Using a dial gauge pressure canner is an easy task. Build your confidence with these few easy steps and tips. A dial gauge canner is an easy tool to use for preserving low acidity foods. These steps will guide you through the process, leaving you comfortable and confident.
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Vegetables that are not pickled, meat, and dried beans (just to mention a few) are considered to be low in acidity. These items are required to be pressure canned in order to make them shelf stable. To do this a pressure canner is needed. Selecting the best pressure canner for the job is extremely easy. Choose between a dial, weighted, and dual purpose. Each does the exact same job, though which one to select is based on preference.
I wrote about how to select the best pressure canner in the blog below. This article will help in the decision making process for those who need assistance in determining the best type of pressure canner to purchase.
How to Use a Dial Gauge Pressure Canner
Prior to beginning, locate the manual for your pressure canner. Depending on the brand and model, the instructions may vary slightly from one brand to the next. Additionally, a weighted gauge pressure canner is slightly different than a dial gauge pressure canner.
Even though it can be time consuming, pressure canning is extremely easy. Here’s a little secret: when my pressure canner is going I find other work to do in the kitchen so I can be around to watch the dial to ensure the pressure is holding. I also keep the canner’s manual handy for anything that may arise.
Here are the basic steps to operating your pressure canner:
- Place the caning rack in the canner. If you plan on double-stacking jars, you’ll need to keep the second rack handy.
- Fill the dial gauge pressure canner with 2 to 3 inches of water prior to adding jars. Longer processing times, like fish, will require more water.
- Add jars fitted with lids and ring band into the canner, making sure to keep the jars upright. Tilted jars can cause the liquid or food to spill into the sealing area, preventing the jars from sealing.
- Securely fasten the lid onto the canner.
- Turn the heat setting to its highest position.
- Allow the dial gauge pressure canner to vent a consistent stream of steam for 10 minutes. Improper venting can cause air to be trapped in a closed canner, which will affect the temperature and processing time.
- Once the canner has vented for the appropriate length of time, place the weight on the vent port. You will see the canner begin to pressurize within a few minutes.
- Regulate the heat under the canner to maintain a steady pressure. Start the processing time when the correct pressure is reached on the dial gauge.
- It is okay for the pressure to be slightly above the gauge level, but it should never fall below it. If the pressure falls below the correct pressure, you’ll need to start the processing time over.
- A dial gauge pressure canner must be monitored to ensure the pressure never falls below the pressure required.
Must Know Tips:
Troubleshooting issues is easy, once you know what you’re looking for.
- Inconsistent Fluctuating Gauge – Dial gauge pressure canners which cannot hold pressure consistently tend to be because of the electric current running through the house. Older homes with older electric wires tend to not run electricity evenly. This causes the electric current to the stove to fluctuate.
- Cracked Jars – Jars which crack in a pressure canner occurs for two reason:
- First, inconsistency between the temperature of the jar and the temperature within the canner.
- Second, wear and tear due to an older jar. Canning jars have an expatriation date, especially if they have been reused quite often.
- Front and Backside of a Canner – Believe it or not, a dial gauge pressure canner has a backside. On the canner you will see a lip which faces into the canner. This is what is known as the backside. The canner lid secures to the actual canner easier with the lip to the back.
For additional tip, trick, and recipes on how to preserve foods grab a copy of my book, The Farm Girl's Guide to Preserving the Harvest. Whether you are a novice or seasoned home food preserver my book has something for everyone. Learn how to can, ferment, dry, cure, freeze, and store raw the harvest as a sustainable homesteader would.