Pressure Canners vs Pressure Cookers (Cooking Mysteries Solved!)

If you are a Facebook friend of ours you may have seen us posting occasionally about using our pressure cookers or canning meat. Inevitably the question gets asked “What’s the difference between a pressure cooker and a pressure canner?”

Don’t worry, two years ago we didn’t know either!!! I’ve answered a few of our most commonly asked questions in this short video that should help take the mystery out of pressure cooking and pressure canning for you.

 
In case you can’t view the video, try clicking here or read the summary below. (I go into more detail in the info below as well)

What is a pressure cooker?

A pressure cooker is a tightly sealed pot that uses steam under pressure to cook foods very quickly. It is extremely useful if you are trying to rotate through your long term food storage as it makes cooking beans, rice, and wheat very quick and easy. Once you start using it you will find that many of your slow-cooker meals and regular meals can be made in the pressure cooker and turn out even more delicious and cook so fast! Meat is very tender when pressure cooked, and vegetables can be steamed and retain more nutrients. It’s a fantastic kitchen appliance.

What is a pressure canner?

A pressure canner is used to can low-acid foods such as most vegetables, meats, and beans. Traditional water-bath canning only gets the foods as hot as boiled water, which is not hot enough to properly preserve these types of foods. By pressure canning you can increase the temperature it is processed at high enough to kill bacteria, etc. Learning to use canned meats can open up a whole new world of shelf stable recipes you can make using only your stored foods. And canning them yourself brings the price down dramatically. You will also find the convenience of having cooked meat straight out of a can is great for days you need a “quick dinner”. And home-canned meats are delicious!

Can a pot act as both a pressure cooker AND canner?

This info is from one of our facebook friends: According to USDA, a canner must be able to hold at least 4 quart jars, and have a gauge or weight to allow you to measure 5, 10, and 15 lbs. pressure. The size is important because a bigger canner takes longer to come to pressure and cool down again, and that time is factored into the processing time they give you. Complete USDA canning times and recipes are available at the National Center for Home Food Preservation, at www.uga.edu/nchfp. However, I believe that any pressure CANNER can also be used as a pressure COOKER, it is just a matter of whether or not you want to use such a huge pot to pressure cook something. My Presto Pressure Canner says right on the box “Pressure Cooker / Canner”.

What is the difference between an electric and a traditional pressure cooker?

An electric pressure cooker plugs into the wall, only has two pressure settings, and does not need to be attended to. You simply select high or low pressure, and the amount of time you want to process it for. Once the time is up, you either let the pressure come down naturally or do a quick pressure release. The method you use depends on your recipe. For day to day use an electric pressure cooker is AWESOME. A traditional pressure cooker sits on your stovetop like a regular pot. You must bring it up to pressure and keep it at the right pressure so it is not safe to leave your kitchen while it processes. One benefit of a traditional pressure cooker is that it can be used in a powerless emergency if you have a gas stove.

What Pressure Cooker and Pressure Canner Do We Recommend?

We love the Cuisinart Electric Pressure Cooker and the Presto Pressure Canners. You can read more about them at our Online Store. We have found some great prices at Amazon.com so definitely check them out if you are going to get one. (sometimes Costco has the electric pressure cooker on sale for cheaper, so if you see it there, grab it!)

Want to see our Pressure Cookers and Canners in action?

Check out the following helpful posts:
How to Pressure Can Ground Beef
Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup in the Pressure Cooker
How to Make Baby Food With a Pressure Cooker
Using a Pressure Cooker to Eat a “Food Storage Diet”

AND, next week on the blog we are going to be covering “How to Pressure Can CHICKEN” and “How to Pressure Cook Fabulous Beans”

  • katline hunt

    Amazon has the best pressure cookers. Need a discount code? Just google Azon Deal Digger – They have a gold box on the site that will spit out a percentage off of any product that you enter (just type in pressure cookers). Really neat and I use it all the time and save big.

  • Angela

    Hi–I am new to canning. Thanks for the suggestions on canners. I am also looking to purchase a new stove. Is it better (easier) to can on a gas or electric stove. I remember my mother-in-law having to adjust her gas stove all the time when canning for fear that the pressure was rising too high. I will be a “fair weather” canner. I want it to be as easy as possible for me to be successful.

    • http://foodstoragemadeeasy.net Jodi and Julie

      Having the ability to adjust is a good thing since you want to be at the right pressure :)

  • Mallory

    Are there any pressure canners that are electric? Or any electric pressure cookers you can use to can meat?

    • http://foodstoragemadeeasy.net Jodi and Julie

      You need a canner to can the meats. I haven’t heard of an electric one! Dang

  • Joan

    I haven’t used a pressure cooker yet. I looked at your link to pressure cookers at Amazon. The description says the Cuisinart electric pressure cooker has settings to brown, simmer, and saute. However, the pressure cooker that interests me is the Fagor 670040230 3-in-1 cooker at Amazon. This pressure cooker in addition to being a pressure cooker also functions as a rice cooker and a slow cooker.

  • Joan

    I haven’t used a pressure cooker yet. I looked at your link to pressure cookers at Amazon. The description says the Cuisinart electric pressure cooker has settings to brown, simmer, and saute. However, the pressure cooker that interests me is the Fagor 670040230 3-in-1 cooker at Amazon. This pressure cooker in addition to being a pressure cooker also functions as a rice cooker and a slow cooker.

    • http://foodstoragemadeeasy.net Jodi – Food Storage Made Easy

      Joan, it’s true mine has settings for brown, simmer, and saute. I don’t typically use those features so I didn’t mention them. I will say though, you can cook great rice in the pressure cooker and it cooks faster than a rice cooker. And I have literally replaced my slow cooker with the pressure cooker. Everything I used to do in the crock pot turns out better and so much faster in the pressure cooker. Now if you WANTED to cook in the morning and leave it all day, I’m not sure if the cuisinart could do that. Maybe someone else has an idea. If you get the Fagor let us know how you like it!

      • Grandma Lori

        I’ve done rice in the pressure cooker. Worked great, and was faster than a rice cooker. I always forget to start the rice in time.

  • Joan

    I haven’t used a pressure cooker yet. I looked at your link to pressure cookers at Amazon. The description says the Cuisinart electric pressure cooker has settings to brown, simmer, and saute. However, the pressure cooker that interests me is the Fagor 670040230 3-in-1 cooker at Amazon. This pressure cooker in addition to being a pressure cooker also functions as a rice cooker and a slow cooker.

  • http://foodstorageplus.blogspot.com jessica

    Great post! I actually just bought a 23-quart Presto pressure canner/cooker earlier this week, and used it the first time yesterday! It’s my understanding that a pressure canner can be used as a cooker, but a cooker cannot be used as a canner. It’s not just a matter of size, but also the way it distributes heat (or something like that). I chose the 23-quart over the 16-quart, because the 16-quart cannot process quart jars in the water bath. Like you said, I don’t want two big pots.

    • http://foodstoragemadeeasy.net Jodi – Food Storage Made Easy

      I water-bathed quart jars in my 16-quart pressure canner, but I just looked in my manual and it said not to. Yikes. It seemed like there was enough water to cover it just fine. I need to find out more about this. I really want to get the 23-quart one now as I loved doing 20 pints at a time. You can’t water bath two layers of pints though. Ugh, I can’t decide what is the best to keep on hand! It’s nice to have two cookers going at once to save time too. Too many choices :)

      • http://foodstorageplus.blogspot.com jessica

        The Ball Blue Book says that when doing water bath canning you need 1-2 inches of water covering the jars. So if you can cover your quart jars in the 16-quart pressure canner, I’d say that you’re safe. But what do I know? I agree there are too many choices!