Pressure Canning on Glass Top Stoves?

I’ve never thought a lot about our stove.  We live in a rental unit and I’ve always kind of seen it as the hand I was dealt; I work with it, it tolerates me and we get along.  It’s an older electric (coil) stove and oven.  It has hot and cool spots and several of the plastic dials have started to break off but it’s our stove and it will do.

Every once in a while we hear a comment or a question from someone thinking a lot about their stoves.  It’s generally after they have bought a pressure canner, opened the box and found a warning sticker saying:

CAUTION/ WARNING: DO NOT USE ON GLASS-TOP STOVES

The warning always seems to come too late; it either wasn’t written on the label/ online description or it wasn’t seen.

From all I’ve read, there is not a single pressure canner that’s safe to use on a glass-top stove (if you bought one, don’t fear – I’ll provide an option that won’t require replacing your stove!)

I’ve never spent a lot of time worrying about glass top stoves as I’ve never had one (though my Aunt had one as a child and I remember being told to stay away from it as it could be hot).  I love the idea that they clean easily but they just aren’t my cup of tea.

When I first heard about the issue of pressure canning and glass to stoves I assumed that the issue related to weight.  I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about it: 6 one-quart jars weight about 15 pounds when  full.  If you add 10 pounds for a few inches of water and a canner, this weighs less than a fully dressed turkey (with other pots to boot) and isn’t a lot more than 6 quarts of water that many use to cook pasta.  And I’ve never seen a warning on a pasta pot regarding weight…

My next assumption was heat.  It was a logical assumption as increased heat is the differentiator between a pressure canner and a regular pot.  I concluded that glass could be heat-sensitive and, therefore, pressure canning could cause potential problems with glass surfaces because it gets hotter than a regular pot.

I was only partially correct.

Pressure canners do get hotter than regular pots.  This could present a potential problem for a glass-top stove EXCEPT the stoves have safety measures built-in.  When the element recognizes the cooking surface as getting ‘overheated’ it lowers the intensity of the heat (overriding the temperature you’ve set the element to).  There is no such sensor or coil or gas-to stoves.  The change in temperature means that the pressure in the can will vary and this will make the safety of the product unpredictable.

If you have a glass-top stove, do not pressure can on it.

What are your options?    The easiest option is to buy a propane stove to do the job.  Propane (or a unit modified to accept natural gas) is a superior system to any kind of electric stove as you have ultimate control over the heat/ energy used.

There are 3 options for this (from potentially cheapest to most expensive).:

  • Some BBQs have side elements.  My parents have a BBQ like this and have adapted it to natural gas.  We use it for canning all the time.  If you already have one of these, you’re set!  This could be the most expensive option but many people have these already and overlook them (as we did).
  • Camping stove.  It’s the lease expensive option.  Take your time choosing the right unit for your needs as some will support heavier weights than others.  We have a Coleman Fold ‘n Go InstaStart Stove (affiliate link) that I’ve never canned with but think would do a fine job.  I like that the  racks that hold the pot are heavy duty and would easily support my canner.  Camping Stoves are generally less than $100.
  • Brew Stove/ Tomato Burner.  We have two large elements (like this one; also an affiliate link) which we use to process huge batches (8 or more bushels) of tomatoes in the fall.  We’ve also used them for large batches of beets, corn roasts and I know several who brew in them.  They’re generally less than $150.

The biggest disadvantage of any of these systems is the need for an independent fuel source (you do not want to run out of propane in the middle of pressure canning).  There’s also a significant advantage: they are all used outside so any heat produces by canning can stay out of your kitchen (important in the middle of summer)!

Comments

  1. Stephanie says:

    I’ve been pressure canning using my glass-top stove for two years now and haven’t had any problems. It does take longer to come up to temperature (probably for the very reason that you stated, the element cycles the heat on-and-off). However, once the pressure canner reaches the minimum pressure, I’ve never had problems maintaining the pressure for the required time period. In fact, it often goes over the minimum pressure!

  2. Ruckusbutt says:

    My lovely house came with a high-end glass cook top stove. I hate it. From simple things such as boiling a large pot of water (takes eons) to properly searing a couple steaks (forgettaboutit), it is more trouble than it’s worth. And when said pot of pasta boils over a little, clean-up is a nightmare and often takes weeks to be fully rid of the marks, even using the specialty scrub pads and cleaners out there.

    But I was spoiled early on with my first shoe-box apartment having a very old gas stove. It sucked having the oven gas as the heat was crazy uneven (with no window and only a hanging thermometer inside, so you had to open the door to see the temp), but the gas elements rocked! Of course, being an old stove, we had to be careful bc the pilot lights would blow out all the time if the window was open and the whole apartment would smell like gas but….cooking was amazing ;)

    Also, I water bath can on my glass cooktop and it is no picnic either. Not only does it take a long time for the water to come back to boil after adding jars but I constantly worry that the banging jars will crack it or something, even though I have a grate between the pot and jars. That said, I’ve canned a LOT of food with it and had no issues. I do use my BBQ side element as much as possible. I would never trust this stove with pressure canning. :( One day, I will have gas again…

  3. I pressure canned on my glass top stove for a couple of years. That is how long it took me to burn out all of my burners, one by one, while pressure canning. I think the heat buildup is too much for the burner and it burns out over time. It doesn’t happen immediately, but it did happen repeatedly to me. Needless to say, my new stove is the old fashioned coil burner type. (Sadly, we don’t have gas in my area.)

  4. I’ve also been pressure canning on my glass top stove for years (going on six this summer) and never had a problem. Mine also often goes over the minimum temp requiring me to be close to monitor and adjust as necessary. I did a lot of research and found that often the maker of the stove doesn’t recommend canning on it (probably for the above listed reasons) but it’s not every stove. I think it’s really more about the individual stove than anything else.

  5. Late catching up on my email this week (your newsletter that is, which I enjoy BTW) and just about had a heart attack when I read this since I also have been pressure canning on mine :) anyway just checked my Presto booklet and it says “If canning on an electric smoothtop range, clean the stovetop with a cooktop polishing cream, according to the stovetop manufacturer’s instructions, before and after canner use.” Haven’t had any issues and I won’t mind to much if it burns out the elements looking for an excuse to switch to gas (miss that from the old house) but thanks for bringing this to my attention. :) cheers.

  6. I had to buy a new canning pot to use on my glass-top induction stove. The instructions indicate that the stove can be used for canning, with very explicit instructions about the size of the pot. I can’t use my pressure canner on the induction stove though (because the pot isn’t magnetic, therefore induction doesn’t work.) I now pressure can on a portable burner and/or the side burner of my BBQ, depending upon weather conditions.

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