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)!