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Jul 16, 2010 11:06 PM

Canning in an oil bath instead of a pressure cooker?

I've looked around but haven't found an answer to this one so maybe someone on here can help.

I do a fair bit of canning with fruits and what-not but wanted to get into more serious stuff like fish, etc. Due to space restrictions and my disinterest in adding another gizmo to sit in the back of my kitchen cupboards for most of the year, I would rather not get a pressure cooker.

If the idea is to get the internal temperature up to 240-250 which is impossible to do with an open pot of water, why not just substitute a cooking oil? It's cheap and I could reuse it for a dozen batches in the fall, then make french fries and be done with it.

Anyone lost an aunt to botulism with this crazy idea or could it possibly work?


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  1. Ah, what?? Are you thinking of processing jars of food products, like fish, in boiling oil, or at least 240°? Am I reading this correctly? You haven't found an answer to this because NO ONE DOES THIS. Canning under pressure and what amounts to deep fat frying jars packed with food are completely different animals, the latter being an unknown culinary technique. Pressure canning is not the same as the confit technique, jar or no. Perhaps if you have access to a pressurized deep fat fryers, like KFC uses, you could try that, but I doubt whether you own one of those. I'm not recommending this for canning, though.

    The pressure canner is the only choice for canning food products not suitable for the water canner method. Also, please note that you would not use a pressure "cooker," as you wrote, but a pressure canner, for this; size and heat up/cool down times being the basic differences between the two pieces of equipment. A pressure canner should be able to hold at least 4 quart jars to be considered for canning use. Food processed in a pressure cooker will most likely be underprocessed, which can easily lead to spoilage.

    Hopefully I've dissuaded you from using the oil bath method. Look into buying a pressure canner. Where do you live that oil, soybean or canola, is that cheap?

    I suggest you do some further reading on the pressure canning subject, if you haven't to date, and seriously discard the oil bath canning idea. Not only will it not work, but it may prove to be quite dangerous on many levels. I doubt you'd even get a seal on your jars with the oil bath method, to say nothing of the oily mess, large quantity of hot oil on your stove or God forbid, in one of those turkey fryers, storing that oil after, etc. I can see a jar of something in liquid cracking in the oil and the ensuing explosion, yeah....

    Btw, pressure canners will not break the bank, and are a commodity now, as the population is turning once again to canning and preserving food, since the economic downturn; they can be loaned to family members and can be leased out to neighbors for a nominal fee. You can make this valuable piece of canning equipment work for you in more than one way.

    Here's a few links to get you started down a different path:

    I'm going to run this by my sister, who is a pressure canning expert, and she what she has to say.

    1. This sounds like a disaster waiting to happen!

      Buy the pressure canner, and a good book on canning. Find a place to put them. Don't risk lethal food poisoning, boiling oil burns, and cuts and more burns due to the canning jar violently exploding spraying super heated steam, boiling oil and glass all over you and the kitchen.

      1. Many pressure canners can also be used for hot water bath canning.

        If you are short on space, my advice would be to find one of those, and swap that out with your water bath canner.

        1. Well now I'm certainly frightened which is probably a good thing. Yes I meant "pressure canner" not cooker, my apologies. Can someone explain to me what a pressure canner does though apart from increase the heat of its contents passed the boiling point of water?

          1 Reply
          1. re: piano boy

            "what a pressure canner does... increase the heat of its contents passed the boiling point of water?"

            That's it's sole purpose. The pressure in the canner from the steam created by the smaller (as opposed to a water bath canner) amount of water forces out air, raising the interior pressure, therefore raising the temperature past 212° to a safe processing level. Since the canner is now filled with water vapor, the heat will be evenly conducted around the jars.

            As al b. darned wrote below, your oil bath theory would probably work, although I'm not completely convined the jars would seal, not to mention how you decide on the correct processing times, but there are way too many things that could go wrong. I ran this idea past my pressure canning expect sister and her response was something along the lines of that's insane, what a mess to clean up, how dangerous, yadda yadda.

            I hope the posters who have responded here have convinced you to do purchase a pressure canner.

          2. I think no matter what the external temp is the food in the jar will not be heated higher than the boiling point of water unless you add pressure. Some people can with an oven but this is unsafe for that reason.