Altitude adjustments for canning depend on your elevation and the type of canning. The charts below make the adjustments easy.
If you live at an altitude of over 1,000 feet above sea level (305 meters), then you need to adjust processing times or pounds of pressure for safe home canning.
The instructions for canning altitude adjustments on the National Center for Home Food Preservation website are about as clear as mud. These charts are from the Ball Blue Book folks and South Dakota State University, so I figure they know what they're doing.
Why do we need altitude adjustments for canning?
We need altitude adjustments for canning because of atmospheric pressure. Higher altitudes have less of it because there's less atmosphere pressing down on them.
Once you go above 1000 feet, water boils at temperatures lower than 212 degrees Fahrenheit.
To compensate for this, we add either extra time or extra pressure to kill off the botulism spores and other microbes.
Pressure Canning Altitude Chart
If you are canning at an altitude higher than 1,000 feet above sea level, adjust pressure canner pounds as indicated below.
You don't need to increase the processing time, only the amount of pressure used.
Altitude Feet Weighted Gauge Dial Gauge
- 0 – 1,000 10 11
- 1,001 – 2,000 15 11
- 2,001 – 4,000 15 12
- 4,001 – 6,000 15 13
- 6,001 – 8,000 15 14
- 8,001 – 10,000 15 15
For example, if the instructions said to process at 11 pounds of pressure in a dial gauge canner at sea level, I should increase the pressure to 13 pounds of pressure if I live at 5000 feet.
Hot Water Bath Canning at High Altitude
The altitude adjustment for canning in a water bath canner simply involves extra processing time.
Altitude Feet Increase Processing Time
- 1,001- 3,000 5 minutes
- 3,001- 6,000 10 minutes
- 6,001- 8,000 15 minutes
- 8,001-10,000 20 minutes
How to Find Your Altitude
Start by searching “elevation of (your town, your state)” in your favorite online search engine.
For example, searching on “elevation of Green Bay, Wisconsin” gives me an answer of 581′ above sea level.
If you can't find your town, pick a larger nearby metropolitan area.
Alternatively, you should also be able to find your altitude from local information sources, such as your local planning commission or zoning office.
More Food Preservation Tips
We have dozens of articles on home food preservation and many different preserving recipes, all listed on the Recipes and Kitchen Tips index page.