If you grow potatoes, you likely know that their harvest is usually a feast- or famine-type situation. You either have a huge harvest…or none at all. If you are lucky enough to have a large potato harvest, only half the battle is over. Now you need to figure out how to store them!
Potatoes are finicky and it can be difficult to store them. If you keep them in a root cellar, they must be kept away from apples (which cause them to sprout and rot prematurely), and they can’t get damp or too warm (or cold!). While you can freeze or even dehydrate potatoes, canning is a great way to store potatoes for use throughout the year.
Whether you had an amazing garden harvest or your local grocery store put spuds on sale, canning potatoes is a great way to preserve them. Plus, canned potatoes are super convenient to heat and eat, or mix with milk and mash for creamy mashed potatoes.
As you can see, some of our potatoes were exposed to sunlight and turned a little green. Always cut or peel away any green on potatoes to avoid the dangerous toxins present there. Potatoes are a nightshade vegetable, so they technically aren’t safe to consume unless they are cooked first.
Any kind of potato can be used for canning. Red skinned potatoes tend to work best, as they are less starchy than other varieties.
Keep a large bowl of cold water nearby to submerge your peeled potatoes in as you work, to keep them from turning brown.
Meanwhile, get a small pot of hot water simmering, and allow your canning lids to simmer (not boil) for 10 minutes. Keep them hot.
Also, fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil.
Use a plastic or wooden utensil (not metal) to poke around in the jars to remove air bubbles. Add more water as necessary to maintain 1″ headspace.
Important: You absolutely MUST use a pressure canner for canning potatoes (and any other low acid foods, ie: vegetables and meats). Canning potatoes in a water bath canner risks poisoning your family with botulism. Please don’t chance it.
Adjust your heat accordingly to maintain the correct pressure. I usually turn mine down to medium heat for the remainder of the session.
Process pints for 35 min., quarts for 40 min. at 10 lbs pressure. (If you live above 1000 ft. you’ll want to can at 15 lbs. pressure.) and those at other high altitudes will need to adjust the pressure accordingly as well)..)
You have likely heard horror stories from your parents or grandparents about pressure canners being extremely dangerous. This is the part of the canning process that is the most risky. If you open the canner lid before the pressure has gone back down, you can really burn yourself (or even cause a mini-explosion).
A good tip is to do your canning in the evening. Then, you can let your canner sit all night before you need to open it. This gives you plenty of time to let the canner rest, and you won’t feel tempted to open it before the pressure has gone down.
Using a jar lifter tool, remove the jars from the canner and place them on a cooling rack or towel for 24 hours before testing the seals. To test the seals, remove the ring from the lid and pull up on the metal lid with your fingers. It should not come off. If it does, the lid has not sealed and you’ll need to put that jar in the fridge to be eaten in the next few days.
Store home canned goods in a cool place away from direct sunlight for best quality. It is best to consume home canned goods within a year for highest nutritional value, but they can be safely stored for many years- although taste, texture, and nutrients will diminish over time.
Potatoes are naturally starchy, so over time you will notice that the liquid in the jars will turn cloudy or even white. This is normal. Also, if any of the potatoes are poking up above the liquid in the jar, you may notice that they’ll turn brown over time. This is okay, but isn’t very appetizing. I usually discard those parts, just for appearances.
- 2-3 lbs white/irish potatoes per quart
- canning salt (optional)
Peel and wash potatoes. Drain. Cube potatoes. Cover potatoes with water in a large pot; boil 10 min. Drain. Pack hot potatoes into hot jars, leaving 1″ headspace. Add 1/2 tsp salt per pint, 1 tsp per quart, as desired. Ladle boiling water into jars, leaving 1″ headspace. Remove air bubbles. Adjust previously simmered lid and ring. Process pints 35 min., quarts 40 min. at 10 lbs pressure in a pressure canner.
Now, you may be reading this and wondering, “I have all of my potatoes taken care of – but what about my sweet potatoes?” Luckily, canning sweet potatoes is also relatively easy if you have a pressure canner and a little bit of extra time.
Sweet potatoes, like regular potatoes, do store relatively well in cool storage, with larger potatoes storing longer than small ones. However, canning is a great way to preserve these beauties if you don’t have the space to store them whole, or if you don’t have a root cellar. Canning is also a great way to preserve potatoes and sweet potatoes that were accidentally damaged during harvesting, as these tend to spoil more quickly than unblemished vegetables.
To can sweet potatoes, you should begin by removing any dirt or roots from the tubers. Then, peel the skin and cut away any bad spots, just as you would with a regular potato. Sweet potatoes turn brown if you leave them out in the air for too long. To prevent this from happening while you are readying your other ingredients, place the peeled tubers in warm water.
Prepare a pot of water and bring it to a boil. While the water is boiling, you can cut your sweet potatoes. Again, think of how you plan to use them after they have been canned, and cut them accordingly. As you cut the pieces, return them to the warm water to prevent any discoloration.
Fill your (clean) canning jars with the sweet potatoes and shake them to help them balance themselves out in the jar. Pack them tight, as they tend to shrink during the canning process. Add your canning salt, if desired, and then fill the jars with boiling water. Leave about an inch of headspace before applying your bands and lids.
Jars of sweet potatoes should be placed in the pressure canner as soon as the water is close to boiling. You can usually put around seven quarts or eighteen pints in a canner at a time. Process them at 10 lbs pressure. Quarts take ninety minutes, while pints only need about seventy.
Follow the same guidelines for removing your jars of sweet potatoes as you would for other vegetables using a canner. Do not remove the lid until the pressure has gone back down. Let the jars cool at room temperature.
Your jars might seep some fluid during canning. This isn’t a problem, but since sweet potatoes are high in sugar, you might notice that the canning jars are unusually sticky after you have removed them. This isn’t dangerous, and just means you’ll need to wipe them down thoroughly before storing them to avoid attracting pests.
Canned sweet potatoes can be used in countless ways, but one of the most popular ways is to make mashed sweet potatoes or sweet potato pie. Like regular potatoes, canned sweet potatoes will store indefinitely in a cool, dry, and dark location and are incredibly versatile in any homesteader’s diet.
Canned potatoes work great for a quick meal, or even in a mashed potato dish. Since they become a little bit mushier when they’re canned (obviously, because they are being preserved in water!) you don’t want to use them for frying, baking, or roasting. However, they are tasty in soups and stews and can even be served fresh as long as you don’t mind the texture.
Have you canned potatoes? What’s your favorite way to use them?
updated by Rebekah White 07/08/2018
A city girl learning to homestead on an acre of land in the country. Wife and homeschooling mother of four. Enjoying life, and everything that has to do with self sufficient living.