Pressure canners have become a necessity in every home because of the benefits of canned food, fruits, and veggies. Being able to can food helps to preserve food items all year round. Also, with a wide range of canned foods on your shelf, preparing your meals will no longer take more than 20 minutes.
One part of pressure canners that many people find confusing is the pressure gauge. This is why we have decided to discuss it today. The function of the gauge is to measure the pressure inside the pressure canner at any given time.
There are two types of gauges – Dial gauge and weighted gauge. Do you know their differences? You’ll find out the differences here in this article. In addition, we have also answered some frequently asked questions about pressure canner gauges too. Let’s get to the nitty-gritty of the article.
First of all, why do we need to preserve food for a long period? There are several reasons why you may want to preserve your food items. You may be too busy to do grocery shopping every week or every two weeks. So, it is better to buy groceries in bulk and preserve them.
Another reason to preserve food is when you’re planning to go on a vacation, and your budget is tight. One good way to cut costs on feeding is to go with your own food. So, you’ll have to preserve the food for the journey. The third reason why people preserve food is to save costs.
Some foods, fruits, and vegetables are cheaper when they are in season. And their prices will spike when they are offseason. So, it makes economic sense to buy them in large quantities during their season and preserve them for a long time.
That way, you won’t need to buy them during their off-season period. Also, there may be other reasons to preserve food for a long period, but the three mentioned above are the most common ones.
Why is Canning Important?
Of course, there are several ways to preserve your foods, but health organizations recommend pressure canning as the most effective preservation method. Now, this part is a little technical, but don’t worry. We’ll explain it in simple terms.
There are bacteria everywhere, although we can’t see them with our naked eyes. They remain harmless in aerobic environments (an environment filled with air). When you seal your food in an airtight jar, the bacteria will modify and create spores. These spores will produce toxins that will contaminate the food and render it inedible.
Even boiling water isn’t hot enough to kill the spores. They can only be killed by the combination of pressure and high heat found in a pressure canner. So, after canning your food, they can last for months or even years because the bacteria spores in it would have been eliminated.
What is The Function of a Weighted Gauge Pressure Canner?
There are Two Types of Pressure Canners – The dial gauge pressure canners and the weighted gauge pressure canners. Both of them do the same thing, but they have a single difference. As their names imply, the dial gauge pressure canner makes use of a dial gauge to measure the amount of pressure in the canner.
On the other hand, the weighted gauge pressure canner makes use of weighted rings to gauge its pressure. The latter is the focus of this article.
A weighted gauge pressure canner builds pressure in it when it is being heated. The heat and the pressure will kill the bacteria spores in the canned foods that you put into the canner. To explain it further, we have listed the components of a pressure canner and their functions below.
Regulator – This component is the screw-like object on the lid of your pressure canner. It prevents the pressure in the canner from building beyond a certain threshold.
Vent Pipe – This is the hole that the regulator is screwed to. This is the hole through which the excess pressure is sent out.
Cover Lock – This locks up automatically when pressure begins to build up in the canner.
Locking Bracket – This object prevents the cover of the canner from opening while being heated. Not all pressure canners have a locking bracket.
Sealing Ring – This ring fits the groove of the canner, making it pressure tight.
Overpressure Plug – When the pressure in the canner is too much and the vent pipe is clogged, the overpressure plug will release the excess pressure.
Canning Rack – It is placed in the canner before you place the jars. It prevents the jars from coming in contact with the bottom of the canner.
12 Steps Involved in Using a Weighted Gauge Pressure Canner:
To use this device to can your food, you need to follow the simple steps below. Even if you have not done it before, you should be able to use it if you follow the steps.
Step 1 – Put the food you want to can inside some recommended jars and seal the jars to make them airtight.
Step 2- Pour some water inside the pressure canner. When heated, the water will turn to steam that will heat your food.
Step 3 – Place the canning rack inside the canner.
Step 4 – Carefully arrange the jars of food inside the canner, on the canning rack one after the other.
Step 5 – Cover the pressure canner. Turn it clockwise to lock it firmly.
Step 6 – Turn on the cooker. Use relatively high heat at first. Don’t put the regulator and the weighted gauge yet.
Step 7 – Wait until the steam begins to pass out through the vent pipe. Let it go one for about 10 minutes, or the duration stipulated in the recipe. Then you can place the regulator and the weighted rings on the cover.
Step 8 – When pressure begins to build up in the pressure canner, the pin on the cover will pop up, locking it further. Then the regulator will begin to rock. It starts rocking very slowly, then the rocking speed will continue to increase until it starts rocking very fast.
Step 9 – Gently reduce the heat. Keep an eye on the rocking regulator and wait until the rocking becomes steady, you can now start timing it according to the recipe.
Step 10 – When the time elapses, turn off the heat and give it some time to cool down. This usually takes 10 to 15 minutes. Let the pressure gradually come down on its own.
Step 11 – When the pressure drops to a safe level, the pin in the handle will drop down. You can then gently remove the regulator and the weighted rings. After that, you can remove the cover.
Step 12 – Remove the jars and keep them somewhere until they cool too. It is better to leave them overnight. Then, you can come back to remove the rings and check their seal before labeling and storing them.
So, that’s it! The steps are as easy as that. Nevertheless, you should read your manual first. If any of the steps here differs from what you have in the manual, follow the latter. It is usually a better choice.
Precautionary and Care Tips:
In whatever you do, always put safety first. Never rush to open a canner immediately you turn off the heat. The pressure in it may still be high. The hot water may spill out on you. Also, even after waiting for the pressure to go down, don’t put your face too close to the canner when opening it. The steam in it could scald your face.
Don’t fill your jars to the brim. Allow a space of 1 inch at the top. After removing them, it is important to remove the rings and check their seal to be sure that it is intact. Never use cracked jars or the ones with nicks. If you haven’t used your pressure canner for a long time, you need to check the gasket before using it.
You should always spread oil on the gasket before sealing your canner. To lengthen the lifespan of your pressure canner, you should follow all the instructions and directions on the user manual to the letter.
If the safety valve of your canner is blown, do not use it without replacing it. The spare parts of most brands of pressure canners are readily available. The altitude of your location has an effect on the pressure of your canner. The higher the altitude, the lower the pressure.
So, when you’re on a mountain, it will take much more time for pressure to build up in your canner. Make adjustments for the difference. Sudden changes in extreme temperatures can cause aluminum canners to warp or crack.
So, it is always better to allow your canner to cool gradually. Pressure canners sometimes absorb the flavors and odors of the liquid or food items left in them. Don’t leave food or water in your canner for too long.
Tips for Cleaning Your Pressure Canner:
Prepare water and tartar solution. Mix a tablespoon of tartar cream to a quart of water. Fill your canner with the solution. Make sure you pour enough to cover the stain, but it should not be more than two-thirds full. Seal the canner and heat it until the pressure builds up to 10 pounds.
After that, you can remove the canner from the heat and leave it to cool. This should not take more than 3 hours. When it is cool, you can empty it and scour its inner surface with wool and soapy water. Scour it until the stain disappears. Rinse it and let it dry off.
How do I test a pressure canner with a pressure gauge?
First of all, you need to understand that only a dial gauge requires testing. A weighted gauge does not require testing. Now, the question is, why do you need to test the gauge of your pressure canner? It is because dial gauges need to be accurate.
Inaccurate dial gauges can cause quality and safety issues. If your dial gauge isn’t accurate, it can mislead you. If you end up canning a food item at lower pressure unknowingly, this will be a safety issue. The pressure may not be enough to kill off all the bacteria spores in the food. Such foods may not be safe for eating.
On the other hand, if you can your fruits at a much high pressure than required, the fruits may get soft due to overcooking. That is a quality issue. So, your dial gauge has to be accurate. That’s why you need to test your gauge annually.
Of course, a gauge that was once accurate could become slightly inaccurate due to bumps and heavy usage. To test your dial gauge, you have to test it against a calibrated master gauge. The readings of both the master gauge and your dial gauge should correspond. If the difference is up to 2 pounds of pressure, you need to replace your dial gauge.
What is a weighted gauge pressure canner?
It is a pressure canner that comes with a weighted gauge. And what is a weighted gauge? It is a gauge that works with weighted rings. You have to place weighted rings on the gauge to use it. For instance, if the recipe says you should can your potatoes at 40 pounds for 40 minutes. You’ll have to place a 40-pound weighted ring on the gauge while heating the jars of potatoes in a pressure canner.
And when the gauge begins to jingle, start the timing. When 40 minutes elapses, you can turn off the stove and allow your pressure canner to cool off naturally. After cooling off, the lid will unlock automatically. For safety reasons, if the pressure in the pressure canner is high, you won’t be able to open the lid.
What is the difference between a dial gauge and a weighted gauge pressure canner?
The first difference is that the weighted gauge requires weighted rings to be placed on it. And it rocks or jiggles when the desired pressure is attained. On the other hand, a dial gauge has a dial of calibrations and a needle. The needle indicates the current pressure in the pressure canner.
When the pressure in the pressure canner gets to 15 P.S.I, the needle will point at 15 on the dial. The second difference is that a dial gauge requires testing for accuracy but a weighted gauge does not need to be tested.
How often should the weighted gauge jiggle on a pressure canner?
A weighted gauge should jiggle about 1 – 4 times in a minute. If it does not jiggle, it means the pressure in the pressure canner has not reached the desired level. And if it jiggles more than 4 times in a minute, it indicates that the pressure in the canner is higher than the desired pressure. So, you need to turn off the stove and allow the canner to cool down naturally when
A pressure canner is a must-have in every home. You can always use it safely, and it will serve you for several years as long as you follow the instructions in its manual.