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Canning Tuna Without a Pressure Cooker: A Simple Guide

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Canning is a traditional method of preserving various foods, and it’s an excellent way to extend the shelf life of perishable items like tuna. While pressure canners are typically used for canning low-acid foods like meat, vegetables, and fish, you can still safely can tuna without a pressure cooker by using a water bath canning method. In this article, we’ll guide you through the steps of canning tuna without a pressure cooker, ensuring your pantry is stocked with delicious, home-preserved tuna.

Before You Begin:

Ensure you have the necessary equipment and ingredients:

  1. Fresh or frozen tuna
  2. Canning jars with lids and bands
  3. A large stockpot
  4. A canning rack or trivet
  5. Canning salt
  6. A jar lifter
  7. A magnetic lid lifter
  8. A clean cloth or paper towel
  9. A timer

Canning Tuna Without a Pressure Cooker: Step-by-Step

Step 1: Prepare Your Tuna

  • Start with fresh or high-quality frozen tuna. Ensure it’s thoroughly cleaned and cut into suitable-sized pieces for canning, typically one-inch thick.

Step 2: Prepare Your Jars

  • Wash the canning jars, lids, and bands in hot, soapy water. Rinse them thoroughly, but do not dry. Keep them warm until you’re ready to use them.

Step 3: Add Salt

  • Add a half-teaspoon of canning salt to each pint jar (adjust for quart-sized jars). The salt enhances the flavor and acts as a preservative.

Step 4: Fill the Jars

  • Carefully pack the tuna pieces into the warm jars, leaving one-inch headspace at the top. It’s essential to remove air bubbles by running a non-metallic tool around the inside of the jar.

Step 5: Seal the Jars

  • Wipe the jar rims with a clean, damp cloth to ensure there’s no residue that might prevent a proper seal. Place the flat lid on the jar and screw on the band until it’s fingertip tight.

Step 6: Process the Jars

  • Place the jars in a large stockpot with a canning rack or trivet at the bottom. Add enough hot water to cover the jars by at least one inch.
  • Bring the water to a gentle boil, and then reduce the heat to maintain a steady simmer. Cover the pot and process the jars for the recommended time based on your altitude and jar size. For pint jars at sea level, process for 100 minutes.

Step 7: Remove and Cool

  • After processing, turn off the heat, remove the lid, and let the jars sit in the water for an additional five minutes. Then, use a jar lifter to remove them from the pot, placing them on a clean, dry towel or cooling rack.

Step 8: Listen for the “Pop”

  • As the jars cool, you should hear a “pop” sound, indicating that the jars have successfully sealed. The lids should be concave and not flex when pressed in the center. If a jar does not seal, store it in the refrigerator and consume the contents within a few days.

Step 9: Label and Store

  • Once the jars are completely cool, label them with the date and contents. Store the sealed jars in a cool, dark, and dry place. Canned tuna can last for up to two years if stored properly.


Canning tuna without a pressure cooker is an achievable and rewarding process. With the right equipment and careful attention to safety and cleanliness, you can create your own store of delicious, home-canned tuna. Enjoy the convenience of having this pantry staple readily available for your favorite tuna salads, casseroles, and more.


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