Using a pressure canner is far simpler than many people think. With proper caution and instruction you can quickly learn how to use a pressure canner for preserving your own food.
Before I begin, let me say that I am not a professional! If you want the professionals’ advice check out your local state university extension that offers canning classes. Otherwise there are many canning books out there that offer all the canning information you could ever want!
I will just be covering the basic steps and little tips I’ve learned along the way.
Also, you should check out my post about everything you will need to start canning to make sure you have all the tools.
How to Use a Pressure Canner Without Fear
Now a pressure canner isn’t like an animal who can sense your fear. But this is the number one reason I hear from people who are hesitant to use a pressure canner.
They are afraid it will blow up. They are afraid they will get injured.
You see, a pressure canner allows foods to be cooked at a temperature much higher than the boiling point. Hence, the presumed danger.
As with anything, improper or careless use could cause a catastrophe. Read your owner’s manual. Ask other experienced pressure canner users. Read your recipes. With a little education, you will build your confidence in using a pressure canner. You could even invite yourself to a friends’ house while they do their own canning so you can observe.
But a it’s a wonderful kitchen essential if you take time to learn how to use a pressure canner.
How to Buy a Pressure Canner
As I mentioned in this post about what you need to start canning, you will have to acquire a few tools before canning. The obvious one being a pressure canner.
Snoop around your mother or grandmother’s basements, ask elderly neighbors if they have one they’d like to get rid of, check eBay. Garage sales, auctions and thrift stores are other places to look for cheap pressure canners.
The great thing about a pressure canner is you can buy any replacement parts online somewhere. So if you find a great bargain but it is missing the jiggler – buy it anyways! An old, cracking sealing gasket – buy it anyways!
Different Styles of Pressure Canners
If I had unlimited funds I would buy a new pressure canner with a gauge on it. As you can see in the picture above, a gauge can offer more precise monitoring with exact numbers reflecting the pressure.
I found my old pressure canner at a garage sale for a steal. The only downside is it doesn’t have a gauge. You can see in this picture that my pressure canner has a regulator weight that doubles as the jiggler. Even though I had never used a canner like this before, I asked around and received consistent instructions from multiple sources.
I’ve been using it for five years now without a problem! [But I still miss my gauge.]
So if you have the choice, go for a pressure canner with a numbered gauge.
How to Use a Pressure Canner for the First Time [that Season]
If you are using your pressure canner for the first time ever or for the first time that canning season you will want to oil and stretch the rubber seal gasket.
- Remove the gasket from inside the lid.
- Chose a liquid cooking oil. Wet a paper towel with cooking oil and grab the gasket with it.
- With your paper-towel hand on one side of the gasket grab the other side of the gasket and pull. Rub your paper-towel hand along the gasket a little ways and pull again.
- Continue this oiling and pulling until you have gone around the gasket a couple times.
- Put the gasket back in the lid properly.
This stretching and oiling allows the gasket to create a good seal right away after sitting dormant for months.
How to Use a Pressure Canner
- Place your jars in the canner.
- Pour enough water in the canner to come up an inch or so on the jars.
- Place the lid on the pressure canner and slide it into the “closed” or “locked position.”
- Turn on the burner. Let it heat to your desired pressure.
- Set the timer for the length your recipe calls for.
- Maintain that pressure by adjusting the burner down in small increments.
- Once your food has cooked at the appropriate pressure for the set amount of time, remove the canner from the heat. If you have an electric stove you may have to carefully slide the pressure canner off the burner so it can cool efficiently.
- Let the canner cool until you can touch the jiggler without it spewing steam. As long as it hisses at you, there is still pressure built up inside. Releasing this pressure too quickly could cause your jars to break.
- Allow the pressure canner to sit and cool for at least half an hour. Longer won’t hurt anything. Once you can safely remove the jiggler (with hot pads!)without hissing you can take out your jars.
- With hot pads! slide the lid to the “open” position.
- Lift slowly tilt up the far side of the lid. Lifting the lid away from you keeps the steam away from your face. Also, if there is any spewing from the jars, the lid will protect you.
- After the steam has cleared you can fully remove the lid.
- Using a jar grabber, carefully lift each jar out of the canner and set them on a double layer of towels (to protect your counter top).
Now that You Know How to Use a Pressure Canner
Don’t fear the pressure canner anymore! It is an essential tool when it comes to preserving your own food. When you know how to use a pressure canner you can preserve anything from green beans to meat!