Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A Word or More about Pressure Canners for the Wood Cookstove

As I was reflecting a little bit further on my post about pressure canning on the wood cookstove, and as we are in the height of the canning season again, I wanted to offer a few thoughts about what to consider if a person is going to be purchasing a canner for use on a woodburning cookstove.

In my opinion, one should consider the following three items when choosing a pressure canner for use on a wood cookstove:
a) Choose a pressure canner that has a completely flat bottom.  For quite some time, the only new Presto canners that I saw in stores had bottoms in which the center had a circle approximately the size of the large burner on an electric stovetop.  This center circle protruded slightly from the rest of the bottom of the canner.  This is a good design for a canner which will be used on an electric or gas range for a number of reasons, but this is not a good design for use on a woodburning range.  A completely flat bottom on a canner will ensure the maximum amount of heat transfer from the range top to the canner because the whole stovetop on a woodburning range emanates heat, not just a comparatively small burner.

Last year, I did see new Presto canners with completely flat bottoms, and I believe that the All-American canners have flat bottoms, too.

b) What jar capacity do you desire for your canner?  I've canned with seven different pressure canners over the years, and it seems that many canners hold seven quart jars or nine pint jars in a single layer.  Some canners allow you to have two tiers of jars being canned at once.  This has the potential to double the capacity of your canner.  I sought a canner that was tall, not because I wanted to can two tiers of jars, but because I wanted to be able to pressure can in two-quart jars.  This is no longer recommended by the USDA, so please don't tell them that I do it.  All I can say is that I haven't killed anyone yet, even though I might have wanted to. 

Unfortunately, one must also remember that the flipside of increased canner capacity is increased weight, and this leads us right to the third consideration that one must make:

c) How much will the canner weigh when it is full?  The reason that this is a concern is because when the canner is finished with its processing time, it will have to be removed from the cookstove in order for it to cool and release its pressure.  This means that you have to choose a canner that, when full, is not going to be heavier than you can lift off the stove and carry to wherever you want it to cool.  You can't just turn off the heat of a wood cookstove like you can on other heating devices.  Thus, extra large canners that might be wonderful on a modern range or an outdoor turkey fryer will probably do a fine job of canning on a woodburning cookstove, but will present a huge, heavy, hot, and potentially dangerous problem once the canning time is finished.

If you have experiences--good or bad--with canners and woodburning cookstoves please feel free to share them in the spirit of trying to help others learn by commenting on this post.


  1. Your secret is safe with me! I won't even tell who you have thought about killing!! ha ha lol Ellamae

  2. good tips, I hadn't thought about needing to lift the canner off the stove to cool down. I try to keep up on all the latest canning recommendations-but had not known about not canning in 1/2 gallons-thats a bummer-I think I will continue as well-lol for my juices.
    I did stop canning squash though, cause they said was not safe for home canning-didn't get hot enough in the center of the jar

    1. I've heard that too, but if I can ever get any pie pumpkins to mature before the squash bugs get them, I'm going to can pumpkin again for pies. I like being able to produce and store my own food when I am able.

  3. You can easily deyhdrate your cooked pumpkin for pumpkin pies! Somewhere on the interweb is a recipe. Takes up less space, and just as simple as canned filling. Thanks for the info and the blog, I'm enjoying reading it!

    1. Kari, I've never heard of drying pumpkin. We've got a dehydrator here, so thanks for the heads up. Thanks also for your kind words about my blog! Glad you stopped by.