Retort Canning – A New Way to Can?

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:

retort-pouches

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?):

retort-canner

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:

hot-jaw

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.

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Author: Damian Brindle

Blogging about all things survival and emergency preparedness, including experiences with DIY projects and ideas, gear reviews, living frugally, cooking in unconventional ways, and more! Take a tour to better understand the many tools and resources you can find here as well as what to expect in the future. Learn from my experiences and share your own in the comments below. Have a blessed day. :)

3 thoughts on “Retort Canning – A New Way to Can?”

  1. I’d be very interested in learning more about using the combination of heat strip sealer with retort bags in place of traditional canning in jars. I love the idea of not having to store jars, and doing away with all the extra weight of the glass (not to mention retort bags don’t break like glass).

    How do you suppose you deal with the sterilization process when using bags? Is it not necessary to vacuum seal the bags as the $1,000+ machines do before retort processing? And how does one determine when a pouch has failed? No jar ping on a bag… would really love hearing more about this pairing of new products, who uses it and what their experience has been.

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