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Top Tips for Cooking and Canning at High Altitudes

If you’re moving to the San Juan Mountain area, you’re moving to a place known for its natural beauty: glorious mountain views, rare and amazing wildlife, and opportunities for adventurous outdoor sports. With all of this, though, come the challenges of living at high altitudes. We’ve recently offered some advice on protecting your and your visitors’ health from the effects of altitude. The lower air pressure up here changes how food cooks, too. With many kinds of food, you may notice only subtle differences—that things take longer to cook, or recipes turn out slightly drier—but with others, taking altitude into account will make the difference between delicious success and inedible failure. When canning foods, you must make changes to account for the altitude in order to prevent food poisoning. Here are the top tips you need to know to cook and bake moist, delicious, safe food, even at high altitudes:


There are two common methods of preserving food by canning, and both are affected by altitude:

  • Boiling water bath canning preserves food by using a combination of a high acid content in the food and the high temperature of boiling water. Water boils at lower temperatures at higher altitudes, so you’ll need to keep your foods in the water bath longer the higher you are.
  • Pressure canning preserves lower-acid foods by exposing them to high air pressure in a pressure cooker. The effects of altitude make this more difficult. Air pressure is lower the higher up you are, so you’ll need to use higher levels of pressure to safely preserve food.

The changes you’ll need to make to be sure your food is well preserved (and safe from the bacteria that cause food poisoning) are simple ones. Just add time for boiling water bath canning and pressure for pressure canning. How much time and pressure? This post from About.com’s Food channel lists the times and pressure levels to use at each altitude level, from 1,000 feet to more than 7,000 feet above sea level.


Water evaporates faster and water boils at lower temperatures when you’re cooking at high altitudes. This means that, in general, high altitude cooking requires more time and higher temperatures, and you may need to add water or take steps to hold moisture in. To find out what to change for specific types of food (including boiled eggs, grilled foods, deep fried foods, pastas, puddings, meats, soups, candies, and more), check out these posts from Pillsbury and from the Colorado State University Extension.

The Staff at San Juan Realty, Inc.

4839 County Road 1A Loghill Mesa Ridgway Colorado for sale

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