Best Pressure Canners for Preppers

Pressure canners are important for any prepper that wants to preserve their own foods. For meats they are wonderful because you can have very tender meat from tough cuts and a long shelf life without refrigeration. Anyone can pressure can!

Pressure canners are important for any prepper that wants to preserve their own foods. For meats they are wonderful because you can have very tender meat from tough cuts and a long shelf life without refrigeration. Anyone can pressure can!

Addressing pressure canning fears

When I first started canning I was warned by my grandma and others that I would have to be careful, they were dangerous and I was going to blow myself up.

The basis for this was that a lot of the older pressure canners did not have safety pressure releases. Some very old people still will not believe you when you explain that it is safe. It was amazing that some actually believed that if they cooked their jars of meat for 3 hours or just hot packed it and used a hot water bath, that it would be fine.

It goes to prove how rare botulism actually is because the unsafe canning methods I have seen over the years have left me pretty horrified. A lot of the time it was completely due to a fear of pressure canners. If you watch your pressure canner then you will be fine. You really have to be not paying any attention at all to get into trouble. You also have to have your face directly over the pressure canner and positioned so that the pressure release shoots out into your face.

Gaye did a previous article on how to get over these fears and on how to take care of your pressure canner. She had to overcome the same fear of safety that a lot of people do before they start pressure canning and gain experience.

Here are some things to consider when deciding what pressure canner is best for you.

Size

There are all kinds of sizes of pressure canners out there but most tend to be larger. Weight when empty can vary based on how durable the model is that you buy and the overall size and capacity. Weight issues are one of the factors that sometimes leads some to get several smaller canners.

Diminishing returns with size

When I started canning I was on even stricter of a budget than now. We were trying to build a house and live frugally. I got the Presto Canner at Wal-Mart for $72 and then got another. For under $150 I had the same capacity as the $414 All American. Sure my Presto is not made of the same stuff but I am still using them 8 years on! You don’t have to spend a week’s pay to get set up to pressure can foods.

Second-Hand Pressure Canners

I try to keep tabs on prepping groups on Facebook and see what others are getting into. In my perusing I have noticed that some people ask about old canners they run into and if they are good buys. That is a tough one but the truth is that there are some deals out there but if a canner is really old you need to check or replace all the seals and rings.

Look carefully for any cracks or damage. The presence of a safety valve is a major plus. If it is older and doesn’t have a safety valve than you shouldn’t bother. It is not worth it especially for the beginning canner!

Pressure canners are normally made of aluminum

Aluminum is lighter and costs less but stainless is known to last longer. If you want to use your canner to cook with a lot then you might wish to start out with one like the GraniteWare featured in this article. Plenty of people do not want to eat foods cooked in aluminum, especially those that are acidic like tomatoes.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with aluminum for just pressure canning and I definitely used my aluminum pressure canner for cooking all kinds of foods in the past.

Be realistic about how much you are going to can

A lot of favorite foods can be canned using a hot water bath canner. You may not want to spend a lot on a pressure canner if you are only going to be using it for a very small portion of your canning needs.  On the other hand pressure canning takes time and that means that you might has well have two canners going at once for large volumes.

Avoid using quarts when you should be using pints

Unless you are very short on time or have a large family, there are some foods that a quart is simply too much to consume in a short period of time. A quart of meat is 2-3 lbs of meat depending on what your ratio of liquid to meat is.

Pints may mean more runs through the pressure canner depending on your model and overall capacity but that is better than food spoilage or feeling like you have to eat a lot of one thing over the course of a week.

If you are in a big hurry then go for the quarts. You can bet that if I realized that I was facing a long term power outage I would be canning some meat in a hurry if I had a lot in the freezer. Even those with some back up power are not going to want to divert a lot of it to freezers if they don’t have to.

Pressure canning outside

There is some controversy about pressure canning on propane burners. If you are using one that is similar to a stove eye then you can do it just fine but that doesn’t mean you should leave things unattended. The really large turkey fryer burners are the ones that can be too much.  They put out a lot of heat and can be harder to adjust quickly. It is up to you to decide what you think is really safe. I am just saying what has worked on our place.

There are some advantages to canning outside, mostly that you avoid heating and steaming up your house a lot. Vent hoods help but they are not a complete solution when inside, especially if you have

Sizes featured

I am recommending pressure canners in typical capacities of 7 quarts and varying numbers of pints. A lot of the pressure canner companies I know of have different sizes so if you see something you like here but want a different size, you will likely be able to find it.  All American has the largest range of sizes but the cost is often not much different than the more popular mid capacity models.

Presto 23 Quart Pressure Canner

This is the best pressure canner for those on a budget. Yes it is aluminum but that doesn’t mean it is going to be bad for pressure canning food even if you choose not to cook in it. A 23 quart capacity means you can fit 7 quarts or 18 pints of food.

For those that pressure can a lot of pints, a canner like this that allows for double stacking actually makes it so that you can can more food in pints than in quarts during a single run. Presto offers a 12 year warranty on the canner.

T-Fal 22 Qt Pressure Canner

The T-Fal has a capacity of 7 quarts, 16 pints, or 26 half pint jars. The included racks allow for safe double stacking.  This canner is a real bargain and has a lot of solid reviews. T-Fal has been around awhile and appears to still be making quality products for the home.

All American 21.5 Qt Pressure Cooker/Canner

All American just like the name implies is made in the USA. One of the major differences in this canner and the less expensive ones I have talked about on this list is that there are no rubber gaskets to clean or that have to be periodically replaced.  The 21.5 quart size holds 7 quarts or 19 regular mouth pint jars so you can get a lot done with this canner.

The canners made by All American are made to last a lifetime and require little maintenance. The amount of over the top reviews is pretty impressive for any kitchen appliance. These canners weigh more when empty than their less expensive counterparts. This unit comes in at 17 lbs when empty.

All American makes smaller sizes but the price break is not much so most people go with at least this size unit.

Mirro Polished Aluminum 22 Qt Pressuer Canner

For those that like the classic knocker weighted style of canner, the Mirro is an economical and functional choice.  A capacity of 7 quarts, 16 pints, or 26 half pints gives you a lot of food preservation capacity within a single canning cycle. A 10 year warranty is included on the canner itself but only 1 year on replacement parts like the weights and seals.

GraniteWare 20 qt Pressure Cooker & Canner

Those looking for a pressure canner and cooker combo should consider the GraniteWare. The anodized aluminum body means you can use this to cook all types of foods like tomatoes and other acidic foods without any off flavors or risk of reactions.  The capacity of this canner is 7 quarts, 8 pints, or 24 half pints.

Smart Pressure Canners & Cookers

There are a lot of plug in electric pressure canners out there but they are expensive for what you get and  I don’t like the idea of a canner that you have to plug in. I can see how the convenience is appealing to a lot of people, especially those that are really busy with a lot of other things.

There are a lot of buttons and gizmos on these that I cannot help but be suspicious of. It just seems like there are a lot of things to go wrong and stop working. I am going to include one of these models so you can look at different options though and make your own decision.

Carey 9.5 qt Pressure Canner & Cooker

4 quarts or 6 pints is the capacity of this canner. People seem to like them but for me the capacity is just too small. This model seems like it is easy to operate and gets some good reviews. At the same time I can buy two of a lot of the larger pressure canners that made this article and get more done at a similar cost.

If I lived in town or a small apartment I might feel differently. I think there is a lot of room in the pressure canner market for devices like this but we are just not quite there yet in terms of cost versus capacity. I could see having one of these types of pressure canners to use sometimes and then a regular style one in case electricity is not available or for larger jobs, if having both is within your budget.

Best Compact Pressure Canner On A Budget

If you are short on space in your kitchen and mostly can in quart jars then you might consider a smaller unit.

Presto 16 qt Pressure Canner

This canner holds 7 quarts or 8 pints. It is more compact than the popular 23 qt model. It also makes an excellent second canner for when you want to have two canners going at once so you can get more done in a shorter time period.  This is the size I use at home and have two of but mine do not have a dial gauge. I think I might have got old enough that Presto stopped making my model!

Pressure Cookers Versus Pressure Canners

Pressure canners are made for adjustable pressures to can at different elevations. Pressure cookers have a standard operating pressure and that is not always right for pressure canning. They are also often smaller and shorter so it can be hard to fit jars in anyway. Only use those that are labeled for canning to pressure can so you know your food is being preserved at the right pressure to kill off anything that can spoil food or make you ill.

  • Pressure canners can be used for hot water bath canning

It is important to remember that when you buy a pressure canner you are also getting something you can use for when you are doing a lot of hot water bath canning. Don’t think that your canner is not extremely versatile because it is!

Accessories

All of those canning should have some basic supplies like a funnel, lid lifter, jar lifter, ect. Most people just get these in a kit. Most of the kits come with a plastic funnel so you might prefer to upgrade to a stainless steel one for some uses.

Always make sure you use jars that have been inspected for cracks and chips!

If you have never pressure canned before I recommend buying a new dozen or two jars to start with so you can get the feel for canning without worrying about jar inspection. Jars that show signs of stress or cracks should never be used for canning anything but pressure canning puts a lot of stress on jars which can increase the chances of jar breakage and loss of your good food.

Now is not the time to use your Grandma’s 40 year old jars even if they do look pretty.

Getting started with pressure canning

Catching meat on sale is a great time to get started pressure canning. The holiday season means some good deals and always remember that even tougher cuts are rendered incredibly tender when pressure canned.  Check out my previous article on canning meat products for more information and instructions.

Your local farmers market is a good source for bulk produce. Canning your own soups and stews means convenience food that is custom designed for your dietary needs with less preservatives and higher quality ingredients than a lot of commercially produced soups and stews.

I can a lot of low salt stuff that my dad can eat on his restricted diet. He lives down the road and it is hard for him to cook healthy for himself so canned foods designed for him are a good solution that is easier on the budget too.

Do you have any tips or experience to share with us about pressure canning? Do you own any of the brands or models on this list? We would love to hear from you in the comments below! Also please share any favorite recipes!

Author Bio: Samantha Biggers lives on a mountain in North Carolina with her husband and pack of loyal hounds in a house her husband and she built themselves. When not writing she is working in their vineyard, raising Shetland sheep, or helping her husband with whatever the farm and vineyard can throw at them. 


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    1. I’ve used my large Presto Canner on my glass stove top for years with no problems. I am careful not to scratch the top by lifting the canner, not sliding it on the stove top surface. I have read that the heavier All-American canners were problematic on glass stove tops due to weight of the canner, which is even heavier when filled full with jars of food, and, water in the canner.

  1. Dear Mary,
    There are two big drawbacks to using a glass top stove with a pressure canner.
    First is the weight. Some canners can weigh close to 18 lbs when empty. Of course once filled with 14 qt. jars that weigh increases considerably. Most glass tops are not engineered to support that weight. The second reason is the inconsistency of the heat on a glass top. Most, but not all, glass top stoves have a feature that makes the heat on each eye fluctuate. This causes the pressure in your canner to fluctuate. Canning pressure should always remain steady throughout the full processing time. Some of the newer glass tops have tried to address these issues so I would contact the manufacturer or google your question, including your specific stove top model, to make very sure you are not going to make a very expensive mistake. Hope it all works out for you but if you discover you can’t use your particular glass top then a friend of mine used another option. She bought a heavy duty duel outdoor gas burner. Nothing fancy but very sturdy. She has canned successfully on that for several years….but of course it must be done outside. She’s a dedicated canner!

  2. I think this comparison is a little unfair to All American (AA). I have both a AA and Presto. I have good luck with both. I have a AA 930 that can do 14 quarts and that is a time saver. I do a lot of canning at times and when I need to can more then 7 quarts, the AA is my goto canner. Yes the Presto’s are cheaper, but if you do a lot of canning then buying a AA is the smart choice. They are more expensive, but you buy it only once and you will be handing this down to the next generation of family canners. As far as glass top are concerned, then most any canner under 7 quarts will work. Another thing I very see little information on how many BTU’s are needed to properly heat a canner up, You should check with the your canners manufacturer for recommended BTU’s and also you check your stoves manufacturer for BTU’s output to make sure you are within recommended limits to properly can you food items. Last I belive the AA is the better choice for quality and workmanship and it is built in the good old USA.

    1. I also have both the AA and the presto and I go the other way. I use the presto much more than the AA. Mostly this is due to the size of the batches I do. My main canning is leftovers such as chili , chili verde soups ect that I cook in a crock pot and they usually have about 6-8 pints left over. I know I can do smaller batches in the AA but usually don’t

    2. I have three AA canners, two 21.5 qts and one 41.5 qts. I have used the 21.5 qt canners and they do a wonderful job. I researched them and liked the fact that I don’t have to replace gaskets and they will last for a very long time, easily multiple generations. I also have two Mirro canners that I have not yet used. My concern is that I am not that old yet, but I am getting older and as I continue doing so, it will be more difficult for me to lift the heavier AA canners. While I hopefully have several more years that I can, it is a concern due to health issues. Just something to consider. The AA’s have been referred to as the Rolls Royce/Cadillac of canners and they are excellent.

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