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Whether vegan or vegan-curious, there’s a good chance you consume a fair amount of fruits and vegetables. Perhaps, you even grow your own! Either way, you know how difficult it can be to keep all of your produce fresh enough to enjoy beyond just a few days!
So, to help preserve your produce (and to quite literally, for you gardeners, enjoy the fruits of your labor), you might want to look into pressure canning. But what must one know about this food preservation system exactly before partaking? And what might be the very best pressure canner currently out there for your money and specific needs?
We’re here to share everything we know about the pastime of pressure canning, and several pressure canner reviews, so you can see for yourself if this practise is for you!
What is pressure canning?
Pressure canning is a storage technique used to preserve food. And for our purposes (as vegans), that means fruits, vegetables, and any form thereof, such as soups, salsas, sauces, jams, and jellies.
Sometimes a visual can be helpful, and we feel taking a look at this video on pressure canning carrots will go a long way!
Pressure canner vs. boiling water canner
Let’s first discuss the ins and outs of pressure canning, so you can see for yourself if this method might be something you want to add to your culinary regime.
There are two types of pressure canning, one done by boiling water and the other by using an industrially pressurized system. While a boiling water canner is fine for more acidic fruits like apples and tomatoes, almost all other popular vegetables, like carrots, asparagus, squash, green beans and corn, require a pressure canner for long-term storage. (1)
Why do vegetables require pressure canning?
Vegetables must be pressure canned because of a bacterium called Clostridium botulinum, which can cause botulism food poisoning in low-acid foods (such as vegetables). (2)
The spores of these bacteria are harmless until they are trapped within a moist, low-acid, oxygen-free environment. So, a sealed jar is the ideal space for their growth and reproduction.
To ensure the destruction of these harmful spores, it’s important to use a pressure canner and process these low-acid foods at 240°F (115°C) for a specified time frame that varies based on the given food item.
Pressure canner vs. pressure cooker
Now that we know why pressure canning is the safest choice for the majority of preservation purposes, let’s talk about how it compares to and contrasts with pressure cooking.
The first, and perhaps most important, difference between a pressure canner and a pressure cooker has to do with function.
You know how a square is also a rectangle, but a rectangle is not also a square? That same thought can be applied here quite fittingly: While a pressure canner is also a pressure cooker (think of it as a pressure canner/cooker), a pressure cooker is not a pressure canner.
To be clear: The best canning pots are also going to cook your food, while even the very best pressure cookers do not have the function to can.
Since pressure canners are usually much larger than pressure cookers (another difference), they can contain heat and pressure for much longer, which is crucial for eliminating any detrimental bacteria. A pressure canner will always have a gauge (either dial or weighted; more on this soon) and commonly holds more than 20 quarts of food.
Pressure cookers are much smaller and may not even have a gauge or a way to regulate the pressure. And if they do, they may not be that accurate.
Instead of being labeled with a specific weight for cooking, such as 5, 10 and 15 pounds, they might say simply, “low,” “medium” and “high.” This is why it’s never recommended to use a pressure cooker for the purposes of canning.
Pressure canners and pressure cookers do, however, work similarly in that they both build pressure by encasing steam within a pot. Once locked into place and typically fitted with a rubber gasket, the lid will trap the steam and form an airtight seal. The pressure then builds as the contents of the pot heat up.
Here’s a quick video that efficiently explains the differences between a pressure canner and a pressure cooker:
What to look for in a pressure canner
When it comes to finding the right pressure canner for you, it’s important to consider several aspects. Below, we tackle what we consider to be the most crucial elements, and we encourage you to focus on finding the pressure canner that offers exactly what you seek for your kitchen and culinary adventures!
Surely, you’re interested in the best pressure canner for the money! Here’s the thing: Unlike some prep gadgets like a salad spinner, which is relatively affordable across the board, even the smallest or cheapest of pressure canners is not exactly small nor is it cheap.
Akin to a car or any other notable purchase, this item is definitely an investment for your kitchen, so it’s important to keep this mindset at the forefront as you read through our reviews of the best rated pressure canners… which we’ll be getting to quite soon.
Pressure canners are typically made of either aluminum or stainless steel.
What’s great about aluminum? It’s lighter, cheaper and conducts heat efficiently. The downside? Aluminum stains and the surface pits with regular use over a period of time.
Thankfully, staining and pitting doesn’t interfere with performance, but if aesthetics are important to you, keep this in mind. One helpful hack is to add a tablespoon of vinegar to the pot before each use to help reduce any staining and pitting.
What’s the good news on stainless steel? Heavier and more expensive than aluminum, pots made from this metal are generally built to last, and stainless steel canners won’t lose their looks even after years of consistent use. However, stainless steel doesn’t conduct heat as well as aluminum.
So, while stainless steel pressure canners might win a fashion contest, aluminum takes home the gold when it comes to functionality.
We’ve already mentioned a bit about how much a pressure canner can hold, and you might be thinking, “Wow… they can fit more than 20 quarts of food? That’s big…” and you’d be right: pressure canners are quite large, and they take up a great deal of space.
You might want to ask yourself, “From counter to cupboard, and most importantly, above my stove top, what size pressure canner can I accommodate?” Especially if you have a microwave that sits above your stove, you’ll want to know the exact dimensions of your canner to make sure it fits.
Furthermore, internally, while all pressure canners can fit one layer of jars, a very large pressure canner may be able to hold two layers. This will also depend upon the size of the jars you’re using (pint or quart-sized; wide-mouth or regular mouth). Sometimes, when you purchase these larger pressure canners, they’ll come with an extra rack so you may double your batch at no additional purchase!
Note: there’s no right or wrong size of jar to use for pressure canning; while most units are designed to accommodate wide-mouth jars, it really comes down to personal preference and which size is best suited for the food you are canning. Just be sure to understand how your jar size corresponds to the required pressure settings for canning safely. (By the way, we like Ball’s range of jars for pressure canning.)
Pressure canning is quite an involved processed, and so, naturally, are the features to consider:
Most pressure canning pots are equipped with three settings for applying pressure: 5, 10 and 15 pounds (though some can handle up to 25 pounds). However, the type of gauge will either be a dial gauge or a weighted gauge.
A dial gauge offers a visual reading of your current pound of pressure, whereas the weighted gauge will jiggle and make an audible clicking noise. So, while it’s not exactly a matter of function, it’s a matter of how you prefer to be alerted of your pressure setting.
And, while the dial gauge and its visual representation might be nice, it does have to be checked every year to ensure it’s not reading the wrong pressure.
Lids and gaskets
The twist and lock style is the most common lid you’ll find on a pressure canner. This type uses lugs that link up with matching lugs on the unit, and they twist and lock into place.
This kind of lid will also require a gasket, which is a fitted piece of rubber that lines the edges of the pot in order to ensure that the seal doesn’t leak and compromise the overall pressure. These rubber gaskets wear out eventually, so with this need in mind, it’s helpful to find a pressure canner whose company sells spare parts individually (click here for a range of parts to give you an idea of what can be replaced).
And then, there’s the kind of lid that uses metal-on-metal. The perimeter often has wing-nut clamps that create a steam-tight seal when tightened to the unit, so there’s no need for a rubber gasket.
While this system is very effective for preventing pressure loss, it’s the twist and lock style that is more commonly employed by modern canners.
Grips and Handles
Since pressure canners are full of heavy contents and boiling water, they are difficult to move and become extremely hot to the touch… which is not the greatest combination!
Not only is it unsafe to drag or slide your pressure canner, it can leave marks on your kitchen stove and counter if it is not lifted. So, you’ll want to takes these specific ergonomic needs into consideration when it comes to their grips and handles.
Safety tips for pressure canning
Other than finding comfortable, heat-resistant grips and handles, here are a few more quick tips and reminder for safely using your pressure canner:
- Protect your skin! As pressure canners get up to 250°F (121°C), leaving your hands and face uncovered and too close to the vents will pose a burn risk. Always try to angle the searing stream of steam away from you and wear gloves when operating.
- Once you’ve finished the canning procedure, make sure that the pressure on the pot has normalized (returned to zero) before you try to open the lid. If not, there’s potential for hot steam and/or liquid to shoot out of the vent and for your jars to break.
- Should you ever lose pressure while processing, start over from the necessary level or else you run the risk of bacteria growth.
Best pressure canner reviews
Now you’ve read our buyer’s guide and thought about your own individual canning needs, let’s get down to business and answer the “what is the best pressure canner?” question once and for all!
All American 921 pressure canner: 21.5 quart
The All American 921 Pressure Canner has several features that will score highly with both beginners to pressure canning and advanced canners alike. Most importantly, it’s very easy to use, which is always a plus!
The All American canner is a heavy duty, durable, and solidly built piece of kit, which makes us believe that, as far as pressure canners go, it’s reasonably priced when compared to the cost of others on the market and their construction quality. That doesn’t mean it’s inexpensive, it isn’t, but you do get what you pay for with the All American.
Since the unit is metal-on-metal, there’s no gasket, which makes it far easier to clean than units with a gasket seal. The height is also great for a standard vent hood and the size fits well over a normal gas burner, too.
As with many pressure canners on the market, the pressure regulation on this canner is limited to 5, 10, or 15 psi (pounds per square inches), and the weighted gauge makes the process easier to manage. The fact that the cover handle stays cool enough to touch during use is a huge plus as well.
Due to its construction quality, it takes a while to cool down, but, other than this (and, possibly, the price), we don’t see too many downsides to this option regardless of your experience level.
The All American pressure canner comes in six sizes: 10.5, 15.5, 21.5, 25, 30, and 41.5 quart. View the full range here.
- Easy to use
- Easy to clean
- Gasket-free, metal-on-metal system works brilliantly
- Well priced (you get what you pay for with this brand)
- Good range of sizes
- Looks the business!
- Stays hot for a long time, but that’s testament to the quality more than anything
Presto 01781 pressure canner and cooker: 23-quart
The Presto 01781 Pressure Canner and Cooker is made from aluminum, so it’s relatively lightweight, but it’s also well-sized, so you can easily cook a lot of food at once.
It’s simple to use, well-made, and it maintains a great seal when locked into place. It’s very easy to disassemble and clean, and replacement parts are readily available should they be needed.
Most importantly, perhaps, this pressure canner is very affordable and great value for money. Also, especially for the price, we found that this canner is reliable when it comes to maintaining the designated pressure setting (no more than plus or minus 1 psi, consistently).
We do wish, however, that this canner came with a second rack, but this can be purchased separately should you find the need. While easy to clean, because the unit is so large it can take awhile to complete…and this is after it takes a bit to cool down. The steam release can also get rather loud during operation.
These, though, are minor inconveniences and probably us being a bit nit-picky. This is a great canner and probably the best value canning device on the market.
- Consistent pressure
- Easy to use
- Well made, yet lightweight
- Good size
- Induction ready option available
- Very affordable, great value for money
- US Department of Agriculture recommended
- 12-year limited warranty
- No second rack
- Takes a while to cool down
- A little loud
Ball freshTech autocanning jar
Before we start, we want to make clear that the Ball FreshTech Autocanning System is not a pressure canner per se, but an alternative that some might find useful.
Why did we include it in our list of best pressure canners? Simply as an alternative, nothing more. Pressure canners may not suit everyone, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be able to preserve certain foodstuffs either.
With that out of the way, let’s take a closer look at this electric canner, shall we?
This canning device is very easy to use and clean as the insert is both removable and non-stick, and it’s only slightly more work to wash the vent. This electric canner, like others, is quite large, but it can only fit four 16 oz jars per batch, so we’re not sure why the unit has to be so tall. It can also be quite loud as steam releases, though it doesn’t last long.
We do want to express that you can’t use this canner for vegetables, beans and other low-acid foods – just jams, jellies, pickles and tomato products and, as we’ve already mentioned, you may only can these in smaller batches. Depending on your canning and cooking needs, this may or may not be a negative aspect.
The obvious upside for some will be the fact that this is an electric gadget that doesn’t require a stove top at all. For others, however, the lack of versatility may be too restrictive.
- No stove top required, just an electrical socket
- Comes with a few accessories
- Faster canning times
- Poor ratio of overall size to batch size
- Cannot can vegetables
- Not very versatile
T-fal pressure cooker and canner
The T-fal Pressure Cooker and Canner is visually appealing, well-made, sturdy and easy to use, so it’s great for first timers to pressure canning.
It’s also huge, and can handle large batches of jars at once, suitable for loads of chili, bean soup, potatoes and other hearty vegan delights!
It comes with two racks, too, which is a nice feature considering its size. This canner comes full assembled, it’s relatively quiet during use, it cleans without staining, and it does not leave scratches on countertops.
That being said, some reported difficulties in getting an accurate reading on the pressure gauge, which is obviously very important. However, the manual for this pressure canner states that it is typical for the gauge to display a variance of 1.5 to 2 psi above or below the weight setting, even though the pressure release is correct.
This is a decent budget option, but those looking for an all-sing-all-dancing gadget may want to look elsewhere.
- Affordable price, making it decent value for money
- Great size
- Comes with second rack
- Relatively quiet
- Gauge variance can be confusing
Buffalo QCP430 32-quart stainless steel pressure cooker
Although the Buffalo QCP430 Stainless Steel Pressure Cooker is from their commercial series, we thought we’d still review it as a potential winner of the best pressure canner for home canning anyway.
It’s a great bit of kit and has the perfect look for the modern industrial-style kitchens that are oh-so-popular at present.
Made of stainless steel, this canner is heavy duty, and it’s not only very appealing to look at, it’s also suitable for all cooking surfaces, which means if you’re looking for an induction pressure canner this could be the answer. Its thick walls are easy to clean, and they feature “maximum” lines for dry beans about a ⅓ of the way up the pot and for liquids about ⅔ of the way up, so you’ll never overfill.
This canner operates relatively quietly and has several safety features. This abundance of qualities lends credence to this canner’s price tag, which is definitely at the higher end of the spectrum, but most serious pressure canners say that it’s well worth the money.
This is where we should be honest that, while any pressure canner purchase is not to be taken lightly, this is a true investment, and we recommend this canner only for those with a large budget and who care about both quality looks and function.
Also at 32 quarts, this stainless steel pressure cooker canner is gigantic. It takes up a great deal of space and it takes a while (around 30 minutes) to build pressure as a result. It is a thing of beauty, though!
- Beautiful aesthetic
- Top-notch construction
- Thoughtful features
- Suitable for all cooking ranges, including induction
- Range of sizes (see here)
- High end price tag
So, what is the best pressure canner on the market?
After comparing these top rated pressure canners, we’ve decided that the best canner for vegans is the Presto 01781 Pressure Canner and Cooker.
Based on our stated criteria – namely price, material, size, features, and ultimately, safety – we feel that this canner is best if you are looking to use it frequently for large batches of fruit-based foods as well as low-acid vegetables.
It’s very fairly priced, yet the quality is still there, which makes it an easy choice as our number one. Further, we feel that this is also the best pressure canner for beginners, while those who are more adept at canning will still get a great deal from it, too.
Close second was the All American range, but the extra cost meant that the Presto got the nod. If money is no object, though, or if you really want to invest in your kitchenware, the All American is a fantastic choice.
We hope our information on pressure canning and our canning pressure cooker reviews have been helpful. Please leave us a comment below should you have any further questions or comments.
If you click a link on this page and make a purchase, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more.
About The Author:
Carly Keyes is writer and personal trainer who decided to go plant-based after a visit to the True North Health Center in Santa Rosa, CA. The change has completely revolutionized the way she feels, looks, thinks and behaves, making her a very vocal advocate of the vegan lifestyle.
She’s also a keen singer/songwriter and has studied screenwriting at the University of Michigan. Carly lives in Bloomfield Hills, MI.
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- Elizabeth L. Andress, Ph.D. | Using Boiling Water Canners | https://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/uga/using_bw_canners.html
- CDC | About Botulism | https://www.cdc.gov/botulism/general.html