A pressure canner is an essential tool to have when a home canner wants to expand his or her range of knowledge and skill. Yet, it can be a leap at first. While not overly expensive, it’s not cheap either, and does require storage space, so a home canner often has to really ponder if this is something they are going to use enough to make it worthwhile.
Once you’ve decided that you will actually use one, then you need to decide which one to buy.
Minimum size of pressure canner
The minimum size canner that the USDA will recognize as a canner that is compliant with their safety protocols is one that will hold 4 x 1 litre (US quart) jars at once. See a fuller discussion on this page: Pressure cookers versus pressure canners.
That being said, some home canners still dismiss the idea of anything other than a 16 quart as a minimum size (Note, though, that All-American makes and sells the “All American Pressure Canner 910 10 Quart” canner; it may be that those criticizing the minimum 4 quart jar size in general are unaware that All-American carries one in between 4 and 16.)
For the purpose of capacity discussion here, 1 US quart = 1 litre.
Typical pressure canner brands
Most home canners and professionals in the field recognize no brands other than All American, Mirro or Presto. The Clemson University Extension Program refers to “recommended pressure canners” as being “American, Mirro, Presto” 1 We are listing all brands for the sake of thoroughness and intellectual rigour.
Pressure canners for glass and induction top stoves
If you have a smooth / glass stove top, there is only one brand whose manufacturer certifies it safe for such stove tops as of spring 2015, and that is Presto.
If you have an induction top stove, it appears that only one brand / model as of spring 2015 seems to have a stainless steel bottom that will work on it without an adapter disk, which is the Fagor. Other brands would require an induction burner adaptor disk / plate between them and the burner.
Safety of modern pressure canners
Modern pressure canners are 100% safe.
Even as far back as the 1980s, home canning professionals regarded the pressure canners being made then as completely safe. In 1986, an extension agent from Maryland wrote:
[Dr Gerald] Kuhn had a kind word for the safety of modern canning equipment. “There is practically no way the new deluxe pressure canners can blow up and cause injury to anybody,” he said. “It is so safe that we can no longer tolerate the ignorance of people who say: ‘I had an aunt who lost an arm due to an exploding canner.’ This doesn’t happen with today’s equipment.”2
The older pressure cooker / canners that blew up were the ones made as quickly and cheaply as possible in the States right after World War Two with metal suddenly freed up from the war effort to meet pent-up demand. These were made with inferior materials and had zero safety features. See “Pressure Cooker History” on CooksInfo.com
Index of brands
As of 2015, All American offers six models ranging in size from 10 US quarts to 41 1/2 US quarts. Or, put in terms of load capacity, 4 x 1 litre (1 US quart) jars to 19 x 1 litre (1 US quart) jars
The All American models get to be so big you can stack QUART jars in them even. Here are two of the big boys: 30 quart (litres), and 41.5 quart (litres)
Here’s a link to a breakdown of information about the different sizes of All Americans.
The All Americans are currently the only pressure canners being made that don’t require a rubber gasket under the lid. There were others made before this, such as the Kook-Kwik brand of pressure canners made from about 1910 to the early 1940s, distributed by Sears apparently. A manual for the Kook-Kwik is here (caution: do not follow processing directions in the manual; they are now known to be wrong.)
The makers of All American advise that the canner should not be used on glass stove tops; however, you will read reports of people who do.
All American Pressure Canners are not recommended for use on glass top/flat ranges because their weight may cause the glass / ceramic to break. The diameter of most of the canners are larger than most burners and may cause heat to transfer outward and damage the surrounding surface.”3
Note that the canning advice in the All American manual does not always coincide with USDA advice. For instance, it says “If you prefer to process fruits under pressure, process at ten pounds pressure for ten minutes.” 4 That advice does not coincide with USDA advice on pressure canning fruits.
The 10 US quart size can hold 4 US Quart jars or 7 US pint jars.
All American recommends against using its two smallest pressure canners (10 quart and 15 quart) for home canning fish: “The 910 and 915 models are not recommended for canning fish. ”5
As of 2015, Fagor appears to make two models of pots, Duo and Splendid, that advertise themselves as a pressure canner. Both have a capacity of 10 US quarts (litres) which holds 4 x 1 litre (US quart) jars. At first blush, the two models look pretty much the same, but we’ll cover the difference in a minute. Each canner has a stainless steel base, and thus either can run on all stove tops, including smooth and induction. Fagor also offers a canning kit bundle based on the Duo model. Fagor is a Spanish company, though apparently most production now happens in China.
Fagor produces a separate manual for canning called the “Home Canning Cookbook“.
Fagor advertises its pot as capable of pressure canning, and gives directions for its use as a canner in the manual. You can access the Fagor Pressure Canner manuals online, listed under the cookware section.
The canner will hold 4 x 1 US quart (litre) jars, or 5 x 1 US pint (1/2 litre) jars. All their recipes, though, are for 4 x 1 US pint batches. There’s only a very few canning recipes in their regular Fagor manuals, so for a greater variety, you’d want to consult their specific home canning manual (mentioned above.)
The main difference between the Duo and Splendid models is that while the Splendid only has one pressure setting, “15 psi”, the Duo has two settings: a low of “8 psi”, and a high of “15 psi.” Fagor instructs you to do all canning on high; this means their canning guidelines are for 15 psi (as opposed to the more common lower 10 psi used by the USDA, Preso, All-American, etc. Further reading: Why is 10 pounds and not 15 pounds the base for pressure canning? )
A few processing times are different from what USDA times might be: the chile at 90 minutes is longer than the processing time for USDA chile, while a soup is only 40 minutes. In the actual canning manual, their timings for meat, seafood, etc, are the same as the USDA’s, while their mixed veg, Spinach, Greens, etc is lower. But if they have thoroughly lab-tested those recipes, that would be fine: remember, their canning is in theory at a higher temperature, because their high setting of 15 psi would in theory allow for shorter processing times. We don’t have access at this time to any information on lab-testing that might have been done for their guidelines. Their canning manual does say, though, “All of the Home Canning Recipes provided in this cookbook have been tested for quality and proper timing to meet food safety standards.”6
One curiosity in their canning manual would appear to be dill pickles being pressure canned at 15 psi for 10 minutes.7
Some canning discussion groups note three items of possible concern:
1. The pressure choices are low ( 8 lbs) and high (15 lbs.) Consequently if you want to follow USDA guidelines, anything you process in it would have to be processed at a higher than usual pressure: the few things such as fruit wanting 5 lbs would have to be processed at 8 lbs; and everything else wanting 10 lbs (at sea level) would have to be done at 15 lbs (perhaps not a concern if your altitude would require it anyway.)
2. The USDA requires an increase in pressure to compensate for increases in altitude above 300 metres (1000 feet); Fagor’s canning manual mentions no increase in pressure (and their canners wouldn’t be capable of it, anyway.)
3. A vital part of the USDA pressure canning protocol is to vent the canner for 10 minutes before starting to bring it up to pressure.
The regular Fagor usage manuals don’t seem to mention venting or make it evident how you would do the venting;
Set the jars of food on the rack and lower the rack into the pressure cooker so steam can flow around each jar. Add 2-3 inches of boiling water to the bottom of the cooker (pour it between the jars, not directly on them, to prevent breakage). Put the lid on the cooker. Once pressure is reached, keep the pressure constant by regulating the heat under the pressure cooker.”8
Fagor’s separate canning manual, however, does definitely specify a 10 minute venting process:
Before you start counting the processing time you have to “vent” your pressure cooker. To do this, turn on your stove to a medium-high setting. Turn the pressure valve (black dial on the pressure cooker lid) to the steam release position (the picture of steam). You will soon see some steam coming out of the pressure valve. Wait for ten minutes, allowing steam to come out. After ten minutes, turn the dial to the pressure cooking position (indicated by the picture of a pot or a number “2”). Begin counting down the recommended processing time as soon as the valve starts releasing some steam again.” (( Fagor. Home Canning Cookbook. 2009. Page 15. ))
As of 2015, Granite Ware makes two models of pressure canners:
- a 12 US quart (litre), (model F0732-2) which holds 4 quart jars, 7 pint jars or 8 half-pint jars;
- a 20 US quart (litre) (model F0730-2) which holds 7 quart-size canning jars, 8 pint jars or 24 1/2-pint jars.
Granite Ware pressure canning information can be accessed online.
As of 2015, Mirro makes two models of pressure canners. Both of these models are weighted-gauge canners, with no dials on top of the machines. Each comes with three weights: 5, 10 and 15 lbs.
1. 16 US quart (model 92116)
Can hold 7 x 1 litre (1 US quart) jars
2. A taller 22 US quart canner (model 92122.)
Can hold 7 x 1 litre (1 US quart) jars or 2 layers of 8 x 1/2 litre (US pint) jars, for a total of 16 x 1/2 litre (US pint) jars at one time. Comes with a stacking rack included in the cost.
It is difficult to find an online manual for either Mirro model. Here is a Mirro manual over on hippressurecooking.com . The canning specific information in it starts on page 34 of that PDF manual. We’d recommend that you consult the manual for canner operation only, and for actual processing follow USDA guidelines instead.
The Mirro name has been traded around a lot recently. In America, it seems (as of 2015) to be sold by Wearever. In Canada, it seems (as of 2015) to be sold by T-Fal.
There is a brand of pressure cooker called Netlon, which is 12 litres / US quarts. A few internet advertisements refer to it as a cooker / canner. We mention this only for the record with no endorsement one way or the other, because one or two people have mentioned it in passing.
See separate Presto Canners page.
Parts for older brands no longer in production
“For some models of Kook Kwik, Maid of Honor, and Magic Seal canners, replacement parts are carried by Presto®. Contact the Consumer Service Department at National Presto Industries Inc. at www.gopresto.com or (800) 877-0441.”
For advice about purchasing older canners, see here: Griffith, Patti. Making Canning Work for You. University of Wyoming Cooperative Extension Service. MP-119-12. (Link valid as of March 2015.)
Alternatives to Smooth Top Ranges. Accessed March 2015 at http://www.clemson.edu/extension/food_nutrition/canning/tips/19smooth_top_alternatives.html ↩
Jenkins, Kathryn. New guidebook available this fall giving up-to-date home canning tips. Frederick, Maryland: The Frederick News-Post. 19 June 1986. Page F-1. ↩
http://www.allamericancanner.com/allamerican910pressurecanner.htm. Accessed February 2016. ↩
Cooking & Canning with the All-American Pressure Cooker / Canner Manual. 2008. Page 18. Accessed March 2015 at http://www.allamerican-chefsdesign.com/admin/FileUploads/Product_49.pdf ↩
All American web site. Accessed January 2017 at http://www.allamericancanner.com/allamerican910pressurecanner.htm ↩
Fagor. Home Canning Cookbook. 2009. Page 18. ↩
Fagor. Home Canning Cookbook. 2009. Page 46. ↩
Fagor Duo Pressure Cooker Manual. 2008. Page 23. ↩