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A Guide to Canning Equipment

         Water Bath Canner

  A water bath canner is a large covered cooking pot with a rack. Any large metal container may be used as long as it is deep enough for l inch of briskly boiling water to cover the jars. The diameter of the canner should be no more than 4 inches wider than the diameter of your stove's burner to ensure proper treatment of all jars. Using a wash kettle that fits over two burners is not recommended because the middle jars do not get enough heat. For an electric range, the canner must have a flat bottom.

The canner must have a tight-fitting lid and a rack. The rack keeps the jars from touching the bottom of the canner and allows the water to circulate freely under the jars. If the rack has dividers, jars will not touch each other or fall against the sides of the canner during processing.

Wash and dry the boiling water bath canner after each use. To absorb moisture and odors, store it with crumpled newspapers or paper towels in the bottom and around the rack. The darkened surface on the inside of an aluminum canner can be cleaned by filling it above the darkened line with a mixture of 1 tablespoon cream of tartar to each quart of water. Place the canner on the stove and heat to boiling. Boil until the line disappears. Wash the canner with hot soapy water, rinse and dry.

A deep pressure canner can be used as a boiling water bath canner. Just be sure there is enough space above the jars to allow for 1 inch of briskly boiling water. Place the lid loosely on the canner - don't fasten it. Leave the vent wide open, so that steam escapes and pressure does not build up inside.



         Pressure Canner

  Pressure Canner

A pressure canner is a specially made heavy pot that has a lid that can be closed steam tight. The lid is fitted with a vent (or petcock), a dial or weighted pressure gauge and a safety fuse. Newer models have an extra coverlock as an added precaution. It may or may not have a gasket. The pressure canner also has a rack. Because each type of canner is different, be sure to read the directions for operating your canner.

The vent or petcock is a short hollow pipe that sticks up above the canner lid. When open, it allows air and steam to escape from the canner. When closed, it holds the steam inside. On newer canners the vent is closed or opened using a separate pressure regulator weight. On older canners, the vent may be closed using a valve or screw that you can turn.

The pressure gauge registers the pressure inside the canner. A dial gauge will actually show the temperature and/or pressure inside the canner. The weighted gauge will rock gently or make a "jiggling" noise periodically to show that correct pressure is being maintained. Read the manufacturer's instructions to see how often the weight should rock or jiggle. Some canners have a three-piece weighted gauge that can regulate 5, 10 or 15 pounds of pressure. For 10 pounds of pressure, one piece of the weight is left off.

Recent tests have shown that dial gauges and weighted gauges actually register slightly different pressures. Because of this, dial gauges are operated at l pounds pressure, up to an altitude of 2000 feet. At altitudes over 2000 feet, corrections must be made for dial gauge canners. Weighted gauge canners can be operated at 10 pounds pressure up to an altitude of 1000 feet. At altitudes over 1000 feet, corrections must be made for weighted gauge canners. Altitude corrections are given with the directions for canning each type of food.

The gasket is a rubber or rubber-like compound that helps seal the edges of the canner and lid to prevent steam from escaping. Gaskets may be removable for cleaning or replacement. (Not all pressure canners have gaskets. Some have a metal-to-metal seal.)

For safe operation, the vent, safety valve and edges of the lid and canner must be clean at all times. To clean the vent, draw a string or narrow strip of cloth through the opening. The dial gauge on a canner should be checked for accuracy yearly. Check with your county Extension agent well in advance of each canning season, for instructions on how this can be done. If your gauge is off more than l pound at 5, 10 or 15 pounds of pressure, you should have it replaced.

Follow the manufacturer's directions for care of the sealing edges of your canner. After use, clean your canner, being careful not to immerse the dial gauge if your canner has one. Dry the canner and store it with crumpled newspapers or paper towels in the bottom and around the rack. This will help absorb moisture and odors. Place the lid upside down on the canner. Never put the lid on the canner and seal it.

The darkened surface on the inside of an aluminum canner can be cleaned by filling it above the darkened line with a mixture of l tablespoon cream of tartar to each quart of water. Place the canner on the stove, heat water to a boil, and boil covered until the dark deposits disappear. Sometimes stubborn deposits may require the addition of more cream of tartar. Empty the canner and wash it with hot soapy water, rinse and dry.

Small pressure saucepans are not recommended for home canning. Also, outmoded and potentially unsafe pressure canners should not be used. Compare old canners with newer models to be sure that what you have is actually a pressure canner and not an old sterilizer or steamer. Before using an old canner, make sure all parts have been checked and are working properly. Buying an old second hand canner may not be a bargain. Sometimes replacement parts are no longer being made


All information Courtesy the "University of Georgia - So easy to Preserve Guide ".

CanninAfrica compiled and maintained

 by Rosalie Acornley Webmaster.