Canning potatoes at home is an easy way to preserve potatoes for long term storage. Pre-cooked and ready to use, home-canned potatoes make for quick last-minute meals right from your homemade pantry.
Why Can Potatoes?
While I’ll can just about anything at home, I’ll admit that canning potatoes weren’t high on my priority list. Our basement stays a consistent 50 degrees year-round, and though that’s on the warm side for a root cellar, we’ve had great success storing potatoes with minimal work. Most years we put away about 200 lbs of potatoes in the fall, and with two potato loving children in the house, that stockpile rarely makes it to the following June.
If they’re so easy to store, why bother canning potatoes? Plenty of reasons!
- Canning potatoes ensures you have a steady supply of potatoes into the spring and summer. Many varieties of potatoes won’t keep that long, even in the best root storage conditions, and only the very best storage potato varieties will last until the following year’s crop comes in.
- Canned potatoes are the ultimate homemade convenience food. They’re shelf-stable, nutritious and ready to heat and serve. Warm the pieces in their canning liquid on the stove, strain and top with butter, sour cream and/or chives and you’ve got a satisfying homemade dish in no time.
- Small potatoes don’t store well in a root cellar, but they’re just the right size for canning. If you have a bumper crop of small spuds, it’s time to get canning!
This year, our potato crop yielded a lot of undersized potatoes, and while we usually eat those quickly and save the larger tubers for storage…there were just too darn many! While I ended up canning potatoes out of sheer necessity, I’m actually happy I did. They’ve been a lifesaver on busy weeknights, and next year I’m going to can up a larger batch.
I’m thinking of canning potatoes in meat stock as well so that I’ll have an easy versatile soup base too. We already pressure can bone broth and a separate batch of extra yummy pork stock every year, adding potatoes into the mix for a case or two should be easy enough.
Potatoes, believe it or not, actually require more time in the pressure canner than meat stock, so the instructions for canning potatoes would be the same whether you’re canning them in water or meat stock.
Best Types of Potatoes for Canning
Whether you’re canning chopped potatoes or canning whole potatoes, you’ll want to choose a variety that can withstand the heat in a pressure canner without falling apart. Some varieties are bred to yield a starchy, light and fluffy baking potato, like russet. Similarly, others are great for mashed potatoes and fall apart easily during boiling. Avoid any variety of potato that falls apart during cooking and especially starchy varieties.
Choose firm-fleshed, waxy potatoes for canning. According to the National Center for Food Preservation’s blog,
“White potatoes for canning should be the “waxy” or “boiling” kind. Different types of potatoes have different amounts and types of starches and they react to heating differently. You want a potato that keeps its shape and texture well after a lot of heating, and not one that falls apart becomes “fluffy” after cooking, and is better for mashing. Most red-skin potatoes are of lower starch than baking potatoes and work well for canning. Many white round potatoes with thin skins fall into this category with red-skin potatoes too. Russets are not good for canning but are good for baking (they have a high starch content). Yukon Gold may not be the best potatoes for canning. While they seem good for boiling, they do tend to fall apart when overcooked. From what we have read, there is a wide variety in the types and amounts of starches in blue potatoes, so not all blues are the same, just like not all white potatoes are the same in these characteristics.”
Beyond that, new potatoes harvested young and small tend to contain less starch than fully grown “adult” potatoes. If you’re planning on canning up large amounts, start harvesting early and you’ll limit the starch content of the potatoes and improve their canning quality.
Think about any potatoes you’d use to make a good, firm potato salad and you’ll be all set.
Can You Can Potatoes With the Skin On?
Skipping the peeling step would save a lot of prep time before actually canning potatoes, but canning potatoes with the skin on is not recommended for several reasons…
Primarily, safety. All the testing around canning times for potatoes was conducted using peeled potatoes. Botulism spores actually live in the soil in contact with potato skins, so leaving the skin on the potato might make a difference in the total canning time. According to the National Center for Home Food Preservation, potatoes should be peeled before canning because:
“That style of preparation is how the research was carried out to determine the recommended processing, and in order to know that the peeling does or does not make a difference, research would need to be done with unpeeled potatoes. Different assumptions might be needed in assessing just how many spores of C. botulinum or other bacteria might be present at the start of the process and what amount of heat might be needed to meet standards for the risk of possible survivors. We do not know of research of canning potatoes with peels left on, so we recommend the preparation steps provided with the process recommendation, especially because there is a possibility that the deviation could result in a less safe situation.”
Reading that, it sounds like the NCFP is trying to cover all the bases, and is really being overly cautious here. Realistically, the skins likely don’t make that much difference assuming they’re well-scrubbed. Know that it’s just not a tested canning recipe, and you’ll have to use your own best judgment for your health here.
That said, beyond safety, peeling potatoes before canning is just a good idea. Canning potatoes involves high heat in a pressure canner, and those skins are likely just going to fall off in the jar anyway and make a big mess. When you’re dealing with homegrown potatoes, they’re also usually pretty dirt-covered and scrubbing off every last bit of schmutz would likely take just as long as peeling anyway.
So when you’re canning potatoes, you should be canning peeled potatoes…
Can You Can Raw Potatoes?
Canning potatoes raw pack is actually not a tested canning method (sadly). I love raw packing whenever possible, assuming it won’t impact quality (as it does when you’re canning peaches), but when canning potatoes all the tested recipes being with hot pack or cooking the potatoes first.
Potatoes are dense, and it can take a substantial amount of time to heat a potato through to the center in a pressure canner. If you’re raw packing, it’s possible that you’re not holding the potatoes at a high enough temperature for a long enough time for safe canning.
Start by boiling the potatoes for 2 minutes for 1/2 inch to 1-inch cubes. For whole new potatoes about 2” in diameter, the recommendation is to parboil them 10 minutes. Pack the hot potatoes into canning jars, and cover with boiling water (don’t use the water you boiled the potatoes in for best quality, it’s full of starch).
How Long Will Canned Potatoes Last?
Commercially canned potatoes in tin cans are rated for 3-5 years, but generally, the advice for home canners is to consume home-canned potatoes within 12 to 18 months. Ball canning just introduced new canning lids that are guaranteed for 18 months, and that is the current recommendation when using the newer lids.
Practically speaking, canned potatoes last much longer. After about a year I’ve found that most pressure canned foods tend to lose quality, but slightly lower quality doesn’t mean it’s not safe to eat. Assuming the seal is unbroken and the potatoes were properly pressure canned, they should last quite a long time.
Supplies for Canning Potatoes at Home
Canning potatoes require a pressure canner, there’s no way around it. Historically, there were recommendations for water bath canning potatoes, but the last time that was considered an acceptable practice was in the early 1950s. Back then, it was thought safe to water bath can potatoes with a 3 hour boil time, but that method has since been removed from canning recommendations due to safety concerns. For the last 70+ years, all canning recommendations for potatoes have involved pressure canning.
(Note: A pressure CANNER is not the same as a pressure COOKER, and you cannot use an instant pot or similar appliance for canning potatoes.)
To can pressure can potatoes, you will need:
- Either a Dial gauge or Weighted gauge pressure canner (I use this one)
- Jar Grabber (to pick up hot jars)
- Canning Funnel (optional with potatoes, but recommended for a cleaner pack)
- Large Slotted Spoon (for removing potatoes from blanching liquid, leaving the cooking liquid behind)
- 2 Large Pots (one for pre-cooking the potatoes, the second for boiling water to pack the potatoes)
- Cutting Board
- Paring Knife and/or Potato Peeler
Is Salt Required for Canning Potatoes?
Strictly speaking, salt isn’t required to safely can potatoes. It’s perfectly fine to can potatoes without salt, but I don’t recommend it. Potatoes taste best with salt, and the salt helps them maintain good texture during the canning process. If you’d like to use less salt, go right ahead. The general recommendation is 1 tsp per quart jar, but feel free to reduce it based on your tastes.
How to Can Potatoes
All in all, pressure canning potatoes is pretty simple, provided you’re familiar with the basics of pressure canning. I’ll make no assumptions though, and take you through the process of canning potatoes step by step, and if you’re a seasoned pressure canner go ahead and just read the recipe card below.
Start by placing two large pots of water on the stove and bringing them to a boil. One is to pre-cook the potatoes, and the other is fresh, clean water that will be used as canning liquid in the jars. Do not re-use cooking liquid from the potatoes for packing.
While the water is coming to a boil, prepare your potatoes. Peel the potatoes, and chop any large spuds into 1 to 2” pieces. Smaller potatoes under 2” in diameter can be left whole, but still must be peeled. Place the potatoes in water to prevent browning while you work. Some sources recommend adding lemon juice to the water, but really just so long as there submerged they won’t brown and lemon isn’t really necessary.
Once the water is boiling, place the potatoes into the water and pre-cook for 2 minutes (for 1” cubes) or 10 minutes (for whole potatoes about 2” in diameter). Strain the potatoes after cooking and discard the cooking liquid.
Pack the cooked potatoes into canning jars (pints or quarts, quarts recommended for efficiency), leaving 1” headspace. Cover with clean, boiling water (maintaining 1” headspace) and add 1 tsp canning salt per quart (optional). Wipe rims and apply 2 part canning lids, tightening to just finger tight.
Place your pressure canner on the stove and add about 2” of boiling water to the bottom from the clean boiling water pot. Insert the canning rack that came with the canner, and then load in the hot jars into the pressure canner.
Close the pressure canner and allow the steam to vent for 10 minutes before fully sealing with a canning weight.
Allow the pressure canner to come up to pressure, and begin timing once the required pressure is shown on the gauge. When canning potatoes under 1000 feet in elevation, set the pressure canner to 10 pounds pressure and process for 35 minutes (pints) or 40 minutes (quarts). For other altitudes and when using a dial gauge pressure canner, see the table below for the appropriate times/pressures for canning potatoes:
- Potatoes (see notes for quantity)
- Canning Salt (optional ~ 1 tsp per quart, see note)
- Place two large pots of water on the stove and bring them to a boil. One is to pre-cook the potatoes, and the other is fresh, clean water that will be used as canning liquid in the jars. Important: Do not re-use cooking liquid from the potatoes for packing.
- While the water is coming to a boil, prepare your potatoes. Peel the potatoes, and chop any large spuds into 1 to 2'' pieces. Smaller potatoes under 2'' in diameter can be left whole, but still must be peeled. Place the potatoes in a bowl of water and keep them submerged to prevent browning while you work.
- Once the water is boiling, place the potatoes into the water and pre-cook for 2 minutes (for 1'' cubes) or 10 minutes (for whole potatoes about 2'' in diameter). Strain the potatoes after cooking and discard the cooking liquid.
- Pack the cooked potatoes into canning jars (pints or quarts, quarts recommended for efficiency). Leave 1'' headspace.
- Cover with clean, boiling water and add 1 tsp salt per quart (optional).
- Wipe rims and apply 2 part canning lids, tightening to just finger tight.
- Place your pressure canner on the stove and add about 2'' of boiling water to the bottom from the clean boiling water pot. Insert the canning rack that came with the canner, and then load in the hot jars into the pressure canner.
- Close the pressure canner and allow the steam to vent for 10 minutes before fully sealing with a canning weight.
- Allow the pressure canner to come up to pressure, and begin timing once the required pressure is shown on the gauge. When canning potatoes under 1000 feet in elevation, set the pressure canner to 10 pounds pressure and process for 35 minutes (pints) or 40 minutes (quarts). For other altitudes and when using a dial gauge pressure canner, see the table above for the appropriate times/pressures for canning potatoes.
The yield will vary based on the size of your potatoes and how efficient you are with peeling, as well as how efficient you are at packing the jars. Potatoes in a small dice mean more pounds per jar, while whole 2'' potatoes mean less pounds per jar. For diced potatoes, it takes just under 3 pounds to fill a quart jar, and for small whole potatoes, it's more like 2 pounds per jar.
My 30 quart All American pressure canner holds 14 quarts, while many smaller models hold 7. Adjust the total quantity of potatoes to your batch size and cutting methods. If you'd like to check ahead of time, pack the jars with raw potatoes to measure, knowing that they'll shrink a bit in the blanching, so be sure to have a bit extra too.
Do not use iodized table salt for canning, it contains other anti-caking agents. Only use canning salt or kosher salt. The salt is optional in this recipe, and not necessary for preservation. It is recommended for flavor, and maintaining the texture of the potatoes during canning.
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