Why I Am Breaking Up With My Presto Pressure Canner

For about four years now, I have used and recommended the Presto 21 quart canner. It has saved me money and has seen an incredible amount of use.  But it is time for the relationship to end.

I have canned thousands of jars with my Presto 21 quart canner, and I have loved it.

It works – it works well, in fact – and I have happily recommended it to many people.

A lot of my readers are using a Presto pressure canner on my advice, and I stand behind that. It’s a good canner, and if you want to get started with pressure canning without spending a lot of money, it is a great pressure canner to buy.

However, as we pursue self-sufficiency (and yes, that’s a bit of misnomer), and as we adjust to live on our off-grid homestead, we have realized that some things just don’t work for us anymore.

The Presto pressure canner is one of those things. It’s really hard for me to admit that, but it is time for me to break up with my Presto pressure canner.

The problem isn’t with the canner itself. As I said, it works, and it works well. The Presto 21 quart pressure canner is lightweight, easy to use and inexpensive to purchase. There is no serious learning curve and, once you have an extra canning rack and a weighted gauge, it is extremely easy to use.

There is no doubt that the Presto pressure canner is the absolute perfect pressure canner for beginners and it can be darn useful or experienced canners, too. And Presto’s customer service is amazing. When I dropped my lid and was concerned about safety, they checked it out with their engineering department and assured me I was safe.  When there was a problem with my pressure lock, they sent me a new one free of charge. I thought that that was awesome.

Oh, there are so many reasons to love my old canner.

The problem is that pesky rubber gasket and overpressure plug … and our location. It’s the little things that break up a relationship, and that’s true here, too. (So, yes, it’s you, Presto, but it’s also me.)

I replaced the current one in September, when the gasket started leaking air just as the corn was ripening.

I ordered a new one and replaced it. The one I removed was only a year old. No one wants to have their canner stop working in early September. Although “canning season” is all year round, there are some times that are more intense than others, and September is one of those intense times.

That’s when you start making calls and order from the company that can get it to you fastest.

If you’re wondering why I only order one at a time, it is because I asked Presto about it and they were clear that the gaskets are not intended to be stored more than six months. They do NOT store well on the shelves. It was a long conversation. In the end, they convinced me. Don’t buy more than one gasket/plug set at a time because they break down in storage.

It is time to end my exclusive relationship with my Presto pressure canner

So the problem is that this canner, which I love using and rely on for our food storage, is made with a part that needs replacing fairly often and with no warning. (Note: some people report gaskets and plugs working for years.) Worse, the part must be ordered when needed since it is not intended for storage. Place the order, wait … and then go pick it up.

That can be a problem for us since we frequently have times when we can’t get off the mountain.

Like right now – with well over four feet of snow piled up in February and March, it is now melting and causing terrifying sinkholes to form along our dirt road. We aren’t going anywhere for the next little bit until things dry up. So even if I ordered a gasket/plug today and it was rushed to our post office, I have no idea when I’d be able to pick it up. Getting one from Home Hardware would be no better because we’d need to drive the hour into town.

Today I was getting ready to write a post on canning homemade chicken soup.

The chickens were killed and cleaned and cooked.

The soup was made.

I put it in my half-pint canning jars and had everything ready to go.

And when I tried to bring the canner up to pressure, the overpressure plug was leaking steam at a ferocious rate. The mister looked and said, “It’s not supposed to do that, is it? It’s never done that before.”

No, it’s not.

We had soup for lunch. And dinner. Lots of soup.

Although I will likely order another gasket, just once more, we are making plans to purchase an All-American pressure canner as soon as possible.

Why? Well, unlike the Presto pressure canner, the All-American pressure canner has no parts that need replacing. Instead of a gasket, it has a metal-on-metal seal. The All-American also comes in various sizes, and the biggest one is HUGE. I checked with one retailer and they said it would work perfectly on the wood stove we’re getting, but that it might not heat up properly on the gas stove.

Decisions, decisions! Do I get the small canner that I can use on the gas stove? Or do I get the huge canner that will hold an incredible 31 pints but will really only work on the wood stove?