As someone who’s interested in living off the land, whether that’s as a homesteader or just someone who likes to preserve as much of their own food as possible, pressure canning is, without a doubt, one of the most efficient options available. It allows you to safely store large amounts of foods – including meats and vegetables – safely and at scale.
To do it, you’ve got to have the right gear – you need a pressure canner.
But not just any pressure canner will do! With so many options available, choosing the best pressure canner can be daunting. Thankfully, we’ve done the research for you, and have compiled the ultimate guide for homesteaders looking to invest in the best pressure cannery in 2023.
Why Do You Need a Pressure Canner?
A pressure canner is a tall, cylindrical pot with a locking lid and a pressure gauge (either a digital pressure canner or dial pressure canner) that allows you to safely preserve low-acid foods like vegetables, meats, and soups.
How does it do this, you ask?
Pressure canning involves placing your jars of food into a sealed pot filled with water that is heated to a high temperature. The high temperature creates steam which builds up inside the pot, ultimately increasing the steam pressure inside until you get to the desired pressure.
This increase in pressure raises the boiling point of the water, which allows you to can low-acid foods such as meats and vegetables without the risk of foodborne illness.
So why can’t I just use a water bath canner, you might be wondering? Quite simply, while a water bath canner is great for preserving high acid food like fruits and pickles, it’s not recommended for food preservation of low acid foods. For them, you need to use a pressure canner.
Now, in some cases, you may be able to use an electric pressure cooker – but not always. For this to work – and work safely – always look for pressure cookers that are marketed specifically as both pressure canner and cooker (and not just pressure cookers in general, as these aren’t always safe for canning purposes).
What to Look for in a Pressure Canner
Not all pressure canners are created equal. You want to choose the best pressure canner for your needs, based on factors like size, material (aluminum, stainless steel, or even electric options), and whether you prefer a weighted gauge or a dial gauge to regulate the pressure. Most pressure canners also come with a canning rack to keep your jars off the bottom and facilitate even heat distribution.
Here’s a quick guide to what you should be looking for.
Depending on how much canning you do, you’ll want to invest in a pressure canner that fits your batch size. No one likes to wait for multiple rounds of canning, especially when the canner is already taking up a substantial amount of kitchen real estate.
Canning can be a dangerous game of pressure and high temperatures, so it’s crucial to make sure your pressure canner has the proper safety features.
Look for ones that have a pressure gauge, a gasket pressure release, or even a side gasket pressure release to regulate and relieve any unexpected pressure surges.
You may also be able to find a digital pressure canner that automates some of the process for you – but again, make sure you’re buying a pressure canner and not a pressure cooker to be safe.
Ease of Maintenance
Canning can get messy, so you want to make sure you’re investing in a pressure canner that’s easy to clean (this also becomes a matter of safety!). Check to see if the parts can be removed and wiped down, and if any of the pieces are dishwasher safe.
The Right Stovetop Model
If you have a glass top stove, you’ll want to make sure you pick a pressure canner with a stainless steel bottom, so it doesn’t scratch or damage the glass. Some pressure canners are also not recommended for glass top stoves due to their weight, so pay attention to this.
Dial Gauge vs. Weighted Gauge
Both gauges have their pros and cons.
A dial gauge is more precise and lets you know exactly how much pressure is in the canner.
However, it requires frequent calibration and can be harder to read.
A weighted gauge is easy to use and doesn’t require calibration, but it’s not as exact as a dial gauge. Which one you choose ultimately depends on your preference and budget.
What’s the Best Pressure Canner on the Market?
Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just starting out, there’s a pressure canner out there with your name on it.
Here are some of the top options to consider as you begin the canning process.
NESCO Smart Electric Pressure Canner and Cooker
If you’re in the market for the best pressure canner, let us introduce you to the NESCO Smart Electric Pressure Canner. This first option on our list of the best pressure canners isn’t just a one-trick pony – it can pressure can, cook, steam, and slow cook all in one. This four quart pressure canner is like the Swiss Army Knife of kitchen gadgets!
One thing we love about the NESCO Pressure Canner is its limiting valves. This pressure canner comes with both Standard and High Altitude Limiting Valves, giving you the ability to adjust the pressure to 10 PSI or 15 PSI depending on your needs.
The digital display is another feature that makes this pressure canner stand out. Not only does it have a timer, but it also comes with preset programs to ensure the most consistent results when you’re canning fruits, jams, pickles, salsas, and more – all items that you can typically preserve with water bath canning, but are much faster in a pressure cooker/canner.
The NESCO also features a removable 9.5 qt. non-stick cooking chamber that’s dishwasher safe, making clean up a breeze. Plus, it can hold up to four quart jars (Wide-Mouth), five Pint, or sixteen 4 oz. jelly jars at a time. That’s a whole lot of preserving power in one machine!
Now, let’s talk safety. The NESCO Smart Electric Pressure Canner is designed with your well-being in mind. It’s easy to use and comes with clear instructions, ensuring that even those new to pressure canning can handle it like a pro. Plus, it’s built to rigorous safety standards, meaning you can rest easy knowing you’re preserving your food in a safe and reliable manner.
All American Pressure Canner (915)
The next option on our list of the best pressure canners is the All American Pressure Canner (915)!
This pressure canner is high capacity, making it easy for you to process low acid foods with ease. It holds about 10 pint jars or 7 quart jars, making it perfect for your home canning needs. And forget about pesky gaskets. The seal doesn’t use one, which means the cover can be easily opened and closed without any fuss. This also reduces the amount of maintenance you have to do, something you won’t find with very many modern pressure canners.
The All American Pressure Canner also features an easy-to-read steam gauge, satin finish that’s a breeze to clean, and a precision machined regulator weight for accurate pressure control. Plus, the sturdy top handle and double-thick edges ensure that you can handle all your canning needs with ease.
Needless to say, this is one of the best pressure canners out there for experts and beginners alike!
Presto Pressure Canner (16-Quart )
Looking for large pressure canners that can hold as many mason jars as possibly – while still allowing you to safely create a huge stockpile of canned food? Look no further than the Presto Pressure Canner!
This sixteen quart pressure canner is designed to make home pressure canning easy and confident, so you can feel good about the food you’re putting on your family’s table.
One of the main reasons we included this pressure canner on our list of the best pressure canners is for its deluxe pressure dial gauge, which registers precise processing pressures when you’re pressure canning. This is especially important in high altitude areas, where you need to be ultra careful with your canning. And thanks to the air vent/cover lock, the pressure only builds when the cover is closed properly, so you don’t have to worry about any mishaps in the kitchen.
And let’s not forget about its use as a large capacity pressure cooker! When used as a pressure cooker, this aluminum pressure canner can be used for meats, poultry, soups, and desserts. This thing can do it all, and it works on gas, electric, and smooth-top ranges, so you don’t have to worry about compatibility issues.
Granite Ware Pressure Canner
The next best pressure canner on our list is the Granite Ware Pressure Canner. This pressure canner is USDA-recommended for canning meats, poultry, and low-acid veggies – the only method they trust!
But the Granite Ware doesn’t just talk the talk – it walks the walk. This pressure canner has a heavy gauge hard anodized aluminum construction for strength that won’t rust or stain. Plus, its adjustable 3-piece pressure regulator system is calibrated at 5, 10, and 15 psi, so you know you’re getting precise cooking every time.
Not sold yet? The Granite Ware 20-quart Pressure Canner/Cooker/Steamer is also professional-quality, complete with stay-cool handles and a locking stainless steel lid. And don’t forget the steamer insert that can hold your food out of the cooking liquid and handle all your large-capacity needs.
Zavor EZLock Stove-Top Pressure Canner
Next up on our list of the best pressure canners is the Zavor EZLock Stove-Top Pressure Canner! With its easy and safe locking mechanism, you can confidently seal in your home-canned goodies with just a turn of a knob. And the universal locking mechanism ensures that, even under pressure, the canner lid won’t budge.
But that’s not all – this versatile and reliable pressure canner features adjustable pressure settings ranging from 15 PSI to 10 PSI. So no matter what you’re canning – from low-acid green beans to high-acid tomatoes – you can customize the pressure to ensure safe and delicious results every time.
And let’s talk speed – pressure cookers, including this must-have Zavor EZLock, prepare food about three times faster than any other cooking tool. That means you’ll spend less time in the kitchen and more time enjoying your delicious home-cooked meals. Plus, pressure cooking actually enhances the flavor and nutritional value of your food for an even more satisfying dining experience.
Find the Right Pressure Canner With These Tips!
Now that you know everything there is to know to help you find the best pressure canner out there – and why you really shouldn’t be relying on boiling water bath canning for preserving high acid foods – it’s time to start shopping!
Each of these pressure canners offers its own unique features and benefits. There’s no single best option for everyone.
No matter which one you choose, be sure to add pressure canning to your fall homesteading to-do list. You’ll be glad you did!