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Thread: Retort Canning

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    Default Retort Canning

    Is anyone doing retort canning. If so, do you have any how to's for the rest of the folks on here?

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    Premium Member kasilofchrisn's Avatar
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    My wife wants to get into this. We need to buy a house first so we have room and can set it up properly.
    This video explains the process pretty good.
    "The closer I get to nature the farther I am from idiots"

    "Fishing and Hunting are only an addiction if you're trying to quit"

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    Wife and I tried. We had trouble getting the bags to seal and hold the seal. Once in the canner most loose their seals. Just for your information I think the largest retort you can get is 16 oz even though the bag is hudge. Can not over fill if you do they will blow the seal in the canner for sure. We usually can in quarts so the retorts are rather small for us. Hope this helps.

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    Without sounding snarky (I hope), whats the point? It seems like alot of extra steps without any huge upside. I would be curious to know more about it because I really don't know much at all. When I want to carry canned goods (smoked sockeye for instance) up the hill I dump it into a quart ziplock, suck out the air and go. Again more curious than anything what the perceived advantage is.

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    Premium Member kasilofchrisn's Avatar
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    If you watch the video I linked he does mention and show that you need to add extended vac time and more heat seal time as well. One of their other videos says you need to keep the retort bags closely packed in your canners so they do not overexpand and break the seals.


    As far as the advantages heres what me and my wife were thinking.
    First off you do not have to wash and store glass jars. They do take up a lot of pantry space both full and empty. If you give a few jars away or break a couple then you find yourself buying more jars every year.Also you do need to buy new lids. Not a big expense but still needs to be done. During dipnet season they sometimes become a bit scarce for awhile so we are usually storing a few boxes of lids also.
    When we go camping jars are bulky,heavy,and breakable. It would be easy to bring along a few retort bags and if we don't eat them all the excess can easily be brought home for later use. Jars are bulky to bring back home as well either full or empty.
    Retort bags store flat in a smaller space than jars and can be easily thrown away anywhere there is a trash can or easily packed home from a camping trip.
    They aren't as fragile as glass jars so if your cooler gets tossed around in the boat for some reason two or three bags next to each other wont break and make a mess.
    The smaller bags would be nice to send in the kids lunch to school like the Tuna sandwich kits only cheaper and with Alaska salmon we caught ourselves.
    I have also canned meat in the past and really liked the end result. We had some caribou scraps and did not have the sausage making stuff so my mom suggested canning it. Boy that turned out good. I would dump out a jar in a pan add BBQ sauce and heat it up. Came out just like a pulled pork sandwich and tasted great. Retort bags would make it easy to take canned meat along on trips as well no freezing or ice required.
    We might also send half a dozen jars every year to friends/relatives outside Alaska. Much easier and probably cheaper and safer in Retort bags.
    Once we buy a house this winter/spring we intend to buy ourselves a nice chamber vac sealer that suits our needs and we don't have to take our stuff to my parents house to borrow theirs. Why not make sure the one we buy can do the retort bags?
    If it doesn't work out we still have a top notch vac sealer.
    "The closer I get to nature the farther I am from idiots"

    "Fishing and Hunting are only an addiction if you're trying to quit"

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    Member pacific-23's Avatar
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    Good points. I personally like my sockeye to stay in nice sticks that i can pull out whole, and worry they would get mashed in the bags. For me jars work, I put the product in bags when weight/space is an issue. The point about giving and never getting back is well taken, I solved that (mostly) by not giving any away! Whatever you decide, the chamber sealer is the way to go and my next gear purchase. Looks like It'll be another year before I get a light rifle (sigh). Let us know how it works out for you long term with the bags as I could get talked into doing some stuff that way.

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    Member AK Ray's Avatar
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    Interesting thread. Lots of info out there on this process. My VP112 will not heat a retort bag enough to seal it. Not even with a dual wire bar for another model vacmaster.

    Looks like I might need to look into a higher quality machine that draws more vacuum and has a better seal bar. Something rated for retorts.

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    Member DanC's Avatar
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    I am following this thread with interest. I am a long-time canner, vacuum-packer, etc. and was intrigued when this method of packaging first hit the grocery store shelves years ago. There has not been a great deal of information from the industry regarding the process. Certainly not the same amount of information from the state extension programs that have made home canning so much safer. Now, it seems that there may be interest from enough home canners to move it from the production industry to the home.

    Expensive chamber sealers may not be the only way to go. I have sealed a lot of mylar bags using an iron and the edge of a wooden yardstick. I would bet I could get a good enough seal to hold up in a pressure canner. On the other hand, I would think that it really is necessary to totally evacuate the bag before sealing and that is only possible in an evacuation chamber. When we can with jars we always leave head space but that head space becomes evacuated during the pressure canning process and subsequent cooling. Would a sealed mylar bag with head space be susceptible to spoilage even after pressure canning. I am not set up with a microbiology laboratory and I am not willing to risk the health of my family to run that experiment.

    I am rambling a bit here but I mean to point out that one can probably not simply use the same methods we use for jar or can canning and transfer to the retort pouches.

    I hope this discussion goes farther and that it eventually becomes realistic for us home canners. Many times I have been tempted to buy a can sealer but the relative scarcity and expense of cans has always put me off. Those retort pouches would fit nicely in my own home storage system.

    Thanks for bringing this subject up.

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    Member AK Ray's Avatar
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    After reading a couple of threads on iFish I am really not happy with myself for not doing more research last year when shopping around for a chamber vac.

    http://www.deejayssmokepit.net/Q-Vie...SealerBags.pdf

    http://www.ifish.net/board/showthread.php?t=312005

    http://vacuumpacker.blogspot.com/201...-info-for.html

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    Member DanC's Avatar
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    Thanks for those links Ray. I guess more time has passed than I thought since I looked for information on retort canning. That's what happens when you get old.

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    Recently tried to can some beef stew. What a mess. I very carefully measured two cups (16 oz ) of cold stew into a 16 oz bag sealed them and then turned each over to see if any leaked. None did. Then I got the canner put in the rack, the water, packed in the retorts and proceeded to can as usual. Usual being if I were putting the stew into a ball or kerr jar. After the time had run I turned off the stove and waited for the temp to drop. I already knew there was a problem as I could smell something that smelled burned. Sure enough not one but all had poped. I waisted the bags, the time putting them bags and sealing them not to mention the waisted stew. Then I had to clean up the mess I made. Checking witht the mfg I was told oh yes you can retort something with with liquid but you can only do half of the amount that the retort bag holds. IE: I was told you can only put 8 oz in a 16 oz bag. I for one am really sorry I invested in this retort idea. I for one am going to do all my canning in a jarn NOT a plastic bag.

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    What setting did you use on your vacuum machine? You have to change the setting from what you would use on a regular vac bag. I'm also trying to get an idea of what bag you used. The retort bags we sale are a gold foil bag not plastic. Our customers that are using them love them and are not having these same problems. Give me a call and maybe I can assist a little to get this working for you. 907-258-7502

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    Just saw your reply. Thank ou for the offer to help. I'll take you up on the offer. I would like to get this working. Do you have any larger bags or do you know where I can get bigger bags? I'll look at the settings. What are they canning, solids like sliced meat or salmon. Are any of them canning any soups or stews? I had a big pot of spaghetti I wanted to try but ended up put it in jars. Yes I know about the gold bags. Those are the ones I have been using. Do they can by volume or by weight, I used volume?

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    AKButcher, I recently heard that there is a new sealing bar or an upgrade to our current seal bars that need to be used for the retort bags. Is this true and does the new bar still seal and cut the regular bags? I have a MVS 31 if that matters.

    Rob
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    Rob, Yes there is an upgrade we do to your bar so you can do retort canning. There is 2 choices to choose from. Either 2 domed wires with no cutoff or 1 dome and 1 cutoff. Give me a call 907-258-7502, and we can get you taken care of.

    Ray

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    Member Rob B's Avatar
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    Thanks. I'll swing by next time i'm in town.
    27' Wooldridge Super Sport Offshore Pilothouse PRIME TIME!
    Kodiak Custom Fishing Tackle Pro Staff
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    Quote Originally Posted by redale View Post
    Just saw your reply. Thank ou for the offer to help. I'll take you up on the offer. I would like to get this working. Do you have any larger bags or do you know where I can get bigger bags? I'll look at the settings. What are they canning, solids like sliced meat or salmon. Are any of them canning any soups or stews? I had a big pot of spaghetti I wanted to try but ended up put it in jars. Yes I know about the gold bags. Those are the ones I have been using. Do they can by volume or by weight, I used volume?
    You should be going by weight not volume.

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    We love doing retort bags!!! Our vac machine can only do the 8 oz bags, we did 100 of them this year when we put up reds. I cant remember but we either had 0 failures or maybe one bag. This is equal to 50 pint jars. The directions we got in the hand out from Alaska Butcher Supply were spot on. They did not have the bar upgrade when we went in so with their input we changed the seal time on our machine and it worked great. You have to pack the bags in tight, we put approx 30-40 bags in each batch I believe. These bags are great in the Backpack, in the car and I think with the benefit of not storing,cleaning jars we may not put up jars at all next year( we di 9 cases in addition to the bags this year). My wife was very very careful to follow the directions to a "t". Wieghing the contents to be packed, and packing the cooker tight are very important facets of the proccess.

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    Default Retort Canning

    We have been doing retort canning since 2010. Love the process once we got it figured out. One very important bit of information. Since the bags need to be snug in the caner, this creates an almost solid mass, much like a roast. Be sure to extend the time for cooking well past normal times for jars. We go 10% to 20% longer than in jars. There are no FDA guidelines for the time yet although they are working on it.

    If you think about a roast it can be brown and well done on the outside when the inside can still be very rare. The center of the caner must reach temp for the extended amount of time before all the botulism bacteria is killed. Be safe not sorry, it does not hurt anything to let the caner run longer to ensure a complete process. Reheat before you eat for full safety measures.
    Last edited by VacUpack PMG; 07-22-2014 at 16:59. Reason: miss spelled words

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    Thanks for bringing this topic back up. My wife just went through it and is ready to go get a new chamber vac and start retort bagging. Thanks a lot.....
    Last edited by Fin Chaser; 07-22-2014 at 17:28. Reason: typo

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