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History of Water Bath Canning Low-Acid Foods

Canning has been around for a long time and we didn’t always have the recommendations of pressure canning low-acid foods.

In 1917, the USDA started the recommendation of using a pressure canner for low-acid foods. Probably due to cost of a pressure canner, people often still water bath canned low-acid foods.

Even canning cookbooks from big names such as Ball/Kerr didn’t start to really force the recommendation of pressure canning until about the 1980’s (we couldn’t pinpoint the exact year, but we know of cookbooks in the late 1970’s that still had water bath conversion charts). These cookbook instructions also noted that you should boil the contents of your water bathed, low-acid jars for 10-15 minutes before consuming (this kills botulism that may have formed).

To this day, people still water bath can low-acid foods and people in other countries still use various other methods of home food preservation passed down from generations.

Please note: The following charts are for historical/educational purposes only and it is now recommended by the USDA that you pressure can low-acid foods. Use your own discretion when canning.

Water Bath Conversion Times for Low-Acid Foods

Meat Water Bath Times

Note: The time given in this table applies to both pint and quart jars. All meats, poultry and fish must be boiled in an open vessel for 10-15 minutes before tasting or consuming.

Meats do not require any additional liquid for raw packing. Pack meats loosely in jar to 1″ headspace.

Type of MeatBoiling Water Bath - MinutesPressure Canning - MinutesPressure Canning - Pounds of Pressure
Lamb, Veal, Beef, Steak1807510
Tenderloin, Ham, Porkchops1807510
Chicken, Rabbit, Duck, Turkey1807510
Deer, Wild Birds, Geese1807510
Fish, All Kinds2409010

Vegetable Water Bath Times

Note: The water bath times in this table apply to pints and quarts. All low-acid vegetables listed must be boiled in an open vessel for 10-15 minutes before tasting or consuming.

VegetableBoiling Water Bath - MinutesPressure Canning - MinutesPressure Canning - Pounds of Pressure
Asparagus18025 pints / 40 quarts10
Beans. Baked18020 pints / 25 quarts10
Beans, String or Wax18020 pints / 25 quarts10
Beans, Lima18035 pints / 60 quarts10
Beets12025 pints / 40 quarts10
Brussels Sprouts or Cabbage12045 pints / 55 quarts10
Carrots12020 pints / 25 quarts10
Cauliflower or Brocolli15025 pints / 40 quarts10
Corn (Whole Grain)21055 pints / 65 quarts10
Greens, All Kinds18045 pints / 70 quarts10
Hominy12040 pints / 40 quarts10
Mushrooms18025 pints / 35 quarts10
Okra18025 pints / 40 quarts10
Onions18040 pints / 40 quarts10
Parsnips or Turnips9020 pints / 25 quarts10
Peas18040 pints / 40 quarts10
Peppers (Green, Sweet)12035 pints / 35 quarts10
Peppers (Pimiento)4010 pints / 10 quarts5
Potatoes, Irish18040 pints / 40 quarts10
Pumpkin18060 pints / 80 quarts10
Rutubagas9035 pints / 35 quarts10
Soybeans21080 pints / 80 quarts10
Spinach18045 pints / 70 quarts10
Squash (Summer, Acorn or Zucchini)18030 pints / 40 quarts10
Squash (Crookneck, Hubbard or Banana)18060 pints / 80 quarts10
Sweet Potatoes (Dry)18065 pints / 95 quarts10
Sweet Potatoes (Wet)18055 pints / 90 quarts10
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