The best pressure canner
Canning food is a great way of preserving gluts of fruits or vegetables if you grow your own, or of making the most of heavily discounted produce at the store. Although it's safe to can high-acidity foods (such as berries or tomatoes) in a water bath, a pressure canner is the safest way of canning low-acidity foods so that you don't get a buildup of harmful bacteria.
Read this guide to learn more about pressure canners. Our favorite model is the All-American Pressure Cooker and Canner, a large solid canner that can fit seven standard quart jars inside.
Considerations when choosing pressure canners
The majority of pressure canners are either made from stainless steel or aluminum. Stainless steel is highly durable and nonreactive, plus it should work on the majority of cooktops. It can take a while to heat up, though, and stainless steel canners can be pricey. Aluminum is cheaper and lighter, plus it heats up more quickly so your pressure canner should come to pressure faster. However, it is a reactive metal, and it won't work on induction cooktops.
The internal capacity of a pressure canner is measured in quarts. While you can find slightly smaller models, we'd recommend a minimum capacity of 20 quarts, otherwise you'll need to can your foods in several batches. It's worth checking whether it's possible to stack jars inside your pressure canner, as this will increase the number of shorter jars that fit inside.
Pressure canners either have dial gauges or weighted gauges. A dial gauge shows the pressure inside, which can be a handy feature if you like to keep a close eye on the canning process. Weighted gauges consist of a stack of weights that dictate the maximum pressure. You can usually add or remove weights to set the pressure level before starting.
Lid: The lid of your pressure canner must lock in place to prevent it from blowing off as pressure builds inside. Lids either feature a twist-lock system or a series of clamps. The latter tends to be trickier to use.
Handles: Ideally, a pressure canner should have one handle on each side to make it easier to lift. Cool-touch handles are best to prevent scalding.
Accessories: Some pressure canners include accessories such as racks or steamer baskets. These may or may not be of use to you, depending on how you plan to use your canner.
Pressure canner prices
You can find some small, basic pressure canners around $50, whereas the largest models can cost $300 or more.
Q. Can you also use a pressure canner for general pressure cooking?
A. The majority of pressure canners can also be used for standard pressure cooking, making them a multifunctional choice. However, raw aluminum is a reactive metal, so it can impart a slightly metallic flavor into foods, especially acidic foods, such as tomato-based sauces or stews. We'd recommend choosing either a stainless steel or hard anodized aluminum pressure canner if you also want to use it as a pressure cooker.
Q. Are pressure canners dangerous?
A. You might have heard horror stories of your grandmother's pressure canner or cooker exploding in a spray of molten ingredients. However, today's pressure canners have a range of safety features that make that kind of accident near-impossible. As such, we wouldn't consider pressure canners dangerous, as long as you follow the instructions and take all the usual precautions you would while cooking.
Pressure canners we recommend
Best of the best: All-American Pressure Cooker/Canner
Our take: Made from thick, durable hand-cast aluminum, this model can be used as both a pressure canner and standard pressure cooker.
What we like: No gaskets or rubber seals means fewer parts that could wear out. Three pressure settings. Easy-to-read dial gauge. Large 21.5-quart capacity (with larger options available).
What we dislike: Costlier than similar models.
Best bang for your buck: Presto Pressure Canner and Cooker
Our take: This model is surprisingly affordable, considering its large 23-quart capacity and overall quality.
What we like: Easy to use. Suitable for glass cooktops. Overpressure plug releases any excess pressure built up. Can also be used as a pressure cooker.
What we dislike: Not suitable for use on gas ranges with output of 12,000 BTU or over (which means most gas ranges).
Our take: The 20-quart capacity is slightly smaller than the others on this list but is still large enough to hold seven one-quart jars or 24 half-pint jars.
What we like: Made from hard anodized aluminum, which is nonreactive. Included racks allow you to use it as a waterbath canner for high-acid foods.
What we dislike: Can't be used on glass cooktops.
Lauren Corona is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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