Pressure Canner -- Weighted Gauge vs Dial Gauge
I'm considering purchasing a pressure canner. A little internet exploring shows that there's a 16-qt. pressure canner with a weighted-gauge pressure regulator available for about $63 http://www.walmart.com/catalog/product.do?product_id=5913467#Features+%26+Specifications . There's another canner, same size, same manufacturer (Presto) with a dial gauge available for about $20 more http://www.amazon.com/Presto-01755-Pr... . Is the dial gauge worth the extra cost? Is there a compelling reason to purchase a canner with a dial gauge? Some of the reviews on Amazon.com suggest that the dial gauge isn't necessarily accurate. On what basis should I choose one of these? Thanks.
I am wanting to can for the first time (aside from helping my mom make jam with a pot of water once) and I can see myself getting seriously into canning all kinds of things! As far as pressure canners go, what is the best kind, the weighted or dial kind? Also, in doing a little reading on the net, theres been mention about altitude adjustments. I live in Alberta, just a few hundred Kms from the Rockies, so that will also have to weigh into the debate on variety of canner as well, I assume. Any advice would be greatly appreciated :)
(just googled my elevation and it's 705 meters/2313 ft above sea level)
I went through the same thing you are. Additionally, I have a glass top stove (ugh!). After much research, I bought the 23 quart Presto on Amazon. I am very pleased with it. It has a dial gauge and I've read the same things you have about reliability of them and need for yearly testing. So, I went on the Presto website and spent about $15 to buy the three-piece weighted gauge that you use instead of the gauge that comes with the Presto. You leave the dial on but don't pay attention to it. It appears that my dial is correct but who knows how it will be next year. Dials, right out of the box, can be off by several pounds in either direction. The ONLY downside with the three piece weight is that you basically have a choice between 10 pounds or 15 pounds pressure. If you live at an altitude requiring only 12 pounds of pressure, you must use all three rings, giving 15 pounds pressure. That's what I have to do. I knew nothing about pressure canning as of March. Now, I feel very confident and have pressure canned hundreds of jars of meat, chicken, sauces, etc. I don't know how much canning you plan on doing, but the Presto 23 quart will hold 16 pints. I wouldn't fire it up for fewer than eight jars.
Hope this helps and feel free to ask more.
I did end up buying the 16-qt. weighted gauge canner, and it worked just fine. Altitude is not a problem where I live, so the weights work well for me. I'm able to get just the right heat for it with my new gas cooktop. (I had a very old glass cooktop before, and could never have managed the heat adjustment with that.) I feel like there's a whole new world of culinary adventures waiting for me as I try out my new "toy".