Pressure Cookers or Pressure Canners? (Answered)

Pressure Cookers Or Pressure Canners
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Pressure Cookers Or Pressure Canners

You may not be as strict as you should be when it comes to following recipes step by step. But when it comes to canning, there are rules and guidelines that must be observed at all times. As an experienced cook or baker, you may be adept at replacing certain ingredients and swapping them with others based on the type of flavor that you are going for.

However, canning recipes are completely different. A change in the recipe or a mistake in the canning process can result in dire consequences. If you can food improperly, it can result in the growth of botulism bacteria that can make you sick or even result in death.

As such, for canning to be done properly, every step and detail of the recipe must be followed to the letter. Canning should also only be done using specialized equipment like pressure canners, as well as recipes that have been tested and tried.

Pressure cookers or pressure canners

If you have ever been confused between pressure canners and pressure cookers, it is quite understandable because a lot of individuals make the mistake of assuming that the two are basically the same thing, but they are not. Traditional cookers as well canners are designed to look similar but the differences are major and should not be ignored.

The differences between pressure cookers and pressure canners

Before you can start the canning process, you must understand what the differences between pressure canners and pressure cookers are. Pressure canners are not similar to pressure cookers but each is designed with an aim of trapping steam.

When the steam is trapped, it causes pressure to build up in the airtight container, which then causes water to boil faster compared to traditional unpressurized pots. This combination of pressure as well as the high temperature is what makes both pressure canners and pressure cookers ideal for destroying microorganisms and cooking food quickly.

Pressure cookers:

  • Usually, feature a heavy pot that comes with a locking lid and a vent that releases pressure and steam.
  • Pressure cookers have knobs to change the pressure from high to low.

Pressure canners on the other hand:

  • Also feature heavy duty pots that also come with a locking lid and vent so as it can release steam.
  • The pot in pressure canners is generally larger to contain the jars of food to be preserved.
  • Pressure canners either have dial gauges or weight gauges that monitor the pressure inside the vessel. These gauges are vital as they are responsible for monitoring the pressure accurately.

Though they have some small similarities, pressure canners and pressure cookers are entirely different. Pressure cookers are used for preparing foods such as meat in a quick and efficient manner. While there are different varieties from different brands, most pressure cookers hold 4 quarts or less.

Pressure canners, alternatively, are utilized for processing low acid foods such as veggies, meats, and fish, as well as high acid foods such as tomatoes and fruits for storage in canning jars. Pressure canners are typically larger and can hold 7-quart jars or 24 half pint jars.

Can a pressure cooker be used for canning food?

Because pressure cookers do not come with pressure gauges (dial or weighted) they cannot and should never be used for canning food. Pressure cookers are simply not as sophisticated as pressure canners are. First and foremost, pressure canners are not designed to monitor pressure or temperature accurately, which is a critical aspect of proper canning.

While pressure cookers may be able to reach a certain pressure, it is impossible to know what amount of pressure has been reached which is why gauges play such a crucial role in canning and food preservation. If the pressure is not met and maintained, then food spoiling bacterial responsible for botulism will not be destroyed, which will leave your food unsafe for consumption.

Another reason why pressure cookers cannot be used for pressure canning is that pressure cookers are generally smaller in size, which makes them inappropriate to utilize. Because they are generally smaller in diameter, it also means that they accommodate lesser amounts of water.

An essential but often underrated step in the canning process involves the heat up and cool down time that takes place inside the canner. Pressure cookers are smaller than standard pressure canners, which means that the heat up and cool down times are considerably shorter.

Even though this difference may appear small, it could lead to under processed food items which will cause dangerous botulism bacteria to grow and survive. Although some manufacturers of pressure cookers claim that their devices can be used for pressure canning, you should never attempt to use pressure cookers for purposes of canning.

Can pressure canners be used for cooking food?

Canners are designed to preserve low acid and high acid foods and they are the only pieces of equipment that are suitable enough for effectively killing harmful botulism bacteria that can cause illness and even death.

It is possible for food canners to be used for cooking but only if the manufacturer specifies that it is alright to do so. If the manufacturer recommends the canner for cooking, you should avoid preparing ingredients that produce bubbles or food items that have a tendency to foam up.

This is because the bubbles produced and the small particles from the food can clog up the vent, which can result in damage that may be irreparable or may be costly to fix. To avoid all this from happening, you should use your food canner strictly for canning and not for preparing or cooking food.

Both pressure cookers and pressure canners have come a long way since your grandmother’s days. Today’s pressure canners and cookers come with an array of in-built safety features that not only make them a lot easier to regulate the pressure and use. In any case, as a general rule of thumb, pressure canners and cookers should only be used for the purpose for which they were designed.

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