Date: May 1989 (Reviewed June 1996)
Source: University of Minnesota
To prevent the deadly poison botulism in low acid foods, such as vegetables and meat, you must can them in a pressure canner. If you buy a used canner, make sure it is an up-to-date model, and has the manufacturer's booklet with it. If it is a brand no longer made, do not buy it due to the problem in finding replacement parts.
A pressure canner is a heavy kettle, strong enough to contain steam under pressure. You can clamp or lock down the cover to contain the steam. It is designed to heat foods at temperatures higher than the boiling point under steam pressure. It must have accurate pressure control to regulate the amount of steam pressure at 5, 10 or 15 pounds. There are two types. One type has a dial gauge; the other has a weighted pressure control. The dial gauge is attached to the canner cover. The weighted pressure control is a separate piece. It is put on the vent pipe after the canner is filled, closed and vented.
The canner lid cover is fitted with a safety valve, a petcock you can open or close to permit exhausting (venting) or a steam vent pipe. The canner must have a rack to hold jars off the bottom of the canner.
On most pressure canners, rubber or rubber-like gaskets keep steam from leaking out around the cover. Remove and replace gaskets as needed; you may reverse some after a while to ensure a tighter seal. Replace a worn, stretched or hardened gasket with a new one. Replacements are available at most local hardware stores or household appliance centers. You can also order them from the canner manufacturer.
If you have further questions, please contact your county office of the NDSU Extension Service.
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