Seize the Season with Pressure Canning

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Published: 16th October 2012
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Fall is here. The air is crisp and the leaves are turning to 50 shades of yellow or golden hues. Some of us are trying desperately to seize the last of the summer. What is better in preserving the summers bounty than canning in a pressure cooker?

Aside from the general features, there are a few areas that call for your special attention for a pressure cooker/canner.

Size Matters

If you are a moderate to serious canner, you want to choose a pot that is big enough to be able to hold at least 4-quart sized jars each time. Some people are confused with liquid capacity such as 10 quarts vs. the volume capacity of number of jars the cooker can hold in pint or quart size. Some people prefer canning everything in quart size while others in pint-size jars. Be sure to take this into account when shopping.

The other consideration is the weight. Many models weigh quite a few pounds already without anything in it. Adding water, jars and food will make it extremely challenging to transport the cooker from one spot to another.

The ultimate balance is that you want to be time and energy-efficient, in the meantime to be able to handle the large size and heavy load of the canner.

Space Is at Premium

Many pressure cookers/canners come in tall models, which means they require lots of clearance between the stovetop and the range hood. Be sure to check the overall dimensions and compare them with the space above the burners in your kitchen.

Aluminum, Stainless Steel or Non-Stick

Most of the pressure cookers are made of either aluminum or stainless steel. There are models that have aluminum disk sandwiched in the base between two layers of stainless steel. This is the best of both worlds for effective heat conductivity from aluminum and the durability, exterior finish and easy cleaning from stainless steel.

If this is not an option for you, then look for one made of heavy-gauge aluminum by a reputable brand name. For example, the pressure cooker/canner made by All-American in Wisconsin.

You might be aware that there are electric pressure types made of non-stick such Teflon-coated material. Don not even waste your money on those because the non-stick can not withstand high heat and high pressure and also it does not last as long as a cooker made of aluminum or stainless steel. The worst yet is that it rarely reaches to the standard pressure level as the manufacturers claim.

Pressure Level

It is critical to choose a pressure cooker/canner with a standard pressure level of 15 psi (pounds per square inch). Some on the market don not comply with the standard. Then you will end up in adjusting the cooking time to compensate for the shortage in pressure level. It is a dilemma that you do not want to find yourself in.

Pressure Release Methods

I assume if you are canning, you might have batches to do in a short amount of time. So having an automatic pressure release mechanism is very helpful in reducing the wait time for the cooker to cool down and to be able to release the pressure automatically. It is certainly not practical to carry the gigantic cooking pot to the sink and to use the cold water method in the sink because of the weight and the size of the cooker vs. the size of your sink.

Cost

Pressure cookers/canners are priced so vastly different from brand to brand. Generally speaking, the foreign-made ones are more expensive vs. those made in the U.S.A., but there are always exceptions. I would advise you to save your money and buy a pressure cooker/canner of high quality that will last you a lifetime or two. I am all for being wise with your money, but this is not an area you should cut corners in.

Hope you will find the information useful. Happy canning!

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