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Preserving food and preventing food-waste as practices are becoming more and popular, which means that finding the best kitchen appliances for this purpose is a big deal in people’s lives. We’ve already covered food vacuum sealers as one method of preserving food and you can check that article out later, but in the meantime, we’re going to take a closer look at some of the best pressure canners.
Pressure canning is a safe and reliable method to preserve food while keeping all of the nutrients active. It’s a wonderful way to preserve your garden harvest or get creative and make your own homemade jams that will last throughout the seasons.
If you’ve ever seen an old-style pressure canner, you might be amazed and a little bit intimidated by the impressive machinery, but let us reassure you – operating a pressure canner is really easy once you get the hand of it. This is why we created this article – to make sure you feel confident in your shopping decisions.
To avoid confusion when trying to filter through thousands of products on the market, we hand-picked the best pressure canners in four different categories and wrote detailed reviews for each of them. On top of that, at the end of this article, you can read our practical buying guide where we share some essential information about pressure canners.
The Best Pressure Canners
Best Overall: Presto 01781 23-Quart Canner/ Pressure Cooker
Presto is one of the most reputable brands in the industry, while the 01781 23-quart model is one of their best creations. We believe this is the best pressure canner overall as it offers a large capacity, strong construction, and a guarantee from Presto that you’re getting a product that will be reliable for over a decade. The Presto 01781 would be a good fit for most people.
Presto 01781 is built from heavy-duty aluminum and has a wrap-resistant construction which gives the product a sturdy quality and ability to heat fast and evenly.
Aside from being strong and durable, Presto 01781 comes with great safety and advanced functionality features. For example, it includes a deluxe pressure dial that is able to register all processing pressures, ensuring the process can be carried out smoothly and without problems. Thanks to this the unit is more efficient and safer.
Large families would love the capacity of the Presto 01781 23-quart. The unit can hold up to 20 pints mason jars, which is more than many higher-end units can offer.
The impressive 12-year extended warranty definitely makes the Presto 01781 stand out from the crowd. Presto as a brand is very reliable, which means you’ll easily get replacement parts if something goes wrong, too.
Finally, the unit comes with an instruction and recipe booklet with over 50 recipes, which we believe is very beneficial for beginners and first-time users, as well as experienced cooks who want to spice things up in the kitchen.
There’s a limit on where and how you can use the Presto 01781. For example, the unit can’t be used on gas burners outdoors. If this is a problem for you, check out our next recommendation.
Another issue for Presto 01781 is the gauge dial, which is quite delicate and needs to be handled very carefully.
Regardless whether you’re a professional, amateur, or you have a large family to feed, the Presto 01781 is here to satisfy every need – canning or cooking-wise. Thanks to the high-quality materials, great safety features, large capacity, and the impressive warranty, we believe that this unit will be a great addition in any kitchen. Plus, the price makes this product affordable for most people.
Best Quality: All American 921 Canner/Pressure Cooker
The All American 921 pressure canner is the top of the line in its field as probably one of the best products designed ever. The product has a large price tag, too, but well justified. We can praise its durability, amazing construction, versatility, and superior controls that give confidence even to cooks who’ve always been too scared to use a pressure canner in the past.
All American 921 has a heavy-duty construction from double aluminum, which basically means it’s made to be used frequently. It’s designed in a way that the aluminum is double-thickened on its edges, so it ensures the clamps are stable and strong. This means you’ll get a bullet-proof seal.
When it comes to the sealing mechanism, another advantage to the All American 921 is that it features a “metal-to-metal” sealing system. It means there’s no gasket and with that, no common gasket problems. Devices that use metal-to-metal systems are far more reliable and long-lasting than devices with twist and lock mechanisms.
Safety with the All American 921 is guaranteed. The unit has an automatic pressure release safety function, which means the pressure is constantly regulated to an optimal level.
All American 921 is very versatile, too, as it’s available in five different sizes and offers three different pressure settings (5,10, and 15 psi). While you can choose between 10.5-quarts and 41.5-quarts depending on your needs and preferences, the most popular model is the 21.5-quart model. The reason behind this is that it’s not too big, nor too small and can satisfy most people. The 21.5-quart model can hold around 19 standard regular mouth pint jars or 7 standard regular mouth quart jars.
Except that this pressure canner is well above most people’s budget, there’s nothing much left for us to criticize – the unit has all five stars on Amazon, in spite of the fact that’s reviewed from more than 3,500 people. However, from the few people that weren’t as satisfied, we found out you should only buy the All American 921 from fully-stocked and reputable sellers that will be there for you if you need something addressed or replaced.
All American 921 is the best of the best pressure canners out there. Although it’s not affordable for many people, the quality, safety, and performance it offers make up for the large price tag. This unit has anything you’ll ever need, but most importantly, it makes you feel safe and confident while operating with it.
Best on a Budget: Presto 01370 8-Quart Canner/Pressure Cooker
Presto 01370 is an amazing compact pressure canner and cooker, which shines where most large-scale devices fail. The unit can satisfy people that only cook for themselves, beginners, and people that are on a tight budget, without sacrificing quality and efficiency. If you feel like large pressure canners are overkill and feel overwhelming, Presto 01370 would be the right choice for you.
The Presto 01370 has a stainless steel construction with a special tri-clad base that allows for fast, uniform heating. It’s great for both regular and smooth-top stoves. Plus, the unit comes with a stainless steel steaming basket which you can use to cook different foods at once without intermixing the flavors.
One very beneficial safety feature is the pressure regulator that’s included, which regulates pressure, temperature, and gives you more control over the whole process. There’s also a steam release valve for a “quick cool” option when you need it.
Another safety feature is the cover lock indicator which prevents you from opening the lid before all of the pressure is released. This is especially beneficial if this is your first pressure canner and you’re just starting with the practice.
The Presto 01370 doubles as a pressure cooker, just like all of our pricier recommendations, which is quite impressive considering its price. You can easily cook chicken, fish, meat, and vegetables in just a few minutes. It’s very beneficial for people who want to get that 2-in-1 feature without spending too much.
Unfortunately, the Presto 01370 is very small and unsuitable for people that work with large food quantities at once.
Additionally, just like other models that use a gasket, after a while sealing the device completely might be a problem.
There are many reasons for choosing Presto 01370 that its affordability seems like the cherry on top for everything else. The unit is very well built from high-quality materials, offers advanced safety features and it doubles as a pressure cooker just like the pricier models. The only real disadvantage is that the unit is very small which means it’s not suitable for large families.
Best Safety Features: T-fal Pressure 22-Quart Canner/Pressure Cooker
The T-fal 22-Quart pressure canner is our top choice as the safest device. Safety is a big deal for pressure canners and T-fal offers great features that will make you trust the whole process. It’s a great choice for beginners, people that have never used a pressure canner before, or anyone that’s scared to start pressure canning food.
Starting from the safety features, the T-fal Pressure 22-Quart Canner offers an overpressure steam release safety function, a sure-locking lid system, three PSI settings, and a deluxe pressure gauge dial.
The overpressure steam release safety function follows the pressure levels and releases pressure if it becomes too high, ensuring optimal levels at all times.
The sure-locking lid system locks the lid when the pressure is high, preventing opening the device when it’s unsafe. You can only open it after the pressure is fully released.
Depending on what food you’re canning and for how much time, the three psi settings allow you to control and adjust the pressure level.
Aside from safety, the T-fal pressure canner has a polished aluminum finish and a heavy body that’s resistant to rust.
You can choose from two size capacities (6-quart and 22-quart size) as the T-fal is available in a small and large version.
Finally, included in the packages are two racks and a recipe book for sparking the creativity in your cooking endeavors.
The handles are very delicate and unreliable so be careful while transporting the unit as they can become loose or even break after a couple of months.
Just like other twist and lock lid types, the gasket of the unit might be a problem after a while, as it makes it very hard to properly seal the pressure canner. If you don’t want to worry about gaskets, you might consider buying a metal-to-metal type such us our All American 921 Pressure Canner.
The T-fall is one of the safest pressure canners available on the market as it offers an overpressure steam release safety function, a sure-locking lid system, three PSI settings, and a deluxe pressure gauge dial. Aside from that, the unit is made from high-quality materials and offers versatility as you can use the two racks for cooking different foods in one batch without intermixing the flavors.
The Presto 01781 is the best pressure canner overall as it strikes just the right balance between quality, durability, safety, and affordability. Plus, all that for a unit with a very large capacity. Presto it one of the most popular brands when it comes to pressure canners, and one of the reasons for that is because they back up their products with a 12-year warranty. Getting a safe, well-built unit with advanced functionalities from a brand that guarantees you’re going to use it for 12 years is probably the best deal anyone can make.
Even though capacity is not a problem for Presto 01781, the fact that it has a gasket and you can’t use it outdoors, on gas burners, can make some people look for something more powerful. When money is not an issue and you don’t want to compromise in any aspect, you should consider the All American 921, which is truly an impressive device. The device is extra strong, durable, and features a metal-to-metal sealing mechanism which prolongs its use significantly. The unit is also versatile and available in many sizes, so you can buy the one that fits your cooking and canning needs best.
When money is tight, Presto 01370 comes through as a smart choice. It’s made from high-quality materials and offers advanced safety features which will put many customers that might be concerned about safety when buying cheaper pressure canners at ease.
Finally, we chose the T-fal as the best pressure canner with great safety features. The unit is strong, durable, and versatile, but we believe it will appeal to people that want to feel secure when pressure canning above anything else.
Everything You Need To Know About Pressure Canners
A Little History
Pressure canning has been a practice of preserving foods for hundreds of years. The act of canning allows food to be packaged under extremely high temperatures and under very high pressure in order to keep it edible for an extended period of time. This is especially important for preserving seasonal fruits and vegetables, and making jams and jellies is especially popular.
It was in 1679 that the first pressure canner was invented. The device was made of cast iron and was successful in raising the water temperature to a very hot boil, but it was certainly not effective all of the time and often led to explosions. In 1810, the first real version of a pressure canner was developed. It sealed food in tin cans, but it was not perfect, as it was common for the food to become contaminated.
In 1858, with the invention of the Mason jar, which was made of glass, the act of canning was well on its way. By the 1970s, pressure canning was quite popular and safer as well.
The safety and effectiveness of pressure canning have been a work in progress for the past decades. Today, most units are thin-walled and lightweight kettles that have lids with gaskets that turn on. Alternatively, instead of gaskets, some canners are made of heavy cast aluminum with screw-down knobs around the canner.
How Does A Pressure Canner Work?
Pressure canners work by creating a very hot boil (above (240ºF/115ºC) in order to destroy harmful bacteria that can be found on low-acid food such as most vegetables, meat, and fish.
The boiling temperature can only be achieved under extreme pressure in a sealed pressure canner. The final goal is to preserve food, which can only be achieved if the microorganisms are destroyed and the food that’s sealed is clean – otherwise bacteria growth will spur over time.
When heat is applied, pressure canners boil the water to 212ºF/100ºC which is when steam forms. The steam will then drive the remaining air out of the open vents and into the jars. Once there’s no more air in the pressure canner, the vent will close and trap steam inside the canner. Steam continues to form but it can’t be released which means the pressure increases – during this time the heat gets distributed and affects the food ingredients, destroying bacteria and other harmful microorganisms.
When the process is completed and you turn off the heat, the boiling stops, which means the temperature and the pressure slowly start to cool off. Important: The vent must stay closed during this process because the sudden release of pressure makes the steam explosive.
Safety Features And Tips
Pressure canners can be extremely dangerous, which is why it’s imperative to read over all materials containing information about the unit and to proceed with caution. This guide from the National Center for Home Food Preservation is also a useful reference.
To make pressure canners safer, manufacturers offer:
- Certificates for safety standards – to justify the claim that the device is safe, brands must pass a series of standardized tests for fire, electric shock, and related potential causes of accidental injury. These tests are conducted by independent agencies like UL (Underwriters Laboratories) or CUL (Canadian Underwriters Laboratories). Look for UL and CUL labels.
- Automatic overpressure plug – a flap that opens if too much pressure builds up in the canner. The flap will open and the pressure will be brought back to normal levels.
- Interlock lid – a feature that prevents users to open the lid when the pressure is still high.
- Metal rack – the rack keeps the jars off the bottom and prevents breaking.
How to care for the pressure canner?
- Make sure the canner is well cleaned before using it. You can simply wash it with warm water and soap, rinse it, and let it dry.
- If the canner is store someplace where the temperature is different than your room temperature, allow it to adjust before using it or before storing it after use. If there’s a sudden change in temperature the aluminum might crack.
- Never leave food or liquid in the pressure canner after using it. Make sure you always clean it thoroughly.
- Read the instructions on how to clean the lid carefully. For example, if your lid is dial-gauge immersing it in water can lead to rusting. Different types of pressure canners require different cleaning methods.
- Some gaskets require lubricating with vegetable oil once or twice per year to make sure they work properly and to prolong their life.
- Carefully check if the petcock, vents, and/or weights are clean before using the pressure canner.
Finally, if you follow the instructions and care for your pressure canner properly, there’s nothing to be worried about as today’s models are very safe.
How Much You Should Expect To Pay For A Pressure Canner
The price of a pressure canner can vary greatly. The price usually correlates with the number of features the unit has and the size of the device as well. There are those that start at around $50 and are very basic. There are also units that go all the way up to $250 and upward. The moderate price for a pressure canner with at least some specialized features is around $100, but this can vary greatly depending on your needs and preferences.
How To Find the Best Pressure Canner?
The best pressure canners make canning quicker, easier, and more convenient. There are some basic things that all pressure canners offer. For example, they should be safe and should preserve the food properly to prevent contamination. Some deliver on that and some do not. There are also pressure canners that have specialized features. Below are some things you may want to consider before making a buying decision.
For most people, the most important feature when looking for a pressure canner is the capacity. As you may have noticed, pressure canners measure capacity in quarts, which is equivalent to two pints (32 fluid ounces) or four cups. The smallest pressure canners can usually hold up to 4×1 liter (four cups) jars or containers. On the other hand, large canners go up to 23 quarts (22 liters/90 cups) and even more if you’re looking for large-scale machines.
Some pressure canners offer double racks so you can stack two layers of jars, which is very beneficial if you want a more compact device that can still hold a big batch.
Another thing you should have in mind regarding the pressure canner’s capacity is the size of the jars you’re using. Product specifications refer to standard-mouth jars, so if you’re using wider jars, keep in mind that you won’t be able to can as many jars as advertised.
The most important thing you should know about lids is that there are two basic types. First, you have the twist and lock lid type, which uses a gasket and a lag at the edge of the kettle.
The second type is the metal-on-metal lid which locks thanks to a set of clamps positioned all around the lid. Typically, metal-on-metal lids are not as aesthetically pleasing as the first, but they are much stronger, more reliable, and also pricier.
As we mentioned, twist and lock lid types use a gasket to help create a full seal. Many devices use this mechanism, so we thought it was important to include gaskets on our list. Unfortunately, they’re made of plastic and prone to breaking after a while. It’s imperative to look for brands that offer replacement parts for their pressure canners. You don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you have to give up your favorite pressure canner just because the gasket is wearing off.
Before You Go
Did you find the best pressure canner for you among our recommendations? If you’re not sure, make sure to follow the title links where you can find specific prices, in-depth product descriptions, and customer reviews from all around the world.
In any case, keep our buying guide in mind whenever you’re shopping for pressure canners to make sure you don’t forget anything important.
Want to see our favorite pressure canners one more time before you go? Here they are!
Amazon product information last updated on January 24, 2021. Images, prices and links from Amazon Product Advertising API.