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Although modern food preservation methods have largely reduced the need for home canning, many people still have an interest in the time-proven practice — especially when faced with a bumper crop of fresh fruits or vegetables. Indeed, many cooks love to create homemade jams, preserves, and soups for themselves or as gifts.
A pressure canner safely seals the lids of jars or containers. The high pressure inside a canner can also kill bacteria and pathogens that may be present. But with a number of pressure canners on the market today, how do you find the best one for you?
Today’s pressure canners offer safety features and design elements that take the fear out of the canning process.
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If you’re ready to purchase a pressure canner, check out the matrix above for our five favorites. For more on how to find the right pressure canner for your kitchen, keep reading.
There are two types of pressure canners: dial gauge and weighted gauge. They measure pressure differently.
Dial Gauge: This type of pressure canner has a dial that shows the pressure level inside. As a safety precaution, it’s important that the dial works correctly, and it should be inspected as part of the regular maintenance of your pressure canner.
Weighted Gauge: A weighted gauge pressure canner is a good option for those who like to set and forget. These models alert users when they reach the set pressure.
Choose the size of your pressure canner based on how many jars you want to can at once.
Pressure canners are sized by quart. Some models allow you to stack jars on top of each other to can more at one time. Pressure canners are large appliances, so make sure you have the storage space in your kitchen.
Product in Depth
Product in Depth
Because of its light weight, the Presto 01781 23-Quart Pressure Canner and Cooker can be used safely on glass stovetops. While other pressure canners limit pressure options to 5, 10, or 15 psi, the Presto allows users to make subtle adjustments by changing the heat settings and monitoring the pressure dial. Pressures of 20 to 30 psi are possible with this unit, although we don’t recommend exceeding 15 psi for most canning projects — regardless of altitude.
Aluminum pressure canners are cheaper, lighter, and heat up quickly, but they aren’t very durable. Stainless steel pressure canners last longer, but they are pricier and heat up slowly.
While tomatoes and berries are high in acid, foods like meats and potatoes are not and require a pressure canner for safe preservation.
A pressure canner is a hefty piece of kitchen equipment, and you need to be able to get a good grip on it. Make sure it’s comfortable to carry. A pressure canner requires a firm hold to move around, especially when it’s full to the brim.
Canning is a time-consuming process. Set aside an afternoon to prep and process your food using your pressure canner.
Twist: Some pressure canner lids twist to lock and seal. A twist lid uses a gasket to ensure a proper seal. These often need to be replaced.
Product in Depth
Product in Depth
The Presto 01781 23-Quart Pressure Canner and Cooker can hold seven quart jars, or up to 22 pint jars, depending on the stacking configuration. Some experienced canners do not recommend crowding pint jars under high pressure, however. A maximum of 18 pint jars reduces the chances of cracking or leaking. If using the hot water bath method for acidic foods, the canner’s capacity is closer to seven quart jars on a single level.
Choose a pressure canner that’s appropriate for use on your stovetop. Some pressure canners will scratch glass stovetops. Aluminum pressure canners can’t be used on induction stovetops. If you can’t find a model that’s safe for use on your stovetop, you can use a pressure canner on a hot plate or other portable burner.
If you have a glass stovetop, look for a lightweight pressure canner that won’t damage the glass.
Pressure canners range from $50 to over $400. More expensive canners are made of higher-quality materials and are built to last. Larger canners are pricier, too.
However, if you use your pressure canner to preserve food, chances are you’ll pay for the cost of the appliance quickly. Canning summer crops for the winter allows you to avoid buying expensive out-of-season produce.
Pressure canners quickly pay for themselves. Canning summer crops allows you to avoid buying pricey out-of-season produce come winter.
Q. Couldn’t I just use a hot water bath to can foods?
A. This is the traditional method used by home canners, but you can’t reach the same temperature with boiling water as you can with a pressure canner. And if you want to preserve foods with low acidity, you must use a pressure canner.
Q. Why is such a high temperature required for canning?
A. Boiling water is not hot enough to kill off the bacteria responsible for botulism. Botulism spores thrive in the conditions created by improperly canned low-acid foods. Skipping a pressure canner and opting for a hot water bath when canning low-acid foods could lead to dangerous health risks.
Q. What are low-acid foods?
A. While tomatoes and pickled foods are high in acidity, foods like green beans, meats, and potatoes are not. Even when canning high-acid foods, it’s important to stick to recipes to ensure that the final product is safe to eat, especially if you’re new to canning.
Q. Can my pressure canner explode?
A. If everything is working correctly, no. Keep any vents on your pressure canner’s lid open during the canning process to ensure there is no possibility for unsafe pressure buildup. When filling your canning jars, make sure to leave some room at the top (called “headspace”) to allow for the contents of the jar to expand. Otherwise jars can break open or not seal properly during the canning process.
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At BestReviews, we purchase every product we review with our own funds. We never accept anything from product manufacturers. Our goal is to be 100% objective in our analysis, and we do not want to run the risk of being swayed by products provided at no cost.