Retort canning

kasilofchrisn

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Decided to put something different in my canner today.
Got me some red salmon so I decided to can them up.
But instead of using a metal cans or glass jars I decided to do some retort canning in retort pouches.
What is a retort pouch you ask?
It is a flexible foil pouch that can be used much like a traditional can or jar. These have been around for years and you can buy things such as starkist tuna in retort pouches.
I really like the concept of the retort pouch. So much easier to pack when you're camping or hiking things like that. Also very nice if you're sending some salmon in the mail as jars are easily broken by the Postal Service but not the retort pouch.
To start with you are going to need a chamber vacuum sealer some retort pouches and your canner.
Retort pouches come in different sizes.
Some common sizes are 4 oz 8 oz and 16 oz.
8 oz is equivalent of a half pint jar and the 16 oz is equivalent of a pint jar.
When you load the salmon into the bags you have to make sure and weigh it as it must weigh pretty close to to what the bag is rated for so an 8-ounce bag must hold no more than 8 oz of fish, meat, or whatever you're canning.
Once you put the fish in the bag then it must be vacuum sealed in your chamber vacuum.
I use the vacmaster vp210 and I had to adjust the heat seal time adding more time for the thicker foil bag.
some brands of vacuum sealers may require you purchase a separate heat seal bar that is made for doing retort pouches.
With the vp210 I was able to use the one that originally came with the machine.
Once your bags are vacuum sealed you can then can them as you normally would.
Remember though you must use a quality chamber vacuum you cannot do this with any of the suck type machines such as the FoodSaver.
one thing you have to watch out for with the retort pouches is they will expand while they're cooking and so you must pack them very tightly into your canner to prevent the bags from over expanding and rupturing the bag.
One tip that I recommend that worked for me is if you do not have a lot of bags to can is to find a smaller pot that fits inside of your canner and pack the bags tightly in there and then can them.
This way the bags push against each other and cannot over expand.
Today I did some 8-ounce retort pouches.
I ordered these bags online but I also hear they can be purchased from Alaska Butcher Supply in Anchorage.
I believe I paid around $42 for 125 8-ounce bags or a little over $0. 33 a piece.
Not bad price wise really that's about the same price as new lids for your jars every year.
The retort pouches have an easy open tear strip on the bottom for easy access to your food no can opener required.
Sure jars are reusable and they are handy but you also have to wash and store them.
The metal cans can be nice but you need a can sealer and the cans are getting expensive locally if I buy them there over $2 each.
So if you're looking to can fish, meat, Etc. Give the retort pouch a try sometime I think I'm really going to like them.
I did 15 pouches and all of them canned nicely and remained sealed when I was done.
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Furudak

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This is something that I've had interest in for a while. The reliability and consequence of failure has kept me at bay thus far. Thanks for the post, and keep us updated! I'm hoping for more positive reports!
 

Chez

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Seems like a great idea but wouldn't it be better to cook/smoke the fish first?
 

kwackkillncrew

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you pressure cook the bags just like you would jars so the pouches come out cooked and ready to store in the pantry. I think the idea is that you chamber seal them then pressure cook them in the sealed bags to cook the fish and kill any bacteria that could have gotten on the fish while processing it.
 

Chez

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you pressure cook the bags just like you would jars so the pouches come out cooked and ready to store in the pantry. I think the idea is that you chamber seal them then pressure cook them in the sealed bags to cook the fish and kill any bacteria that could have gotten on the fish while processing it.


Wont the sealed bags expand and break the seal under the high heat?
 

kasilofchrisn

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Wont the sealed bags expand and break the seal under the high heat?
I think your a bit concerned confused.
You only cook first when using metal cans.
Jars and retort pouches are cooked properly in the canning process.
The expansion issue was clearly explained if you read my post.
So please read it in it's entirety first then ask your questions.
I'll be happy to answer them if I can at that time.
 

Chez

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I think your a bit concerned confused.
You only cook first when using metal cans.
Jars and retort pouches are cooked properly in the canning process.
The expansion issue was clearly explained if you read my post.
So please read it in it's entirety first then ask your questions.
I'll be happy to answer them if I can at that time.

I read what you wrote but packing the bags close together will not stop expansion through the top of the bag, only the sides and bottom.

Jars expel the gasses out of the snug fitting lid and then suck the lit down as everything cools. If the lids are on too tight the jar will break as the gasses expand.

You've done it and I'm not disputing that it works. I guess the bags are more flexible and stretch than I thought they would
 

kasilofchrisn

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I read what you wrote but packing the bags close together will not stop expansion through the top of the bag, only the sides and bottom.

That's why I wrote that I extended the heat seal time to properly seal these heavier bags.
Also that's why you weigh out each bags worth of fish.
8 oz bags are designed for 8 oz of fish.
There is extra room in the bag for expansion.
This post was meant to help those thinking of using retort pouches who might benefit from learning how I do it.
I did not intend it as a post comparing the jars, cans, and bags or how they differ in canning them.
I like it and it works great for me.

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Chez

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That's why I wrote that I extended the heat seal time to properly seal these heavier bags.
Also that's why you weigh out each bags worth of fish.
8 oz bags are designed for 8 oz of fish.
There is extra room in the bag for expansion.
This post was meant to help those thinking of using retort pouches who might benefit from learning how I do it.
I did not intend it as a post comparing the jars, cans, and bags or how they differ in canning them.
I like it and it works great for me.

Sent from my S60 using Tapatalk

I didnt know about the retort bags and thats why I was asking questions. My only experience is with jars and some reading about using cans, I dont know why you act like I was attacking you when I was trying to learn something new.
 

kasilofchrisn

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I didnt know about the retort bags and thats why I was asking questions. My only experience is with jars and some reading about using cans, I dont know why you act like I was attacking you when I was trying to learn something new.
Was not intended as an attack.
I apologize if it came out that way.
Merely pointing out that I felt I had addressed your questions in my original post.

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Trakn

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Thanks for the post Chris. I've known of retort bags for sometime now. I'm kinda old fashioned and like jars but seeing your post I think I"ll try some. I too like plain salmon jarred up with some olive oil and salt. Any way thanks for the post.
 

jojomoose

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Thanks for the post. I a, going to be doing some this weekend. Gonna do a bunch of flavors just like those tuna packets. Did u max out your heat seal time? And did u put some lightly smoked in there?
 

kasilofchrisn

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Thanks for the post. I a, going to be doing some this weekend. Gonna do a bunch of flavors just like those tuna packets. Did u max out your heat seal time? And did u put some lightly smoked in there?
No smoke on mine.
And I'm not sure.
Just kept going up until it sealed real well.

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Andy82Hoyt

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I picked up some retort pouches from Alaska butcher last week. Butch said to start at 3.0 on the heat for retort pouches. That’s for a vacmaster 215. Then try and pull it apart, if you can, increase the heat.


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tony22

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On account of this thread I picked up some pouches from AK Butcher and got the same advice for the VP 215 that Andy82Hoyt mentioned above.

Ended up going with a 4.5 seal time and a slightly longer cool time. That worked good, and even though my seal didn't seem quite as strong as what was demonstrated to me at AK Butcher, I didn't have any problems. Packed them into the canner semi-tight (~16 pouches on their sides) and put a pyrex pie dish over the top of them. Canned at 11psi for 110 min. Not sure if I needed to add the extra time, but someone mentioned adding 10-20% to make sure the pouches in the center get thoroughly attended to. No failures and I really like this over glass jars.

If anyone is interested in the full chapter referenced above by akgriz I excerpted it from the book here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/mkn1oqkz4p7icht/retort_pouches_extract.pdf?dl=0
 

gokorn1

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AK Butcher has a info/instruction sheet they will give you along with some sample bags to make sure your machine can seal these bags
 

Festus500

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On account of this thread I picked up some pouches from AK Butcher and got the same advice for the VP 215 that Andy82Hoyt mentioned above.

Ended up going with a 4.5 seal time and a slightly longer cool time. That worked good, and even though my seal didn't seem quite as strong as what was demonstrated to me at AK Butcher, I didn't have any problems. Packed them into the canner semi-tight (~16 pouches on their sides) and put a pyrex pie dish over the top of them. Canned at 11psi for 110 min. Not sure if I needed to add the extra time, but someone mentioned adding 10-20% to make sure the pouches in the center get thoroughly attended to. No failures and I really like this over glass jars.

If anyone is interested in the full chapter referenced above by akgriz I excerpted it from the book here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/mkn1oqkz4p7icht/retort_pouches_extract.pdf?dl=0
file deleted
 

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