Choosing a Pressure Canner: Presto vs. All American (with Video)

Presto canner pros and cons, All American canner pros and cons
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When you find yourself ready to take the plunge into pressure canning, you'll quickly discover there are two high-quality pressure canner brands out there: Presto and All American. While both types of pressure canners work very well, they are also quite different from each other. Which one should you choose?

First, a Word about Pressure Cookers

Before I begin discussing the pros and cons of Presto and All American pressure canners, it's important to note that it is not safe to pressure can food in a pressure cooker. That's right: Pressure cookers are not the same thing as pressure canners. I discuss this difference and why a pressure cooker isn't safe to can in (no matter what the manufacturer might claim), in this article, which I urge you to read.

Presto Pressure Canners
Presto's 23-quart pressure canner.


A Presto 23-quart pressure canner was my first pressure canner, purchased approximately 14 years ago. It's served me extremely well and I still use it today. The reason I chose a Presto was mostly price. There's no doubt Presto is a lot cheaper than All American (but don't stop reading here; there are reasons Presto is less expensive). I was able to buy mine at a local store that periodically puts them on sale for a price very close to the price they sell for today on Amazon. (Currently, price on Amazon is about $77.)

I chose the 23-quart version of the canner because I wanted to maximize how many jars I could can at one time. By purchasing an extra rack to go inside the canner, I can do a double layer of pint jars. In other words, I can place the rack that the canner came with on the bottom of the pot, add 8 narrow mouth pint jars, place the additional rack on top of those jars, and then add another 8 jars on top of the second rack.






Presto pressure canners are made from aluminum that is sturdy enough not to warp, but still light to pick up. They rely on a sealing ring or gasket to function properly, much like the very popular Instant Pot (which, to be clear, is not safe to use for pressure canning). Periodically, you should rub a little olive oil on this gasket, to help keep it in good condition. It also needs replacing periodically...though not often. I think I've changed mine once in the entire life of my Presto. Still, it's important to have an extra gasket on hand because old ones go bad suddenly, and you don't want to be in the middle of canning and not have an extra on hand.
Presto's dial gauge.

Prestos also rely upon a dial gauge to tell you how much pressure has built up in the canner. To can food safely, this gauge must be checked and calibrated every year by your local extension office. Because I didn't want that hassle, I purchased a rocker gauge (also called a pressure regulator) for my Presto. This allows me to ignore the dial gauge and use the pressure regulator to determine the pressure inside the canner. (You can read more about how this works here.)



All American Pressure Canners
The most popular sizes in All American pressure canners.


All Americans are also made from aluminum, but of a heavier gauge. The entire build of an All American is top quality, making Prestos look and feel cheap in comparison. Some people find the extra heft of the canner off-putting, but as long as you set the canner on the stove and then fill it with water (and empty the water by scooping it up with a ladle or jar when you're done canning), it shouldn't be much of an issue. (It's also worth noting that the All American calls for considerably less water than a similarly-sized Presto.) If you can outside on a camping-style burner, you'll want to ensure it's heavy enough to handle an All American.

I chose a 25-quart All American in part because I like that capacity (19-pint jars, double stacked). The All American in this size comes with two racks, so you don't have to purchase a second one to safely double stack jars. Another reason this is a good size for most people is that it isn't too big to fit on a conventional stove. Some electric stovetops just can't handle the weight of a bigger All American, especially when loaded with jars.
All American's use a metal-to-metal clamping system.

The reason I chose an All American as my second pressure canner was this: I don't have to worry about a gasket going bad. That's because All Americans use a metal-to-metal clamping system. It can make the canner look like some ancient, weird contraption, but it means that I never need to have an extra gasket on hand, which makes my canning more self-reliant. (Just as the Presto gasket needs occasional oiling, so does the metal rim of the All American. Otherwise, the lid may be difficult to open.)






In addition, All American pressure canners come with a pressure regulator; there's no worry about calibrating a dial gauge. (Like the rocker gauge for the Presto, the All American rocker gauge is suitable for 5, 10, and 15 psi. All Americans also come with a dial gauge.)
All American's come with a "rocker gauge."

But the heavier aluminum, the extra rack, the no-gasket system, and in the in-place pressure regulator do mean a higher price tag. Currently, the 25-quart All American is about $299 on Amazon. I am a frugal person, and it took me a long time to come around to thinking that price was worth it. For at least a year, I looked for a used All American, but there just weren't any available in my area. (NOTE: If you do buy a used pressure canner, it's wise to take it to your extension office for a check-up to make sure it's safe to operate.) I also looked for sales; nope, none. So I saved my money and bit the bullet. To me, it was worth it in order to be a bit more self-reliant.

Watch My Video to see Details

Pros and Cons of Presto vs. All American

To summarize...

Presto Pros:

* Affordable
* Parts (including extra gaskets, racks, and rocker gauges) are readily available and reasonably priced
* Lightweight
* Works great
* Comes in two sizes: 16 and 23-quart
* Safe
* May be used as a water bath canner simply by not locking the lid


Presto Cons:

* Gasket requires periodic replacing
* Dial gauge requires yearly calibration
* Racks for double stacking are an additional purchase
* A rocker gauge is an additional purchase
* Not suitable for outdoor gas burners over 12,000 BTU’s

All American Pros:

* Will last at least your lifetime
* Parts are readily available and reasonably priced
* Basically maintenance free (just keep it clean)
* Works great
* No gasket to replace
* Dial gauge isn't necessary
* Rack for double stacking included
* Pressure regulator (rock gauge) included
* Comes in a wide variety of sizes: 10, 15, 21, 25, 30, 41-quart
* Most sizes work well with outdoor gas burners
* Safe
* May be used as a water bath canner simply by not clamping down the lid

All American Cons:

* Price is considerably more
* Heavier than Presto
* The largest sizes are not suitable for electric stoves and if you have cabinets over your stovetop, you'll want to measure to be sure you have enough clearance for the larger sizes


Either brand will serve you well; it's just a matter of what your priorities are!



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