You’re not alone if you find yourself regularly throwing out wilted greens or a spoiled zucchini you had great intentions of sautéing. If you love gardening or participating in farm shares, but hate dumping overripe produce because you just don’t have the time to cook it all, consider purchasing a pressure canner.
A pressure canner will extend the life of your veggies and other low-acid foods like meat and fish, by preserving them through the use of pressure and heat. This small appliance uses pressurized steam, which heats up to 240 degrees Fahrenheit—hotter than boiling water—to kill microorganisms in food. Low-acid foods with a pH greater than 4.6 need this high temperature to kill botulism spores, which can survive temperatures even as high as boiling water. Read on to find out how to select the best pressure canner to preserve your produce.
- BEST OVERALL: Presto 01781 23-Quart Pressure Canner and Cooker
- BEST UPGRADE: All American 915 Canner Pressure Cooker
- BETS SMALL CAPACITY: NESCO NPC-9 Smart Pressure Canner and Cooker
- BEST LARGE CAPACITY: T-fal Pressure Canner with Pressure Control
- BEST WITH STEAMER: Granite Ware Pressure Canner and Cooker/Steamer
What to Consider When Buying the Best Pressure Canner
The best pressure canners will be both safe and effective. In order to assure these qualities, you’ll want to take into consideration the size, the weight, and the operational mechanism of your canner while shopping. Find out what features to look for so you can make the best choice for your home.
The capacity of your pressure canner will usually be listed in quarts or in the number of jars it can hold. It is also worth noting here that canning does not actually involve metal cans, but rather glass jars. The more quarts your canner is, the more jars it will hold.
The most common sizes of canners have a 16- to 23-quart capacity. However, more compact canners with a volume of about 10 to 12 quarts are available as well. These smaller versions will hold a minimum of four jars, while a 20-quart canner will hold about seven jars. Some models will accommodate jars stacked on top of one another, providing a higher capacity. Choose the size according to how much and how often you plan to preserve your food.
Pressure canners are typically made of stainless steel or aluminum. Aluminum options are generally lightweight and inexpensive, and also efficient at conducting heat. They may stain over time but this is only cosmetic. You can find tips for how to properly clean aluminum here. Keep in mind that aluminum pressure canners won’t work on an induction range because this material lacks the magnetic properties needed to heat up on these cooktops.
Stainless steel pressure canners will usually be heavier and somewhat more expensive. However, they are quite durable and will maintain their shine longer. Since stainless steel isn’t as effective of a conductor, sometimes the bottom will feature aluminum (or vice versa for induction cooktops).
Size and Weight
Pressure canners are generally pretty large, with the average height being about 15 inches. There is a wide range when it comes to weight, with steel ones being heavier than aluminum. The selections on this list range from as light as 9 pounds to as heavy as 20 pounds. When reviewing the weight of your canner, consider your cooktop. A glass range may not be able to hold as much weight as a gas one, so it would be important to consider a lighter option in that scenario.
All pressure canners feature a gauge to give you a reading of the pressure inside your pot. There are two common types:
- Weighted Gauge: Generally the safest and easy to use, the weighted gauge is operated by setting the weight at the same pressure you want in your canner. The weight is then placed on top of the vent. When the desired pressure is reached, the weight will automatically jiggle or tilt to release the valve, allowing steam to escape the pot. The only drawback of this option is it usually comes at a higher price point.
- Dial Pressure Gauge: A dial gauge will indicate the temperature inside the pot with a needle reading. It will need more monitoring, as the user may need to adjust the heat with a release valve. This type of canner can become inaccurate so it’s important to check yours for accuracy on a regular basis.
In order to work properly and safely, there are a few features that pressure canners need to have. One of the most important is a vent pipe, which will allow your pot to effectively release excess heat and steam. An overpressure plug, which is a piece of rubber that will pop up to alert you if the vent pipe has become obstructed, is also crucial.
Your pressure canner should come with racks housed in the bottom of the pot. To ensure better circulation and more even heating, the rack is used to separate your jars from the heat source. Some canners will also serve as pressure cookers. This will affect the pressure settings or weights available on your product. The high temperature needed for canning is around 240 degrees, which is usually reached at a maximum pressure of 15 psi or pounds per square inch. When a pressure canner also serves as a pressure cooker, it will have a lower psi option for preparing foods. A lower psi may also be useful if you are at a higher elevation. If you are looking for more functionality, some canners will also include a steamer insert.
Lid and Handles
Most pressure canners will feature a twist-locking mechanism to keep the lid secured. A rubber gasket ring will help to seal in the steam during operation. The gasket may need to be replaced over the years due to the wear caused by high temperatures, so you may want to check that the manufacturer you choose sells replacements.
Pressure canners can be heavy when they are at capacity, so it’s important to select one with handles on both sides. The handles should be heat resistant for safety and comfort.
Our Top Picks
With so many options available, choosing the best pressure canner for your home can be overwhelming. Now that you have an idea of what to look for, consider one of these top picks when shopping for the right pressure canner for your needs.
Presto is a well-loved manufacturer of pressure canners, and this 23-quart model has plenty of features to make it safe and effective. A deluxe dial gauge offers a precise pressure measurement with a pop-up indicator. A steam release mechanism and an overpressure plug will let off excess steam. The lid locks down and an inner sealing ring keeps steam from escaping.
For acidic foods such as fruits and pickles, it can act as a boiling water canner, which will sufficiently preserve these foods at the temperature of boiling water. For use as a pressure cooker, it comes with a recipe booklet and a cooking rack. Constructed of warp-resistant heavy-gauge aluminum, it weighs 12 pounds and is compatible with both regular and smooth-top ranges. This canner comes with an extended 12-year limited warranty.
Unique to this brand is a metal to metal sealing system, which eliminates the use of gaskets, which can easily get damaged and require replacement. The lid features clamping wing nuts for a secure closure and an easy on-off cover. For additional safety, there are two automatic venting features—a safety control valve and an overpressure plug. It features 5-, 10- and 15-psi weights to regulate the pressure.
With plenty of room for canning, this pot holds approximately 10 standard regular mouth pint jars or seven regular mouth quart jars. It is made of hand-cast aluminum for durability and even heating. A stay-cool top handle makes it easy to move the pot and remove the cover. It weighs 17.75 pounds and is not recommended for use on glass or induction cooktops.
In addition to pressure canning, this multifunctional appliance is also designed for pressure cooking, steam cooking, and slow cooking. It features a removable nonstick aluminum inner pot, which is dishwasher safe and can hold four quart-size jars, five pint-size jars, or 16 4-ounce jelly jars. Also included are a canning rack, a steam rack, and a removable condensation catcher. The easy to read digital display features temperature controls and a timer.
The lid is fitted with a safety lock and a valve that indicates it is secure and pressure is present. The canner includes 10- and 15-psi valves for different needs and altitudes. This stainless steel appliance weighs 20.4 pounds.
If you’re looking for a pressure canner that can handle bigger batches, consider this 22-quart model. Made with polished aluminum, this stovetop canner is durable and rustproof, making for a long-lasting appliance. It features a deluxe pressure gauge dial with pressure controls of 5-, 10-, and 15-psi. To ensure safety, the canner includes a locking lid and a pressure-monitoring device built into the handle, so it can’t be opened once it is pressurized. A vent tube on the lid allows for excess steam release indicated by a reusable overpressure plug. If more release is needed, the gasket-release window will push out from the lid opening.
This pressure canner also does double duty as a pressure cooker, including a cooking rack and recipe book. Weighing 14.77 pounds, it is suitable for gas and electric coil stove tops only.
Granite Ware’s pressure canner is not only versatile—working as both a pressure steamer and pressure cooker if desired—it includes plenty of features to ensure no matter how you’re using this appliance, you’re doing so safely. A pop-up pressure indicator locks the lid in place and it cannot be opened while in use. If the vent pipe, which is located on the lid, becomes blocked, an additional safety valve will go off and a second metal valve will release pressure while sounding a whistling alarm. It allows for three different pressure levels at 5, 10 and 15 psi for various uses and altitudes.
Made of hard anodized aluminum, this pressure canner features a stainless steel lid and stay-cool handles. It comes with an included rack for jars that has folding handles for easy raising and lowering. The steamer insert converts the canner to a pressure steamer for preparing meals. This canner weighs 8.18 pounds and is not recommended for use on glass or induction cooktops.
FAQs About Pressure Canners
You may still be wondering about the difference between a pressure cooker and a pressure canner or how to use or maintain your new appliance. Read on for the answers to these and other commonly asked questions about pressure canners.
Q. What is the difference between a pressure cooker and a pressure canner?
A pressure cooker is made to prepare foods for meals in a fast manner. A pressure canner is specifically made to preserve and store produce and other low-acid foods in canning jars.
Q. Can I use my pressure cooker for canning?
You cannot use a pressure cooker to can your produce unless it is specifically made for this dual purpose. Standard pressure cookers are typically not large enough and do not reach a high enough temperature to properly kill bacteria. Pressure cookers also don’t display the pressure readings needed for the canning process.
Q. How do you maintain your pressure canner?
Before and after using your canner, use a mild soap and warm water to clean it. Do not submerge the pressure gauge, but instead, wipe it down. Give special care to the lid, keeping it free from stuck particles. Check your gasket and other rubber parts for any damage and check your dial gauge for accuracy. Avoid leaving food in your canner to prevent the absorption of flavors and odors.
Q. How long does a pressure canner last?
A pressure cooker pot should last many years, but the rubber gasket that is often included to seal the lid, can sometimes become worn and damaged, as can small rubber safety plugs. Many manufacturers will sell replacements for these and other small parts to extend the longevity of your appliance.