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If you want to can low-acid foods like beans, corn, meat, and broth, you need a pressure canner (water bath canning is only for high-acid foods such as fruit preserves and many pickles). A pressure canner is a pot that holds at least four quart-size jars, with a locking lid, a pressure gauge, a steam vent, and a jar rack.
Pressure canners heat under pressure to a temperature that is higher than boiling water; this process kills microorganisms and bacteria in the ingredients—specifically botulism. Pressure canners are not to be be confused with pressure cookers, which are designed to cook foods quickly under pressure, but lack the capacity and pressure control needed to thoroughly process canned foods for food safety.
When choosing a pressure canner, note that there are only two brands that have the National Center for Home Food Preservation’s seal of approval: Presto and All American. (Some other experts would add Mirro to that list.)
No matter what the companies themselves say, electric pressure canners and multicookers such as the Instant Pot have not been proven safe. There are a lot of factors to consider in order to can safely, so always read and follow the instructions that come with your pressure canner, as well as those laid out by the USDA. Ahead are our recommendations for the best pressure canners on the market.
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The deluxe dial pressure gauge makes it easy to control the pressure for proper canning, even at high altitudes. This works on gas, electric, or smooth-top ranges, but can’t be used on convection cooktops since it is made from aluminum.
The air vent and cover lock make sure the pressure can only build when the lid is closed properly and prevents the cover from being removed before the pressure is released. Thew canner comes with a canning rack and an 80-page booklet with full instruction and recipes.
If you want to occasionally can small batches of soup stock or vegetables, a 10 1/2-quart canner might make sense. This one is only 11 3/4 inches tall, with a 10 1/4-inch inside diameter, so it won’t take as much storage space as a larger canner, yet it meets the minimum capacity requirements for safe pressure canning: four quart-sized jars or seven pint-sized jars.
This canner is made from cast aluminum with a satin finish so it’s easy to keep clean. Wingnuts on the lid clamp it shut, and there are no gaskets that need replacing since this has a metal-to-metal sealing system. Because you don’t have to deal with a gasket, the lid is easy to put on and take off.
The regulator weight is adjustable for 5-, 10-, or 15 psi. For safety, it has an automatic over-pressure release.
If your garden is huge or you like to buy in quantity from the farmers market, but you don’t want to spend the time to make multiple batches of canned vegetables, this super-large canner will significantly cut down on your canning time. It holds 19 quart-sized jars or 32 pint-sized jars to get large-scale canning done in no time.
This 41 1/2-quart canner is made from cast aluminum with a satin finish. Wing nuts on the lid clamp it shut, and it has a metal-to-metal sealing system. The regulator weight is adjustable for 5, 10, or 15 psi, and the lid has an automatic safety release.
The pot is 19 inches high with a 15 1/4-inch inside diameter, and it holds a lot of water, so it will be very heavy when full. If you have a glass cooktop, make sure it can handle the weight.
This can be used for pressure cooking, but since it’s made from aluminum, it's not suitable for acidic foods.
If you’re looking for a canner and don’t care much about using the pot for pressure cooking or stovetop cooking, this budget canner will make your wallet happy. Since it’s made from aluminum, it shouldn’t be used for cooking reactive foods like tomatoes, but it would be fine for non-acidic foods or for steaming. And of course, it’s great for pressure canning, where the liquid is just plain water that doesn’t come in contact with the food you’re cooking.
This 22-quart canner holds five quart-sized jars or 16 pint-sized jars. It has an adjustable regulator for 5, 10, or 15 psi. Safety features include a reusable over-pressure plug, a locking lid, and a gasket pressure release.
The Presto 01781 23-Quart Pressure Canner and Cooker is our top choice because it functions both as a pressure canner and a boiling water canner, it's easy to use, and it works great at high altitudes. If you're looking for something smaller than 23 quarts, try the All American 10.5 Quart Pressure Cooker & Canner. It's made of heavy-duty material and doesn't have any gaskets that need replacing.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats
This roundup was updated by Sharon Lehman, a home cook who happens to be a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. She happily makes space for any gadget that make cooking faster and easier and specializes in small kitchen appliance testing and reviews for The Spruce Eats.
What to Look for in a Pressure Canner
Capacity: Pressure canners (which should be labeled as such) come in a variety of sizes, from smaller, 10- to 12-quart models that can handle four quart-sized jars at a time (the minimum required, according to the United States Department of Agriculture) to large ones that can handle your fall harvest. If you can for fun, a smaller canner might make sense, but if you have a big garden and can for winter use, a large canner will let you process more jars at a time.
Features: Pressure canning uses heat and pressure to kill microorganisms. In order to do this safely and effectively, any pressure canner needs key features including a locking lid, a pressure gauge, vent, and rack.
Material: Many pressure canners are made from aluminum because it’s lighter and less expensive than stainless steel. However, if you’re planning on using your pressure canner as a large stockpot, a stainless steel or anodized aluminum pot might be a better option, since those materials are nonreactive and you can use them for cooking acidic foods. One major downside to aluminum cookware, however, is that it can’t be used on induction cooktops.
Overall size: Since it’s unlikely that you’ll be pressure canning on a daily basis, your canner will spend a lot of time in storage. How much space do you have to store a very large cooking pot with a bulky lid? A larger pot is also heavier, particularly when it’s full of water, so that’s important to consider, as well.