Any Lower Cost Pressure Canners?

lisazone6_ma(z6 MA)June 9, 2010

Hi everyone! I've stocked up! I have regular pectin, low sugar pectin, liquid pectin and finally located Pamona too!! I'm ready to rock and will finally get a jam/pie filling to set right if it's the last thing I do lol!!

Pectin aside, I've been thinking of a pressure canner. I was just laid off and until I can find another job, am looking for ways to save money. I have a fair sized garden and while I don't grow tons, I do have more than I can use fresh and would like to preserve as much as I can - the grocery bills are killing me!! I do have a separate, large freezer so I don't necessarily NEED a pressure canner, but was wondering if the quality and texture of certain things are better canned than frozen? For example, I grow those flat, Italian style green beans. They are sublime when fresh, but after blanching and freezing, they pretty much were mush. If I could keep them closer to fresh by canning them instead of freezing, that would be great. However, pressure canners seem to be very expensive. Being out of work now, I hesitate to spend between $250-$300 on a pressure canner if I can pretty much get the same results with freezing.

I was thrilled to see that my local grocery store has jars, lids, and the regular standard pectins for sale. They had 12 Ball jars, half pint, pint, or quart, for $6.99! I paid $15.95 for 12 when I first got them last year, so at $6.99, I'm stocking up on sizes!!

Anyway, my largest weekly bill seems to be groceries so anywhere I can save is great. Besides, I want to take advantage of being home and having the time to do things instead of being crazed after work and trying to cram everything in on the weekends!! Thanks so much!


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jill2761(Southeast Texas)

I just bought a larger pressure canner (23-1/2 qt) for $110. I have seen it somewhat cheaper online and at big box stores , but I chose to purchase from a local mom & pop hardware store. It's a Presto. looked at the more expensive All American canners, and while I believe they are good, I don't think it's necessary to spend that much money. I already own a smaller Presto, and have had it since the late 70's. It will be a lifetime investment on healthier eating.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2010 at 10:46AM
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Good morning, Guys...Check your Craigs list. I see canners quite often...

    Bookmark   June 9, 2010 at 11:01AM
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I bought the 16qt Presto two years ago for less than $100 and have been very pleased. I bought it off of Amazon and I think I even got free shipping. It has paid for itself many times over. (Also invest in the weight set if you get a canner with a guage. Weight set is only around $10). I'd also check out the thrift stores.
Best of luck to you on your search for a canner!

    Bookmark   June 9, 2010 at 11:24AM
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On Amazon right now, the 23 quart pressure canner is 79 bucks....a terrific price.

I have this canner and an All American 21 quart. While I think the AA is a better article, the Presto is just fine and even has certain advantages.

With the variable weighted gauge (sold on Amazon too(top of the page) the rocking motion of that jiggler is a bit more regular than the sometimes erratic AA.

This may make it easier to use. Whatever, the Presto is a fine canner at this price.


    Bookmark   June 9, 2010 at 12:50PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

I hesitate to spend between $250-$300 on a pressure canner if I can pretty much get the same results with freezing.

That price range only applies to the All American brand of PCs. Both Presto and Mirro are much less expensive than that. WalMart had the 16 qt. Presto for $65.00 last year and still list it at that price on their website. The 23 qt Presto which is an ideal PC is often on sale for around $89 or less. Amazon lists it right now for $79.00 and so do several other vendors.

As to the different results between freezing and canning? Yes they will be different. Whether they will appeal to you or not I can't say. Many of us strongly prefer canned green beans over frozen ones, myself included. But some don't, they prefer frozen.


    Bookmark   June 9, 2010 at 12:50PM
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I should add that the Presto is a much better Boiling Water Bath canner, if used for that, than the AA which is much heavier and clunky for that purpose.

THAT'S an even bigger savings for one starting out: you wouldn't have to purchase a seperate big stock pot or BWB canner. All you'll need is a rack, which is very conveinient for pressure canning too.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   June 9, 2010 at 1:08PM
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dgkritch(Z8 OR)

acehardwareoutlet has a Mirro for $79.99 right now. You can have it sent to your local Ace Hardware store and not pay shipping (at least they USED to do this).

There's also a couple of Presto's on there in the $80-$85 range. Three pages come up if you use their search function and look for Pressure Canners. Mirro is on the 3rd page.


    Bookmark   June 9, 2010 at 4:47PM
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lisazone6_ma(z6 MA)

Wow! I must have been looking in the wrong places, because the ones I saw were pricey!! At around $100 or under, I'll be able to spring for one. Especially if it allows me to can all the produce from my garden! Thanks so much - going on Amazon right now to check them out!


    Bookmark   June 10, 2010 at 12:27PM
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Linda_Lou(SW Wa.)

I would not buy Mirro. They have been bought out and the canners are not good quality any more. There are springs in the handles and they don't hold up. Plus, the parts are getting harder to find.
This is info I got from a lady who sells them. I saw the handles myself so I understand what she is saying.
I would stick with Presto, personally. I would get 23 quart since you can stack pints and half pint jars. You can get done a lot faster when canning.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2010 at 1:02PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Checked our local WalMart just today. Presto 16 qt. with 3 piece weight set - $65. 23 quart Presto WITHOUT the 3 piece weight set - $81.00. 3 piece weight set (part 50332) - $12 but is not available at Walmart. If you have a WalMart you can save the shipping.


PS: lots of them currently on eBay and some with free shipping.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2010 at 4:08PM
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lisazone6_ma(z6 MA)

I got the 23 quart Presto for $79 - I'm very excited. I have dreams of putting up tons of spaghetti sauce from my garden tomatoes this year!!

Now I'm probably showing my ignorance here, but what is this weight set everyone's talking about? I'm assuming that the canner already has everything ready to go on it. Am I going to need to order extra parts in order to use it properly?

Also, I need to send a big thank you your way Dave - I made some low sugar peach jam yesterday using the Pamona pectin and I used all the notes I printed from your threads re mixing the pectin with water first, adding the calcium last, etc., and it worked out great!! Since I have access to the Pamona now, I'm not going to bother with any other pectins. It was so easy to use and I really like being able to control how much sugar I add without worrying whether it's going to set or not.


    Bookmark   June 11, 2010 at 9:13AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Thanks Lisa but I "think" all that info came from someone else. ;) Glad it worked for you.

but what is this weight set everyone's talking about? I'm assuming that the canner already has everything ready to go on it. Am I going to need to order extra parts in order to use it properly?

I guess we have discussed this so much here that we just assume everyone knows what we are talking about. Presto's 23 qt. comes as a gauged PC (with a gauge and a 15 lb. counter weight). You'll note in pressure canning instructions that there are different instructions for gauged canners and weighted canners.

Now IF the gauge is accurate you would be good to go but testing shows the gauges can be off by 4 lbs. right out of the box AND they require annual testing/recalibration to guarantee safety.

Thus the recommendation to buy the 3 piece weight set (Part No. 50332 available from several sources @ $12.00) and convert it to a weighted-gauge canner. Not only does that eliminate the gauge issues and improve safety but it makes the canner much easier to use, monitor, adjust heat source, avoid siphoning, etc.

This 3 piece 5-10-15 lb. set just replaces the 15 lb counter-weight that comes with the canner.

Hope that clarifies but you'll find many discussions here about it if you need more info.

Since you are new to pressure canning I usually suggest doing several trial runs with it first using jars of water to get used to how it works. Put some food color in the water so you can tell if things ran smoothly. If the water in the PC ends up stained siphoning happened and more practice is needed.

Also since pressure canning is very different from BWB canning, be sure to read through all the Using a Pressure Canner guidelines at NCHFP as it covers all the venting and waiting and safety of use instructions.


    Bookmark   June 11, 2010 at 10:31AM
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Good Choice, Lisa! The Presto is very easy to use.

Now you need what is called here the "three piece set" pressure regulator. This item is recommended by all the folk here, and for very good reason:

With this regulator, you are able to use it as a 5, 10, or 15 pound regulator and not depend ONLY on the gauge to tell you the pressure (the heat) within the vessel.

Depending on the the rings one can remove, your canner automatically will stay at the chosen pressure. All you do adjust the heat properly to acheive a gentle rocking of the regulator (sometimes called a "jiggler" or "rocker").

Now you don't have to worry if the dial gauge is precise and also, you won't have to always check the gauge.

Though the All American Canner is recognized as the best made and most durable canner available, the Presto you just got is, infact, a bit easier to use.


Look at the bottom of the Amazon page or others here will tell you where to find the three piece set. Then all that is left to do is a couple of practice runs!

Good luck, Roof

    Bookmark   June 11, 2010 at 10:47AM
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There has been a lot of dicussion here about the three piece Presto regulator and how good it is.

It IS good, but what amazes me is that it isn't the default regulator provided with the canner. This system is much better than relying on a dial gauge.

But what also surprises me is that the All American hasn't changed the configuration of THEIR regulator: the constant rocking of the Presto, instead of the 1-4 times/minute jittering of the AA, makes the Presto easier to use and keep an eye on....

One look at the Presto's rocking and you know all is correct, while with the AA you have to acertain that it is jittering within the specifications. Both require careful burner heat adjustment, but it seems to me the AA requires more.

For this reason, I have thought of making an adapter to use the Presto regulator on the All American....and also because I am always inclined to fool around ;)


    Bookmark   June 11, 2010 at 11:14AM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

My All-American came with a 5-10-15 weight. The company regards the gauge as the "backup." If yours doesn't have it, you can order the part and shouldn't have to modify. (Verify with the company as there may be some older models that are incompatible.)

My old Presto (thirty-five years ago) didn't include the three-piece weight but listed it in the manual as an accessory piece. I bought it and used it exclusively.

But somewhere along the way Presto ceased to promote it. When I mentioned it here on the forum many were unaware that option even existed.

I believe it was Linda_Lou who verified with Dr. Andress at the NCHFP that it was an acceptable alternative. In effect, you're replicating the set-up of the All-American.

Machined weights will always be more accurate/consistent than the inexpensive gauge, and that's true of both brands.


    Bookmark   June 11, 2010 at 1:55PM
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Thanks the information Carol, and also thanks for popularizing the Presto 3 piece regulator :)

This single piece of advice, and understanding its reasons, is probaly the most helpful item for a beginner pressure canner coming here.

Although I am one that thinks the dangers and complexities of the whole canning exercise are often overstated thus needlessly scaring folk away from a truly worthwhile activity, I wouldn't own or use a dial gauge canner; the way the Presto arrives out of the box.

Consequently, I can't understand why NCHFP doesn't simply recommend to ONLY use weighted gage canners.

This community (and the greater citizenry) relies on this agency. Their word is taken as Gospel... But here is an instance where they are giving advice that the experienced and responsible canners here would never give.

As far as dangers and hassles go, to purchase an inferior piece of equipment that requires one to rely on a commonly faulty gauge, and therefore have to have the gauge constantly checked, is just bad advice. Full Stop.


I think the Presto three piece pressure regulator is a better system than the AA. But that's just my opinion. What doesn't seem to be an opinion is that a weighted gauge canner is a far safer, easier, more reliable, and a much better article than just a dial gauge canner.

To do their job better, NCHFP should simply and clearly state this!

Cheers and thanks for all your terrific advice, Carol.


    Bookmark   June 11, 2010 at 2:52PM
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I wrote all that, but perhaps didn't explain one thing you mentioned...Sorry

When I purchased my AA canner, I did so because it looked like far and away the best available. And it is, in my view. I certainly have and still use the 5-10-15 pound regulator it came with.

However, one reason I purchased this canner was because it was obvious to me (as a proffesional in the building and machine trades) that the concept of a mechanical device --a rocker or jiggler-- to control pressure is far better than relying on a dial gauge.

I had no idea that the Presto could be refitted, inexpensively and easily, to make that canner much better. Although I am very happy with my AA and use it more than the Presto, the one thing I really like about the Presto is the way the gauge constantly rocks instead of intermittantly jiggles.


    Bookmark   June 11, 2010 at 3:11PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

Well, thank you, though I've made some bloopers, too.

I did want to clarify that the weight is actually machined to 10.5 pounds, not 10, which is why an accurate gauge will read 10.5 with a 10-pound weight. Testing has determined that 10.5 is sufficient to reach 240°.

That also means with a dial-gauge canner the recommendation is 11psi. It's simpler to round up but in addition the recommendation is giving you a half-pound leeway for increased safety.

That also explains why, with a weight you can only can up to 1000 feet before making altitude adjustments but with a gauge at 11psi you can process up to 2000 feet without making adjustments.

(I hope that's clear.)

On both the All-American and the Presto the gauge is the cheapest part of the appliance. You'd have to go up considerably in price to get a reasonably reliable industrial-quality gauge.

Since my All-American has a 5-10-15 weight, I don't consider it inferior to my Presto. The great advantage of the All-American (aside from the lack of a gasket) is that the heavier casting results in fewer fluctuations of temperature. Personally I've found it is easier to maintain a steady pressure in the All-American, particularly canning outdoors, and thus reduced risks of siphoning.

But I still think the Presto is one of the all-time good values. We have a chain here in the West that for the last two years has offered the 23-quart Presto for $59.95. You just can't beat that price.


    Bookmark   June 11, 2010 at 3:17PM
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You may well be right about the heavy cast aluminum being more thermally stable. I'm just being a "perfectist." To me the constant rocking of the Presto is easier to monitor.

I use the brace of canners, the AA and the Presto, outdoors if there are large quantities to be canned, usually fish or meat.


:) I well know that BiMart has the canners on sale because a couple of years ago you alerted everyone here to that, and I had my brother in Oregon get them for him, me, and my B-Inlaw. (But we never would have gotten them if they couldn't be easily adapted with the 3 piece regulator.)

I pay especial attention to your posts Carol. Thanks for the good advice and information.

Cheers, Roof

    Bookmark   June 11, 2010 at 4:13PM
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oregonwoodsmoke(5 OR Sunset 1A)

Here's what the weight is:

The canner has a valve on the lid that lets steam out. You put a weight (the one that is made to go with the canner) over that steam valve.

When the pressure builds up inside the canner to a certain point, it will be strong enough to move that weight and to let the steam out.

Pressure is measured in pounds per square inch, so by using different sizes of weighs, you can regulate the amount of pressure inside the canner.

When there is 5 pounds per square inch of pressure, the 5 pound weight will jiggle. If 5 pounds is not enough, and you need 10 pounds of pressure, you use the 10 pound weight and the weight will not jiggle until pressure inside the scanner reaches 10 pounds per square inch.

Your recipe will tell you how much pressure you need for the food that you are canning.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2010 at 5:42PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Actually the weights are calibrated to jiggle at 5.5, 10.5, and 15.5 ppsi. Just for clarification.


    Bookmark   June 11, 2010 at 6:25PM
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I have an extra presto weight set I'll trade for some seeds! I bought a presto 16 quart from walmart for 65$. Amazon shipped me two weight sets by mistake.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2010 at 6:26PM
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Frozen vs canned beans are a very personal thing. My advice, go to the store, buy a can of green beans and a package of frozen beans. Cook them as you usually do fresh and test them side by side. Your home canned will be very close to the store bought canned and same with frozen. Before you invest in a canner, make sure you like canned green beans.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2010 at 3:41PM
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lisazone6_ma(z6 MA)

Thanks everyone - while a lot of you probably just know from experience what to do, newbies like me have no clue, so it's truly appreciated when you share the knowledge you've all gained over the years. I admit, I haven't paid much attention to anything concerning pressure canning since I didn't have one, but I have looked into it a bit since I really want to expand what I can preserve and I would have known NOTHING about the gauge issues you're discussing on my own.

I'm sure I'm going to be here a lot and asking loads of questions! I've come a long way on the BWB canning already since coming here and I just want to really stress how much I appreciate all the help and advice I've gotten!

And I could have sworn it was your posts that I got the Pamona info from Dave, but if not, my apologies to the person who did post for getting your name wrong (I truly have a HUGE problem with mixing up names!!), as I only copied the meat of the post and not the entire thing - your advice was perfect!


    Bookmark   June 15, 2010 at 9:43AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

No problem. The main thing is we got another person hooked on canning. :)



    Bookmark   June 15, 2010 at 3:42PM
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Linda_Lou(SW Wa.)

This year the Presto price is $69.99. They did give a canning kit with a funnel, jar lifter, timer, etc. with the canner. It is a $15 value.
I was the one who researched the Presto retro fit issue with Elizabeth Andress and with Presto. Presto gave me the part number to get.
The new USDA guidelines only come out once in a while. We just got a new copy this year, and there are still things I wish would be included or changed. At least we still have the forums and classes to give out new information.
I am currently teaching a 5 week series at a store. Tonights subject is jams and jellies. I will have the Pomona's pectin handout for them to take home. I will spend time explaining about the product. Not many people in classes are aware of it. Helps many folks who cannot or do not want sugar. They are thrilled to learn they can use honey, just fruit, stevia, agave, whatever they want and not just sugar or artificial sweeteners. I will also explain how Clear Jel can be used as a sub. for pectin in jams and jellies.
I like reading posts on forums so I can tell what it is that people are wanting more info. on. Helps me do a better job with teaching classes.
Happy Canning !
Oh, we finally got our garden planted yesterday !

    Bookmark   June 15, 2010 at 4:41PM
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How does the stevia taste in jams? We don't use splenda here. The agave could get pretty pricey in larger quantities, I would think.
I'm also thankful for all the information here. I've yet to try my Presto but I'm ready and just waiting for some veggies. I'll be doing lots of beans and stocks this fall. Gotta love homemade convenience foods!

    Bookmark   June 15, 2010 at 6:13PM
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Linda Lou, More info on the Clear Jel please??

    Bookmark   June 15, 2010 at 6:19PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

You'll see some jam recipes on the second page of this document. Linda_Lou may have some other hints, tips and recipes as well.


Here is a link that might be useful: Using ClearJel

    Bookmark   June 15, 2010 at 7:18PM
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Linda_Lou(SW Wa.)

I think stevia is GROSS ! So bitter tasting.
You may like it, but I just cannot stand it.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2010 at 12:34AM
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I agree with you linda lou,the stevia is GROSS.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2010 at 10:02AM
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girlgroupgirl(8 ATL)

stevia works very well. I have been using it mixed with other sweetners like honey - I want the taste of honey but not the expense. I use the honey until I get some flavor in delicate jellies and then stevia but I use HALF of the recommended amount (I don't like things that sweet), we use the nunaturals brand, and find at a lower concentration it is delicious and not bitter and has no after taste (especially when used with another sweetner).

    Bookmark   July 18, 2010 at 2:34PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

bump to save

    Bookmark   March 24, 2012 at 9:55PM
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