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Is It Safe To Can Your Homemade Chili, Soups, and Stews?

>2 January 2011
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Since first writing this article, I’ve learned to can MANY meals in a jar. YES, you can absolutely can your own soups, stews, and chili- as long as you have a pressure canner. If I can learn to do it, there’s no reason you can’t too. So jump on in and give it a try! You’ll be so glad you did.

I’ve heard a lot of other people saying that they like to whip up a huge batch of their favorite chili or soup and can the leftovers for a stash of easy convenience foods in a jar. Jackie Clay from Back Woods Home has said that it’s safe to can your own recipe of chili (beans and all) as long as you process it in a pressure canner at 10 lbs pressure for 90 minutes for quart sized jars.

I guess I’m wondering though, how do you know what is okay to can? I know there are some things that aren’t too tasty to put in a jar, like broccoli for instance. Sometimes the flavor changes after being canned. Sometimes things just turn to mush. Would I just have to learn through trial and error?

Does anybody know any “rules” about canning your own recipes for quick convenience meals? Would I just base my processing times on the ingredient that needs to be canned the longest (like, if there’s chicken in the soup then I would process the jars for as long as chicken by itself needs to be processed, since meat needs more time than veggies)?

How do you experienced canners do it?

Does anybody have a favorite chili, soup, stew or chowder recipe that you love to can and always comes out delicious? Please, people, share what you know!

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  • Kimberly said:

    I’ve been wondering the same thing. I look forward to seeing what the more experienced canners can share.

  • Kris Watson said:

    I teach canning classes and do quite a lot of canning of home recipes. There are a few hard and fast rules that I follow, such as:

    No dairy.
    No rice or pasta.
    Barley is okay, such as in veg-beef soup.
    Always pressure can, never water bath.
    Do not thicken soups or stews when canning. Do this when serving.
    Pre-soak and partially cook beans before canning. 1/3 of the jar is beans, 2/3 is water.
    Spices and herbs increase in strength over time, so go light with them or add at service.
    Never can a recipe that includes the herb sage. It becomes bitter when canned.

    Try canningusa.com and paulnoll.com for step-by-step instructions, pictures, and videos. The Nolls use a steam canner. Would not recommend that.

  • Lanna said:

    Yup to what Kris said.
    My own fun tidbit? Beware of over-cooking. I’ve tinkered with my MIL’s spaghetti sauce recipe – she simmers it for 4-6 hours on the stove. I have to more simmer it for 30-some minutes and *then* can it, otherwise it tastes burnt upon opening it later on. Ah, good ole trial and error. :)

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    Thank you Kris! That was exactly the kinda info I was looking for :)

  • Cathy Ethier said:

    What I do every year is make a vegetable soup base. I will cook tomatoes and frozen mixed vegetables together. I keep my jars in the oven to keep them warm and put the soup in the jars and seal. I just let the heat from the soup make the seal. We don’t put meat in it AT ALL. I will make a chicken, roast or some form of meat and add the leftovers of it, to the soup mix and make a pot of soup. This works great on those nights that we are out working and don’t have anything really “planned”. I have had great success with this….

  • Lynda said:

    I can everything and I have for years. I have ham and beans, spagetti sauce, baked beans, beef stew, lamb stew with barley, whole chicken, beef cubes, sausage patties, chili, beef stock, chicken stock,pinto beans, kidney beans, navy beans, smoked trout,tomato soup, chicken noodle soup, beef vegetable soup, apple pie filling, cherry pie filling, peach pie filling…if it fits in my jar, I’ll can it. You can find canning information just by Googling. I use my favorite Amish cookbook…even tells you how to make leaf lard and pie crust for 100 pies and bushel baskets of cookies!

  • barbara gantt said:

    I can tomatoes with veggies to use in soup. Example, tomatoes, peas, carrots, onions. You do use the food with the longest canning time to process. Only pressure canning. I have not canned meat. I freeze it instead. Barbara

  • kattmaxx said:

    I would get the latest Ball canning book. They err on the side of safety so you would be sure of the food you are serving your family.

  • Heidi said:

    I love canning chicken… I used Wendy Dewitt Youtube videos and checked the information with my canner instructions and … well all of the links are listed in this post:

    I’m going to can more next week!

  • Rachel said:

    Whenever you’re canning things like soups, where you have several things jumbled together, always set your processing time for the most low-acid ingredient in there. For example; if you’re canning chili, your main ingredients are going to be tomatoes, beef, and other vegetables. Since you’ll be canning meat, you definitely need to pressure can your creation. Find out the processing time for beef; and then add on an extra 10 – 15 minutes for good measure.

    Hope that helps!

  • Dana said:


    Could I please have the name of your Amish Cookbook? It sounds just like the one I had and I loved it dearly, I moved and I haven’t found it yet and I really miss it!!

    The one I had, had recipes just like your describing and also stories and such,like what you would need for a wedding of 100 guests etc.


  • Lynda said:

    Dana: It’s called *Amish Cooking* compilied by a Committee of Amish Women…Deluxe Edition Herald Press Scottdale, Pennsylvania Waterloo, Ontario. I also use my 1974 copy of Stocking Up and my Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. Hope that helps.

  • Diane in TX said:

    Check out these ladies. They can everything!

    Enola Gay just wrote an article in Backwoods Home about canning bacon! She also cans cheese and lots of other stuff! Her family is still alive and thriving!

    Check out her latest refried beans canning adventure!

    I love to can chili. It is so nice to just pour it out of a jar instead of trying to thaw it out from the freezer.

  • Pat said:

    We use this USDA canning guide as the definitive guide as to what we are able to can and processing times. Very handy resource, considering our tax dollars paid for all the research. It is a pretty thick book and the recipes are not too bad either.


  • Black Star Ranch said:

    The Mrs and I can most everything. What’s most popular with the teenagers and myself is the chili (both beef and chicken), beef stew, ham & bean soup, meatloaf, spaghetti sauce, whole chicken, pears, peaches, and spiced apples. There’s no better place for an old retired layer than in a batch of chicken chili. The boys won’t even wait for it to be warmed up – they devour it right out of the jar.

    Kendra keep up the good work – I love this place! You and your readers are a wealth of information…..Thank you.

  • Lauren said:

    Another great canning book is “Putting Up” by Steve Dowdney. He is coming out next month with a second volume of this book and he has a website http://www.puttingup.com. Thanks for a great informative website!

  • shirley said:

    What can you tell us about dehydrating, such as pasta, veg, and meat.?
    Have you ever made your own Mountian House packet where ou just add water and let sit for few minutes??

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:


    I am still somewhat new to using my dehydrator, and have only experimented with a few things. I was just wondering the other day how I could make something like Ramen noodles though! I’m sure there’s a way to do these things yourself.

  • aaron said:

    to make a ramen type of noodle I make my own fresh pasta, or parboil it (just a couple minutes in boiling water, till it’s soft on the outside but still hard on the inside). Rinse and dry it VERY well on towels. Then drop it in very hot oil until its golden, but not brown. Blot out as much oil as you can. Dehydrate or bake on low until very crunchy, then bag it up or dry can it. It should cook up in boiling water in a couple minutes. However, if you make fresh pasta, you can just freeze it, and dry pasta is easy enough on its own, but if you really want that Ramen feel, this is the way to go.

  • Ann said:

    It’s fine to PRESSURE can your own recipes if you follow the basic rules like adding starches later, and your processing time depends on ALTITUDE so call your local University Extension to verify processing times locally if you can’t figure it out based on processing tables.

    As for veggie items done in a water bath, no you should not do your own recipes. One reason is that the amount of acid has to be sufficient to kill botulism spores (among other things), otherwise they produce poison toxins that could easily kill a person.

    With fruits there is more leeway (not botulism, just regular food poisoning is your risk). You can follow your own recipes, but you need to replace cornstarch or other thickners with clear gel when making pie fillings (it tolerates higher heat, is more stable, produces a better product) and it still isn’t advisable to do sugar free stuff for home canning as sugar is the only preservative that we use when canning versus commercial canners now producing “no sugar added” canned peaches and the like.

    Personally, I made soup with a pressure canner last year, and now I’m afraid to eat it! I am a fan of making chili sauce, canned tomatos (can be done in water bath since lemon juice is added), and pickled veggies like dilly beans as well as fruit pie fillings.

  • Julie said:

    A novice canner needs some advice! In the midst of canning chicken soup I was called away on a family emergency. The soup was only able to process for 40 minutes – the instructions stated it needed to process for an hour and ten minutes. The jars sealed. Can I reprocess for another 30 minutes or do I take the soup at a loss? Thanks for any help!

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    Julie- I hate that you got called away right in the middle of things! I wish I knew the safe answer to this… but I’m just not sure myself :( I’d contact my county extension and ask an expert. I hope you don’t have to toss it all!

  • Tina said:

    I find this site interesting and informational. I have never pressure canned anything, although I bought one this year. I have done some water bath canning.

    I want to can 3 of my families favorite foods, Vegatable beef soup (using v-8 and frozen veggies), Chili (using ground hamburger, kidney beans and chili beans already canned from the store) and Homemade sloppy joe (Grandma’s secret receipe).

    Are these safe to can? Will the beans or frozen veggies turn to mush?

    Looking forward to assistance.

  • carolyn gee said:

    When i was kid they would can fish and everything else they could get into a jar.I myself go to a blueball canning book and then i know for sure,if it is ok to can certain items thanks

  • Lisa Tollefson said:

    Great advice on canning soups. Can anyone tell me why no rice? I make a chicken soup with wild rice, and I’d like to can the leftovers (the freezer will soon be too full of antelope to add much soup). The rice is fully cooked, which might make a difference.

    I’m also looking forward to canning my own clam juice – with no added salt.

  • Ashley said:

    What if you dehydrate, or freeze dry your meat and veggies separately add seasoning and can it? would that work?

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:


    Probably… but I think what would be even better for you is to keep them in their dried state, mix them together, and store as a just-add-water type of meal instead of canning. If they are freeze dried or dehydrated, they should stay good for a year in a jar. For longer term storage, you could add an oxygen absorber, or use a food saver vacuum to seal the jars.

  • Julie S said:

    Hello, I will be using my pressure canner for the first time and will be making chili. My favorite recipe is from: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/wazzu-tailgate-chili/detail.aspx?event8=1=SR_Title=wazzu=Quick%20Search=1=Home%20Page

    Now I am not fully understanding the acidity requirements. Can someone take a peek at this recipe and let me know if its ok to make as is or to add/delete an ingredient. Shelf life? no more than 1 year?
    Thank you for your time!

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    Hi Julie S!

    Now, I’m no expert, but I checked out the recipe and here are my thoughts…

    1. I’m not sure it’s safe to can with cornmeal. I’ve never seen any canning recipes using cornmeal, so that kinda stuck out to me. Personally, I think I’d leave that out. Maybe that’s something you could add back in before you eat it.

    2. Go easy on the hot peppers as canning them intensifies their “heat”. You might have to play around with the recipe until you get it just right. You can always add more peppers when re-heating, if it isn’t as spicy as you’d like.

    3. You probably realize this, but definitely add the cheese in after re-heating.

    4. Go easy on the spices also, as their flavors get stronger with canning as well. I’d probably hold off on the cumin and the garlic powder until re-heating.

    5. The chili recipe in the Ball Blue Book of Canning says to add the canned beans to the chili before serving. But Jackie Clay’s canning chili recipe says to add the beans before canning. However, she is using dried beans and cooking/draining them before adding to the chili to be canned. Maybe see which way works best for you?

    6. You’ll need to process pints for 1 hr. 15 min. and quarts for 1 hr. 30 min. at 10 lbs pressure.

    For best taste/nutrient quality eat the chili within a year, but it’ll stay good for many years as long as the lid stays sealed, and the jars aren’t exposed to extreme temperatures :)

    I hope that helps a little. Good luck!!

  • Sandy said:

    Can someone explain to me why I would be required to process chicken soup for so long in a pressure canner after already spending a good 2 hours cooking the soup. I thought the cooking time itself would deter any bacteria. Thank You

  • Kathy said:

    Sandy, I always pressure can my chicken soup for 25 minutes at 11lbs pressure for Qt and 20 minutes for Pints as stated in the Presto canning instruction book.


    I personally find that adding the veggies raw in the jar comes out better than premade veggie soup that tend to mush after canning. I usually just make chicken broth and add fresh carrots, celery and/or potatoes to the jar before pressure canning. The veggies come out just right due to cooking in the pressure canner. HTH.

  • Kathy said:

    May try canning chili again. Last time I tried it tasted burnt. Was told I cooked it too long. Will try not cooking as long and then can it.

  • Cindy McNaul said:

    What is the shelf life for homemade veg soup that I can in a pressure Canner????

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    Cindy, typically you want to eat it within the first year, but that’s only for best nutritional value and flavor. Home canned goods will stay good for several years as long as they are stored in a cool, dry place.

  • eric lacy said:

    can I water bath fully cooked vegetable beef soup I was thinking put in jars while boiling then water bath is it safe or not

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    NO NO NO, Eric. Never ever water bath anything that isn’t a high acid food (ie: fruits, pickles). You absolutely need a pressure canner to can any kind of soup. Hope that helps!!

  • Isaaccreek said:

    My mom and I have been canning for years, she for over 30 years. She cans everything she can get her hands on and does it with water bath cause she has never had a pressure canner and seldom ever does anything spoil or make anyone sick. She still cans the same way. I used to can by water but now have pressure canner and also can all I can get with no problems. Did learn the hard way not to put rice in my soups first,what a mess but the dogs enjoyed it. I even make my own saur kraut that doesn’t require canning at all in water bath or pressure.

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:


    I know some folks like to continue in the tradition of doing things the way they’ve always done them, but PLEASE consider the risk your mom is taking by not using a pressure canner when canning low acid foods. She has been extremely fortunate not to get herself or somebody else deathly sick. Botulism is a serious, often fatal form of food poisoning. Spending $100-$200 on a good pressure canner is SO worth it compared to the possibility of death or at least hospitalization (and the bills that come with it!). Botulism spores can be living on anything she cans… it’s only a matter of time. PLEASE for heaven’s sake get her a pressure canner!!

  • Jen said:

    To add to what Kris said, also don’t use any oil (like vegetable oil for sauteing).

    A reliable canning book is good to have. For example I have one by Ball which I refer to often. When I make up a soup that I want to can, I take an educated guess for how long I’ll need to pressure can it, then I flip though my trusty resource book and check out the processing time for each ingredient I put in, then I can it to that standard. Tonight I’m canning a meatless/beanless chilli “starter” soup. I put it in quarts (make sure to release those air bubbles and wipe the rims!) and am processing it for 75 mins.

  • marvin douglas said:

    go to wal mart buy a ball blue book for canning, I use it and have never lost anything to spoilage

  • Tasha said:

    My pressure canner says it takes 19 pints but the second layer of pints stick above the rim of the pressure canner pot. How much water do I need, and can I can this way?

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:


    Make sure to refer to your canning manual for the correct amount of jars it will hold. It’s okay if the jars are higher than the rim of the canner slightly, as long as the lid will secure over them. If you are using an All American canner, you need 2 inches of water in the bottom of it. Hope that helps!

  • Bill Shaffer said:

    New at caning and need all the help I can get.

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    Bill, have you seen my new canning DVD yet?

  • Amanda said:

    I have a favorite chili recipe I am excited to can. However, we use soy crumbles instead of ground beef. Do I pressure can it the same way as regular chili? Also, I would like to can it with canned beans in it. Is this okay?

  • Amanda said:


    This is the chili recipe we love..Just using morning star soy crumbles instead of beef. Is this an okay recipe to can? Thank you so much. I am learning a lot!

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    I’ve never canned with soy as a meat replacement. You might wanna do some more research on that. Also, I wouldn’t recommend using already canned beans in the chili. They’ll get mushy. It’s best to use beans that have only been boiled for 30 min. and aren’t fully cooked. Maybe toss them into the chili mix a half an hour before it’s finished, then can it. Good luck!

  • Debbie Hehemann said:

    I have this recipe, i think it is ok to can it w/o the pasta and i have a pressure cooker? Can you look at it and give me your thoughts?

    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1 large onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
    2 stalks celery, cut into 1/4-inch dice
    1 large carrot, cut into 1/4-inch dice
    4 cloves garlic, pressed through a garlic press or minced
    8 cups chicken or vegetable broth
    One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
    One 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, drained
    One 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained
    1 cup uncooked elbow macaroni pasta
    1 cup fresh or frozen peas
    2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
    Salt and pepper to taste

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    Hi Debbie,

    I would wait to add the oregano until you’re reheating it from the jar. Also, the beans might get mushy, since they’re already processed. It would be best if you could use dry beans, cook them for 30 minutes, and then add them into the mix just before canning. Hope that helps!

  • Debbie said:

    Thank you Kendra – This is new to me

  • Marsha said:

    I recently about a month ago cooked both homemade vegetagle and chilli soup both open kettled for at least 3 hours. I then put into a hot bath canner for 60 minutes to heat for a seal. Have not tried the chilli to date but did open up vegetable soup it smelled okay so heated up and we ate it. It had a tart taste like too much tomatoes to it used v-8 juice instead of tomatoe juice when I cooked it. Is there something I can add to take the tart taste away or is going bad?

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:


    If you canned your vegetable and chili soup in anything but a pressure canner, you’re risking some serious food poisoning. Botulism can be deadly, and is completely undetectable (you can’t smell it, see it, or taste it). I hate to say this, but if I were you I’d throw it all out. It isn’t worth the risk. :(

  • Marsha said:

    Thank you for answering my question. After reading several articles on several websites I have decided to dump both batches out. We feel fortunate that we didn’t get sick after eating the soup today for lunch. That was around 12:00 and it is almost 8:00pm so think we are going to not get sick. I am thinking about getting a pressure cooker for next summers canning have been hot bathing for several years and have never had any trouble. Just not worth taking a risk from now on.

    I had another site suggest to add sugar or evaporated milk and if still taste tart that the soup was starting to spoil. Not going to even try it just going to get rid of it not worth getting sick over.

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:


    I’m sorry you had to dump out the food, but you are wise to not take a chance. When you are ready to make a purchase, keep in mind that a pressure CANNER and a pressure COOKER are not the same things. All American Pressure Cooker/Canners can be used as a cooker or canner, but you cannot can in a regular pressure cooker. You might be interested in checking out my DVD, in which I walk you step-by-step through the pressure canning process. We’re all here if you have any questions!


  • china blue said:

    I am a 4th generation canner. Over the years I have canned and seen others can most everything you can imagine, all manner of soups, meats, game..even fried chicken! One hard and fast rule that I was raised on was after opening always boil it for 10 mins, uncovered BEFORE eating it. The heat and oxygen kill the botulism toxin. I was taught this many years ago (I’m pushing 60) and have found this is in accordance with current CDC guidelines. We never eat anything (other than jams/jellies) without doing this and NO ONE ever eats any home canned product right out of the jar. Neither I nor anyone in my family or circle of canning friends has ever had any problems with illness related to canned foods. Just thought that might help those that are new to canning.

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