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Friday, February 4, 2011

Pressure Canners vs Pressure Cookers (Cooking Mysteries Solved!)

If you are a Facebook friend of ours you may have seen us posting occasionally about using our pressure cookers or canning meat. Inevitably the question gets asked “What’s the difference between a pressure cooker and a pressure canner?”
Don’t worry, two years ago we didn’t know either!!! I’ve answered a few of our most commonly asked questions in this short video that should help take the mystery out of pressure cooking and pressure canning for you.

In case you can’t view the video, try clicking here or read the summary below. (I go into more detail in the info below as well)

What is a pressure cooker?

A pressure cooker is a tightly sealed pot that uses steam under pressure to cook foods very quickly. It is extremely useful if you are trying to rotate through your long term food storage as it makes cooking beans, rice, and wheat very quick and easy. Once you start using it you will find that many of your slow-cooker meals and regular meals can be made in the pressure cooker and turn out even more delicious and cook so fast! Meat is very tender when pressure cooked, and vegetables can be steamed and retain more nutrients. It’s a fantastic kitchen appliance.

What is a pressure canner?

A pressure canner is used to can low-acid foods such as most vegetables, meats, and beans. Traditional water-bath canning only gets the foods as hot as boiled water, which is not hot enough to properly preserve these types of foods. By pressure canning you can increase the temperature it is processed at high enough to kill bacteria, etc. Learning to use canned meats can open up a whole new world of shelf stable recipes you can make using only your stored foods. And canning them yourself brings the price down dramatically. You will also find the convenience of having cooked meat straight out of a can is great for days you need a “quick dinner”. And home-canned meats are delicious!

Can a pot act as both a pressure cooker AND canner?

This info is from one of our facebook friends: According to USDA, a canner must be able to hold at least 4 quart jars, and have a gauge or weight to allow you to measure 5, 10, and 15 lbs. pressure. The size is important because a bigger canner takes longer to come to pressure and cool down again, and that time is factored into the processing time they give you. Complete USDA canning times and recipes are available at the National Center for Home Food Preservation, at However, I believe that any pressure CANNER can also be used as a pressure COOKER, it is just a matter of whether or not you want to use such a huge pot to pressure cook something. My Presto Pressure Canner says right on the box “Pressure Cooker / Canner”.

What is the difference between an electric and a traditional pressure cooker?

An electric pressure cooker plugs into the wall, only has two pressure settings, and does not need to be attended to. You simply select high or low pressure, and the amount of time you want to process it for. Once the time is up, you either let the pressure come down naturally or do a quick pressure release. The method you use depends on your recipe. For day to day use an electric pressure cooker is AWESOME. A traditional pressure cooker sits on your stovetop like a regular pot. You must bring it up to pressure and keep it at the right pressure so it is not safe to leave your kitchen while it processes. One benefit of a traditional pressure cooker is that it can be used in a powerless emergency if you have a gas stove.

What Pressure Cooker and Pressure Canner Do We Recommend?

We love the Cuisinart Electric Pressure Cooker and the Presto Pressure Canners. You can read more about them both on our Pressure Cookers/Pressure Canners page. We have found the best prices to be at so definitely check them out if you are going to get one. (sometimes Costco has the electric pressure cooker on sale for cheaper, so if you see it there, grab it!)

Want to see our Pressure Cookers and Canners in action?

Check out the following helpful posts:

How to Pressure Can Ground Beef

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup in the Pressure Cooker

How to Make Baby Food With a Pressure Cooker

Using a Pressure Cooker to Eat a “Food Storage Diet”
AND, next week on the blog we are going to be covering “How to Pressure Can CHICKEN” and “How to Pressure Cook Fabulous Beans”

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