Saturday, August 6, 2016

My Homemade Vacuum Canner Actually Works! ( Updated)

There was the usual multiple trips to the hardware store and a couple of first try failures but I finally made it happen.

Of course after I spent dang near thirty five dollars on the copper line and all the fittings I thought I was going to need I wound up using mostly what I already had on hand. It never fails.
I did have to go back and get a compression fitting adapter to go from the compressor to the copper line, the one I had was too big.

Several different attempts at getting it put together but I finally hit on the right combination of parts.
The seals between the fittings that go through the lid were particularly difficult to come up with. I finally found some rubber backed washers and drilled them out just enough to get a 1/8th pipe close nipple through and then tightened the whole thing up with a fitting inside to clamp it together.

There are some improvements already in the works but they will come after I get back from the desperately needed vacation we are going on next week.

I am going to plug up another hole in the top with a proper vacuum gauge just because and I am also going to screw in some quick disconnect fittings where the copper line goes into the lid so I can disconnect it and set it out of the way when I am loading and unloading it.

It does work though, really well.
A little bit of vacuum can be extremely strong when trying to get something loose. Just out of curiousity I tried to get the lid back off the first one that sealed and with both hands grasped around the jar, prying up with both thumbtips hard, I couldn't get the lid to come off.
I am going to have to pry them off with something and probably damage the lid. That little vacuum pump really gets with the program.

A couple of things I had to learn the hard way are;

1. Use a Ball Valve because letting air in quickly to fill the vacuum is a key part of the process.( Update 1, A major Tip 'O' The Hat to B here. He warned me about this in a previous post and I forgot about it, until I was having problems with the twist open valve I had found at first. I remembered someone had said something about it but couldn't remember who it was. That is now rectified.

Update 2 He also recommends using a butterfly valve instead of a ball valve. Those can be ordered here.

2. Screw the ring down until it touches the lid enough that you can feel just the slightest bit of drag before you load it up.
Too loose and it won't seal.
It took me a few attempts before I figured that one out.

Update 3 , another Tip 'O' the Hat to B for advising to oil the gasket under the lid occasionally. He recommends any light, food grade oil. Wash it off with soap and water occasionally and reapply some.

We use industrial sized vacuum pumps where I work so this part did not surprise me but someone who is not used to being around them might freak out when they see a bit of smoke coming out of the exhaust port on the little vacuum pump.

This is normal. The ones at work are vented outside through 4 inch pipes because they will smoke you out when they are pulling a hard vacuum.
You just need to keep an eye on the oil level in your pump and keep some handy. They don't use much but they will use some eventually.

I am just tickled that this is going to work out so well, there is going to be a few things get sealed up and put away for later use.
There are a couple of bags of pasta and some White Rice that need to get done, anything that is dry and in a bag is going to get the treatment.
It takes less than two minutes a run to get things sealed up tight.

I love beans and rice but I am pretty much the only one here that does so this will work out great.

If you went out to buy all the parts you need to build one of these from scratch it would cost you at least a couple of hundred dollars.
I already had the pressure canner and a bunch of the fittings.
Then I got a smoking deal on the little vacuum pump because I took advantage of Amazon's offer of fifty dollars off your order when you apply and qualify for their dang credit card.

I'm still into it for no small amount but it is a pretty solid set up that should last for years and years.
It will eventually pay for its self by me being able to do long term storage of goods that would normally go bad from not getting used up around here.

The wife went out grocery shopping while I was working on this project and I had the garage door open when she got back.
She rolled her eyes and asked me what the hell I was up to now so I showed her the upside down jar of beans without a ring on it and told her I was vacuum sealing some stuff.
She just rolled here eyes again and went in the house, shaking her head.

My wife is convinced I am weird and possibly 3/4's away around the bend.

She is probably closer to the truth than I would like to admit but I am trying to take care of my family's long term needs, whether she appreciates it or not.

Besides, I love to tinker with stuff and this was a perfect little project for that.


  1. For some reason when I hit the publish button to update this post, Blogger decided to double post the whle thing and when I went to fix that, all the comments disappeared. I saw that I still had the original post open in another tab so I copied them and am posting them here.

    BAugust 6, 2016 at 6:56 PM
    Things like Rice and Pasta can, of you aren't careful, poke a hole in the in the bag under the pressure from the vacuum and ruin the seal... I often put pasta and rice and other things that might poke holes in paper bags first.

    I also find that a union works well as a quick disconnect. I welded two ears on the nut to make breaking the seal easier.

    Told ya in your earlier post that a BIG valve works better. If you can find one, use a butterfly valve. Open faster than a ball valve.


    Oh, BTW, LUBE THE SEALING RING on your pressure vessel. Trust me on this.

    PhilAugust 6, 2016 at 7:49 PM
    After I fiddle farted around with a small twist open valve, I found a ball valve. As I was looking for it I remembered someone saying something about it but couldn't remember who it was, thank you!
    I am taking everything out of the bag and put it in the mason jar. I throw the bags away at that point because they are useless.

    As for the seal, mineral oil maybe?
    Stuff like cooking oil goes rancid after a while.

    Thanks again.

    BAugust 6, 2016 at 9:01 PM
    Any light oil works. I use olive oil and wash it off with Soap and Water occasionally.

    I tried to copy and paste this once already, Blogger double posted the entire post AGAIN and all the comments disappeared AGAIN.
    This is the third shot at it.

  2. Well done I love experiments even ones that don't work

  3. I'll be a party pooper here......We purchased a Food Saver sealer at COSTCO several years ago, to replace our old one that had died a natural death.

    We use that thing on a regular basis, from sealing meats to vacuum sealing jars of dry goods.

    No muss, no fuss.

    Best prep investment that I have ever made.


    1. But you, by purchasing the thing instead of making it, lost out on the fun of creation.....and didn't learn as you went.

    2. Didn't feel like re inventing the wheel.


  4. Congratulating on the vacuum canner. Don't worry about the wife looking at you like your nuts she knew that when she married you.

  5. Wonder if you displaced the air in the canner with nitrogen gas before applying the vacuum, would not the canned goods would last for many years past the regular vacuum canned goods?
    It would take a couple more fittings, a bottle of gas and a regulator.

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