What Is Open Kettle Canning?

Open kettle canning is a process that just won’t die – but should.

peach butter and canned mixed fruit

Many of us have fond memories of canning and preserving with our mothers and grandmothers. We pass down family canning recipes (Russian Bear pickles and chokecherry jelly in my family) and preferences. Canning and preserving stories are the fabric that binds multiple generations together. I love the idea that my grandchildren may someday make the same recipes with their grandchildren that I made with my grandmother.

But times change. Most family jam or pickle recipes can be updated to meet our safer, more modern techniques, just don’t forget that the process used needs to be updated too.

What is open kettle canning?

One old-time process that is still hanging around is open kettle canning. What is open kettle canning? If you ever watched your mom pour hot jam into jars, cover and invert them, that is open kettle canning. It is basically the process of letting the hot food help form a jar seal, but leaving out the water bath or pressure canning safety step.

Is open kettle canning safe?

Needless to say, open kettle canning is not safe. Jams and jellies made using this non-process have a high spoilage rate, ruining your hard work! What’s even more distressing is that a non-processed, vacuum sealed jar is the perfect environment for botulism spores to multiply. Remember, just because a jar is sealed doesn’t mean that it is safe.

So it is time for this old technique to die now. Remember all canned products must be processed, either by water bath or pressure canning – according to the recipe directions. If your old family recipe calls for the open kettle technique, find a similar approved recipe in a modern canning guide and follow that. And write down the updated process – your grandchildren will thank you some day!

Related Posts

Canning and Preserving Journal

Botulism – Not an Old Wives’ Tale

Master Food Preserver – A Growing Trend

by Renee Pottle

Renee Pottle, a freelance writer and Home Economist, is fanatic about all things food. She blogs about canning and food preservation at SeedToPantry.com. Find her professional food writing info at PenandProvisions.com.

April 14, 2015

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