Easy to use
Cycles automatically through processing steps
Built-in venting and cooling times
Food safety not yet verified by USDA
Hard-to-read labels for vent/can positions
We purchased the Presto Precise Digital Pressure Canner so our reviewer could put it to the test. Keep reading for our full product review.
When multicookers became the rage, some manufacturers added a canning function. The feature delighted home canners until independent researchers found these devices weren’t up to the task of safely functioning as pressure canners. Still, the clamor for an electric canner has continued. Presto, a big name in this market, has stepped in with the Presto Precise Digital Pressure Canner. The company says it “meets USDA home canning guidelines for safely processing meats, poultry, fish, vegetables, and other low acid foods.” The Presto brand has the respect of many home canners and U.S. Department of Agriculture canning experts, so it would be a real boon if the company has designed an electric canner that works safely and efficiently. I spent a couple of weeks testing the Presto Precise Digital Pressure Canner to see how it fared as a pressure and boiling water-bath canner. Here’s what I found.
Design: Simple with all the essentials
The canner body resembles a basic electric cooker, with a brushed metal shell, center display screen, and minimal controls. The cover holds familiar pressure canner essentials: a regulator-topped vent pipe and an air vent/cover lock with a sealing ring under the rim. A neon green plastic knob latches the canner and holds the temperature sensor; it needs a firm press and twist, but seems sturdy enough for long-term use. A large top handle lets you easily twist and lift the canner’s cover. Keep your fingers off the cover’s metal parts while the canner’s venting—they get hot to the touch.
This digital canner's 12-quart capacity makes it smaller than many stovetop models and ideal for single batches. It holds up to 5 quart-sized jars, but only when pressure canning; the interior is too short to process quarts under boiling water. Up to 8 pint-sized jars fit cozily, and you can just cram in 10 narrow-mouth half-pints with their rings in place.
Setup Process: No assembly required, but disassembly recommended
The canner comes fully assembled, except for its power cord, but the instruction manual's first direction is to take apart and clean everything, so you quickly learn about the individual pieces. Unlike stovetop pressure canners, this setup has a removable pot inside the canner body. It’s nonstick, which seems irrelevant because it’s only ever meant to hold water. It’s also the only dishwasher-safe component.
Presto clearly designed this canner to meet USDA safety guidelines, but has kept its lab work under wraps.
Every other part of the canner, including the rack, should be washed or wiped down by hand, taking care not to submerge the cover or body. The vent filter, sealing ring, and frame can also be removed and cleaned. Once it’s all been disassembled, cleaned, and dried, you can put the pieces back together, plug it in, and start canning.
Performance: Automating home canning
The Presto digital canner steers much of the canning process. It comes with a complete instruction booklet and highly detailed quick start guide that explains how the canner works. But once jars are filled and ready to seal, your involvement is mostly reduced to pressing a couple of buttons that set the canner on its processing path: pressure or water bath.
The instructions hit on some key points in USDA-recommended processes for stovetop canners, like the 10-minute venting time and cooling period that ensure safe processing. The canner automatically cycles through these phases, and the countdowns matched clock time, which was reassuring. Behind the scenes, the canner chooses the proper pressure and temperature for you. If you’re used to stovetop canning, it will seem odd that there’s no readout or independent way to check these settings; you have to trust Presto.
Features: Basic, easy-to-use controls
What makes this electric unit straightforward—and presumably safe—is that it’s designed for just two functions: pressure and water-bath canning. This also makes it easy to use. There's just one pushable knob and two buttons. The knob lets you choose your canning method at the outset, along with the processing time.
After that, the advance button lets you tell the canner when you’ve done your part (inserted jars to warm, filled jars, or added the regulator) so that it can move to its next preprogrammed step. The cancel button is primarily there in case you mess up the processing mode or time. The canner handles the processing details and altitude-related pressure adjustments. You’re still responsible for choosing a safe canning recipe, filling canning jars and screwing on their lids properly, and dialing in the correct processing time, including adding time when water-bath canning at altitude.
Behind the scenes, the canner chooses the proper pressure and temperature for you.
Safety: Relying on Presto’s word
Presto clearly designed this canner to meet USDA safety guidelines, but has kept its lab work under wraps. The National Center for Home Food Preservation says it has no information on the type or extent of Presto’s research and can’t independently verify the company’s marketing statements.
There are reassuring signs. The canner’s booklet includes instructions for preparing and processing foods. The canner seems to build pressure and cool down at the same rate as a stovetop model. Jars sealed properly in both pressure-canning and water-bath modes. Still, in a rare move, NCHFP experts are advising users to follow only the digital canner’s manual, not instructions from other sources. “If someone wants to use this canner, they have to be willing to trust the manufacturer at this time,” the NCHFP said in a statement.
Price: Think appliance, not pot
Retailing for around $250, Presto’s digital canner costs far more than the company’s stovetop models and much of its competition. The digital unit’s dual-canning uses mean you don’t have to fork out for or store two separate canning pots, but what you’re mostly paying for is the electric functionality. If your cooktop can’t handle the temperature or weight of a loaded canner, this may be the best solution. If you’re more comfortable with electric kitchen appliances than giant kettles bubbling on your stove, the price may not matter. Even experienced canners may find the automatic features of the self-contained unit worth the upgrade.
Competition: Alone in its class
Given its digital features, it’s hard to compare the Presto Precise Digital Pressure Canner with its stovetop competition. If you’re looking for a standalone, electric unit, it’s in a class of its own, but there are some reliable stovetop options out there.
Presto 16-Quart Pressure Canner and Cooker: Presto’s smallest stovetop canner holds more jars and has a lower price tag (it retails for around $98). It works on gas, electric, and glass cooktops, but you should check your flat-top range’s weight recommendations before buying—the fully loaded canner weighs up to 41 pounds.
All American Pressure Canner 910 – 10.5 Quart Pressure Cooker: All American canners are expensive, but rugged, with no electronic parts that could fail over time. The All American Pressure Canner 910 (which retails for around $260) holds slightly fewer jars per batch, but requires minimal upkeep.
It may be the future of home canning.
The Presto Precise Digital Pressure Canner makes much of the canning process automatic, simple, and effective. If you trust Presto, this may become your favorite canning tool, but independent research confirming that the canner meets USDA safe canning guidelines would reassure novice and experienced home canners alike.
- Product Name Precise 12-Quart Digital Pressure Canner
- Product Brand Presto
- Price $250
- Weight 20.5 lbs.
- Product Dimensions 14 x 17 x 16 in.
- Color Black
- Material Metal and plastic
- Jar Capacity 4–5 quarts, 7–8 pints, 10–14 half-pints
- Warranty 1-year limited manufacturer’s warranty
- What's Included Locking cover with regulator, vent pipe, air vent/cover lock, and sealing ring; removable nonstick pot; canning rack; canner body with latch, digital display, and controls; power cord