Pressure canners and pressure cookers might look the same, but there are some prominent differences between the two appliances that are worth noting if you are to use each device for its intended purpose. First and foremost, you should know that pressure cookers are used for just that- cooking; while pressure canners are used for canning.
Pressure Cooker vs Pressure Canner
What is a pressure cooker?
A pressure cooker is essentially a tightly sealed pot that traps steam under pressure so that food can be cooked quickly and efficiently. Pressure cookers are used to prepare a wide array of foods including tough cuts of meats and legumes and grains, which are all generally considered difficult to prepare over short periods. Once you start using pressure cookers, you will find it easier to prepare your foods quickly while retaining the original flavor of food.
What is a pressure canner?
A pressure canner is used for canning food safely. There are two main methods that can be utilized for canning food, namely traditional water bath canning and pressure canning. However, traditional water bath canning cannot be used for canning low acid foods like some veggies, which leaves the pressure canner as the most expedient choice for most people.
The differences between a pressure cooker and a pressure canner
Pressure cookers are used to prepare food quickly and efficiently. Pressure canners, on the other hand, are used to safely store meats and veggies for later use. Pressure canners are available in 2 types, those that have weighted gauges and those that come with a dial gauge. Although they both work in a similar fashion, one utilizes dial gauge while the other uses weights to control the amount of pressure building up in the canner.
Pressure cookers, on the other hand, are generally available as a stovetop or electric models and because some come with weighted gauges, it can sometimes be hard for the inexperienced cook to distinguish between the two appliances.
Can pressure canners and pressure cookers be used interchangeably?
Unfortunately, pressure canners cannot be used interchangeably with pressure cookers because the two devices are designed for two completely different functions. Pressure canning is a sensitive process that requires the use of exact temperature and pressure levels in order for food destroying bacteria to be completely destroyed so that canning can be done properly.
Although pressure cookers have the ability to reach high temperatures, these high temperatures are not sufficient enough to kill harmful food-spoiling bacteria like botulism bacteria. As such, it is never recommended that you substitute your pressure canner for a pressure cooker as the process of canning will not be done effectively to keep you safe.
Additionally, pressure cookers are not designed to handle canning. If they were exposed to the same high pressure and high-temperature settings that pressure canners are exposed to, they would not be able to function properly and might even explode in dire circumstances. As such, pressure cookers should only be utilized for pressure cooking while canners should only be utilized for the process of food canning and storage.