Friday, September 18, 2009

Investing in a Pressure Canner

I have been struggling with a small 10-quart pressure cooker/canner for canning. However, I am leery each time I use it as there is no gauge, or weight, only a dial that you switch over to a choice of two pressure settings. Then you have to guess at how to adjust the heat to maintain the correct temperature/pressure. It also only holds up to four-pint jars at one time.

This year’s harvest has proven to me that it was time to invest in a real pressure canner. Determined not to make a bad investment, I turned to the experts, the members of the GardenWeb Harvest Forum.

I learned that dial gauges can be inaccurate even when brand new and should be inspected before using by your local extension office. They then should be inspected each year for accuracy.

I learned that weighted gauges are accurate indicators of the proper pressure by jiggling several times a minute or rocking gently when they are maintaining the correct pressure (depending on your pressure canner model). The weighted gauge set comes in three pieces: the center is 5 lb psi, add one ring and you have 10 lb psi, add the third piece along with the other 2 and you have 15 lb psi. The weight you need to use is dependent on your altitude.

I learned that if you have a pressure canner with a dial gauge, you may also be able to purchase a weighted gauge and use it in place of the counterweight that comes with the pressure canner for more accuracy.

I also refreshed my memory of safe canning practices by reading the information found on the National Center for Home Food Preservation.

Armed with this knowledge, I went shopping online and was almost ready to purchase this Presto 16-Quart Pressure Canner for $80:


And additional 3-Piece Weighted Gauge for another $20:


Then I saw another post on the GardenWeb Harvest Forum that there was a version of the Presto 16-Quart Pressure Canner only available at WalMart that has the 3-Piece Weighted Gauge and no dial gauge. Price: $69. I picked it up this week:


This will be a huge time saver for me as it holds 10 pint jars. I will also feel better about the safety of my canned items. I can’t wait to try it this weekend.

9 comments:

  1. I bought a new one at WalMart last year, that only holds 4 quarts. Those things are expensive! Anyway, I still need to pick up a rack for mine, so the jars will be held off of the bottom.

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  2. oops, I meant to say 4 quart jars. It has a capacity of 8 quarts.....

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  3. EG, I just made a circle out of old canning rings to keep mine off of the bottom. I held them together with wire and it works perfectly. I'll post a picture this weekend.

    Grafix, I don't do enough canning of non acidic foods, so a BWB works fine for me. I don't even have a 'real' BWB canner since I have a (#*$*Y% glass cook top, but use an old stock pot instead. It works great!

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  4. EG: Yours is just a little smaller than my old one. I never canned quarts, but 4 pints is what fit into the rack that came with the canner. This one will allow me to can up to 10 pints or 7 quarts at the same time.

    The old canning rings idea that Ribbit mentioned is a good idea, you may also be able to find a small cooling rack that may work too.

    Stefaneener: I think so too. I just have to remember that is is a long term investment and will be used for years to come.

    Ribbit: I like canning beans. Especially if I have some frozen already. We try to use the frozen ones first to avoid freezer burn. Then we'll start using the canned beans. I'll probably pressure can more now that I have this.

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  5. Dang, I'm glad I checked back, because ribbit has a great idea! Duh...why didn't I think of that? (face/palms)heh. I have several extra rings, and will line the inside of the pot with them.

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  6. I have a Presto 23 quart pressure canner and it has been a real work horse for me. I think you are really going to enjoy your new investment.

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  7. EG: you can't think of EVERYTHING :)

    kitsapFG: I almost bought the 23 quart because there wasn't much difference in price at amazon.com and they had free shipping. But I think it would have been too big for me right now. I don't think it would even fit between my stovetop and the fan/hood thingie. I can always "upgrade" down the road.

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  8. I'm sure you will LOVE the canner. I have an old family canner, and am preparing to fire it up again tomorrow to can some black beans. I canned a few batches last year and they were far superior to supermarket canned beans, and probably cheaper, too.

    Have fun!

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