Canning potatoes is a great way to store a glut of potatoes, to ensure they don’t go bad.
In exchange, you get jars of delicious-tasting potatoes that are ready to use in an instant for quick meals.
They are a great staple to provide to relatives such as aging parents and friends to make sure they are eating properly, too.
Potatoes must be pressure-canned; there is no alternative way to can them. Here we walk through the USDA procedures, which you’ll also find replicated in the books from Ball and Bernardin.
Note: potatoes must be peeled. Advice to the contrary elsewhere on the Internet is grossly uninformed. See notes below on this.
Note: the potatoes are to be canned in chunks. Not slices, not French fries shape, not shredded. Heat penetration patterns were not tested for those shapes / densities. The good news is: you can dehydrate those shapes and still end up with a high-quality product.
Quantities of potatoes needed
Numbers are approximate guidelines.
On average, as a very rough guideline, expect to need about 1 kg (2 1/4 lbs) of potatoes per 1 litre (US quart) jar of canned potatoes
- 1 large bag potatoes = 22 kg (50 lbs) = 18 to 22 litres (US quarts) canned potatoes
Jar size choices: Either half-litre (1 US pint) OR 1 litre (1 US quart)
Processing method: Pressure canning only
Headspace: 3 cm (1 inch)
Processing pressure: 10 lbs (69 kPa) weighted gauge, 11 lbs (76 kpa) dial gauge (adjust pressure for your altitude when over 300 metres / 1000 feet.)
Processing time: Half-litres (pints) 35 minutes; litres (quarts) 40 minutes.
Wash potatoes. Peel. Cut into 2 cm (1/2 inch) cubes. Small potatoes ( 3 to 5 cm / 1 to 2 inches) may be left whole.
Place in water as you cube them; don't leave peeled potato exposed to the air or most varieties will blacken on you.
Put a large pot of water onto boil. This will be your blanching water for the potato.
Put other water onto boil (either another pot, or a kettle.) This will be your canning water to fill the jars with.
Give prepped potatoes one final rinse.
Put potato in the large pot of water, bring to a boil. Boil cubes for 2 minutes, whole small potatoes for 10 minutes.
Pack into half-litre (US pint) jars or 1 litre (US quart) jars. (Optional: season with 1/2 teaspoon or a teaspoon of salt).
Leave 3 cm (1 inch) headspace.
Top up with your clean boiling water, maintaining headspace.
Debubble, adjust headspace.
Wipe jar rims.
Put lids on.
Processing pressure: 10 lbs (69 kPa) weighted gauge, 11 lbs (76 kpa) dial gauge (adjust pressure for your altitude when over 300 metres / 1000 feet.)
Processing time: half-litre (US pint) jars for 35 minutes OR 1 litre (US quart) jars for 40 minutes.
Processing guidelines below are for weighted-gauge pressure canner. See also if applicable: Dial-gauge pressures.
|Jar Size||Time||0 to 300 m (0 - 1000 feet) pressure||Above 300 m (1000 ft) pressure|
|1/2 litre (1 US pint)||35 mins||10 lbs||15 lb|
|1 litre (1 US quart)||40 mins||10 lbs||15 lb|
How to pressure can.
When pressure canning, you must adjust the pressure for your altitude.
More information about Salt-Free Canning in general.
Yes, you must peel the potatoes. Processing times were developed based on the potatoes being peeled, which reduces the bacterial load going into the jars. Leaving the peels on increases the bacterial load, so processing times would have to be lab-tested for that, and there is currently no funding for that at the present time.
The reason you wash before peeling is so that you aren’t pushing surface bacteria into the potato flesh while peeling.
See discussion below about using the blanching water in the jars. While Ball says you can, the National Center for Home Food Preservation feels that the water will contain a lot of starch and could cause density / heat penetration issues inside the jar, so they prefer clean, fresh hot boiling water from a kettle.
No salt is needed in the jars at all. However, the potatoes can indeed come out very bland all the way to their core, and when you go to use them, it can be very hard to compensate no matter what you do for that internal blandness. Try it yourself and you’ll see. But after a while, you may go along with the old timers’ suggestion of adding a few pinches of salt to the jars. You could also use a non-bitter, non-clouding salt sub. We have found Herbamare Sodium-Free performs well in that regard.
Don’t can leftover already-cooked potato, as it would decidedly turn to a mooshy paste and encounter density / heat issues in the jars.
Potatoes, White – Cubed or Whole. United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Complete guide to home canning. Agriculture information bulletin No. 539. 2015. Page 4-17.
Presuming either no added salt, or a salt sub used.
Serving size: 250 g, drained (about one half of a 1/2 litre / US pint jar, if 500 g went into the jar.)
Per 250 g (1/2 lb, drained): 193 calories
Weight Watchers PointsPlus®: 250 g = 6 points
* Nutrition info provided by https://caloriecount.about.com
* PointsPlus™ calculated by healthycanning.com. Not endorsed by Weight Watchers® International, Inc, which is the owner of the PointsPlus® registered trademark.
What varieties of potatoes are good for canning?
The National Center for Home Food Preservation has addressed this question on their blog:
White potatoes for canning should be the “waxy” or “boiling” kind. Different types of potatoes have different amounts and types of starches and they react to heating differently. You want a potato that keeps its shape and texture well after a lot of heating, and not one that falls apart, becomes “fluffy” after cooking, and is better for mashing. Most red-skin potatoes are of lower starch than baking potatoes and work well for canning. Many white round potatoes with thin skins fall into this category with red-skin potatoes too. Russets are not good for canning but are good for baking (they have a high starch content). Yukon Gold may not be the best potatoes for canning. While they seem good for boiling, they do tend to fall apart when overcooked. From what we have read, there is a wide variety in the types and amounts of starches in blue potatoes, so not all blues are the same, just like not all white potatoes are the same in these characteristics.”  NCHFP blog posting. Preserving Potatoes. 6 October 2014. Accessed July 2016.
Peeling the potatoes
You must peel potatoes before canning.
You may read a few bloggers saying they do not peel their potatoes for canning, but the National Center for Home Preservation explains the safety risk in not peeling them:
As for canning potatoes, our recommendation is to peel potatoes before canning. That style of preparation is how the research was carried out to determine the recommended processing, and in order to know that the peeling does or does not make a difference, research would need to be done with unpeeled potatoes. Different assumptions might be needed in assessing just how many spores of C. botulinum or other bacteria might be present at the start of the process and what amount of heat might be needed to meet standards for the risk of possible survivors. We do not know of research of canning potatoes with peels left on, so we recommend the preparation steps provided with the process recommendation, especially because there is a possibility that the deviation could result in a less safe situation.”  NCHFP blog posting. Preserving Potatoes. 6 October 2014. Accessed July 2016.
If you are concerned about food waste, wash the potatoes before peeling, then peel them, and then make a potato peel broth from the peels, and freeze for a future use. It’s actually a delicious base for soups and sauces.
Washing the potatoes
The USDA is the only guide that doesn’t specify washing again after peeling (though they do for carrots).
They just say,
Wash and peel potatoes. Place in ascorbic acid solution to prevent darkening…. Drain.”  National Center for Home Food Preservation. Selecting, Preparing and Canning Vegetables: Potatoes, White – Cubed or Whole. Accessed May 2015.
The Ball / Bernardin Complete Book authors want two washes:
Wash potatoes and drain. Peel and wash again.”  Kingry, Judi and Lauren Devine. Bernardin Complete Book of Home Preserving. Toronto, Canada: Robert Rose Inc. 2015. Page 392.
The Ball Blue book does, too:
Wash white potatoes under cold running water; drain. Peel potatoes. Rinse under cold running water.”  Ball Blue Book. Muncie, Indiana: Healthmark LLC / Jarden Home Brands. Edition 37. 2014. Page 116
As does Presto:
Wash, scrape and rinse…”  Presto Pressure Canner and Cooker, 23 quart model, #72-719F. 2014. p 41
So the USDA, even though they are the authority, are the odd-man out on this.
How big for the pieces of potato?
Ball and Bernardin talk about quartering large potatoes, but because some potatoes such as russets can grow large — that, when contrasted with the max 2 to 2 1/2 inch (5 to 6 cm) size otherwise specified, makes it all a bit unclear.
The USDA says,
Choose potatoes 1 to 2 inches in diameter if they are to be packed whole…. If desired, cut into 1/2-inch cubes….”  National Center for Home Food Preservation. Selecting, Preparing and Canning Vegetables: Potatoes, White – Cubed or Whole. Accessed May 2015.
Ball / Bernardin Complete Book says,
Leave small potatoes whole and cut large potatoes into quarters or small uniform cubes…”  Kingry, Judi and Lauren Devine. Bernardin Complete Book of Home Preserving. Toronto, Canada: Robert Rose Inc. 2015. Page 392.
Ball’s Blue Book says,
Potatoes that are under 2 inches in diameter or smaller may be canned whole. Cut large potatoes into quarters.”  Ball Blue Book. Muncie, Indiana: Healthmark LLC / Jarden Home Brands. Edition 37. 2014. Page 116
Presto likes the same, small-size cubes that the USDA does:
… new potatoes 1 to 2 1/2 inches in diameter. If desired, cut into 1/2 inch cubes.”  Presto Pressure Canner and Cooker, 23 quart model, #72-719F. 2014. p 41
How long to parboil the potato before canning?
Ball’s Blue Book wants 10 minutes of blanching for all sizes of pieces; the other guides are 2 minutes for small cubes, 10 minutes for larger pieces.
If desired, cut into 1/2-inch cubes…. Cook 2 minutes in boiling water and drain again. For whole potatoes, boil 10 minutes and drain.”  National Center for Home Food Preservation. Selecting, Preparing and Canning Vegetables: Potatoes, White – Cubed or Whole. Accessed May 2015.
Ball / Bernardin Complete says,
Boil small cubes for 2 minutes and small whole potatoes or quartered potatoes for 10 minutes…”  Kingry, Judi and Lauren Devine. Bernardin Complete Book of Home Preserving. Toronto, Canada: Robert Rose Inc. 2015. Page 392.
The Blue Book says 10 minutes, flat:
Put white potatoes in a large saucepan. Add water to cover potatoes. Bring mixture to a boil; boil 10 minutes.”  Ball Blue Book. Muncie, Indiana: Healthmark LLC / Jarden Home Brands. Edition 37. 2014. Page 116
Presto is like the others, 2 minutes for small pieces, 10 minutes for larger:
Cover potatoes with hot water, bring to a boil and boil whole potatoes for 10 minutes, cubes for 2 minutes….”  Presto Pressure Canner and Cooker, 23 quart model, #72-719F. 2014. p 41
Packing water for canned potatoes
Ball says you can use the water you parboiled the potatoes in; the other three (USDA, Ball / Bernardin Complete and Presto) insist on fresh, boiling water, and the NCFHP specifically says not to use the parboiling water. The parboiling water will contain a great deal of starch, and in the jars with the potatoes could cause density issues for the processing times that were tested. Plus, you would end up with a lot of undesirable looking goopy sludge in your jars. (Tip! Freeze the parboiling water in tubs, for a start to some great soups.)
The National Center for Home Food Preservation says,
Cover hot potatoes with FRESH boiling water, leaving 1-inch headspace and covering all pieces of potato. (Caution: Do not use the water you cooked the potatoes in; it contains too much starch.)  National Center for Home Food Preservation. Selecting, Preparing and Canning Vegetables: Potatoes, White – Cubed or Whole. Accessed May 2015.
They elaborate further in their blog,
….all potatoes — white or sweet — should have fresh, boiling water prepared to pour over the preheated potatoes. Do not use the cooking liquid. That cooking water contains a lot of starch that comes out of the potatoes and the process time was determined using fresh boiling water to cover. The added starch can create a safety problem by slowing down heating of the potatoes in the canner, and it also creates a very unappealing pack with possible masses of gelled or congealed starches around the potatoes. If you have spoilage, this makes it very hard to see the signs of some spoilage.” NCHFP blog posting. Preserving Potatoes. 6 October 2014. Accessed July 2016.
Ball / Bernardin Complete says,
[Discard] cooking liquid. Pack potatoes into hot jars, as directed in Step 3, ladling in fresh boiling water to cover potatoes.”  Kingry, Judi and Lauren Devine. Bernardin Complete Book of Home Preserving. Toronto, Canada: Robert Rose Inc. 2015. Page 392.
Ball says you can use the blanching liquid:
Ladle hot cooking liquid or boiling water over potatoes….”  Ball Blue Book. Muncie, Indiana: Healthmark LLC / Jarden Home Brands. Edition 37. 2014. Page 116
But Presto implies it wants boiling water, as opposed to boiling blanching or cooking liquid:
Cover with boiling water…”  Presto Pressure Canner and Cooker, 23 quart model, #72-719F. 2014. p 41
Advice on canning white potatoes only entered the Ball Blue Book in 1936. (Prior to then, it was only sweet potato.) At the time, the book allowed for either pressure-canning or water-bath canning them. Ball Blue Book. Edition T. 1936. Page 23. Over the next ten years, while their pressure canning processing time recommendation held steady at 45 minutes, their water-bath time recommendation kept increasing, from 2 hours, to 2.5 hours, to 3 hours. By 1953 — Edition 26 of the Blue Book — the water-bath option had been dropped, and the pressure canning advice was ” Wash, scrape, and rinse freshly dug potatoes. Boil 10 minutes. Pack, hot, into hot Ball Jars. Add 1 teaspoon salt to each quart. Cover with boiling water. Process pints 30 minutes, quarts 40 minutes, at 10 pounds pressure.”  Ball Blue Book. Edition 26. 1953. Page 48.
As far as the Cooperative Extension System goes, the advice to pressure can potatoes, as opposed to water-bath them, has been in place since at least 1942. Here’s what the University of California Extension advised back then:
NEW POTATOES: Peel, pack in jars or cans. Fill with dilute brine, containing 2 per cent salt or about 1 level teaspoon per quart of water. Heat the cans in steam or boiling water 5 minutes and seal them. Handle jars as with string beans or peas. Sterilize quart and smaller containers at 240° F (10 pounds’ pressure) for 40 minutes and 2 quart size jars, or no. 10 cans, for 60 minutes.”  Cruess, W.V. and A.W. Christie. Home Canning. Circular 276, revised Augusts 1942. University of California Agricultural Experiment Station. Page 38.
[Note: to be clear, this is historical reference only, and the 2 quart size jar recommendation has been withdrawn since then.]
For the first half of the 1900s, though, the USDA as a whole didn’t offer any advice for home canning white potatoes — only sweet potatoes. They advised people just to store them in cellars instead. Here’s the USDA’s advice from 1943:
The home economists of the Department of Agriculture do not advise canning either hominy or potatoes. Neither of these foods needs to be canned to keep…. Most people who grow potatoes store them in a pit or down in the cellar. Potatoes are bulky. If you canned them, they would take a good many jars — too many jars that should be used for other canned food. Jars or cans are precious these days. .. should be used only for putting up foods that must be canned to keep. In any case, both hominy and potatoes are non-acid foods, so would need canning under steam pressure. Nowadays, it is difficult to get new pressure canners. But by all means save the hominy and the potatoes in some way. All food is valuable in wartime and needs saving. Store your potatoes in a cool place. . . around 40 degrees if possible to prevent sprouting.” USDA. Homemaker’s Chat. 24 June 1943. Page 2.
In 1975, Extension System canning advice for potatoes re-emerged in a 1975 publication from Illinois State extension. “Pare” means “peel”.
Home canning of potato advice was formally accepted and incorporated in the first USDA Complete Guide 1988, with the recommendations that are still current today: 10 lbs pressure weighted gauage (11 lbs dial), adjusted for altitude. Pints 35 minutes, quarts 40.
A 2015 botulism outbreak in Ohio was caused by water-bath canned potatoes.  Herriman, Robert. Ohio botulism outbreak: Potato salad with home-canned potatoes made using a boiling water canner. Outbreak News Today. 2 August 2015. Canning experts termed the potatoes “grossly underprocessed.” The water-bath home-canned potatoes sent 29 people to the hospital with botulism. A woman named Kim Shaw, 55, from Rushville, Ohio, died of it.
Cooking with canning
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||NCHFP blog posting. Preserving Potatoes. 6 October 2014. Accessed July 2016.|
|2.||↑||NCHFP blog posting. Preserving Potatoes. 6 October 2014. Accessed July 2016.|
|3, 15.||↑||National Center for Home Food Preservation. Selecting, Preparing and Canning Vegetables: Potatoes, White – Cubed or Whole. Accessed May 2015.|
|4, 8, 12, 17.||↑||Kingry, Judi and Lauren Devine. Bernardin Complete Book of Home Preserving. Toronto, Canada: Robert Rose Inc. 2015. Page 392.|
|5, 9, 13, 18.||↑||Ball Blue Book. Muncie, Indiana: Healthmark LLC / Jarden Home Brands. Edition 37. 2014. Page 116|
|6, 10, 14, 19.||↑||Presto Pressure Canner and Cooker, 23 quart model, #72-719F. 2014. p 41|
|7, 11.||↑||National Center for Home Food Preservation. Selecting, Preparing and Canning Vegetables: Potatoes, White – Cubed or Whole. Accessed May 2015.|
|16.||↑||NCHFP blog posting. Preserving Potatoes. 6 October 2014. Accessed July 2016.|
|20.||↑||Ball Blue Book. Edition T. 1936. Page 23.|
|21.||↑||Ball Blue Book. Edition 26. 1953. Page 48.|
|22.||↑||Cruess, W.V. and A.W. Christie. Home Canning. Circular 276, revised Augusts 1942. University of California Agricultural Experiment Station. Page 38.|
|23.||↑||USDA. Homemaker’s Chat. 24 June 1943. Page 2.|
|24.||↑||Herriman, Robert. Ohio botulism outbreak: Potato salad with home-canned potatoes made using a boiling water canner. Outbreak News Today. 2 August 2015.|