The other day I mentioned that I’d run across a thread that mentioned retort canning. Since this seemed like something new, I was intrigued. After all, I’ve obviously heard of water bath canning and pressure canning, why not retort canning?
So, I quickly looked it up. I found out that retort canning is the same idea as pressure canning (uses high heat and pressure to kill bacteria) except that instead of using glass mason jars you would use special flexible retort pouches (similar to mylar bags). In fact, the flexible pouches of foods you buy at the grocery store (like tuna) are retort bags. I had no idea!
Is this the way to go or not?
Well, it starts with knowing that you need some different equipment. Like I said, instead of using mason jars, you would use special retort pouches (NOT mylar bags). I did an Amazon search but didn’t find any pouches being sold–that’s never a good sign–but easily found some via a Google search. I found a site that sold 50 8-ounce bags for about $23 or 50 4-ounce bags for $15. That’s a bit steep for me, especially considering that 4- or 8 ounces isn’t much food! Here’s what they look like:
I then wondered what kind of device I needed to do retort canning so I Googled “retort canner” and I was almost floored by the costs. All results came up as “vacuum sealer packer retort” canners and sold for thousands of dollars… eek. 🙁 Anyway, they appear to be an autoclave device. Here’s what one looks like (pretty huh?):
I figured there had to be a better way and found this site that says I can use a traditional pressure canner. The problem is that you not only (1) need the specialized retort pouches BUT you also (2) need a special package sealer that can produce 1/2″ seams. As a result, your traditional foodsaver just isn’t going to cut it. Apparently, you need a specialized heat strip sealer (I assume it would work on mylar bags too but didn’t care to find out) that’s going to cost upwards of $100 or more. Here’s what it looks like:
What’s the conclusion?
Yes, you can do it but you’re going to need some special equipment and from a cost perspective, it’s simply not something I would suggest. We’ll stick with what we know.