Selecting a Pressure Canner

— Written By Peggie Garner and last updated by
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What to Consider When Selecting a Pressure Canner

Home canning low acid foods (foods with a pH of lower than 4.6) like vegetables, meat, poultry, fish, tomatoes, or combinations of these foods require the use of a pressure canner to properly process jars for food safety. Improperly home-canned foods have been known to cause botulism, a severe type of foodborne illness resulting from the toxins of Clostridium botulinum bacteria.
If you are in the market for a pressure canner, here are some things to consider while you shop.

Canner, Not Cooker

As you make your selection, make sure you are choosing a pressure canner. Pressure canners are also used for cooking, but pressure cookers are not used for canning. Do not choose a pressure cooker or a multi-cooker, like an Instant Pot, as these types of devices are only appropriate for pressure cooking food and cannot be safely used for canning.

Weighted Gauge or Dial?

Next, you’ll want to consider whether you’d like to have a pressure canner with a weighted gauge or a dial gauge. Weighted gauges offer greater precision and do not require accuracy testing. Dial gauges are accurate +/- 2 pounds per square inch. If you are canning at a higher altitude, a dial gauge will offer you greater flexibility to control and adjust pressure, which may help you avoid over-processing food. Dial gauges will need to be tested every canning season for accuracy, so choose a model that can be conveniently tested as needed. N.C. Cooperative Extension, Burke County Center offers free dial gauge testing, but not for every pressure gauge model. Contact the office to find out which models we test. If you choose a canner model that can not be tested by N.C. Cooperative Extension, Burke County Center, check with the manufacturer to find out whether they offer to test dial gauges and how you can utilize their services.

Can Your Cooktop Handle It?

Lastly, you’ll want to make sure that you can properly and safely can on your stove or cooktop. Sustained heat is necessary for safe processing. Some range tops cycle on and off and cannot be safely used for canning. If you have a flat top range, you should check with the manufacturer to verify whether or not your cooktop can handle pressure canning. The canner bottom should not be more than 1-inch larger than the cooking eye.

For more information on selecting a pressure canner, give our Family and Consumer Sciences Agents a call at 910-455-5873, MONDAY–FRIDAY, 8 a.m.–5 p.m. or email them directly:
Onslow FCS Agent, Peggie Garner, at
Jones & Onslow FCS Agent, Sarah Ware, at