Pressure Canners | Selecting the Best Option

Selecting the best pressure canner for you can be a confusing and difficult decision. Learn what a dial, weighted, and a dual purpose pressure canner have to offer before making a decision.

Pressure Canners | Selecting the Best Option

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Pressure canners have come a long way over the years. Yet, many are still fearful to use them due to the horror stories of the past. Gone are the days of exploding pressure canners. Now, with modern technology, pressure canners are a million times safer, and easier, to use.

Selecting between a dial, weighted, or dual canner is difficult. Especially for those who are new to home canning. Learn what makes each of these canners valuable. And believe it or not, there are a lot of things to consider prior to purchasing one.

  • Altitude – Where one resides plays an important role in regard to the type of canner to purchase. Those who reside 10,001 feet above sea level are asked to use a dial gauge or dual gauge canner. The exact PSI is needed for those who reside at an altitude this high.
  • Glass top Stove – Many new glass top stoves are now able to support the weight of a pressure canner. However, a canner like the dual gauge All American may still be too heavy for a glass top stove.
  • Pressure Canner Size – Pressure canners come in various sizes. Determine which is best based on the amount of pressure canning done yearly.
Selecting the Best Pressure Canner

Buying a pressure canner is an investment. A pressure canner is a tool that will feed your family for many years to come. Choosing the right pressure canner is about preference. Determine how much to spend, and the size of the canner needed. The final decision will be choosing between a dial, weighted, or dual-gauge canner.

Pressure Canners – Dial Gauge

Pressure Canners | Selecting the Best Option

Call it control, but I find comfort in knowing the pressure inside the canner. The ability to visually see how much pressure is being held during the canning process via the dial gauge can soothe the nerves of many newbies.

The amount of pressure is regulated by adjusting the heat up and down with the stoves’s burner knob, allowing for the ability to raise or lower the pressure within the canner. Dial gauge canners have more flexibility when dealing with altitude adjustments, allowing for smaller increments when adjusting the psi (pounds per square inch).

What does this mean? The psi reads each pound of pressure unlike the weighted gauge, which reads only 5, 10, 15 psi.

Newer dial canners have a dead, or counter, weight built in, which assists in pressurizing by opening and closing, releasing pressure at 15 psi to prevent the top from blowing. Older models did not have this useful tool, making them dangerous.

Pressure Canners – Weighted Gauge
Pressure Canners | Selecting the Best Option
Photo credit Chris J. Dalziel of

Unlike the dial gauge, the weighted gauge works with the support of three 5-pound weights. The weights include the spindle and two separate weights. Unlike the dial gauge canner a weighted canner does not provide the exact psi within the canner. Instead there is a rough awareness of where the pressure stands. For example, if the altitude where you reside calls for 11 pounds of pressure, the spindle (at 5 pounds) and a 5-pound weight are required to support the 11 psi needed.

Unlike the dial gauge, a weighted gauge measures pressure but cannot control it.

The weights fit on the air vent, allowing the pressure within the canner to rise to the desired point, and then releases the excess steam by rocking, or jiggling, which prevents the pressure from going higher.

A benefit to owning a weighted-gauge canner is that it will not need to be monitored as closely as the dial-gauge canner since the pressure cannot be controlled. Those who own a weighted-gauge canner become attuned to the jiggling, or rocking, which allows them to monitor the canner more easily.

Pressure Canners – Dual Gauge

A dual-gauge canner contains both a dial and weighted gauge, and the All American is a great example of a canner with both components. Having both types of gauges provides a backup plan if one should fail. It also gives you the ability to know the exact pressure in the canner, which is necessary for higher-altitude locations. This pressure canner is built to last, and is capable of being handed down to the next generation.

Pressure Canners | Selecting the Best Option
Photo credit: Cheryl Aker of
Selecting the Right Size Pressure Canner

Pressure canners are available in various sizes. Keep in mind, larger pressure canners are capable of double stacking (jars stacked on top of each other). However, a canning rack, or cooking rack, must be used when double stacking.

Presto Dial-Gauge

The Presto 16 quart canner, is ideal for those who are canning small quantities. This canner can hold either 7 quart jars, 7 pint jars, or 24 half pint jars.

A Presto 23 quart is ideal for large batch of canning. This canner is capable of holding either 7 quart jars, 18 pint jars, or 24 half pint jars.

All American

The All American canner is available in a plethora of sizes. This pressure canner is available in something as small as a 10 quart canner, making it ideal for small batch canning.

Pressure Canners | Selecting the Best Option
Raspberry jam is not meant to be pressure canned, this is simply an example of double stacking.
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    • Ann Accetta-Scott says

      You can take it to an extension office, some fire stations, or even your city’s Tilth location.

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