Why a pressure canner? I have been canning with a steam canner for awhile now and it's a huge pain in the @ss! I can't use it on my cooktop, and it limits what I can preserve. The pressure canner will preserve everything, and you know it's safe. It's the safest method out there as well as giving you the longest possible preservation time. Everything from fruits and veggies to soups, stews and meat can go in there. Stroganoff, meatballs, you name it, if you can buy it in a can at the store, you can do it at home with this thing.I currently have a tiny chest freezer that is filled to the lid with frozen veggies. Convenient and quick - yes, secure? - no. We have frequent power outages due to storms and hurricanes so that's not the best way for us to preserve food. The generator sucks massive amounts of fuel to keep it running, and won't do much good when the big one hits and the generator is flooded or has been stolen. Much more cost effective to have it only run the water/well pump, that way we only have to run the generator for short periods for showers, etc. The idea is to have a wide selection of foodstuffs available for us that don't need refrigeration.
Pressure Canner Thoughts...Must have features -
1. Be able to go on a glass cooktop.
Yes, I know there is a disclaimer on all of them that says they should never be used on one, but many people have done so, and I have found a specific few that have been using them on a Frigidaire, which is what I have. Apparently the new cooktops are made stronger than the old ones from the 80's and such. The problem here is the weight of the thing, plus the water that can cause damage. It has been said that as long as it doesn't go over an inch in diameter more than the burner, it will be okay.
I also have a propane burner outside I can use, but I really want to get away from having to do that since it's not located anywhere near the kitchen, and some of you may remember my sliding hot jars incident 2 years ago from the commute to the burner. I still have the scars.
On this note, apparently the control that cycles a glass cooktop on and off to prevent the glass from cracking does not affect pressure canners the way it does steam canners - steam canners are too large in diameter and also contain too much water to bring to a boil. Pressure canners by nature of design come to temp faster and contain less water to heat.
Really, if the cooktop breaks.... I'll just replace it with an old coil style stove, which is what I should have bought in the first place LOL, this is my own fault from the get-go.
2. A weighted style gauge.
I don't want a pressure canner that relies on a dial gauge that has to be calibrated yearly. Not only will I never get around to doing this, but I will constantly be worried about my canning efforts being "safe".
The weighted "jiggle" type is always reliable, and instead of standing there watching a dial for 90-100+ minutes, I can do other work in the kitchen and hear the jiggling and know it's working while I'm busy doing something else, like cleaning up tomato splatter off the walls and ceiling :)
3. It must hold 5-7 quart jars.
While lovely to be able to have, I have to immediately discount the large pressure canners since they won't work on my glass cooktop, but the ones that hold a few quarts plus lots of pints will be sufficient, since I only use quarts for tomatoes, and tend to put all my pickles and peppers in pint size jars as they are easier for me to store as well as use up in a timely fashion after opening.
So that brings me to my choices...
After briefly looking at some of the off brand smaller pressure cooker/canner, it was quickly apparent they were not primarily designed for canning, and quality would be an issue, we're talking food safety and security here, people!
Leaving me with the Big 3:
Presto, Mirro & All-American...
1. Presto - this is probably the most popular due to the nice sizes available and price. These have been used for decades and people like them. Price is great at $70 for the 16 qt model. Although this has a dial gauge, there appears to also be a weighted gauge on the lid. This one has the most presence on the web for people that report using in on glass cooktops successfully.
2. Mirro - this is a nicer looking canner, feels a step up from the Presto in weight/thickness, and still has plenty of good reviews and tales of people still using them since the 70's, that's always nice to hear. Price is fantastic at $66 for the 16 quart model. Lots of great reviews, yet there are a few who say customer service is bad and replacement products such as gaskets are hard to come by, glass cooktop users report mixed results. It does have the weighted type gauge and no dial.
3. All - American - looks alone will tell you this thing is made for the long haul, this model is the Big Kahuna. It's made in America, and in Wisconsin no less so I'm even more apt to go for this one! It's heavy, well made, metal to metal closure and lock uses no gasket so that's one less replacement part to buy. It has both a weighted gauge and a visual pressure indicator. It primarily uses the manual gauge to maintain pressure, meaning in theory the dial gauge doesn't need recalibrating. The heavy issue could be a problem with my cooktop, but several users report success, including a few that have my identical cooktop. This is the pressure canner for those of us that want to have it in case of "squirrel attack", or WTSHTF for you hard core types. No replacement parts needed, and it's built to last and withstand the rigors of our military moves. Not sure I would trust the thinner metal ones to be dependable after being tossed about by military move contractors. Something to think about anyways. Sounds like I already made my decision? Well, the price for the 15.5 qt is $175. That's a full $100 more than the others, and when you are a family on a limited income that's a huge chunk of change.
In summary, I'm thinking that the All - American is the way to go and I should find the money for this one. It's made in America, the others are not. It's built to last forever, period. There is not one bad review out there unless you count people that can't lift it since it's so sturdy. There are several reviews out there from more serious canner types that have had others and basically say "skip those and go straight to All-American". I have learned in the past with 3 new appliances that have had to be replaced in our new kitchen, that it's often cheaper to go with the best from the get-go. Jane, I know you have an All-American and love it, anyone else out there? Any owners of the other models? Mama Pea, have you decided yet? I probably wouldn't entertain the notion of the expensive one if I was right out the starting gate with this garden thing, but by now it's obviously not a "don't worry, she'll get sick of it" type of a hobby for me. To the contrary, it gets more out of hand every year. I can only imagine what it will be like when I actually move to a piece of property that isn't in the suburbs. That also isn't and "if and when" idea, either. We ARE moving as soon as hubby is out of the military, we have no ties here, cost of homes are cheaper back home, and we are completely "tied up" where we are headed, LOL- so I know this thing would get more usage with every year as our garden output increases.
I know many of you are thinking, are you crazy, go for the 23 quart! For many of you, the larger sizes are probably better, and I wish I could do that. Even if I upgrade to a larger size 10 years down the road, I see myself still getting lots of use out of this size, since there are many times of the year where I don't bring enough peppers, pickles, etc in to warrant more than 7 quarts or 15 pints, that's a lot of water to heat up. I think the larger size would be nice to have when there are copious amounts of tomatoes and squashes to process, but that isn't an option on my cooktop, and I want to repeat that lugging everything out to the propane burner in 100 degree heat is not going to happen with me :)
As you can tell, I research everything to death, remember my sewing machine purchase LOL? That's also one way I know if it's even an important purchase. If I'm not sick of the whole idea by the time my research is done, then I know it's a worthwhile purchase.
Have you tried looking at Ebay/Craig's list for a used one?ReplyDelete
How long before you move? If you go w/ the smaller ones, they are always good for quick meals too. Long haul and future use leans towards the big daddy it seems. It will come to you in your dream tonight.ReplyDelete
Well I for one am glad you did all this research because now I don't have to! Pressure canner is on the list to buy here, too. My husband, after reading all your research would say "Just go for the All American, you get what you pay for." That thing sure looks like its built to last! I really enjoyed this post, and you can be sure that I'll be showing it to a certain man who lives here...I don't know if we will buy one this year (our garden output will be pathetic at best because of the last month) but whenever we make it to that new house (wherever it is) you can bet I'll be investing in one of those!!ReplyDelete
I don't know too much about these gadgets, but I seem to recall reading that if you don'y go for the heavy-duty quality unit it can be a safety hazard. A pressure canner is NOT something you want to malfunction. (Being a 'Sconsin' girl myself, I know which one you will go for.....if only it came packed with cheese curds.)ReplyDelete
If you buy any other than the All American, you will be replacing it a couple times in your life. You will also be buying gaskets. It may be more money up front, but in the long run you save money. Plus factor in that you will no longer be buying canned goods at the store. It is safer, so someone with kids running around doesnt have to worry about popping the lid. And you will never look back in your life and say, boy I wish I got the cheaper, chinese made one. Did I convince you yet. If nothing else, USA!!ReplyDelete
I have the Presto 23qt and I bought the manual weights that come apart so I don't have to get the gauge calibrated.ReplyDelete
I also have a flat top Samsung range purchased 3 years ago. This will be my third summer canning on it and and no problems at all. I called Samsung to get their say on canning. They said what you wrote: no more than an inch over the burner.
Well thanks for all that research. Now if I ever buy a pressure canner I know which kind to buy. I can't wait to hear about how it works for you.ReplyDelete
Ribbit, I looked briefly last night but most on eBay were the "purchase now" option and a little more $ than I found elsewhere. I admit I'm a little weirded out about used when it comes to my food, kind of like a used child carseat from someone you don't know.ReplyDelete
APG, too bad I can't use the big one in the kitchen! I'm thinking I'll get a lot of use out of it as well for meals if I learn to cook with it and not just can.
Mama Tea, LOL my husband didn't even know all this stuff was going on, he read it today and came to the same conclusion! He's a mechanic though, so he always goes with the motto "buy right the first time" or "the right tool for the right job"!
Kelly, I really don't think the other ones are unsafe, many people have hand me downs from past generations they are still using, but I think it rather comes down to how we might treat it and how often we want to purchase replacement parts such as dial and gaskets. For me, I lean to the side of the "prepper" and want to plan on parts not being available to me in the worst case scenario. You are right, our families' food is nothing to mess around with!
Jane, kids toying with it is certainly something to be fearful of, I'll probably wear a helmet the first time myself LOL! I admit something made not just in the USA but in Canningland, USA is pretty important to me!
Anonymous, nice to know you are happy with the Presto, and that you use it on your glass cooktop, I have heard the Presto is one that's best for the ceramic cooktop. I agree on those manual weights!
Sparkless, LOL can I get some college credit for the research?! I will definitely give a review once I use it, I can't tell you how thankful I was that so many people took the time to write a review or do a blog post while I was surfing the net, money like that is not easily spent around here.
you Erin get an "A" for research,effort and the + will come with your effectiveness. I WISH I WEREN'T SUCH A WILLY NILLY ABOUT USING IT. MY DAUGHTER BOUGHT ME A BREAD MAKER-I STARED AT THAT THING FOR 5 YEARS BEFORE I FINALLY SAID YES-I CAN DO IT ,YES I CAN ,THERE I GO AGAIN TUNE IN THE HEAD. NOW IF I CAN GET THE ONE OUT OF MY HEAD ABOUT THE KIDS SINGING YESTERDAY AT THERE"GRADUATION FOR KINDERGARTEN""GONNA GO BEAR HUNTING-GONNA FIND A BEAR, WITH BIG BLUE EYES-ANY-WHO---IF MY SON HAS SAID IT ONCE TO ME HE HAS SAID IT 100 TIMES YOU" GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR MOM"I BOUGHT 2 USED SEWING MACHINES BEFORE I FIGURED THAT OUT.ReplyDelete
Hey Erin! I have the Presto canner. It's fine, but not my favorite. It's hard to close and open, and not the best quality. It has more parts to replace than most.ReplyDelete
The little thing that looks like a weighted guage isn't one. (I wish it was!) It's just a little weight that covers the exhaust valve after you've exhausted the air out of the canner. So, I personally would not choose it, especially if you want the weighted guage. Happy shoping - and canning!
OK, I just read what anonymous said about the manual weights. I'm for sure going to check that out. That could sway me a bit in Presto's favor.ReplyDelete
I had my comment half written early this morning when my dear hubby said, "Power's going off!" Yikes, I had to shut everything down and couldn't finish. I'll try again to gather my thoughts now.ReplyDelete
First, thank you, thank you, thank you for this post. You just made my day by coming to the same choice I was leaning toward! The "smaller" All American is the one I want. I don't have the ceramic cook top issue but still came up with that make and model.
The old hand-me-down I had years ago was a Presto with rubber gasket and I got tired of thinking it needed to be replaced. (Yes, I have a healthy respect for pressure canners and maybe was just a touch on the paranoid side but better that than a really bad "splosion" in the kitchen!)
For something like the All American that is going to last any of us forever (I'l definitely go with Jane on this), I don't think $175 is that much to invest. Just think of how many couples would go out for a special dinner and blow that amount in the blink of an eye!? (No, not you or I but you know what I mean.)
I'm thinking Santa might bring one to each of us?? Hint, hint, hint! Pu-leeze!
My next door neighbor has an All American which I borrow every year. The neighbor's step-mom bought it for them.....yeah right...they have never canned! The daughter has borrowed it once or twice, and since they are now back home after being overseas I'm sure it might be used a little more. Would I recommend it? Definitely! That thing works great, and it is the super large one too. I am seriously thinking of buying one this year so I no longer have to borrow!ReplyDelete
Judy, there's a learning curve for sure, but I've learned from my sewing adventures to just dive in and figure it out, don't be scared! And what's that about old sewing machines? I'll have to do a post about one of my weaknesses, retro sewing machines :)ReplyDelete
Patty, thanks! I figured the Presto was good, since so many use it, but many have said what you just did, and I think depending on your goals, you could outgrow it. Not every gardener is a hopeful homesteader like us blogger gals! I did read that the weights are an extra that would have to be purchased, and I don't like all these add-ons... makes the price not 70 anymore LOL!
Mama Pea, I'm going out on a limb and saying that we are no longer indecisive? I think that 15.5 is a good size too, when I make soups and such I would be keeping a big container out for immediate eating probably, so I wouldn't need to process more that what that holds, and for big tomato days - well, it would just be a "big tomato day" and I'd do a couple of loads through it!
Ulrike, amazing score with the neighbor! Tell them you'll take it off their hands LOL!
I've got an All American and LOVE it. Vernon got it for me for Christmas a few years ago. I can't say how it works on a glass top stove, though. We got rid of the electric stove and switched to gas right away.ReplyDelete
We be no longer indecisive! I agree with exactly what you said about the All American 15.5 size and how it will be used.ReplyDelete
The only question at this point is: Does the $175 go for the pressure canner . . . or to the lumber yard for supplies for the new stairway up to hubby's office? Hmmmm . . .
'Scuse me while I run into town to buy a lottery ticket.
This post was VERY helpful since I've been contemplating crossing over into pressure canner land. Thanks for all the great info! (I found you via Mama Pea:-).)ReplyDelete
I totally want a pressure canner too and the one you chose looks so awesome and sturdy! I can't wait to hear you review it.ReplyDelete