Tutorial: How to Use a Pressure Canner

How to Use a Pressure Canner

Using a pressure canner is a little bit different than hot water bath canning, in that it requires a little more attention and every pressure canner is a little bit different.  Making sure your pressure canner is in top order {or more specifically, the gauge} is essential.  You can usually take it down to your local extension office or hardware store and have it tested–and you really should do this yearly to ensure your safety and the safety of the food you’re canning.

how to use a pressure canner

Here’s a basic step-by-step guide for using a pressure cooker:

1. First off, when using a pressure canner, make sure your stove top is level.  Also, avoid using outdoor gas grills, as they can get too hot.

2. Put the rack and hot water into the canner.  If your recipe doesn’t call for a specific amount of water, fill it about 2-3 inches high in the canner.

how to use a pressure canner
3. Place your filled jars, with lids and rings, on the jar rack in the pressure canner.

how to use a pressure canner

4. Fasten the lid of the pressure canner.  Leave the weight off of the vent pipe for now.

5. Turn the burner to high and allow water to boil.  Steam should flow freely through the vent pipe.  Allow the steam to flow for 10 minutes or so.  {This is called venting or exhausting the canner}.

pressure canner weight
6. Place the weighted gauge/counterweight on the vent pipe and allow the canner to pressurize.

pressure canner guage
7. Start your processing timer once the pressure reading on the dial is reached per your recipe.

8. It is EXTREMELY important for the safety of your food that you maintain the specified pressure for your recipe the duration of processing.  This can require some babysitting on your part of your pressure canner.  If the pressure dips below the required number, start your processing time all over from the beginning.  It is equally important that you don’t allow the pressure gauge to climb unnecessarily.  Too much pressure, and KABOOM.  {Newer pressure canners have a safety mechanism that will prevent this from happening}

9. Once canned goods have finished processing, remove the pressure canner from the heat {carefully, you don’t want to tilt the jars inside and cause food to leak out and prevent sealing} or just turn off the heat.  The canner will depressurize.

how to use a pressure canner
10. Once the canner is completely depressurized, wait another 10 minutes and then carefully unfasten the lid and remove {away from your face, unless you want a super hot steam facial}.

11. Use a jar lifter to lift the jars out of  the canner–again be careful not to disturb the jars too much so that the liquids spill out, stopping the sealing process.

how to can green beans
12. Set canned jars on a towel on the counter, adequately spaced from one another, and allow them to cool.

13. Allow the jars to sit untouched for 12-24 hours {or until COMPLETELY cooled}.

14. Check for a good seal on jars and remove bands from jars before storing.

Pressure canning seems a little overwhelming at first, but it really is pretty easy once you get the hang of it.  Plus, if you want to can meats, beans, etc. it’s pretty much your only option.

This is the pressure canner I use, my MIL gave it to me for Christmas one year, and it’s awesome!

All American pressure canner 22 quarts

See all of my canning recipes HERE.

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  1. Madam Chow says

    Fantastic tutorial, Mavis! The All American brand pressure canner that you have is the best one on the market, period. I have one, too. One of the reasons that they are so good is that they have no rubber parts that can deteriorate over time. I love my canner, too!

  2. Tracy says

    Thank you for the walk through and pics on this. I’ve always been very hesitant to try pressure canning. This eased my anxiety a bit and I just might give it a try!

  3. Amy Robbins says

    O…M…G!!! Mavis you read my mind. My husband has brought home a TON of salmon that he’s caught fresh from Puget Sound. Our poor little electric smoker can barely keep up. Last night I made plans to finally bite the bullet and pressure can it all—-my FIRST foray into pressure canning after many years of water-bath canning jam. Lo and behold, I wake up to this post on pressure canning!!! Yay!!! What a confidence booster for me!

  4. Leanna says

    Great post, Mavis. I would hate to be without my pressure canner – in fact, I invested in 2 of the All American canners and have never regretted it. Awesome for canning chicken, sausage, beef, venison, green beans and dried beans. Worth all the money I spent to get them.

    • Madam Chow says

      This is good to hear – I have one and I love it so much that I have been thinking of getting a smaller size, too, but I thought, “who has 2 pressure canners?” LOL!

  5. Alicia says

    Hi Mavis! Thanks for the tute! My husband and I are trying to can this year. We started out with an inherited canner that is 20+ years old. Did fine for awhile, but I think it needs a new gasket. So we set it aside and bought a bigger one, 23qt. Well, we are just not figuring it out!! It seems to HOLD at 17 lbs, won’t go lower. Can I can my green beans at 17#??? I was canning at 10#, the book says 15#. Any suggestions on why it won’t go lower???

    • Mavis Butterfield says

      I am a stickler for following recipe directions. If I were you I would go get it tested at your local hardware store or grange. :)

  6. Katrina Fournier says

    Shouldn’t #14 say to ADD the bands for storage? I’ve never seen anyone REMOVE them for storage??

    • says

      It is recommended to REMOVE the bands for storage – the reason is that if you lose a seal on a jar you’ll know it if the bands are off. I was glad to have learned this last year because over the summer one of the seals failed on a jar of soup I had pressure canned. If the band had been on the jar I might not have known that the seal failed. Similarly it is best not to stack home canned jars for the same reason.

  7. Ellen in Clackamas says

    We always took the bands off. That way you can use them for the next batch you put in the canner.

  8. Noel G. says

    Do not store with bands. It is a false sense of protection. Most people tend to then tighten them down and end up breaking the seals.

  9. RayK says

    It looks like you remove the heat source and then remove the weight, if you’re pulling hot jars out of the canner. Since the canner depressurizes faster than the jars, the jar contents are still super-heated, and will continue to boil until the internal temperature falls. I let my canner cool with the weight still on, and frequently find jars with a significant loss of liquid (and the juices in the canner). How do you keep jars from boiling liquid out of the jar, particularly if you are rapidly depressurizing the canner??

  10. Deb says

    I would love to hear a solution to RayK’s question as we also lose liquid from the jars when we’ve pressure canned green beans. We don’t bother now because they just tasted like water. Any thoughts?

  11. MK says

    Couple of questions…
    1 when you are done with canning is the interior discolored as well as the aluminum that the jars rest on?
    2 When you remove the jars all of them are still boiling inside. If one is not boiling and the lid is down is it storage worthy?

    I bought and All American model 930.

    I preformed the first canning attempt with chicken. I ran a batch of just water to see what I was in for. Where the water was inside it discolored the metal. When I did the chicken I placed a ‘shelf’ on the bottom then 6 canning cars on top of the shelf. The shelf is a dark color now. I can only assume that is normal…

    After I allowed the Pressure Caner to depressurize I removed the 6 chicken jars and one was not boiling inside. Yet the lid shows a vacuum.

    I live in CO the altitude is 5892 ft at my location. I used the weight at 15 and the dial is supposed to be 13. The closest I could get was 14. It is recommended that it not to be placed on top of a glass top stove. So we used a propane burner hence the cause of the dial be 14 instead of 13.

    The jar that didn’t continue to boil internally we placed in the fridge after it cooled we will use it tomorrow.

  12. MK says

    I am but a noob but I would assume you didn’t leave a 1inch head space in your jar. I use the Ball Canning Instructions and it relates this information. And it also states you are to leave the weight on while it decompresses before you open the caner.

  13. says

    How big of a pressure cooker do you really need? I looked at the one Mavis posted…. How many cans does it do at a time? Is it better to can with a pressure cooker than the canning pots I see at Walmart? We really want to get started on canning, but would only like to invest in the right equipment one time. Thanks!! :)

  14. Demarie says

    I just bought a pressure canner with the intent to can my own salmon and such. I was then told it was really bad to use it on my stovetop because I have electric coils. Is this true? I was told to get a outdoor single flame burner to pressure can with. HELP!

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