Conversion of 'All American - 25X sterilizer' to 'pressure canner

mac61March 14, 2008

Anyone ever hear of someone converting an "All American" sterilizer over to a pressure canner? I bought two "All American - 25X" sterilizers for cheap and hoped to convert them to pressure canners. It looks like you could order the parts to do a conversion from the manufacturer, but of course they aren't going to advise you to do it for liability reasons. I was wondering if someone had heard of it being done already.

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Linda_Lou(SW Wa.)

I don't have any info on changing them over. Why don't you email Elizabeth Andress at University of Georgia ? She is known as the leading authority on home food preservation, and wrote the USDA guidelines for home canning.
Here is the link to send her an email.

Here is a link that might be useful: Contact Elizabeth Andress.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2008 at 3:13AM
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mac61

Thanks "Linda Lou". I am not sure that my question is really about the "canning process", but more of an equipment technical question. I was hoping that maybe someone had possibly done this conversion before. I have tried to get the manufacture to tell me if it will work, but for liability reasons they won't give me any technical assistance. I think the conversion will work, but it would make me more confident if I could find someone that had done it sucessfully. It will probably cost me about $80.00 worth of parts to do the conversion.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2008 at 3:16PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

A few things to consider is a good accurate pressure measurment. The use of a dial guage is not accurate, so specific weights need to be used. Secondly, the inside dimensions must allow room for full sized quart jars, unless youre only going to do pints or smaller. If the unit has some kind of built in heater, you would have to be able to control the amount of heat. With sterilizers, they tend to run at about 10 or more PSI and the higher pressures are intended to give higher heat for a more effective sterilizing. If you were to can in one, I think it may be a bit too high a pressure and the contents of the jars would boil out due to more expansion.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2008 at 5:55PM
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Linda_Lou(SW Wa.)

You can ask Elizabeth Andress at the site I gave you about anything related to home food preservation.
She will give you an honest answer. I contacted her when I asked Presto about converting the dial gauge to a weighted gauge canner. She would be the one I would ask about the sterilizer.
A dial gauge is accurate if they are tested first to be sure. They can be off, but then you buy a new one and have it tested before you use it. It is just that the weights are more convenient so you don't have to keep getting the dial gauge tested.
Will the sterilizer hold quart jars ? A canner has to be able to hold at least 4 quart sized jars to be considered safe to can in.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2008 at 8:18PM
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mac61

Re: (ksrodgers)Thanks for the reply. You sound like you have some familiarity with "pressure canners" and "sterilizers". "All American" makes both and it looks to me like the actual pots are the same for similiar sized canners and sterilizers. I have two "25X" sterilizers and the same capacity canner in their line is rated to hold "7 quart jars". I was toying with the idea of swapping out the guages, pressure regulators, and over pressure valve of the sterilizer with the comparable parts made for the pressure canner. I think this would lower the temperature and pressure to the desired levels for canning. Do you think this makes any sense?
Re: (linda lou) Thanks again for you input. I will definitely try to contact Elizabeth Andress for her thoughts. It sounds like she may have some good advice to offer.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2008 at 4:18PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Possible. But as mentioned a dial gauge can go out of whack very easily, so they should only be used for a quick reference. You could depend on it if you had a local source that tests these gauges, but even for that, a slight bit of corrosion (from the steam inside), or a sharp shock from dropping one, could easily throw if off quilte a lot. Weights are more accurate as they cannot change unless you grind off some of the metal. The weights are just sitting on top of a small open tube at the cover of the pressure device. Today, the some pressure canners that have no gasket, have been very well received. They take a few times to seat tightly, but you never have to worry about trying to find a gasket.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2008 at 5:57PM
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mac61

When I do the parts swap from "sterilizer" to "canner", the "pressure regulator" on the sterilizer would be replaced with the "weighted pressure regulator" used on the canner. I think the weight is set up for 5, 10, or 15 pounds of pressure. The canner "steam pressure gauge" would just give an added visual reading.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2008 at 12:16PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

That 'visual reading' would need a formula and a conversion as to what the internal temps are at what the pressure reads. Yes, 5, 10, and 15 are common, and I think you wouldn't be using a 15 pound one very much for canning.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2008 at 8:43PM
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mac61

Well, I ordered the parts from "All American" to do the conversion. I can't get the manufacturer to say that it will work correctly, but I am convinced that it will. I am installing the "vent pipe"-(part #69), "pressure regulator weight"-(part #68), "geared steam guage"-(part #72), and "over pressure plug"-(part #2040) from the "925-pressure canner" on the "25X sterilizer" that I am retrofitting. I believe that once the new "pressure canner" parts are installed it should function exactly as the "925 pressure canner" and I will be able to use all of the settings in the manual for the canner. The advantage that I will have is that the "25X sterilizer" has it's own electric heating element built in and I won't need an external heat source.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2008 at 4:03PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

I assume that the built in heater has a temperature control? If its just on/off, it may be very hard to regulate the proper pressures required for canning.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2008 at 5:51PM
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mac61

Yes. There is a "calrod" heating element in the bottom of the pot with a wire stand that keeps items from coming in contact with it. An "inner pot" fits inside the pressure vessel and has a slotted spacer that sits in the bottom of the "inner pot". I have ordered the manual and cookbook from the manufacturer and that should bring me up to speed on the proper operation of the unit. It appears to me without having looked at the operators manual yet, that the jars will not actually come in contact with the water in the bottom of the pot. It appears that they will only be surrounded by the steam under pressure. Maybe someone that is using an "All American" can confirm that.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2008 at 9:24AM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

I think that water doesn't need to be in contact. Most canners have a rack or some means of keeping jars off the bottom.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2008 at 10:41AM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

I have an All-American. It will be interesting to see how this all works.

The water is just for the production of steam. It doesn't have to touch the jars. As Ken said, a rack is necessary to elevate jars and prevent breakage.

Carol

    Bookmark   April 2, 2008 at 11:53AM
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mac61

Yes, there is a rack in the botton to separate everything from the heating element and the water covering it. It may sound crazy to many folks to be trying to convert the "sterilizers" from their intended purpose, but I really don't need a "sterilizer". A "pressure canner" on the other hand might prove useful to me. The "(25X) 120V electric sterilizer" sells for $485 or more new. I bought two of them at a yard sale for $10.00 for the both. I had no previous experience with All-American or pressure canning. My in-laws on the other hand pressure can the products from their garden every year. If my "conversion" works, I am hoping to be able to increase production. All the necessary factory parts to do the conversion from "sterilizer" to "pressure canner" cost me $125.00, which included the instruction manual/recipe book and another canning guide and shipping cost. So, if this works out, I will have "two" 25 quart pressure canners that have their own built in electric heat source, for $135.00 total investment. This may or may not be a good investment. Only time will tell.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2008 at 7:46AM
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tlcmpc(Z 6 Phila. , PA)

Mac61,

I have the same unit as you do, and have been wanting to use it for canning. Mine already has everything you mentioned except for the pressure regulator weight. Aren't the vent pipes, geared steam guage and overpressure plugs that are already installed the same as the ones you are replacing them with? I have always calibrated/adjusted pressure from the rheostat in the past,(when sterilizing) so I assumed I would not need a weight system. Thanks in advance for your response.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2008 at 12:02PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

The weight system works as a good safety measure as it will release pressure at a preset (the weight) amount. You can't always depend on heat control or a gauge alone.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2008 at 7:08PM
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mac61

Hi "tlcmpc",

I am by not means an authority on "pressure canning", in fact, I am a rank novice. So I would be the last person to advise you on what you can and can't do with your "sterilizer". I tried to get advice from the manufacturer, but they wouldn't even discuss the possibility of canning with the "sterilizer" or doing the conversion. Them giving advice could open them up to liability issues if someone got sick or injured I suppose.
I have been told that the "sterilizer" is designed to run at a higher temperature and pressure than a "canner". I have compared the parts list for the "sterilizer" and the "canner" and they have different pressure gauges, pressure regulating devices, and "over pressure plug". An experienced person may well be able to can with the "sterilizer" without alteration, by keeping close watch on the pressure gauge and manually regulating the temperature control. I am not such a person and am choosing to err on the side of caution and install the safety and pressure regulating devices from the "canner". The manufacturer would probably tell me that if I were truely safety conscience, I would pay the money to just buy a new "canner". The statement that I got from the manufacturer was "we make sterilizers for sterilizing and canners for canning, and the sterilizer is not to be used for canning". Maybe someone has already tried canning with the "sterilizer" successfully and will chime in.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2008 at 2:39PM
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tlcmpc(Z 6 Phila. , PA)

Mac61,

Thanks for the response. You certainly have done a good amount of research on this conversion. Please keep us posted on the progress and ease or lack thereof. I may just get brave and follow in your foot-steps.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2008 at 11:45PM
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caylan

I just purchased a 1925X for culturing brewing yeast and part of the process is canning sterile wort. Why can't I can wort with a few extra lbs of pressure? Would the heat melt the lids plastic seal?

    Bookmark   April 14, 2008 at 11:29PM
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mac61

Again, I am absolutely the wrong one to advise about what can and can't be done with your "sterilizer". Hopefully one of the experienced canners will be able to give you some sound advice based on experience. I have heard some comments about boiling the contents out of the jar with to much heat and pressure, breaking the jars, or damaging the lid seals. I have no previous experience to verify any of this as accurate. I have received the conversion parts from "All American" and dropped off the new "pressure gauges" at the local agricultural extension service so that their accuracy can be verified before I install them on the units. I hope to be able to get them back before the weekend. After installing the new "canner parts" on the "sterilizer", I will run some test to see how the units perform. I hope after investing $125.00 in new parts that they will perform satisfactorily.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2008 at 7:58AM
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caylan

My guess is that by definition of cleanliness a sterilizer should not be used for food, and a canner should not be used for sterilizing. This must be a biologist's kosher mantra. Sterilization can be completed at "pressure canner" pressure but it will take a longer amount of time (40 vs. 30 minutes). Time will tell...

    Bookmark   April 16, 2008 at 2:01PM
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mac61

Yeah, I could see where you might not want to use a unit for double duty. I wouldn't want to mix my surgical instruments with my green beans and salsa. My "sterilizer" is retiring from its former life and will spend the rest of its years canning produce.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2008 at 4:00PM
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mac61

Well, I have completed the conversion of my two "All American 25X Sterilizers" to "pressure canners". I replaced the "pressure guage" from the "sterilizer" (#72S) with the one from the "canner" (#72), although it probably wasn't crucial. I replaced the "over pressure plug" from the "sterilizer" (#1010) with the one from the "canner" (#2040). I removed the "sterilizer control valve" (#65) and the "air exhaust tube" (#2155-25) and replaced them with the "pressure cooker vent pipe" (#69) and the "pressure cooker regulator weight" (#68). I removed the "sterilizer excess pressure relief valve" (#2050CS) and just blanked it off with "10mm x 1.00 bolt". I could have probably left the (#2050CS) "excess pressure relief valve" in place, but it was damaged on both units and in my view unnecessary with the installation of the "weighted" pressure control valve and you still have the "over pressure plug" as a back up safety device. As was stated before, with the "weighted" pressure regulator installed, you don't necessarily have to have the "dial pressure gauge", but I like being able to look at the gauge and monitor the pressure. As suggested, I carried the "new" pressure gauges to the local "ag extension" office and had their accuracy verified. in my case, they were both accurately calibrated from the factory. The existing "sterilizer" pressure gauges were damaged and that also influenced my decision to replace them rather than just blank them off as I did with the "sterilizer excess pressure relief valves". I have tested the converted units with only water in the pots and they both built and maintained pressure. I set the "regulator weight" on the "15 lb" setting and heated up both pots. They both came up to "15 lbs" and I was able 10 maintain it by adjusting the "temperature control knob" up and down. I then set the "regulator weight" to "10 lbs" with similar results. I would be interested to hear from others that might be using a "25 qt" All American with an external heat source, as to how long it usually takes to come up to "10 lbs" pressure after venting the air from the unit. My converted unit with the internal heat source seemed to take longer than I have hoped to arrive at the desired pressure. I will have to do some more testing to get good results, but it seemed to take about an hour to heat "cold tap water" to a boil, vent the air for ten minutes, set the regulator weight, and reach "10 lbs" pressure.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2008 at 9:09AM
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abulukas_gmail_com

Thanks so much. I was just given a smaller 1915X and bought the same parts to convert it. My unit is entirely new, so I think I'll also be using it to cook in. I appreciate your following through and posting parts and success. Any new insights since you made the initial tests? Also, since mine is new, do you think there is any point to replace that pressure gauge - will it tell me anything different than the one that comes on the sterilizer? I don't want to blow $15 if I don't need to. I appreciate any insight you can offer.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2008 at 10:18AM
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mac61

I am not an authority, but I wouldn't think you would necessarily need to replace the pressure gauge on a new unit. I would get the gauge tested for accuracy. The pressure gauges on my two units were damaged, so I replaced them with the new units. I haven't done any further experimentation with my units yet, I am waiting for some fresh produce from the garden to give them a try. Would love to hear about your experiences.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2008 at 9:43AM
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oldgranny2(97122)

I bought a new American 30 qt. and want to convert an old American sterilizer to go along with it. I sent for a new vent pipe and regulator weight. I removed the tall pressure valve and replaced it with the new vent pipe. The "blowout" metal plug I couldn't budge. I see no reason to remove it anyway as the weight should let out excess steam if for some reason the pressure went sky high. I tried out this converted cooker with water. On the 5 pound hole it went up to 10 pounds on the gauge before slowing down. Using the 10 pound hole, it went to 15 pounds on the gauge and I had to adjust the flame to keep it from creeping up higher. The gauge is a 72S. I am wondering if I should replace it with the 72 gauge. The only things on the lid (before conversion)were the blowout plug, the pressure plug and the gauge. As your post is a year old I am hoping that you have had ample chance to try out your converted canner and can tell me what I should do to make mine work like it should. Thank you, Lorraine

    Bookmark   July 2, 2009 at 6:03AM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Don't bother replacing dial gauges as the type used on PC are never going to be accurate even if brand new. Todays pressure canners make use of specific weights that are used to control pressures. Presto has an OPTIONAL stackable type that offers 1, 10, and 15 pounds. Most home canning is done at 10 pounds, and the weight supplied with the canners is just a 15 pound one. Even for that, most PCs do have a dial gauge, but its just to INDICATE a rise in internal pressure and should not be used to control or adjust the actual canning pressures, as the weights do a much more accurate job. There used to be places that would offer some kind of calibration, but its only a conversion guide, as you noted. A pressure is controlled by the weights, and the dial gauge is showing a 5 pound reading that is higher than what the weights (or tube) offers. To convert, an actual zero pressure would not read 5 pounds, and a 5 pound actual would read 10 on the dial, and the dials are never going to read linear properly.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2009 at 12:46PM
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cooksalot1

I have an old All American and what was used 50 years ago was the type of vent that is now used on the sterilizer. I get my gauge tested every year before canning, and after any major move of household. I have had to replace my gauge twice so far in the last 18 years. Threw me for a loop when I saw the sterilizer then I realized I got my canner from someone who's grandmother canned with it till the day she died. Duh! 50+ years old. (I even double checked the label that says All American Cooker No.7 on it. Not sterilizer.)

Besides no one at any of my Master Food Preserver group meetings saw anything wrong with it. Matter of fact the extension head said it was what her grandmother used. I think that just with time All American has change the design a bit. When you think about it sterilization requires a higher heat and greater accuracy. After all if it's done wrong there's the risk of Flesh Eating Staph or Mersa. Besides when I went through training we were taught that a well kept and calibrated gauge was no different than the weight.(key word calibrated) The weight was dependent on proper timing of the rocker. Too slow could result in a lower pressure. We did have someone call in that would turn the burner down every time the weight would rock. She complained that it wouldn't stop rocking when she could hear it simmering. (scary!)"So how did she use the canner and not have the weight rock?" Yeah she thought it was an indicator that it was going to blow up. Wanted to know if she had to use the weight on it or could she use the canner and not put the weight on. LOL! So far I haven't had a problem with canning in it. Everything from tuna, salmon, and asparagus.

If your gauge reads different from when you're using the weight get the gauge replaced. And yes I get new gauges tested too when installing them. This last time they were like "why? it's new." I told them because even new gauges can be off. Very rare but it does happen. You can usually get new gauges from Ace Hardware, some even do the testing right there too. If not contact your local state extension office for testing dates and times. I know it's been over a year but hopefully this will be of some help for future readers.

Cooksalot
MFP

    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 2:58PM
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klavier(Z7 Baltimore)

Sterilizer = higher temp and pressure
Overkill for canning, but will work for canning. The higher the temp and pressure the greater the degradation of proteins and the tissue structure of the stuff you are canning. This means loss of flavor. Your jars should not explode. I use a sterilizer for preparation of tissue culture media for in-vitro plant propagation. I frequently use ball jars as containers for culturing and they have never exploded. The media is almost entirely water, sugar, and agar (a seaweed gelling agent). The rest of the ingredients are vitamins and nutrients. Canning pressure would not work for this because a
single spore or bacterium would rapidly grow and and kill my tissue sample. Other than a more stringent need for complete destruction of living or dormant organisms the process is identical to canning.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2012 at 8:13PM
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pcooker

I am just curious as to those who have converted from sterilizer to canner... Has this worked out in the long run? mac61, are your old sterilizers still canning well?? What kind of problems if any have folks run into? Would it work both ways, from pressure cooker to sterilizer? I understand any potential safety issues of course. THANKS

    Bookmark   August 11, 2012 at 4:50AM
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cookin0granny

Hi, Just following up to see how the conversion from sterilizer to canner went. I am about to do the same thing and would like to know if it is worth the effort. Thanks

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 9:53AM
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