Canning has been making a comeback in popularity the last few years. One just has to look at the aisles in the stores and see all of the different gadgets related to food preservation. But when do some of these gadgets become more than something the consumer needs to have? I was in a major kitchen store recently and saw a name brand pressure canner sitting on the shelf next to an electric canning device. As an Extension Educator, many questions have been asked in classes I teach, via e-mail, and over the phone about pressure canners and other cooking appliances.
Let’s begin with some simple facts. There is a difference between a pressure canner used for canning and a pressure cooker used to cook roasts and chicken dinners on the stove top. Often the two are talked about in the same conversation, and I want to be clear, they are not the same. A pressure canner is designed to can low acid foods (vegetables, meat, poultry, fish and wild game) they are designed to hold canning jars (upright) and process at a temperature higher than a water bath canner. A pressure cooker or pressure saucepan may not maintain adequate pressure; they heat and cool too quickly, which may not destroy microorganisms that can cause foodborne illness in home canned food. A pressure canner has either a dial or weighted gauge, and may hold multiple jars of canned food depending on its size. Pressure cookers are smaller and they may or may not have a way to regulate the pressure. The pressure cookers do not come with pressure gauges, and they cannot be safely used to process home canned foods.