Pressure Canner Gauge Styles: A Closer Look
First and foremost, a pressure canner should do its job: process containers of food so that food is free of potential pathogens. There are enough other parts of the food preservation process to worry aboutis my tomato sauce at a safe pH? Did I tighten the jar lids just enough?your canner should not be one of them. Since its impossible to see whats going on inside the canner or check internal temperatures with a thermometer while it’s sealed and under pressure, you need to be able to trust what the product is telling you via its gauges.
There are two main types of gauges: dial gauges and weight gauges. Dial gauges are just like they sound. They have a dial with a single hand that shows the pressure inside the canner. Most have numbers, and some include other informationfor example, a warning when the cooker has gone beyond a safe pressure level.
Weighted gauges sit on top of a steam vent and begin to move when a specific pressure has been reached . Its important to read the instructions for the particular cooker to see what kind of activity to look for. Some manufacturers say that constant movement of the weighted gauge is an indicator of the proper pressure level, while others say their weighted gauges only need to move a few times each minute.
The Instant Pot Is Not An Always Intuitive Appliance
If youre new to the slow cooker or pressure cooker, the Instant Pot is going to take some getting use to. There are so many buttons and settings to consider that it might feel overwhelming at first, but dont let that deter you. As Kelli said in her review of the Instant Pot, its best to really sit down and read the manual before digging in.
When youre trying out recipes for the first time in your Instant Pot, keep things simple. The best recipes to start with specifically if youre new to pressure cooking are eggs, dried beans, and simple vegetables.
Recipes to Start With
What Is A Pressure Canner
A pressure canner is a specialized pot specifically for preserving low acid foods safely.
A pressure canner operated at 10.5 pounds per square inch of pressure will reach an internal temperature of 240ºF at sea level. Higher elevations will require more pressure to reach that minimum temperature.
Processing jars at 240ºF is the only way to assure that the internal temperature of the food in each jar reaches a sufficient temperature to kill off any botulism spores that might be present.
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What Defines A Good Pressure Canner
Having a trustworthy pressure canner is just the first step in safe canning. For a canner to be useful, it also needs to be easy to use. That means it should be simple to understand the information provided by the weight- and/or dial-gauge, and the canner itself needs to be easy to operate. If the lid is too hard to get on and off the cooker or if its difficult to load and unload jars, the canner is going to get kicked into the crawl space or garage, never to be seen again.
Canner capacity should also be considered. Small canners hold a minimum of four one-quart jars, or possibly five one-quart canning jars, while larger canners can accommodate seven quart jars. Tall canners, like the Mirro I tested, could hold seven one-quart jars, but it also allowed stacking when using one-pint jars. The maximum capacity was 16 one-pint jars compared to other large canners that could only hold eight pints in a single layer. In some cases, canners can accommodate one extra jar if theyre all regular-mouth rather than wide-mouth jars.
Someone with a large garden or a fruit tree that drops all its fruit at once may want the largest capacity possible, so they can process all of their peaches, say, in as few batches as possible. But larger canners take more stove space and might make it difficult to use a large skillet or Dutch oven while canning is in progress. Large canners take more storage space, too, and tall canners require some reaching to get jars in and out.
How To Use A Large Stock Pot For Canning
To do this, youll need two things:
- a large stock pot, deep enough to fully submerge your jars with an extra inch of water covering them,
- and a couple of kitchen towels or some extra canning rings.
The kitchen towels or canning rings take the place of the wire canning rack that goes in the bottom of a regular water bath canner. You dont want your jars in direct contact with the pot when the water is boiling or they might shatter.
The process is almost identical to canning with a big water bath canner.
Youll fill your stock pot halfway up with water and cover it with a lid. While youre cleaning jars, finishing your recipe, and filling the jars with your hard work, let the water heat up to simmering.
When youre ready to start processing the jars after theyre filled and lidded, carefully add them to the pot. You might need to use a jar lifter to lower the jars into the water so you dont burn yourself with the hot water.
You can usually fit 3 or 4 small canning jars in most large stock pots. By small, I mean pint-sized or smaller. Quart jars will likely be too big for most big stock pots.
Though, of course, if you have a big family like we do, you might have some massive soup kettles hanging around your home!
After that, proceed just like you would for any other canning recipe. Fill the pot the rest of the way with water, at least one inch above the lids on the jars. Put a fitted lid on your pot, crank up the heat, and boil away!
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How To Use Your Instant Pot For Canning
Its important to note that there are multiple types of canning methods, and we will not be using a pressurized method with your Instant Pot.
A pressure cooker is not the same as a pressure canner!
If you wish to do the pressure canning method, youll need to pick up a proper canning machine.
Yet that doesnt mean you cant begin canning some types of foods! Thankfully you can use water bath canning to preserve a wide variety of foods.
What Is Pressure Canning Exactly
Pressure canning is when you preserve food by bringing it to a temperature of 240 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit to eliminate the risk of spoilage from the bacteria known as Clostridium botulinum or botulism for short.
It can be killed at a temperature of 212 degrees Fahrenheit but its spores can survive and spread so they need a temperature of between 240 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit to kill them off.
The Instant Pot Max claims it can maintain a steady pressure of 15PSI which keeps the temperature at a steady 240 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.
What this all means is that the jury is still out as to whether you can safely pressure can in an Instant Pot up until the USDA gives it the green light. I would love to hear your comments and questions in the comments section below.
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Canning In An Instant Pot
If you love to can veggies or other foods, and you own an Instant Pot, you may be wondering if you can do canning in an Instant Pot.
The answer is you can, but it is limited, and not all types of canning processes can be done in an Instant Pot.
There are two ways to can foods. One is called water bath canning, and the other is called pressure canning.
The pressure canning is the type used most often for foods with low acid levels, and water bath canning works the best with food that has a high acid level.
Thats because high acid foods will be able to kill any bacteria so you wont get food poisoning. Meanwhile, low acid foods cant do that unless you mix the two types of food together. That can be done by adding in things like vinegar or lemon juice.
So, how can these methods be modified to be safe if you want to can using your Instant Pot? Here are some ways to do that:
Water Bath Canning
Firstly, you have to make sure your canning jars are sterilized, which can be done in an Instant Pot.
Put some water and vinegar into your Instant Pot, then put the number of jars that will fit onto a rack and put it inside the Instant Pot and close the lid. Then run the Instant Pot steam cycle for at least a full minute.
Next, pour in more water and vinegar into the Instant Pot, then pour the food into the hot jars and be sure to leave at least a quarter-inch of headspace in the jars.
Can You Pressure Can In A Pressure Cooker
I think the proper question is: SHOULD you pressure can in a pressure cooker?
The answer is NO.
A pressure cooker is not as sophisticated as a canner.
First, it is not built for monitoring pressure/temperature as accurately which is SO important in canning safety. So while it might be able to take small jars of food up to a pressure, you really cant know for sure what that pressure is.
Second, it is not made to maintain a specific pressure with razor-sharp accuracy. If the proper pressure is not met and maintained, then the proper temperature is not met and maintained.
In other words, you may not destroy the harmful bacteria that cause botulism.
The National Center for Home Food Preservation advises against using a pressure cooker for canning. There are just too many different makes, models and brands and most are not as accurate as the manufacturer may claim.
So the bottom line is that a pressure cooker is just built for cooking not canning.
It is really never a good idea to pressure can in it especially since we are talking about the potential for botulism here.
Save a pressure cooker for just cooking.
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You Can Only Pressure
A frequently asked question around the internet is whether or not you can pressure-can in the Instant Pot and the answer is simply no. Unless you have the Instant Pot Max. If you have a different model of the Instant Pot, you can, however, do boiling-water canning, which is great for pickles and jams. If youre interested in reading more, theres a great post on the Instant Pot Community Facebook page.
Canning In An Instant Pot Max
Earlier this year, Instant Pot announced that they were adding a multicooker to their line that would include a canning setting. The internet went wild with hope and curiosity. Would this be the electric pressure canner that many of us have hoped for?
It quickly became clear that the answer was no. The Instant Pot Max is a very able electric pressure cooker that has the ability to go up to 15 pounds of pressure, but it is not the electric pressure canner of our collective dreams. There are a couple reasons for that.
The first is that no testing has been done by the National Center for Home Food Preservation or any other US-based cooperative extension to determine if products processed in the Instant Pot Max reach a sufficient internal temperature to kill off any botulism spores that might be present.
Additionally, when pressure canning times are developed, the time required to come up to temperature and back down again are factored into the total process. These pre- and post-processing times are altered with an Instant Pot Max and theres no understanding yet of how that change will effect the finished product.
Setting aside the first reason , the second reason why the Instant Pot Max isnt an ideal canning vessel is simply its size.
I liked the fact that the read-out always showed the pots internal temperature. And I loved the Automated Steam Release feature, that allows you program the pot to do a quick release when the cooking time is up .
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Can You Cook In A Pressure Canner
An All American Pressure Canner
The answer is: Yes, sometimes.
It really depends upon the food you want to cook and the brand/size of pressure canner you have.
Note: To make things just a little more confusing, Presto also makes cookers and they call their canner a canner/cooker.
The All American Pressure Canning manual states that you should NEVER cook the following foods in the canner: rice, applesauce, beans, cranberries, rhubarb or spaghetti plus any other food you think might foam up.
However, the Presto Pressure Canning manual states that you CAN cook these items IF you only fill the canner half way so that the food can not foam up to the lid.
So to cook in your pressure canner, you must find or look up the manual for your brand and model and verify its use.
Get Started Water Bath Canning In An Instant Pot
To begin canning your foods for preservation, youll only need a few simple materials. These include:
- A range of suitably sized heat-tempered jars. Make sure any container you use has a sealable lid. Note: The only reusable parts are the jar and the metal screw band. You will need a new metal lid when canning.
- Metallic canning funnel
- A steam rack trivet, like this one, that is compatible with the Instant Pot.
Can You Use An Instant Pot Or Other Cooker For Home Canning
January 4, 2018 By EricT_CulinaryLore
This article may contain one or more independently chosen Amazon affiliate links. See full disclosure.
I recently saw an infomercial for an Instant cooker appliance similar to the very popular Instant Pot. Such cookers have settings and lids which allow them to be used as a pressure cooker. In the infomercial, the hosts claimed that the instant cooker being demonstrated could be used for home canning. They also claimed the product met USDA standards for canning. This perked my ears up because such claims could be very dangerous.
You may be thinking its just home canning. My grandmother did it. Whats the big deal? Well, not all home canning is created equally. There are two methods of home canning used for two different types of foods.
For your normal run-o-the-mill canning, such as making some jam or fruit preserves, you wouldnt need a pressure cooker or any type of instant cooker. For that, youd just use the hot water bath method. This method, which most home cooks will be more familiar with, is suitable for high-acid foods such as pickles, tomatoes, salsas, and fruits that contain enough acids, especially citrus fruits, but many others as well. You can find information on basic home canning supplies here.
Pressure Canning: How To Can With A Pressure Canner
What foods DO require pressure canning? These directions are for pressure canning low-acid foods. This includes any meat and most vegetables, all of which must be pressure canned.
What foods DONT require pressure canning? Pickles, jam jelly, or fruits are all high-acid foods. If you are preserving these foods, you need to be on my water bath canning page.
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Pressure Alone Is Not Enough In Home Canning
In order to can at home safely, you must be aware of your mortal enemy. Clostridium botulinum. This is the bacteria that, while it is in most of our soil and harmless there, is what causes botulism. This horrible little germ can cause sickness, and even death if consumed by humans.
I refuse to be responsible for killing someone. Intentional or not.
While the Instant Pot may be safe for canning things similar to what you would can in a water bath canner, I still have reservations. They have not released much information on their new Home Canning function. I honestly need much more to feel safe feeding my family foods that I can for them.
Using A Large Stock Pot For Canning
A large stock pot can save you time and money while canning! Time, because you can do double duty. Money, because you dont need to buy a large canning pot.
Have you ever been in the middle of canning and realized that you can fit everything but a few extra jars into your big canner?
Canning is rewarding, but lets be real. Its also a big time investment. The whole process of getting the water up to boiling, processing the jars for the required time, and then allowing them to cool for a few minutes before removing from the racks can take an hour for a single batch.
When you end up with a couple of leftover jars, who wants to go through all of that again just to get the last few jars processed and sealed?
I certainly dont. And I have really good new for you if you dont, either.
You dont have to solely rely on your big canning pot to get your jars processed. A big stock pot can work, too! By making a simple modification, your large stock pot can do double duty as a water bath canner for pint-sized or smaller jars.
That means you can do twice the canning in the same amount of time. Busy mommas rejoice!
Disclosure: There are some affiliate links in this post. Purchases made through these links never cost you extra but can support this site with a commission. Thanks!
I soon realized that if those flavorful beauties didnt get made into salsa soon, theyd end up in the compost pile.That would be sad.
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