Adjusting the processing time of your canning recipe based on your elevation or altitude sounds scary and is enough to make a beginning canner back up her canning jars and stick to freezer jam. Adjusting for altitude is actually very simple, and this post will explain exactly how to make the time adjustments so you know you are canning safely!
Adjusting for altitude when canning:
This is not as scary as it sounds. For every 1000 feet that you live (and thus are canning) above sea level, add 5 minutes to the processing time (the time the jars filled with food are in the boiling water bath or on the steam canner). We add additional time, as per official recommendations, to ensure that the food inside the jar is at the proper temperature for the correct length of time to kill spoilers. For example, those canning at 3000 feet elevation will add 15 minutes (5 minutes per each 1000 feet increment!) of processing time to all their canning recipes- go ahead and pencil in the additional time on all the recipes in your favorite cookbooks, Dear Reader! That way you won’t ever forget.
Why we have to adjust for altitude when canning:
It takes longer for water to boil the farther up in elevation you are, and the same is true for the contents of your canning jar. The inside of your canning jar takes longer (5 minutes longer per every 1000 feet!) to come to a boil and thus kill spoilers and force the oxygen OUT of the jar and create that nice seal we love to hear “ping!”
Which recipes need to be adjusted for altitude:
All canning recipes need to be adjusted. All of them 🙂 You’ll notice that on your box of muffin mix, there’s additional cooking time for higher elevations…everything takes a bit longer in the mountains!
How to adjust for altitude:
Add 5 minutes of processing time (once the hot jars full of hot food is submerged in the boiling water bath) to the time in the recipe. For example, if the recipe for jam says to process for 10 minutes, and you live at 2000 feet elevation, then you’ll be processing for a total of 20 minutes. 10 minutes is the base time, PLUS 5 minutes for each 1000 feet.
I made this beautiful, FREE, PDF printable for you to download so you can have a handy visual guide for adjusting for altitude. This would be especially helpful if you can in different locations (your summer vacation place versus your home, your hometown versus current home, etc.) Download it HERE and never wonder how to adjust for altitude again!
Want to learn more about the basics of canning? I have a FREE Canning Basics Course that I want to invite you to join. I’ll pop in your inbox with high value lessons to get you started canning the easy way! Sign up here!
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