The excellent results and the disasters have made up the knowledge we currently use. Here are a few quick tips.
- Keep the pressure while cooking between 10-12 lbs. 15 plus lbs have higher failure or even exploded the bags.
- Cook the product at least 20% longer then in jars or cans to insure the mass is cooked throughout.
- With liquids the retort bags can hold more. Example 8oz pouch can hold 16oz water.
- With solids such as meat. Cut the meat in thinner slices, load flat, do not put a big lump in the bag.
- Approximate 2 oz more meat can be put in the bag so long as it is flat.
- Load the bags snugly on their edge, off center of each other.
- For double layers, cross the opposite direction for the 2nd layer.
- The caner must be snug but not over stuffed. To loose they failure rate doubles.
- Fold the edges of the bag into the center before putting on the lid to avoid cutting the bag with the lid.
- Use a vacuum sealer with domed and crimping heat wire one or two wires does not make a difference.
- Increase the seal time 3.2 to 4.3 depending on the unit.
- Flat band heat wires either one or two will have the highest rate of failure. Upwards of 50% as they do not crimp the bag but rather burn it.
- Let the canner cool to 0 pressure before opening it. Usually this is 30 to 45 min or more.
- Open a properly cooled canner but still hot product and place the bags in ice water. This will shrink and collapse the bag showing the still vacuum sealed product. Washing the bags will also allow you see if you have leaks.
- Do not let the pressure off the canner with the cock pit. An overly hot opened canner will allow the bags to pop out and burst open the side seams. This is the biggest reason for failed bags after cooking.
- Wash the bags check all the seams completely if a seam looks to be weak, place it in the fridge and eat do not store it.
- Use bags of water to fill a partial canner. This creates sterile water for emergency uses and fills the canner to keep the other bags from expanding to much. These bags can be made new each time or reused over and over.
- Since the products can only be vacuum sealed when they are cold place cold water in the canner, allow for extra time to heat the entire mass before starting the clock for canning.
- Shelf life is looking like upwards of 6 years for meats in a cool storage area.
- Rotate, Rotate and more rotation is best.
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 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!