Learn how to set up your canner, the parts, and how to care and maintain it for years of safe, reliable canning. These easy steps serve as a simple guide to using a pressure cooker or canner. In the post, I'll explain setting up and maintaining a new pressure canner. These instructions are not intended, however, to be a substitute for the manufacturer's instructions which accompany your pressure cooker model.
Getting to Know the Parts and Functions of a Home Pressure Canner
PRESSURE DIAL GAUGE
The pressure dial gauge registers pressure in pounds per square inch or PSI. The pointer moves around the dial indicating the pressure within the unit. The pressure is controlled and maintained by adjusting the heat setting on your stove.
The pressure regulator acts as a safety device to prevent pressure in excess of 15 pounds from building in the canner. The pressure reading is registered on the pressure dial gauge.
The vent pipe is the primary pressure relief valve and will release pressure in excess of 15 pounds. The pressure regulator sits loosely on the vent pipe.
AIR VENT/COVER LOCK
The air vent/cover lock automatically vents, or exhausts air, from the canner and acts as a visual indication of pressure in the canner. The small gasket must be in place for the air vent/cover lock to seal completely.
The locking bracket on the inside of the canner body engages with the air vent/cover lock to prevent the cover from being opened when there is pressure in the unit.
The sealing ring fits into the canner cover and forms a pressure-tight seal between the cover and body during canning and cooking.
The black, rubber overpressure plug is located in the canner cover. It will automatically pop out and release steam in case the vent pipe becomes blocked and/or clogged and pressure cannot be released normally through the vent pipe.
The canning-cooking rack is placed in the bottom of the canner to hold jars off the bottom of the unit while canning. The canning-cooking rack must always be used when canning.
Before you Use the Canner for the First Time
1. Remove the sealing ring by simply pulling it from the sealing ring groove.
2. Wash the cover, body, and sealing ring with warm, sudsy water to remove any manufacturing oils. Rinse all parts with warm water and dry.
3. Replace the sealing ring in the sealing ring groove, making certain to fit the ring under the stop tab located on the inside rim of the cover.
4. The sealing ring is prelubricated. The cover should open and close easily when following the instructions.
5. Check the air vent/cover lock in the canner cover to be sure the two pieces are screwed together securely.
6. Attach the dial gauge to the canner. This video will show you how.
Maintaining a New Pressure Canner
Maintaing your canner will help ensure you are canning safely and help you avoid accidents and injuries.
- It is normal for the inside of the canner to discolor. This discoloration, which is not harmful, is a result of the various minerals in water and foods interacting with the aluminum. To remove this discoloration, use a solution of 1 tablespoon cream of tartar for every one quart of water. Pour enough solution into the canner to cover the discoloration, make sure the canner is not filled more than ⅔ full. Close the cover securely, place the pressure regulator on the vent pipe, and heat until the pressure regulator begins to rock. Remove canner from heat; allow to cool until air/vent cover locks drops. Remove the regulator, open canner, and empty contents. Scour thoroughly with a soap impregnated steel wool cleaning pad; wash, rinse, and thoroughly dry.
- Pitting is caused by the interaction of aluminum with other metals in the presence of moisture.To minimize pitting, wash, rinse, and dry the canner body thoroughly after every use. Additionally, at least once a year, scour the inside of the canner body with an abrasive cleanser, such as Cameo* Aluminum & Stainless Steel Cleaner. Always store the canner in a dry area.
- Never leave an empty canner on a heated burner or allow canner to boil dry. This can cause damage to the canner bottom or stovetop.
- Don't strike the rim of the canner body with any metal utensil as this will cause nicks which may damage the rim and allow steam to escape.
- If the canner body or cover handles become loose, tighten them with a screwdriver
- Avoid pouring water into a dry, overheated canner as this may crack the metal.
Pressure Dial Gauge
• Do not submerge the pressure dial gauge, allow it to come into contact with liquid, or subject it to freezing temperatures.
• The pressure dial gauge needs to be checked for accuracy prior to each canning season and if any of the following conditions exist: cover has been submerged in water or dropped, parts are rusty, pointer is not in the “0” block, or if you believe the gauge may not be accurate. If you are unable to have your gauge checked locally, carefully remove it, wrap securely, and send to the Presto Consumer Service Department . An accurate gauge is necessary to help prevent food spoilage and possible food poisoning.
The video below will show you how to change the gauge if necessary. Amazon carries a large variety of gauges when it's time to replace yours.
Sealing Ring and Overpressure Plug
- Each time the canner is washed, remove the sealing ring and wash in warm, sudsy water, rinse, dry, and replace in cover.
- The sealing ring and overpressure plug should be replaced at least every three years or sooner if the sealing ring becomes hard, deformed, cracked, worn, pitted, or if the canner becomes difficult to open or close. Failure to replace the sealing ring and overpressure plug could result in bodily injury or property damage.
- Exposure of the sealing ring and overpressure plug to direct high heat, such as a hot burner or stovetop, will cause the sealing ring and overpressure plug to deteriorate rapidly. If this occurs, replace these parts.
- Before replacing the sealing ring, clean the sealing ring groove with a brush, if necessary.
- To clean or replace the overpressure plug, push it out of its opening from the top of the cover. After cleaning, or when replacing, reinsert the plug by pushing the domed side of the plug into the opening from the underside of the cover, until the bottom edge is fully and evenly seated against the underside of the cover. When properly installed, the word (TOP) will be visible on the overpressure plug when viewed from the outside of the cover.
Air Vent/Cover Lock
- The air vent/cover lock may be removed for occasional cleaning or for replacing the small gasket. To remove the air vent/cover lock, grasp and securely hold the cup portion on the underside of the cover with your fingers. Using the fingers of your other hand, turn the pin portion of the air vent/cover lock on the top side of the cover counterclockwise until the pin is free of the cup portion.Lift the pin out of the cover and remove the cup from under the cover. Carefully pull the small gasket off the threaded shaft on the cup portion. Wash all parts in warm, sudsy water. Use a soft cloth or small nylon brush to clean the cover hole.• To reassemble the air vent/cover lock, place the small gasket over the threaded shaft of the cup portion. Reinsert the cup portion by pushing the threaded shaft through the air vent/cover lock opening from the underside of the cover. Screw the pin portion clockwise onto the threaded shaft until it is finger tight. Do not use a wrench to tighten the air vent/cover lock. Overtightening may cause the rubber gasket to wrinkle which will result in the canner not sealing. When the air vent/cover lock is properly installed, the word (TOP) will be visible on the air vent/cover lock when viewing the outside of the cover.
If leakage of moisture or steam develops while using your canner, check the following possible causes:
• The formation of a small amount of moisture under the pressure regulator is normal when canning or cooking first begins. This condensation is a result of the temperature of the pressure regulator being lower than the rest of the canner. If excess condensation continues, the vent pipe may be loose and should be tightened with an adjustable wrench.
• Leakage between the cover and body is usually caused by shrinkage of the sealing ring after prolonged use. Replace the sealing ring and overpressure plug.
• A slight amount of leakage around the air vent/cover lock is normal when canning or cooking first begins. If leakage continues, the cover handles may not be fully aligned with the body handles and, therefore, the cover lock cannot engage.
Clean the air vent/cover lock occasionally to assure that it operates correctly. Replace the small gasket if cracked or nicked.
• A small amount of steam or moisture may be visible around the overpressure plug when canning or cooking begins. This will stop when the overpressure plug seals. If leakage continues, clean, reposition, or replace the overpressure plug
Important: The dial gauge is a delicate instrument that must be handled with care. Do not submerse cover or let gauge come in contact with any liquid. Do not store the dial gauge at temperatures below freezing.
Never operate your pressure canner with continual leakage.
To help yourself understand the operation of the pressure canner, pour 4 cups of water into the canner and follow the step-by-step instructions that came with your canner. Learn more about canning here: Canning 101