How To Can Potatoes

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.

potatoes
We had the best potato harvest ever this year, with over 100 lbs harvested. I froze several gallons of them {you can find that tutorial here}, but I wanted to can a bunch as well to keep for the months ahead.

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.

canning potatoes
Prepare potatoes for canning by washing and peeling them first. New potatoes can be scrubbed with a stiff brush without peeling. All other potatoes should be peeled. The bacteria that can cause botulism is found in the soil, so canning foods that grow in the soil with the skin intact – like potatoes, carrots, beets, or parsnips – can increase your risk of botulism, If you end up with tons of leftover skins, consider making fried potato skins for dinner or put the skins in your compost.

Keep a large bowl of cold water nearby to submerge your peeled potatoes in as you work, to keep them from turning brown.

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Cube the potatoes, and add them to a large pot. If your potatoes are small, you can preserve them whole. Either way, just make sure the chunks of potatoes are relatively uniform so that the pieces preserve evenly. If you already have an idea for how you want to use the potatoes, it’s not a bad idea to cut them up that way ahead of time. For example, if you want to use them for soups or stews you can dice them into small pieces while if they’re intended for mashing you can chunk them up larger. Cover the potatoes with water and boil for 10 minutes.

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Drain the potatoes. I use a large slotted spoon to scoop the potatoes out of the hot water since the pot I’m using is usually too heavy to lift and pour out.

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.

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Fill hot, sterilized jars with the hot potatoes, leaving 1″ headspace.

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Add 1 tsp. canning salt (or Kosher salt) to quart jars, if desired. This is for flavor only. If canning in pint jars, add 1/2 tsp salt. If you have a medical condition, I would avoid adding the salt. It does help preserve the taste and texture of potatoes, but is not crucial for successful canning.

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Ladle boiling water into jars, leaving 1″ headspace.

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.

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Use a wet cloth to wipe the rims clean, being sure to remove any food or salt particles which would prevent the lid from sealing. (Remember, even the tiniest chip or crack in the rim of a jar can cause seal failure, so it’s important to check your rims before filling the jars.) Likewise, make sure you are using fresh lids each time you can. While you can reuse the bands, you don’t want to reuse the lids as it can form an improper seal. This can cause your food to spoil prematurely.

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Place hot, previously simmered lids on filled jars.

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Screw the ring down tightly.

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Place filled jars in the pressure canner. If you’re using an All American Pressure Canner, the rack should be in the bottom of the canner along with 2″ water (which will obviously rise as you load the canner with jars). Be sure to consult your canner’s instructions if you are unsure of how much water to use.

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.

pressure canning
Place the lid on the canner, tighten it down, and turn the heat up to med-high. Once the canner begins to steam, allow it to vent for 10 min. Then place the regulator weight on the vent cap, and watch the pressure rise to 10 lbs. Then start your time. If the pressure fluctuates at all, you need to adjust your timer accordingly. It’s okay if the pressure wavers a bit between 9 and 12 pounds, but any more variation means you need to start over.

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)..)

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When the canning process is complete, turn the heat off and allow the canner’s pressure to drop back down to zero before removing the regulator weight and unscrewing the lid. Always be sure to take the lid off away from your face, as very hot steam will be escaping. 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.

Storage

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.

 Canning Potatoes

  • 2-3 lbs white/irish potatoes per quart
  • canning salt (optional)
  • water

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

Kendra
About Kendra 1107 Articles
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.

11 Comments

  1. We love canning potatoes, too! I add chicken stock to the potatoes’ water and then use a scant 1 tsp. to the potatoes before I pour that light broth over top and can them. It is simply an extra boost of flavor and nutrition since we make our own broth. It imparts a great flavor when I am super pressed on time without having to fuss but isn’t so powerful that it overtakes the dish I use them in. I can use the liquid, once it’s been thoroughly heated through, as a gravy base or as a ready soup broth or… (lots of uses there). On another note, we have a friend who puts a small dill sprig in a few of her quart jars with her potatoes and turns out the most amazing whipped potatoes during the holidays! Thanks for this great post!

  2. Kendra,
    I was trying to read back and see if you mentioned how you grew your potatoes this year to get such a good harvest but I can’t find a 2014 post. I vaguely remember you did a row planting, was that for this harvest? The potatoes look great and I was wondering if you did something new? We did well with a round potato “barrel” I made with welded wire and compost and straw! From 2# of seed potatoes we got 50#s of edibles but they were pretty small. Anyway, I’m curious because I’m always looking for improvements… By the way, I have noticed a taste difference between canned potatoes and other preserved potatoes, such as dehydrated and frozen. Has anyone else noticed that? Lastly, I have also used a pressure canner on a glass top (smooth top) stove for at least the last 7 years without a problem. I have a 7 quart Presto canner…

  3. I’ve canned potatoes before, just like your tutorial and they always do well. I love how when I’m in a rush I can just reheat, add seasoning and my family still gets good food! Also really cuts down the time when making mashed potatoes or veggy soup! They are easiest to can when they come straight out of the field.

  4. Never tried canning potatoes. I have always dehydrated them. I do can a lot of other veggies. Ball has changed their recommendation about letting the lids sit in hot water. In fact a lot of people have recently been reporting failure to seal. Once the stopped letting the lids steep in hot water the problem went away. From the Ball website:
    “After many years of research, it was determined that preheating Ball® and Kerr® lids is no longer necessary. The sealing compound used for our home canning lids performs equally well at room temperature as it does pre-heated in simmering water (180 degrees Fahrenheit). Simply wash lids in hot, soapy water, dry, and set aside until needed.”

    • Hi Dan,

      You know, somebody told me the same thing on Facebook the other day. I wasn’t aware of this change beforehand. I’ll probably continue simmering the lids, as I guess I’d feel they were better sanitized, but it’s good to know it isn’t necessary. Thanks for mentioning this here as well!

  5. Great tutorial! I’ve never tried canning potatoes but am getting more adventurous with my pressure canner! If you haven’t already I wold love you to share your post on the HomeAcre Hop today! – Nancy
    The Home Acre Hop

  6. Thank you, Kendra! I was thinking of purchasing the same canner you have and now I think I’ll go ahead and order it! Happy canning 🙂

  7. I am VERY interested in the fact that you are using a pressure cooker on a glass-top stove. I have NOT purchased a pressure cooker because I didn’t think I could put that weight on top of my stove. Has this not been a problem and have you not had problems regulated the heat? This make me think I can get one now…

    • I get this question a lot, Dana. And I actually go over all of the do’s and don’ts of canning on a flat top in my DVD. Short answer, YES, you can use a pressure canner on a flat top- if you’re CAREFUL. You cannot drop the canner or slide it, or you do risk damaging the surface of your stove. I’ve been doing it for almost 6 years now, with no problem. Also, don’t get a canner larger than a 21 quart, or it will definitely be too heavy.

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