Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Presto vs. All American Pressure Canner

Well - I've had a year to use my All American canners and I am ready to give a review!  I bought my All American's at Lehman's on a trip to the States last year.  I've had a 23 quart Presto for many years so after that much time I have some opinions!

Each time I bought a canner I had a hard time deciding which size to buy.  Bigger?? Smaller?? What's the most practical?  Over time I have learned that there are good reasons for each canner and each size.

I'll start with the 23 Quart Presto.  I was able to order it though Home Hardware for around $150.00.  It wasn't far from home so I didn't have to pay shipping.  I hadn't even laid-eyes on a pressure canner in real-life before I ordered it so it was rather a blind choice based somewhat on internet reviews.  No one I knew in real-life pressure canned so I was on my own to figure it out and learn.  I remember how scared I was at first - ha ha!!  I've heard from many others who had the same experience and left the canner in the closet for a year or two before they screwed up the courage to try it.  Hasn't  everyone heard a story about a canner exploding all over the ceiling???  I'm sure it might be possible but if you follow the rules and let the canner de-pressurize before you open it - its IMPOSSIBLE!

My 23 quart Presto holds 7 quarts or 14 pints if you stack them in two rows.  It depends a little on the size of the pints - some older ones are slightly different sizes.  As far as I know this is the biggest size that Presto currently sells. The 16 Quart Presto holds 7 quarts or 9-10 pints. In comparison to the All American it's not too heavy - even when it's full.  It's safe to use on my glass top stove - or any other stove for that matter.  Mine (exactly as pictured except not as clean - or shiny) has a gauge and a weight and apparently you can get a "jiggler" for it.  I'll explain that later.  The seal which needs to be replaced every few years has held up for over 6 years with no problems. 

The down side of my Presto - I wish it was bigger.  If it was just a little taller you could double stack quarts in it - this of course would double your output. I also have trouble with keeping the pressure steady when I use it on my electric stove.  Up - down - waaaay up- waaay can't be more than a few steps away from it the whole time.  I've gotten used to it.  I would guess it would be more steady if it was on a gas stove due to the constant heat as opposed to the cycling nature of the electric stove.

The Presto has served me well and I expect to use it for many years to come.

My All American are absolute brutes.  I bought the canners at Lehman's for about $400.00 because I didn't want to pay shipping - they are very heavy!  I ones I bought hold 14 quarts and 19 pints - meaning you can process twice as much at a time as the Presto!  When I stood in the store second guessing my decision on which sizes because I was dazzled at the choices to buy - I chatted with a few women who were also looking at them.  I asked their advice hoping they would steer me in the right direction.  One woman mentioned that she didn't have help at home (no daughters or family) so she was happy with the smaller canner.  That seemed to make sense for her.  I debated for quite awhile but finally decided to GO BIG OR GO HOME.  I got two model 930 - 30 quarts.  All American's come in many sizes - there are is one size even bigger!!
All American's don't have a gasket.  They are metal on metal so there's nothing to wear out.  Closing the canner takes a little practise - you tighten the knobs a little at a time as you go around the canner so the lid stays level.  AA's also have a "jiggler" - that's what I call it. It's actually a regulator and it releases the pressure a little at a time so the pressure stays where it's supposed to.  Once you get the temperature right you don't have to fiddle with it like the Presto.

AA's can NOT be used on glass top stoves - they are too heavy.  I have a Chef King double propane stove - it's definitely my favourite "stove" for outdoor use.  I also have two kerosene canning stoves for indoor winter use.

So what's MY favourite?  By far the All American's.  I like to can lots at one time but I usually have help.  It depends a lot on what I am canning.  Some items require more preparation.  Canning 14 jars of most things wouldn't be too much in my home!  The quality can't be beat - they are heavy duty and are built so you can hand them down to your kids in your will - if they aren't tired of canning before then!

If cost is a factor - and when ISN"T it - I would buy the Presto first and save up for the All American to be purchased at a later date.  I have NEVER seen one for sale second-hand but if that option opened up I would be careful.  The gauge can be damaged and then the pressure would not be correct. I have still not been able to find a place in Canada where you can take the canner to have the pressure checked - if anyone knows please post it below in the comments.  

Pressure canning is a huge leap forward in being able to preserve your own food and make huge inroads into your food storage. You can process meat, soups, low acid vegetables and everything has ONLY what YOU put in it - no chemicals or preservatives - no impossible to read ingredients.  Healthy and delicious and FUN too - and I promise the canner won't blow up!  What'cha waiting for????


  1. Good stuff...I have been a bit paralyzed into inaction by the very things you mentioned. I think I will give the Presto! a go and see how things work out.


  2. A reviewer on Amazon said that she was unable to get the guage checked, so she called the company and they told her how to do it herself. Hope that helps?

  3. I've used both and agree with you--All American is hands-down the best and worth the money. Here's my review and why I think AA is the best:
    It's not just the size and the jiggler that make the difference (in my book) but also the one-piece construction (no handles to break) and gasket-less style (no gasket to wear out, no flanges that get bent.)

    Here in the states you can get your gauge tested at the county or state Extension office. There are a couple websites/videos that tell you how to do it:

    Welcome to pressure canning! I LOVE it--most of my canning is now pressure canning.

  4. Well, theis is a kick in the pants. I have a brand new Presto 23 qt canner in the closet. I bought it in February. Time to stop being chicken, I suppose.

  5. What about the Mirro? I've just replaced the one I've had for over 40 years with another one. I much prefer ones with the jiggler!

  6. I looked for the information on checking gauges for a long time; thankfully I found this: She says to go to a radiator repair shop! She explains a little more in the post (at the bottom.) This is a relief for us Canadians!

  7. My girl friend bought a huge AA, but then never used it. I took it and put it thru its paces. It was the first time I pressure cooker canned, and it was great. I returned hers to her, helped her learn how to use it, and ordered one for myself! The gasket-free design is wonderful. I know that this is well made and could be used under dire circumstances on an outside cooker or in a fire pit. It's made to last!!

  8. A friend bought an AA pressure canner but never used it. I borrowed it, learned how to use it (easy peasy) and returned it to her. I taught her how to use it and she uses it quite a bit. I ordered one of my own. Glad to have this solid state canner, knowing it can be used on an outside cooker or even a fire pit, should circumstances require. Love it.

  9. Hey - has anyone use their BBQ for the AA pressure canner???

  10. Hi there,

    Thanks for all the notes, it's really helped!

    I'm wondering though, if the All American canner can double as a simple water bath canner for things like apple sauce and jams?

    Thanks again!

    1. Absolutely! I've done this! It is super heavy though

  11. I don't want to scare anyone but I have seen numerous presto cookers "blow up".

    What happened is I blew the gasket out. I love the presto for making popcorn. I didn't realize that what I was doing was getting the rim and the gasket greasy. I did not realize what was going on so I sent it to Presto for evaluation. They shipped it back with the explanation.

    So in the meanwhile I purchased a new one. I now use the old one strictly for making popcorn, minus the gasket.

    As to a gasket lasting 6 years one of these days you will have a gasket blowout. They get brittle over time and are less streachy. That's when they blow.

  12. Erin the AA can be used as a water bath canner, but the problem is that it will be very heavy to lift. Once you take the jars out of the water you can ladle water out of it. I have used it for that and it works wonderfully.

  13. Thanks for your post. I think for now ill buy a presto from the home hardware down the road. Down the road I will upgrade to an AA but I will save up for it.


  14. Thanks for your Post...

    I have just been looking into different kinds of starting storing my own food.. but pressure canning looks the most difficult.. lol I live in Peterborough Ontario how could I find out the pressure I would need to cook and the weight.. sorry for the silly questions but I really have no Idea what I am

    thanks in advance

  15. If you think the pressure gauge is iffy, simply buy another one. They're not overly pricey and easily available online.

    To determine the pressure weight for your area, check online for your area's altitude (height from sea level). Anything up to 1,000 ft takes 10 lbs pressure, above that is 15 lbs pressure. Below 50 ft is 5 lbs pressure. The new round weights for the AA canner have all the weights built into one. Just note that you'd need the specific vent for it rather than the one that came with older models.

  16. my wife and I would agree....the AA is the top of the line for pressure cookers. We have a wife puts petroleum jelly (Vaseline, very,very light coat) around the rim before sealing...makes it a LOT easier to get off at the end of the cycle.

  17. I have had my AA for about 10 years and I have maybe used it 3 to 4 times a year to can different batches of stuff. I have the 21 quart, so I have had to can in 2 batches. However, all of a sudden, my canner won't seal properly. I went to the forums and have cleaned to metal ridge with 0000 steal wool. After all this, I still can't get a proper seal again. So, I paid 300 $ plus taxes 10 years ago, so 30 $ a year. Roughly 10 $ a batch.

    I am disappointed. A commercial grade machine should have a better yield considering the household uses a have put it through.

    Has any one else had this problem? What did you do to remedy the situation?

    Hélène from Moncton

  18. I have had an AA for many years. At times it hasn't sealed properly because the lid wasn't level. Now I check that the gap at all the wingnuts is the same and it always seals.

  19. i live in toronto i can't find out what pressure to use on my presto @ 76m sealevel. anyone know?