a commercial gas range). When I opened the cooled canner, the water was greasy and red from the tomatoes. The jars are sealed so I presume they are fine.

        Now, if I am reading your column correctly – I only need to have water halfway up the bottom jars. That would considerably speed up my canning time and hopefully eliminate the oozing from jars. I probably erred by overfilling them too.

        If the smaller amount of water is fine for all pressure canners, I will definitely use mine more often.

  34. Kim says:

    I have the same canner you do, and i used it for the first time the other day. My weight never jiggled! It was steaming and up to pressure, so I called the customer service number and they said they don’t jiggle anymore – just vent. Does yours actually jiggle?

    I’m so glad to see someone else using this canner successfully. I also didn’t know about the pressure monitor on the handle, and because it was red I was nervous my canner was at too high of pressure and turned it down. Another call to customer service told me it was to help monitor pressure (that’s mentioned on the box but not in my book). Needless to say the elk meat I processed was a fail. 🙁

    • Karen says:

      Hey Kim! Yeah it’s definitely not the most user friendly canner in the world, but really it’s one of the few on the market. My weight does jiggle (bangs really) and my canner is about 4 or 5 years old. Quite frankly I don’t think they know how their own canners work. And see, if that were me I’d be happy the elk meat failed, lol. My dad brought home hot venison pepperoni once and I’ve never been able to stomach game meat since then! ~ karen!

  35. Nusrat says:

    Hi Karen,

    I just came across your blog. Never really thought to can my chicken broth but, I wanted to ask you if you can the chicken broth how long is it good for?


    • Karen says:

      Hi Nusrat. I can’t say I’ve had my broth in my cupboard longer than a few months because I use it all the time, but it lasts for up to 2 years if you keep it in a cool (lower than 70 degrees), dark place. So just don’t store your cans in direct sun where it gets hot and you’re good. Give it a shot. I love having jars of broth to pop open instead of having to thaw bags of it (I used to freeze it). ~ karen!

  36. Corinne T. says:

    Have been canning for 2 years but have become a fanatic.. Have an All American 921 that will hold 7 quart jars at a time. Have canned smoked salmon, use it to make “bone broth” by pressure cooking beef (we raise cattle) and poultry bones (which become a powder that I use for bone meal). I then pressure can the jars of broth. Have solar electricity only so can’t always depend on the freezer. Going to be doing this with shellfish bones tomorrow. Seems I never have to throw anything away…. Love it… I was afraid of the pressure canner at first too…..

  37. Sandra says:

    My grandmother used to can poultry before the pressure canner was thought of. And, vegetables. She boiled them for a long time 🙂

    But, I did get a pressure canner when I lived in BC and got salmon from my Native friends to can ($4 per fish in those days). I should get it out again, because that was about 30 years ago. I’d prefer to have liquid broth instead of frozen (though I’m using the canning jars to freeze it in)!

    When I was married in 1978, one of the gifts was a pressure cooker; it’s still brand new. Guess I should put on my big girl panties and figure it out, too.

  38. Carolyn Marshall says:

    Thanks for the info. I had to purchase a new pressure canner and I cannot find instructions on how you to know which weight gauge to use. 5, 10 or 15?
    Can you help me to know? Thanks.

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