A New Boat Canner
My new 20qt pressure canner came in yesterday. Wahoo!
Back in the days of a sunny little house on land, I used to own a GIANT 41.5 qt All-American pressure canner. I loved it, because the lid was friction fit so you never had to deal with the gaskets in the cheaper pressure canners, and the cavernous interior meant you could do ALL of the canned tomato sauce, or smoked salmon, or beans, or meats, or what-have-you, in a single batch.
The All-American was so large, I learned to group canned goods by processing time in order to fill up the canner. Meats and beans, for example. At sea level, in pint jars, both categories require 75 minutes of processing time at 10 psi pressure.
The Granite Ware 20 qt is puny in comparison, but enormous compared to the 7 qt Presto I’ve been using for pressure cooking.
Why I Like a Big Canner
I like the large canners. I think they are uniquely useful on a boat, especially the boat of a gourmand such as myself, lol. Stowage is not as difficult as one would think–because the pressure canner is large, you use it less frequently, to produce larger batches of canned goods more efficiently. This means you can fill the big container with other rarely used items, and stick it in some remote corner of the boat until you need it again. The Granite Ware is big enough, with thin enough sides, to be put to use for steaming whole crabs and lobsters, or hosting a beach-side low country boil, or making monstrous vats of soup, or serving a punch bowl of Roman orgy proportions.
So, I say get a big pressure canner, if you, like us:
- Travel to remote places.
- Host BIIG get-togethers.
- Would willingly live on crab and butter (with an occasional squeeze of lemon for a scurvy prophylactic.)
- Hunt, gather, fish–and preserve the excess.
- Have friends who like your cooking.
- Cook dishes using your canned staples to save on propane.
- Prefer to have easy meals canned in advance for periods of watch-standing, rough weather, sickness, or just lazy days.
- Have limited refrigeration, no freezer, and/or a strict energy budget.
- Avoid dealing with aluminum cans and trash when out.
- Occasionally donate food to charity or bring food to events, and require a vat-like pot which conveniently seals for transport.
- Have ninja stowage skills.
Resources for Pressure Canning
USDA Home Canning Guide The wonderful wonderful thing about government-funded research: access to the resulting publications are FREE! (Anyone who has ever tried to do proper literature searches without being affiliated with a university which has paid through the nose for subscription access, knows the wallet pain of the alternative.) Download the USDA Home Canning Guide and have all the information you need.
Troubleshooting Pressure Canning: Overlooking the ‘survivalist’ bent, this is actually a great checklist for diagnosing (or identifying, for the nervous beginner) the pressure canner
The recipe book packed with your Pressure Canner.
Kindle Unlimited or Digital Access to your local library.
Healthy Canning website: A wealth of information. Feel free to wander.
Serious Eats–Pressure Canning Whole Tomatoes: I love Serious Eats, I’m a superfan of J. Kenji Alt, and I particularly like how their processing recipes account for how to minimize waste.
Selecting a Big Pressure Canner
This one is mostly based on the size of the cooker on your boat. I have a gimballed two burner Hillerange stove/oven. The Granite Ware is twelve to thirteen inches in diameter at the base, and fits nicely across the two burners. If I set the flames at 2/3, they extend just to the edge of the canner (as a rule, efficient use of a combustion cooktop requires the flames be inside the outer edge of the pot or pan). The larger the canner, the more water is needed to fill the canner with steam, the more heat is lost (as a function of surface area), and the more heat must be supplied to maintain the canner at the appropriate temperature and pressure.
- Using a measuring tape, measure the space between burners from approximately the estimated location of the outer edge of the flames. (The vast majority of marine cooktops are propane.)
- Compare this measurement to each pressure canner’s listed dimensions.
- Note that most pressure canners have similar dimensions per stated capacity, but some are meant to have two racks of pint jars and may be taller but narrower. You may be restricted to a single burner if you select one of those.