Water Bath vs Pressure Canning: Is There A Difference?

Water Bath Canning vs. Pressure Canning
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Water Bath Canning vs. Pressure Canning

Water Bath vs Pressure Canning

When you are planning to prepare and can foods to store, it can be hard to decide which kind of canning would work best for you and your situation. There are two of the most popular forms of canning we compare in this article; water bath vs pressure canning.

While both of these methods will maintain and prepare your foods for months to come, they are very different. For example, water bath canning requires no other equipment and tools aside from the jars and a pot of water, but pressure canning requires a pressure canner which is not the same as a pressure cooker.

In this article, we are going to discuss what water bath canning is and what pressure canning is so that you can see the similarities and differences.

Water Bath Canning

Water bath canning only requires a few simple things:

  • A large pot or a stockpot
  • A rack to go in the pot
  • Jars
  • Prepared food

To use the water bath method to can, you must simply boil some water in the pan, put the prepared foods into the cans, and allow them to boil in the water by placing them on the rack. The temperature and time of cooking will differ depending on what food you are cooking and how much of it you would like to prepare.

Pressure Canning

In order to pressure can, you need more expensive and pricey equipment and tools such as the following:

  • A pressure canner
  • Cans
  • Prepared food

A pressure canner is not the same as a pressure cooker, but it is a heavy piece of canning equipment that has various parts such as a vent, a gauge, and clamps. It cans the food at a temperature that is higher than boiling temperature so it allows you to can food faster than in a water bath.

What Kind of Food is Best for Each Method?

One of the most important things to be knowledgeable about is the fact that not every food works well for both methods. For example, low acid foods have to be processed in a pressure canner because they cannot be safely processed in a water bath canner.

This is because the bacteria cannot be killed at simply boiling temperatures, but it requires a higher temperature to kill off all of the unhealthy bacteria. When the cans sit on the shelf afterward, if the bacteria are not fully killed, spores can form and become unsafe to eat.


Overall, while both the water bath method and the pressure canning method achieve the same results, they do have a lot of differences. The water canning method is a lot less costly, but it does take longer. On the other hand, the pressure canning method is faster, but it does require more expensive equipment.

Whatever method you choose to use, make sure that you use the proper foods that can be safely prepared with that method. You do not want to end up with unsafe food products sitting in your pantry.


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