Thursday, September 22, 2011

Pressure Canning - Buy Now & Why You Should Use This

Now is the time to buy canning supplies – it’s the end of the standard canning season and sometimes you can buy up a year’s supply (for next year in advance) at a reduced price. Even if you have to pay full price, buy now because the prices will surely be higher next year. It can save you money in the long run.

Now is also a great time to glean canning finds from yard sales, flea markets, thrift stores, etc. They don’t want this stuff sitting around until next year and sometimes you can get fantastic buys. We bought a gently used (it still looked brand new) pressure canner for $20 a couple of years ago. It had the book and everything with it.

Now, speaking of pressure canners, I want to take this time to tell you why you should be using one if you’re not already.

MYTH BUSTER! There is NO need to be afraid of them . . . just make sure you follow the rules about removing the lid AFTER the pressure has been reduced. Remember this one simple rule and you will have no fears. It’s really easy to do and pressure canning is the only way to safely preserve meats and items containing even small amounts of meat.

*What pressure canner should I buy?

  First, remember that this is a canner and not a cooker. You could cook a large roast or other items in it, but it needs to be large enough to hold multiple quart jars. A canner is specifically made to withstand canning under pressure and make it easy to can anything successfully. A pressure cooker will look like this (see below) and have a single weight that sits on top.

Most of the recipes do not require 15 pounds of pressure for canning and you will over cook your recipes which can result in poor quality.

 Next, pressure canner specifications are based on the fact that you will be using regular mouth canning jars. You may not fit them all in if you use wide mouth jars.

Next, pressure canners will have either a pressure gauge or a pressure weight. The weight can be shifted to cook at 5, 10, or 15 pounds of pressure.

Most canning recipes will show the proper amount of pounds for a 
gauge rather than a weighted gauge. Should you opt for the gauge,
you can have (and should have) it tested annually at your local
extension office. Generally there is no charge for this, but it is
crucial that it be accurate for successful canning. 
I borrowed the chart below from SBCanning. Thank you for doing
that research for me and others. It contains the research done for
the three most popular brands available.  You can find some of 
these at retail locations but all are available online.

  23 quart
~ $82 
Dial Gauge
20 pints (double stack)/7 quarts
  16 quart
Dial Gauge
10 pints/7 quarts
All American
21 1/2 quart
~ $200
Dial Gauge
19 pints (double stack)/7 quarts
All American
15 1/2 quart
Dial Gauge
10 pints/7 quarts
22 quart
Weighted Gauge
16 pints (double stack)/5 quarts
16 quart
Weighted Gauge
9 pints/7 quarts

The capacity for pints is for a single layer at the bottom of the canner,
sitting on a rack. You can purchase an additional rack, place it on top
of the first layer of pint jars, and then fill the second rack with pint jars
as well. This can also be done with half pint jars. Only the larger
canners have the ability to double stack this way.

Make sure that you have proper clearance above the top of the
canner when on your stove top if you have a range hood or 
microwave above the cooking surface.  Measure your space 
before ordering.

The difference between a gauge and weight are mostly preference.
You can set your gauge for 11 or 12 pounds if that is called for, and
the weight will create an audible noise. I’ve always preferred the
weight myself because I can tell by the number of jiggles per minute
if the heat is correct for the process without being in the same room
during the cooking time. ALL pressure canners have a venting 
system and a safety ‘valve’ built into the canner for your protection.
Just don’t leave the house while canning so that you can monitor it and
adjust the heat if needed.

Both the Presto and Mirro canners have a lid gasket that helps secure
the seal. It may need to be replaced after a few years, however the one
I’ve used the most was only replaced last year and I have been using 
since the 1980’s, my mother used it previously and her friend who
gave it to her used it before that. Both companies sell replacement
parts for their canners. The third brand, All- American does not
have a gasket.

* Some canners are not approved to work on ceramic or glass
cooktops. Be sure to check your manufacturer’s handbook
regarding this. At one time I had a glass cooktop and was 
not able to use it for canning so I had to come up with an 
alternate source for canning.

I love the convenience of having canned meats, chili, spaghetti
sauce, soups and more on hand. Whenever I make a large batch
of a variety of recipes, I make enough to eat for a day or two and
then to have a canner full of filled jars for later. It is much more
economical to buy your meats, etc. on sale and process them 
yourself than to purchase canned meats. There is NOTHING
safe about water bath for meats!! A pressure canner will also
save you a lot of time when preserving low acid vegetables.
Water bath is safe for acidic fruits, vegetables, jellies & jams.




  1. Amen! I am a happy convert to the world of pressure canning and I totally agree that folks should not be afraid of it. There is nothing better than having healthy, quick meals in jars in my pantry when I come home after a long day of work, dog-tired and just can't stand the thought of cooking a meal. I say it over and over...this is the real convenience food. You know exactly what is in it, how and when it was made, and want you want to do with it. Meats, soups, beans, and veggies ready to go as main or side dishes - how great is that?. I'm hoping to do some kidney beans this weekend as chili season is only a couple of weeks away.

  2. Good for you Grace! It truly is convenience foods at their best.
    I have canned chili and spaghetti sauce along with soups and lots of canned meats. Hubby is hoping to get a deer or two that I can process in jars too.