Confused about pressure cookers/canners

JHartsOctober 6, 2013

I'm just sticking my toe in the water here. I've done water bath canning many moons ago but that was limited to tomatoes and jams. My path this time started with:

a container garden of plum tomatoes
> too many green tomatoes
> idea to make gardeniera
> trip to farmers market for extra veggies (since I had started with just one - the green tomatoes)\
> explosion of vegetables in kitchen (I just love farmers)
> idea of canning
> extra idea that all the extra soup that I make and can't eat fast enough could be canned too!
> COMPLETE AND UTTER CONFUSION over canners vs. cookers

I spent a lot of time researching pressure cookers and decided I'd buy a Fagor Duo 8-quart only to come across something on their website that said the 10-quart could also be used for canning. Since they didn't have that claim in the description for the 8-qt., I figured the 10-qt. is as small as you can go for canning. Is that right? Or could I get away with an 8-qt.?

I like the price on the 10-qt., ($120 on Amazon), the Fagor 8-qt. consistently gets great reviews on America's Test Kitchen so I am thinking the 10-qt. would get the same thumbs'-up, but.....

What do you all think? Any horror stories? Any thumbs up or down?

I was reading another thread here and saw a lot of talk about weights, so that's my last question...What ARE weights? if I get this Fagor, how will I know if I neeI weights?

Thanks for the help!!

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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

First, the easy answer to your question is the Fagor's are NOT recommended for canning despite what they claim. They are pressure cookers, not canners by USDA standards.

They have never been tested for canning, only for cooking, and their ability to reach sufficient pressure and hold it is highly questionable. They come with limited pressure settings based on European measurements (ie: 9.5 rather than the 11 lbs psi required for most things depending on sea level).

They are not adaptable to weights, only their built in specific pre-settings. And there is no way to verify their settings, nothing to compare them to and no way to have them tested.

All American manufactured canners come with weights only which are manufactured to specifics and can't be "off" or a gauge and weight or counter-weight. A dual system. Weights will always be far more accurate and easier to use than any gauge or built-in setting system.

So if canning is your primary use for it skip the Fagor. Instead for canning go with one of the 3 tested and approved canner brands - Presto, All American, or Mirro.

a container garden of plum tomatoes
> too many green tomatoes
> idea to make gardeniera

none of them require pressure canning.

> extra idea that all the extra soup that I make and can't eat fast enough could be canned too!

Not necessarily. Soups have restrictions. Personal recipes that contain fats, rice, pastas, flour, or any dairy cannot be safely canned even with a pressure canner. And as a general guideline, canning, even pressure canning, is not for preserving left-overs. Those go in the freezer.

Back to pressure canners - cookers and canners are not the same thing. Size is important. With only a coupel fo exceptions, the minimum recommended size is 12 quart. Smaller canners heat up too fast and cool down too fast and that voids the processing time required.

Sorry to discourage you but for less money you can get a high quality pressure canner in the Presto 16 or 23 quart size and will be able to trust and depend on it for decades.

If money is no object go for the AA 15 quart (or larger).

Hope this helps.

Dave

    Bookmark   October 6, 2013 at 3:44PM
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Linda_Lou(SW Wa.)

I agree, Fagor makes some false claims. It is a cooker, not meant for canning.

The Presto can be purchased for about $80.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2013 at 5:04PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

I thought this link from NCHFP might be helpful to you.

Dave

Here is a link that might be useful: How to use pressure canners

    Bookmark   October 6, 2013 at 6:49PM
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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

Just to add to what the others have told you -

I have a Fagor electric pressure cooker, use it often and love it but for cooking not for canning. It has two pressure cooker settings, low and high. Low is supposed to be 8 pounds pressure, high 15 but there is no way to verify that, no gauges, weights or dials. Neither setting would be appropriate for the types of things I can at my altitude, I need and use 10 pounds for my weighted gauge canners, 11 if I were going to use a dial gauge.

The Fagor has been an ideal kitchen appliance for loose foods - And I would never can with it. It cooks beautifully, but the canning is a very different application.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2013 at 10:25PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

I also have a Fagor and it's a wonderful pressure cooker, but for canning it's my Presto or All-American.

I also wanted to add to something Dave said:

Personal recipes that contain fats, rice, pastas, flour, or any dairy cannot be safely canned even with a pressure canner.

Hypothetically, they could be safely canned, if testing were done with those additions. But the NCHFP (and other testing organizations like Ball or Bernardin) are aiming for optimal safety balanced with retention of nutrients and best flavor/texture. So a lot of these things that could be done in the abstract aren't tested for because it would have to be a long processing time and the results probably would be too compromised in other regards.

Carol

    Bookmark   October 6, 2013 at 10:47PM
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JHarts

Lots of good info. Thanks to everyone.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2013 at 5:03PM
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myfamilysfarm

As a farmers market vendor for years, we love you as customers. If you ask, some of your vendors can help you with your questions. Many are long-time canners, lots of us can our excess. Most are NOT certified canners, just very experienced.

I would ONLY buy an older Mirro or Presto, I don't like the toggle clamps, but that is ONLY me. I don't want to spend the $$ for any more expensive ones. $100 or less is wonderful for me and it's a lifetime purchase. I would recommend getting the 22-23 qt size if you are planning to can much.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2013 at 5:56PM
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