Using a Pressure Canner as a Water Bath Canner

Using a Pressure Canner as a Water Bath Canner

So the question today is about using a pressure canner as a waterbath canner. Do you have to have a special pot for water bath canning, or can you substitute a pressure canner if you just want to do a water bath?

Hi, my name is Sharon Peterson, and I am with where you can find canning tutorials, tips, and classes. Join me over there, and I will help you get your pantry filled. 

Question from my inbox:

Dear Sharon, 

I would like to do both pressure canning and water bath canning do I need to buy both or can I just not pressurize the pressure canner and use it like a water bath canner? 

Absolutely! It's very easy to do this and then you don't need the extra pot. Just leave the lid unlatched and don't allow any pressure to build. Then you process it as usual.  

What I like to do is leave the lid slightly ajar. If the lid is locked down, you still might build up just a tiny bit of pressure and you don't want any pressure at all. And absolutely leave off the weights. 

This is very handy because you only need 1 large pot - use it for both pressure canning and water bath canning. 

There's only one slight downside to this, and it's really pretty minor. A water bath has the rack for you to be able to pull the jars up out of the water to hang on the end of the pot. I really appreciate having that rack there.  

I like being able to let my jars rest for a few minutes after the processing time, then pull them up out of the water to rest again above the hot water for just a few minutes more. Finally I pulled them out of the canner and put them on my butcher block top to cool. Doing these steps helps with siphoning or loosing liquid in your jars.  

The other time I like to use that rack is when I want to keep my jars warm. It's super handy to be able to put the rack up above the hot water and put my empty jars in there to stay warm until I'm ready to fill them.

Of course, there are other ways to do both of those steps, so it's really a pretty minor inconvenience. And if you are cramped on space for storing those big pots or if you just want to keep within a budget and only have one pot to purchase then it's really a great option.

Video Transcript - Edited for Clarity

Today's Canning Chat is about a question that I received from Jenny. Jenny asks, "If I just buy a pressure canner, is the pressure canner sufficient to use as a water bath method too? Or do I have to use a special water bath pot? I would like to do both pressure canning and water bath, and I don't know if I need both. I appreciate your advice, and I love your website."

Well, thank you, Jenny, for loving my website. Yes, you can just do a water bath in a pressure canner. There are a couple things to keep in mind. One is you do still have to have your jars covered. Two is you don't want to put the lid on and screw it down. And then three is a water bath rack actually fits in a pressure canner! I wasn't sure, so I checked it, and it does fit. So let me go over all three of those.

When you're doing a water bath, obviously, it's a different type of pot. Your jars are fully covered with water. So your jars are down here, and the water level is above where the jars will be. In a pressure canner, if you're pressure canning, you only put this much water in the bottom. So if you're doing a water bath method, you do still need to put enough water that your jars will be fully covered.

And then you just bring it to a boil like you would with a water bath. You will want to put the lid on, because that saves energy and it keeps the water boiling rapidly throughout your processing time. What you don't want to do is you don't want any pressure buildup at all. I just line up your arrows and set it on top there. You'll notice I did not screw it down. It's not down on all of these latches, so it's not solid. It's not down on there at all because you don't want any pressure buildup at all. If you were using an All American canner, you would do the same thing. You would set it down there, don't pull up your clamps and start locking up all of your clamps. It does have this vent, but just leave it loose so that you know that steam is going to come out and you're not going to build up any pressure at all.

The last one is the rack. You do need a rack under your jars. And as you know, the rack of a pressure canner is just the flat rack on the bottom. When you're doing water bath canning, what I like to do is bring my jars up and use that rack to set on the edge of your pressure canner. And you can't do that if you just have the rack in the bottom. So you'll need to use a jar lifter and lift your jars out of the water carefully. Let them rest at the end of your processing time. Make sure all the water stops boiling. Let them rest five or 10 minutes, and then take them out. The other option is you can just buy a water bath rack, and I would recommend that. I think this makes it a lot nicer and easier. I wasn't sure if these would fit, but this is my standard size water bath rack. My hood is so low, it gets in the way. It fits right in there. And then you can put your jars in there just like you would with your water bath. Lower them down when you're ready to process, and then pull them out when the time is up, and then you can let them rest up above the water in the canner.

Yes, you can use your pressure canner as a water bath. The most important of al that I just said is don't lock that lid down, because then you're going to build up even just a little bit of pressure and it might overprocess your jars. You'll end up with liquid loss, and then that kind of makes a mess. So I hope that was helpful. You guys have a wonderful afternoon, and happy canning. 

Related Pages

Home Canning Questions
Water Bath Canning
Pressure Canning

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