Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Retort Canning and My Vacuum Sealer

NEW INFORMATION! WE NOW RUN OUR HOME CANNER 30% LONGER TIME THAN WHAT USDA RECOMMENDS FOR JARS. THIS IS DUE TO THE NEED TO HAVE THE BAGS SNUGLY PACKED IN THE CANNER AND ENSURING THE ENTIRE CANNER COMES UP TO TEMP FOR THE NEEDED TIME. 
ALSO THIS BLOG IS ABOUT OUR EXPERIENCES.  IT IS NOT FDA OR USDA APPROVED! THERE IS NO SCIENTIFIC INFORMATION ABOUT RETORT CANNING AND HOME CANNERS.  THE FDA INFORMATION AVAILABLE IS FOR COMMERCIAL USE AND AUTOCLAVES NOT HOME CANNING.   

This summer has been a different canning experience.  We have been using retort pouches to can our summer fish, meats and other food products. Retort pouches are flexible cans and contain no BPA.  The loaded retort bag first must be vacuum packed with an industrial vacuum sealer equipped with a heat bar upgrade to seal the bags. Most industrial vacuum sealers do not have the proper heat bar to give the correct seal to the retort bag. Ask here(1-800-227-3769)
 Then the product is placed in a pressure cooker.  We usually run meats at 10 lbs of pressure for 75 to 90 minutes depending on the amount of product in each bag.  Ready cooked meals, such as soups, stews, pastas, are canned at 10 lbs pressure for 60-90 minutes depending on the ingredients, such as vegetables only or meats included.  Meat products run longer and higher pressure than just fruits or vegetables only. We have followed our canning instructions found in the Ball Canning books or our pressure canning instructions manual, they are very specific for each type food and quantity for time and pressure.

The finished product is a flexible can, shelf stable, easy to open and non breakable.  They are lite weight, wonderful for back packing and hiking.  We put them in our RV and some in the boat, in the cabin and in the trunk of the car for emergency times. These wonderful  homemade meals can stay in these locations with out worry of spoilage.  Protect them from rodents in a bucket or container if needed.  Although rodents can not smell the product they can chew threw the flexible can.

We have found that we can fit 24 of the 4oz packs in our small #7 caner. They stand on their sides with plenty of air space between bags.   They fit into a small box after canning and take up 1/4 the space the glass jars take up in our storage room.  We may still use some glass jars just because we have them, but the retort pouches are very easy and fast becoming the item to grab for a quick lunch or travel companion.

We found video information about how to do this at
http://www.vacuumpacker.com/index.php/Canning-vacuumpacking-vacuum-packing-sealing/Operating-Instructions-Home/cat_id/34740

Here are some home pictures of our canning experience. 


The above picture is a 4 oz retort and 1/4 pint jar they equal the same product.



The above picture is our MiniPack MVS31 from http://www.vacuumpackers.com/
It has the upgraded heat bar to seal retort packages.  We can fit 2 of the 4oz packs or 1 of the 8oz packs per vacuum process.  Remember while packing the food in the retort bags, put the already vacuum packed product in the refrigerator or on ice. Do not let the vacuum packed product become warm or even room temperature as this is dangerous and can cause serious bacteria call botulism to grow. Retort canning is very safe when proper food handling procedures are followed.



The above picture is 24 of the 4oz retort packages filled with food kept very cold and ready to be pressure canned. The packages are very cold, the water in the caner is cold.  The process starts off "completely cold". With every batch the caner reaches steam evacuates the air, we closed the valve and allow the pressure to come to 10 lbs. We then set the timer for 60 to 90 minutes depending on the product.  The product must run at the correct pressure for the entire time.  Do not start you timer before the proper pressure has been obtained. Try to not allow the pressure to rise very high and back down as fluctuation expands the bags and can burst the seams. 



Same 4oz packages after 90 minutes at 10 lbs of canning pressure.
This picture was taken when the packages were still very hot even after the pressure valve had gone back down to zero.  When they cooled they shrank down and deflate to a compressed vacuum packaged look. It is easy to see which bags are still vacuum packed and which bags opened up during processing. When all is cooled check the packs closely to see which packs worked and which did not, just like with canning in a jar some seal some do not.  We place the open retorts in the fridge and eat with in 24 hours about >1% break open. The successful canned retorts will be stored in a box or on a shelf for later use.
To avoid open retorts after canning:
1) Be sure to measure the exact amount of food for the bag. This equals 4oz bag 4oz of product!
2) Keep the seal line clean when vacuum packing, no food product in the seal line.  Same as your regular vacuum packed products.
3) Use a commercial vacuum sealer with the proper heat bar. We like the MVS31 but others are capable ask the experts at PMG 1-800-227-3769
4) Keep the pressure constant, do not fluctuate extreme highs to lows while canning.
Great News! Retort Pouches do not contain any BPA very safe and toxic free canning!




This is the look of our final product.  We labeled each one with the ingredients and date, placed them in a box ready for the shelf.  This has been not only a fun project but space saving. We also no longer have to store glass jars either before or after use. These retort vacuum packed and canned meals are easy to use, taste great ("that is if we use great ingredients") they are safer than glass and have a 3-5 year shelf life maybe more depending on the ingredients used. 

To order retort canning pouches or the proper commercial vacuum sealer contact
PMG at http://www.vacuumpacker.com/  1-800-227-3769 

Written by HD

Retort Canning of has NO Scientific data from the FDA or USDA for home canners.  The concerns come from non acid foods such as meats!  We are expressing our very successful experiences, but by no way are these experiences authorized data. Can at your own risk!  
As they say, "Re-Heat before you Eat" on any home canned product in glass, cans or retort for best safety practices.  
All home canning is AT YOUR OWN RISK! 


19 comments:

PMG Inc. Vacuum Packers said...

Retort canning is great. So easy, less space, no glass, we love it.

Kevin said...

This is great! Nice and informative article. I think this is a much better way to can food than the traditional method.

Stacey said...

This is absolutely a must-have! I'm actually saving money on my food bill because of this product. It really helps my food stay longer and they even taste better!

Jane said...

This product really works great! I love it because it is so convenient. I rarely go to a grocery store because of a hectic schedule but because of this darling, it helped me save time and hassle. I really recommend this.

Brian said...

I say this is a perfect camper’s companion. We no longer have to bring an ice chest to preserve our food. With this product, camping is much more fun and easy. We don’t have to worry anymore about our food being wasted or being contaminated because they are completely sealed.

Sara Kincade said...

I must say that I had never heard of retort canning until I found this article. I think this would be wonderful for packing my tomato sauce that I usually can in jars. I will have to check out this site some more.

Jon Shipman said...

Yeah my mom makes a nice minestrone soup that she processes and saves in retort packs. It is great to carry to work for lunch. the 4oz packs just right for wiping together a quick meal in the microwave at work. I keep a handful in my desk at all time.

Sara Kincade said...

I have never canned meat products before. Always seemed "iffy" to me. But vacuum sealed packages seems like the ticket. Seems like a good way to process a nice organic raised side of beef.

Jennifer Greene said...

I think the greatest thing about retort packs is that there is no BPA in them. BPA is nasty stuff and you want to make sure that you eliminate as much of it from your food chain as possible.

Sara Kincade said...

Yeah I gave up most commercial canned foods because they line their cans with BPA. That is why the retort canning sounds so interesting to me. I really need to check out the products that Vacuum Packers is offering.

Sophie said...

We love this product so much! My mom and I are in a food catering business and we usually purchase foods in bulk especially when we find a great deal. With this product, we were able to save more money. It is a very efficient way of storing large quantities of food and helped us minimize excess waste. Highly recommended.

Michelle said...

Thank you so much for this informative article. I’ve been looking for the right vacuum sealer for quite some time now and I’m interested in investing with your product. As a mother of a big family, this will really help me make the most of our food budget without cutting back on food quality.

Manoj Singal said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cryovac Shrink Films said...

Good use of points in this blog for the viewers. Added some extra topics related to daily life. Thanks

Neco said...

Great article. helps me understand more.

i have a question.
which is better,after vacuum retort bag, using pressure canner (like in your article )or sterilizer like the all amarican sterilizer makes the food last longer and kills more bacteria?

PMG Inc. Vacuum Packers said...

The All American is a pressure canner or sterilizer it is the same as the pressure canner shown only new. They are both home style canners. If a business wants to retort for resale they need an autoclave that is NSF approved.

Anonymous said...

I want to try for the first time with retort bags, do I have to precook(pare) meat prior to canning.. nakneknorm111@hotmail. Please??

PMG Inc. Vacuum Packers said...

Precooking (pare) meats is not necessary however many people like the taste of pre-browned salted red meats better. The browning or searing in a pan before canning has a very pleasant flavor. The canning does all the cooking.
The most talked about way to can Chicken is raw with salt, no precooking.
Fish is ether smoked and then canned or canned raw both with salt.
Follow safe canning instructions do not skimp or time or temperature. In fact we suggest you extend the time you can retorts by 10-20% to ensure the entire canner is up to temperature.

PMG Inc. Vacuum Packers said...

Retort Canning of non acid foods has NO Scientific data from the FDA or USDA. Can at your own risk! We are expressing our experiences but by no way are these experiences authorized data.