This post will explain the reasons why a steam canner is the best thing to happen to the preserving world since Napoleon offered a reward to anyone who could preserve food to feed his soldiers afield. Read on for the list, Wildflowers!
29 Reasons Why You Should Be Using a Steam Canner
- Canned food is healthier than store bought.
- Steam canners cut canning time in half, if not more.
- Thus, steam canners make eating healthier FASTER.
- Steam canners use 2.5 quarts of water while a pasta pot with a silicone trivet needs about 4, and a traditional canning pot needs 8 or more.
- A steam canner weighs, WITH the water and lid, 8.75 pounds. A pasta pot (and NOT a heavy, high quality one at that) with water weighs 16 pounds, and a traditional canning pot weighs over 35.
- Steam canners use less energy.
- Steam canners, when empty, are really lightweight– they are aluminum!
- Steam canners are ideal for someone in a wheelchair, recovering from illness or surgery, or who cannot lift a heavy pot.
- Steam canners have only been approved for about a year by the USDA and National Center For Home Food Preservation- you trendsetter, you!
- They are ideal for those living in an RV.
- Steam canning is versatile– you can preserve half pints all the way up to quarts! Pro Tip: No steam canning a half gallon or pint-and-a half: those jars are too tall!
- Steam canning is ideal for those using solar power.
- It is great for those on a budget– one pot replaces the need for a canner with a rack, a jar lifter, a saucepan for simmering the lids, and a lid lifter. You don’t need any of those with a steam canner! Get the Steam Canner Equipment List HERE!
- Home canned food saves money and steam canners make it faster to can…so you save time AND money.
- Those who are short on time will love a steam canner. They cut total canning time in half if not more, so if you are busy you you’ll love the simpler process and shorter total time..
- They are ideal for short cook time, short process time recipes. That means that if you choose a recipe that takes very little prep and cook time (like carrot pickles, pickled pearl onions, strawberry preserves, etc) then you REALLY save a lot of time by using a steam canner. If you are canning a slow cook, multi ingredient tomato sauce and you don’t care about saving energy or water, well then a steam canner might not seem that amazing. If you ARE cooking a quick cook recipe- you’ll be done in about 20 minutes- or even less!
- They are ideal for people living below 7000 feet elevation. In water bath canning, you have to add 5 minutes of process time for every 1000 feet you live above sea level. That means that if you are canning at 7000 feet above sea level, then you would have to add 35 minutes to your processing time. You’d also probably know, since you live there, that you’d have to add time to the brownies baking in the oven and all kinds of other cooking tasks. For steam canning, that means that you’d only be able to can recipes of a 10 minute or less processing time. That’s because steam canners can’t be boiling for more than 45 minutes. For a point of reference, Boulder, CO is at about 5000 feet elevation, Telluride, CO is at about 8000 feet, and there’s about 100 small towns above 7000 feet in America, mostly in Colorado and some in New Mexico that fall in the over 7000 feet category. Canners who live there wouldn’t find a steam canner that useful.
- They are ideal for tiny home living– no jar lifter, no big speckled canning pot…just one pot requiring just 2.5 quarts of water.
- They are great if you are conserving water.
- They are awesome if you have dietary restrictions. Canning allows you to preserve your own foods with exactly what your diet calls for and nothing else. You can make ketchup with no artificial ingredients, no high fructose corn syrup, no processed junk, and can it in a steam canner. Same goes for applesauce, pickles, jam, jelly, pickled veggies, salsa….
- They are awesome if you are busy. Water bath canning doesn’t take all day the way most people think but it does usually take an hour or more to make a batch. Steam canners make the prep time significantly faster because you don’t have to wait for a HUGE pot of water to boil.
- Steam canners are amazing for summer time canning. Summer and Fall are the times most of us can things like fresh tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, dilly beans, salsa, apples, stone fruit, and canning in the summer can be REALLY hot. It’s hot out and water bath canning requires a giant pot of water to be boiling….and boiling….and boiling. Not everyone has AC, and that means you want to can and get it done ASAP so you don’t sweat to death. Steam canners use WAY LESS boiling water, and the whole process is over WAY FASTER so you can count on your kitchen staying much cooler.
- Steam canners are better for your hair and makeup. When I’m water bath canning, the steam factor in my tiny, walled-in, weird little kitchen is nuts. Yeah, it would be cool to have an open floor plan kitchen with some great ventilation but until then, I have a stuffy little kitchen. Water bath canning creates a ton of steam- way more than a bathroom during a long, hot shower- and I know I end up looking like I’ve been on a rainforest trek afterwards. And I live where it is NOT HUMID. Thanks for that, Pacific Ocean…I don’t know what my canning comrades in the humid parts of the country do…melt? Never dry out? The steam canner uses the steam INSIDE the pot to can foods in jars and then the overall experience leaves me with hair that’s not plastered to my head and makeup that hasn’t slid down my cheeks. It’s amazing.
- Steam canners have a cool little thermometer on top to tell you when it is safe to start the processing time. The dial indicates when enough steam has built up inside it to be hot enough to start your processing time- you don’t have to get a thermometer and try to measure it yourself.
- Steam canners are not scary. Really, NO kind of preserving is scary, but I can totally understand why a person might think a pressure canner is kind of scary. Pressure canners (which kind of look like a steam canner) use a lock, they are rather heavy, and use PRESSURE to build up much higher temperature and preserve foods that are LOW ACID. If you want to learn how to can ocean fresh tuna, or cream of broccoli soup, you need to learn how to use a pressure canner and let me tell you- they are awesome. But a STEAM CANNER is just a lightweight lid that sits on the pan- there’s no lock, or mysterious gauge, or threat of a lid blowing off the top volcano-style. I swear, every person that’s come to my blog has a grandma who has told them a horror story of some pressure canner explosion. A STEAM CANNER won’t have an explosion. It just has 2.5 quarts of water simmering in a pan. That’s it. No pressure. Get it? Pretty punny, right?
- Steam canners are low maintenance. A pressure canner can’t be stored outside in a garage where temperatures fluctuate, and have to be checked by a your cooperative extension office routinely. A steam canner could live in your RV storage compartment, in a garage, and doesn’t require calibration.
- You should use a steam canner if you have never canned before. They are easy for a beginner, require you to have fewer specific utensils, and use water bath canning recipes which are high acid=foolproof. You can use a water bath canning cookbook exactly the same way with a steam canner- you’d cook your preserve (your jam or salsa or whatever) fill your canning jars, and set them on the steam canner rack. You would put the lid on, turn the burner on, and when the dial indicates that you are at the right temperature, you’d start the timer and use the same process time as the recipe indicates, adjusting for altitude of course.
- You should use a steam canner if you HAVE water bath canned before. If you have used the regular boiling water bath method, you’ll be able to appreciate the time advantage, the weight advantage, and the ease it affords you. Those newbies won’t know how good they have it using a steam canner first! You’ll find it a rad addition to your repertoire, and you’ll quickly see which recipes really expound on the next-to-nothing prep time the steam canner offers.
You should use a steam canner because I made a super helpful 2 page PDF that you can read from your phone or tablet or computer OR print off and have right next to you in the kitchen. I tlists the equipment you need as a beginner to start steam canning AND a fact sheet to refer to about what steam canning IS and IS NOT. Grab it completely free, right here!
Want to see more about why a steam canner is NOT the same as a pressure canner? Watch the YouTube video right here, and if you think it’s valuable, be sure to like the video (give it a thumbs up!), & subscribe!
I’ll be sharing videos there more regularly too- can’t wait to see you there!
Melissa Keyser says
Did I read on your facebook page that the USDA has now ‘approved’ the use of steam canners? I’ve wanted to try one for a long time- and bonus, my new kitchen sink faucet isn’t big enough to fit my canning pot under to fill up, so that would be the way to go!
They were approved in late 2015! They are the hot ticket girl!