Hot Water Bath Canning Part 1

Hot Water Bath Canning Part 1
article writer
by Stephen Post
September 8, 2020, Updated October 28, 2022

Since it is CPS Canning Month, let's take a closer look at hot water bath canning. This blog post gives an overview, but we are going to delve deeper into this method. But before we actually get into the process, there are a few things you need to know. The following tips and guidelines will help you safely and successfully preserve your harvest.

Food Type for Hot Water Bath Canning

If this is your first venture into the canning field, then you may be wondering, What exactly can I can? For this series, we are talking about hot water bath, or boiling water, canning. This method of processing jars of food can safely be used for high-acid foods. These foods are either naturally high in acid or have high amounts of acid added to them. They have a pH of 4.6 or lower. This acidity prevents dangerous bacteria from growing. Some high-acid foods are tomatoes (usually; add lemon juice for safety), lemons, peaches, pickles, sauerkraut, cherries, and blackberries.

Low-acid foods must be processed using a steam-pressure canner. This method heats the jars to 240 ° Fahrenheit, thus prohibiting dangerous toxins like botulism. Low-acid foods include carrots, beets (except when pickled), peas, corn, and green beans.

Food Quality

If you've ever eaten applesauce or peaches straight from the jar, you know these foods can be very delicious. But just because you put food into a jar doesn't mean it will end up tasty; you have to start with good food first! Choose fruits and vegetables that are at the peak of freshness and flavor. Avoid rotten, moldy, insect-damaged, or overripe foods. Cut out any bruises, spots, or blemishes. Also be sure to preserve your food as soon as possible after it is picked to ensure freshness and safety. Waiting before canning your food increases the risk of spoilage.

Altitude Adjustments for Hot Water Bath Canning

If you live more than 1,000 feet above sea level, you will need to increase your processing time. This is because the air pressure is lower at higher elevations, resulting in a lower boiling temperature for water. At sea level, water boils at about 212 ° Fahrenheit. But at 6,000 feet of elevation, water boils at about 201 ° Fahrenheit! So to safely process your food, you'll need to boil it longer. Here's a chart showing how much you should increase your processing times (source):


Altitude (Feet)Increase Processing Time
1,001-3,0005 minutes
3,000-6,00010 minutes
6,001-8,00015 minutes
8,001-10,00020 minutes


Now that you know a little bit about what foods you can use with hot water bath canning, you are ready to start canning. In the next article, we'll discuss what supplies you will need (peek here for a preview from Container & Packaging Supply) and how hot water bath canning actually works. By the end, you're going to be ready to make salsa, applesauce, and grape jelly. Let the canning commence!