Can I use my pressure canner with the lid not sealed, or a SS stock pot?
Sure - lots of discussions here about doing both or either.
You will have to have a rack of some kind in the SS pot to keep the jars out of direct contact with the pot bottom and you have to have a deep enough canner to cover the jars with 1-2 inches of water.
Absolutely! All you need is a vessel deep enough to cover the jars in an inch or two of boiling water, with a rack on the bottom to elevate the jars, and a lid. Canning rings wired together make a good MacGyver rack. :-)
I use a large stock pot, myself.
I found that the rack from my 23 qt presto PC canner fits into my 20 qt Stock pot. It really works better then my old BWB canner.
I don't use my black beast anymore unless I have to. I can mostly in 1/2 pints and small batches, so heating that monster up was a waste of energy. I use a stockpot with a clad aluminum bottom. And a towel will suffice for the bottom of the pot to protect the jars. I'm naughty and often don't use anything in the pan bottom. Don't you try this at home folks! Horrible jar cracks might result.
Round cake racks can also work on the bottom of smaller pots.
Pot must be deep enough for 1 inch or more of boiling water to cover the jar tops.
I used my pressure canner without the pressure for the short 1/2 pint salsa jars. I used an improvised lid to cover it while coming to a boil--a suitably sized frying pan.
my presto 23 qt pressure canner (new yesterday) came with instructions on how to use it as a water bath, you remove the weights and the valve thingy I think!
My BWB was rendered obsolete by my new glass cook top. I've been using a stock pot with the rigged jar rings. I put the rings together like a flower head and wire tied the rings to each other. I sometimes have a hard time getting the jars to sit up straight, but I can jiggle them around until they do. It's been working great so far.
At Home depot, they sell 2'x4' pierced aluminum sheet material. You can cut this in to a round any size you need. Its got small triangular holes punched in it, and is thin enough to cut with a good pair of scissors, and will add some flatness to the bottom of of a pot. I use a piece on my wire rack as the wires are spaced a bit wide and smaller jars don't stand up well.
marti, have you checked in your regular cookware to see if you have a pan/pot lid that will fit over the top? Not having to use the regular pressure cooker lid when using for BWB is nice - just lifting off and on one handed and with a heat proof handle/knob.
I have a 'universal' lid that works on my 22 qt Mirro pressure canner when using for BWB, and a second lid to a 12" pan - that one fits but barely, have to carefully place it. The universal lid went next door last night so my neighbor could use it to BWB jelly this morning in her weighty older pressure canner with equally weighty lid :)
Processing jelly in a pressure canner, is not necessary.
I have seen racks like what is in water canners at Ace Hardwares, McLendon stores.... not sure if they would be at www.lehmans.com..
I've snaked twisted lengths of aluminum foil around jars in a stock pot. It works just fine to keep the jars from banging about.
I did something like that with the foil but put it under the jars to keep the jars off of the burner....
Canning rack link. They also offer a smaller size too.
Here is a link that might be useful: Canning rack link
I checked and the rack for my canner will also fit in the stock pot. I'll have to use it on a hot plate though since the stock pot won't work on my glass stove top.
The common hot plates sold are barely able to get a big pot of water to boil. Unless yours is rated at 220 volts with a high wattage, it may not offer much. The link below has the highest wattage type you can buy that still plugs into thre regular AC outlet. Its rated at 1500 watts, whereas the common coil types are only about 1200 watts.
Here is a link that might be useful: Cadco burner
I also have a glass top stove. I use a stock pot that fits the dimensions of the manufacturer's specifications for base width. I used to use a cake rack for the bottom of the pot, but found a rack that fits perfectly at a thrift store.
The thing that scares me about canning on a glass stove is if a jar slips and crashes onto the stovetop (breaking it, with a BWB on top!). I make sure that I add the jars and take them off from the side, and put my hand under the jar with a pot-holder, so just in case it slips from the jar lifter, I can make sure it does not break the stove. I also put a cutting board or towel on the small burner in front of the canner just in case...
That (and the heat) is why I'm gonna be canning at church with a friend when I can swing it...the kitchen is literally bigger than an apartment I used to live in...3 stoves, 2 sinks, a ginormous island... plus I like the friend. :)
I have a glass cooktop, and what's worse, the largest burner is only 8 inches in diameter -- too small for the large pots needed as a BWB. So several years ago, I bought an electric turkey fryer on sale at Costco. I set it up on my counter near the sink to BWB jams. To fill it, I use the sink's spray hose. When finished, I turn the spigot and the water drains into the sink. No more hauling heavy pots of water to and from the stove.
It's also good for boiling large quantities of corn on the cob or pasta. I've yet to use it as a deep fryer.
Here is a link that might be useful: electric turkey fryer
I switched over to a Back to Basics steam canner several years ago in place of a BWB for high acid foods. It heats up really quick with very little water. I too have a glass cooktop and don't have to worry with a second burner.
Here is a link that might be useful: Steam Canner at Wally World
The steam canner is only useful for high acid foods like pickles and fruit jams. Its bottom is not flat, as its rippled and doesn't sit flat on a flat burner stove. Use with care!