Selecting Canners for Home Food Preservation
Research-tested equipment must be used to safely preserve foods at home. Watch this video to understand what equipment should be used and how the equipment works to preserve specific types of foods safely. Different components and safety features of various canners are discussed in detail.
- [Narrator] This Learn Now production will provide information useful when selecting equipment safe for canning specific categories of foods.
All canned food needs to be heat processed.
The two basic types of canners for heat processing are the steam pressure canner and the boiling water canner.
Alternate methods for the water bath canner are the atmospheric steam canner, the electric water bath canner, and lastly, the freshTECH automatic canner is approved for small batch water bath canning using only recipes specifically designed for this canner.
Some products sold for canning have not been tested for safety of the processed food or have been determined to yield an unsafe product.
An example is the small pressure cooker, often with a canning button on the electronic control.
There are two basic types of pressure canners, a dial gauge canner with a counterweight or pressure regulator, and a weighted gauge pressure canner which may have a one-piece weight or a three-piece weight and indicates the inside pressure with jiggles.
Some weights jiggle three to four times per minute.
Others jiggle continuously.
Because you can hear the pressure, you do not need to be as close to the canner during processing.
A dial gauge canner allows you to see the pounds of pressure as the canner heats.
It also allows you to make adjustments of pressure, and therefore temperature for each 1,000 feet of altitude.
You do need to be near the canner during the process time to adjust the heat as the canner reaches the designated temperature.
This is not a set it and forget it thing.
The pressure still needs to be closely monitored.
Another major difference in pressure canners is the material they are made from.
Today, most canners are made of a lightweight aluminum.
One brand is made from a heavyweight cast aluminum.
The way the lightweight aluminum seals is with a rubber gasket, as pictured here.
Or the cast aluminum canner seals metal to metal with wingnuts.
Today, all pressure canners have built-in safety features, such as safety locks shown here.
Another built-in safety feature is an over pressure plug.
The plug releases when excess pressure builds up inside the canner, as pictured on the left.
Foods high in acid can safely be processed in a water bath canner or an atmospheric steam canner.
Some high acid foods can be pressure canned but do not require pressure.
Some high acid fruits can be processed in a pressure canner at a low pressure.
Water bath canners are made of various materials, from blue enameled metal to stainless steel.
You can even make a water bath canner from a tall sauce pot you already have if it is deep enough to hold a rack and over the jars by one to two inches of water and allows for expansion of the water while boiling.
You will also need a lid to hold the heat in.
A research-approved alternative to water bath processing is an atmospheric steam canner.
Air is driven out of the canner, and the small amount of water in the base of the canner creates steam which becomes as hot as boiling water.
For people who cannot use a water bath canner on their stove top, an electric water bath canner is an alternative.
It is most convenient to fill the canner with a sink hose.
The canner must be placed close enough to the sink to allow the spigot to drain directly into the sink.
The freshTECH automatic canner has been tested for small batch canning in steam.
It is only suitable for a small number of recipes developed by the manufacturer for this specific canner.
Generally, small pressure cookers and electric cooker canners promoted on infomercials for home canning have not been adequately tested for use in home canning.
Some do not reach adequate pressure to can low acid foods.
Most do not hold at least four quart jars, which is the minimum size on which USDA recipes have been tested.
Before purchasing a canner, think through these tips to help you with your home food preservation needs.
One, determine if you will be processing low acid, high acid, or both types of foods.
Two, understand that canning directly on your electric stove top is a limitation.
Three, purchase equipment you are comfortable working with.
Selecting a canner that meets your needs for the types of food you want to preserve will make canning easier and safer.