10 Things to Consider before buying a Pressure Canner

We’ve shared considerations about buying a dehydrator (and then shared some more) and we’ve shared some do’s and don’ts when looking to buy a pressure canner.  Earlier this week we even showed you two types of pressure canners to avoid and two to consider.  These posts are all intended to help guide you to the right ‘model’ or piece of equipment that will suit your kitchen and your home.  Today’s article is different than those.

The following list isn’t a guide on acquiring a canner – it’s meant as a list of questions to ask yourself before choosing a model.  I’m hoping it will help you determine if pressure canning is worth your time and investment.  There’s no right or wrong here but I hope the list will help you decide what’s right for you:

  1. Do you have a deep freezer?
    A deep freezer will store a LOT of food and will generally preserve it’s texture and nutrients better than pressure canning.  We don’t have room for a deep freezer so this makes it a good option for us.
  2. Do you have a cold cellar?
    If you do, fermenting and learning to store vegetables (tomatoes can last for weeks and even months is treated right) can be kept in a cold room.  It takes less energy and can be more affordable (if you have a cold room).
  3. Do you grow your own?  Have you considered winter crops?
    Many crops, including kale and spinach will last into early winter and reduce the need for processing as you can keep them in the ground.  It’s less work and saves energy.
  4. Do you grow your own?  Have you considered building a hoop house?
    A simple technique to preserve autumn veg is to cover your gardens.  It won’t last all winter but it will extend the harvest and cut into your need to preserve food via canning or pressure canning.
  5. Are you doing this for health benefits?
    A lot of people are surprised to find out that many nutrients are reduced during pressure canning.  Freezing, fermenting, and dehydrating can all preserve food with high nutritional values.  But, compared to buying cans of peas or commercial broth, pressure canning is far superior.
  6. Do you have room to store the canner?
    It does take room as it’s rather large (we have 1 closet in our entire house so we live with it on display).
  7. Do you have room to store the jars?
    A small amount ofpressure canning (i.e. 12 pints of peas, 12 quarts of asparagus, 12 quarts of stock) starts to take up a lot of storage room very quickly.  Thankfully we have the Great Wall of Preserves to stow it all away.
  8. Do you know what type of canner you are going to buy?
    Don’t make this decision lightly; you’ll want to be sure that you’re choosing a dial gauge or a weighted gauge canner with open eyes.
  9. Chose a dial gauge canner?  Do you have a place to have the gauge checked every year?
    A lot of people feel more comfortable with the perceived accuracy and easy of a dial-gauge canner.  Make sure you have access to have it checked before committing to buy one.
  10. Do you enjoy preserving?
    This may seem like a silly question but if you don’t enjoy it, you probably won’t get as much out of this as you can (pun intended!)

If these questions seem negative, they’re not meant to be.  I love our pressure canner and frequently use it.  It’s most common use is to preserve a few liters of stock at a time to get us through the winter months.  I love the ritual of making stock, filling the canner and having them on the shelf.

Comments

  1. Carolyn says:

    When you pressure can stock, how compulsive are you about straining for a clear stock? I get a fair amount of sediment even though I’m careful about skimming, keeping it at a low simmer, and straining. I know I could clarify it like consommé, but that’s a lot of extra work. There isn’t any drawback to caning the stock that hasn’t been clarified, other than aesthetics, is there?

  2. ecoteri says:

    ho-Kay, folks. now you got me going. I have a large 23 Quart Presto pressure canner, it has a dial gauge but I live on Vancouver Island So there is no place to get the gauge checked, and after a few years I got myself a 3 set (5 10 15 pound) weight to use. Prefer the weights for so many reasons – not least the lack of need to babysit the canner, it is vocal when it is too high, quiet when it is too low. the dial is clearly out of whack but is useful for ‘getting close’ gauging, so I leave it on. I use the pressure canner for stock (LOTS of stock – an embarrassing large quantity of stock) and for beans, asparagus, and tomato sauce (just to save time) and also for some chutneys / salsas that are perhaps not quite up to PH snuff. I use the canner for rehydrated dried beans (SUPER USE FOR THE CANNER) and this alone is worth the investment -= if you are disciplined in soaking the beans with a 24 hour plan to clean, soak, prep, can, cool and take out of the canner, having your own home=canned beans is so beyond excellent. but you do need to plan a few days in advance to get the best beans. I sometimes (although rarely) use the pressure canner to COOK things like old chickens or chicken necks to get meat/broth/etc for the dog to eat. could do more but I am lazy about cleaning the canner to the level that I want to use as a cooker, so sometimes I use a pressure cooker that we have…. The big deal for me is with the presto, you simply MUST purchase spare rings and seals. if you don’t have them on-hand, you will regret. mine needs new ones at least once every 2 years and more often if I am on a roll with the preserving (and we do have a farm so we have lots to can). Having the weights and the spare rings/seals, I am secure in knowing I can have a few frantic tomato weeks in the fall, and happy to know that when I can green beans or asparagus it is safe for my family.
    Oh, and don’t forget soups! soup is so super to make and pressure can, my kids love to have homemade soup, and I am happier to offer them that rather than sodium enriched store-bought

  3. Florence says:

    Your remarks on pressure canning on a glass/ceramic top stove are a little out of date. I have a newer glass top stove and it mentions being able to pressure can in the product information booklet. It does have an extra large burner area that fits a canner well.
    I bought a Presto 16 Qt. weight pressure canner and it says on the box and in the literature, that you can use a glass top stove. I also use it to water bath pint jars. I do not use it to water bath quarts. The only thing that YOU MUST be careful about is to not slide the canner over the glass. You MUST lift it off of the glass. It will eventually scratch the glass.
    The stove will adjust for over heating, but I slowly lower the heat after it comes to pressure. As long as the weight is rocking at a nice speed, there have been no problems with the pressure canning. I have canned vegetables, beans, jams, pickled items and several meats. I have used the canner with the stove many times over the last three years.

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