Pros: dependable, durable, safety features, weight, easy to clean, good manual with clear instructions
Cons: heavy, bulky, parts service, cannot be used on smoothtop range due to size
Home canning of foods can be done in one of two ways. The first, boiling water bath, is used for high acid foods like jams, pickles, and fruits. Low acid foods like meats, soups, stews and vegetables require pressure canning using a pressure canner. A pressure canner should not be confused with a pressure cooker. While a pressure canner can be used for cooking and pressure cooker cannot be used as a pressure canner. The reason for this is most pressure cookers are not large enough and they only have one pressure setting (Abt. 15 lb pressure). A pressure canner has multiple pressure settings with 10 lbs pressure being the most used setting at under 1,000 feet sea level.
What I wanted: I have canned for over 30 years most of it high acid foods. I decided to buy a pressure canner when my husband started talking of eliminating one of our freezers. Upto that time high acid foods were froze. I wanted a pressure canner so I could continue to put up as much food as I had in the past in the event we decided to eliminate one freezer and I wanted to save freezer space. The prospect of broading the scope of what I could preserve with the aid of a pressure canner was very appealing. As a long term canner, I knew it was more cost effective to run a large batch in a full canner. The canner must run the same time whether there is three jars in it or a full load. The larger the load the greater the savings. I wanted the largest pressure canner I could find. I wanted to buy locally as pressure canners are quite heavy so shipping charges would be high. I wanted a pressure canner that I would be able to buy parts for since I knew the gasket and regulator would eventually need replacing. I wanted a pressure canner that would stand up to almost weekly use. I wanted a pressure canner that performed at the proper pressure. I also wanted a pressure canner that could double as a boiling water bath canner.
What I bought: I bought a Mirro Pressure Cooker/Canner 22 Quart (20.8 L) Model 92022. Full capacity is 36 half pints (125 ml) or 20 pints (500 ml) or 16 wide mouth pints (500 ml) or 7 quarts (1 L) jars. The canner is aluminum. The lid has a removable gasket. The pressure regulator is selective 5 PSI, 10 PSI or 15 PSI. Safety feature include a reusable overpressure plug, safety window and safety locks on the lid.
Why I bought: This pressure canner was on sale at Canadian Tire. I looked at it several times and did a lot of online research as well as looked at other stores for pressure canners. The online research was positive and I was confident this pressure canner would meet my needs. I was limited by brand choice as in our area Mirro is the prevelant brand for pressure canners.
Performance: The first thing I did after unpacking the pressure canner was to read through the manual. The manual is very clear, easy to read and all safety precautions are in bold print. After re-reading the section on pressure canning, I set up the canner for a dry run. A dry run is operating the canner with jars filled with water only. I did this for two reasons. First this was a way to get acquainted with the entire pressure canning process. Second it was a way to determine the burner setting for the weighed regulator to be rocking at the right pressure. So I filled 20 pint (500 ml) jars with boiling water and put the lids on. I placed half on the bottom rack added the second rack and placed the remaining jars on the rack. I added 2 1/2 quarts hot water plus 1 tbsp vinegar to the canner. I turned on the burner to high and locked the lid into place without the regulator on. Once steam started coming out of the vent, I vented for 10 minutes then placed the regulator at 10 PSI onto the vent. I processed at 10 PSI for 20 minutes, the timing it takes for soup stock. The control was kept at a gentle rock during the processing time. When the time was up, the canner was removed from the burner and allowed to cool. Cooling took about 40 minutes. After cooling, the lid was removed and I lifted the jars out to continue cooling and check for seals. Now this sounds like a lot of work just to see how the canner functions but it is an important step before using a pressure canner for processing food. All of the above steps must be followed accurately as all from venting to cooling are parts of the entire canning process and must not be skipped.
The dry run gave me valuable information for canning foods. The critical information was the burner setting required to get the weight rocking gently not vigorously. Learning the timing and switching to the next step when the timer dings was useful as well. I also discovered just how heavy this canner was especially will filled. It is very, very heavy!
I run the canner under pressure two to four times a week during peak canning season and an average of once a week the rest of the year. I can various vegetables, kidney beans, brown beans, soups, stews, meats, stocks, mushrooms, sauerkraut, and some tomato products in the pressure canner under pressure. Under this kind of use, the pressure canner has performed wonderfully. I have no complaints with respect to performance. I did have to replace the regulator which is normal. I called Mirro and was told they don't sell parts but they directed me to the company they outsource parts to. After sitting on hold for 15 minutes, I hung up and found an online source for the regulator. Other than that, Mirro's customer service is helpful. I called them to clarify how much water to add to the canner and to see if the canner could be used on a smoothtop range.
I found that by removing the gasket and leaving the regulator off the canner will double as a boiling water bath canner for things like fruits, jams and pickles. This is nice because canners are quite large so anytime you can get double function out of cookware it saves valuable storage space. I run the canner under non-pressurized conditions an average of two to four times weekly during the heavy canning season.
A note on the above averages, these are guestimates. The canner often runs a lot more. For example I'm running the canner today non-pressurized for apple pie filling and tomorrow non-pressurized for cranberry claret, apple jelly and port wine jelly as well as under pressure for venison, beef, chicken, beef soup and chicken stock. So in the period of 2 days the canner will run twice under non-pressure and two to three times under pressure.
There is little to do as far as maintenance for the canner. Before using check the vent tub to make sure it is clean. Clean-up is a snap especially if the canner is used for canning only. Always add a little vinegar to the canning water to prevent water stains in the canner. After each use, remove the gasket and wash in hot, soapy water. Rinse and dry then put back into the lid. If there is any food leakage, wash the canner with soap and water, allow to dry thoroughly then store. Do not store with the lid in place. The outside is shiny and will get water marks on the lid and sides during the canning process. The best thing I've found for removing these marks is straight vinegar. I just moisten a cloth with vinegar and wipe the marks away.
What I like: Surprisingly, the weight of the canner is both a pro and a con. The weight means the canner is very durable and will last years with proper maintenance. The heavy weight makes the canner difficult to move from the burner especially when filled to capacity. I've heard of people wanting to can outside but I certainly would not recommend using this canner under those conditions. It is simply too heavy. I like that the gasket is removable making it possible to use the canner under non-pressurized conditions.
General comments This canner can double as a pressure cooker for large batches of food or even pressure cooking a turkey. I would not cook anything acidic in it because it is aluminum and acidic foods could cause aluminum to leach into the food. This canner should not be used on glass or ceramic or smooth stovetops due to the size and weight.