Ready for Home Canning Season? Check Your Canner First

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Home canning low acid foods (foods with a pH of lower than 4.6) like vegetables, meat, poultry, fish, tomatoes, or combinations of these foods require the use of a pressure canner to properly process jars for food safety. Improperly home-canned foods have been known to cause botulism, a severe type of foodborne illness resulting from the toxins of Clostridium botulinum bacteria. The dial gauge on your pressure canner should be checked for accuracy and overall condition every year before you begin preserving foods for the season.

Why Testing Your Canner’s Gauge?

Regular handling, constant use, age, and storage conditions of your pressure canner can affect the accuracy of the gauge and eventually the safety of the foods you want to preserve. If your dial gauge is inaccurate your food won’t reach the proper temperature to kill microbes that can make you sick or cause death.

Brands That Can be Tested


Maid of Honor


Magic Seal

Other brands cannot be tested since we do not have specific information on the gauges and their calibration processes. Please contact the manufacturing company for assistance with other brands not included here and find out whether they offer to test dial gauges and how you can utilize their services.

There will be free dial gauge testing by appointment at our office located at 403 Government Circle, Suite 2 Greenville, NC 27834. Contact the office to find out which models we test. To make your appointment or for any questions about canning or preserving foods, please call Taneisha Armstrong, Family and Consumer Sciences Agent at 252-902-1714 or email at

What to Bring to Your Appointment

Bring your canner lid with its rubber gasket (if it has one) and dial gauge. Do not bring the canner itself unless you have questions about its condition.

If you are in the market for a pressure canner, here are some things to consider while you shop.

Canner, Not Cooker

As you make your selection for a , make sure you are choosing a pressure canner. Pressure canners are also used for cooking, but pressure cookers are not used for canning. Do not choose a pressure cooker or a multi-cooker, like an Instant Pot, as these types of devices are only appropriate for pressure cooking food and cannot be safely used for canning.

Weighted gauge or dial?

Next, you’ll want to consider whether you’d like to have a pressure canner with a weighted gauge or a dial gauge. Weighted gauges offer greater precision and do not require accuracy testing. Dial gauges are accurate +/- 2 pounds per square inch. If you are canning at a higher altitude, a dial gauge will offer you greater flexibility to control and adjust pressure, which may help you avoid over-processing food. Dial gauges will need to be tested every canning season for accuracy, so choose a model that can be conveniently tested as needed.

Weighted Gauge vs a dial gauge.

Can your cooktop handle it?

Lastly, you’ll want to make sure that you can properly and safely can on your stove or cooktop. Sustained heat is necessary for safe processing. Some range tops cycle on and off and cannot be safely used for canning. If you have a flat top range, you should check with the manufacturer to verify whether or not your cooktop can handle pressure canning. The canner bottom should not be more than 1-inch larger than the cooking eye.

For more information on selecting a pressure canner, give us a call at 252-902-1714 or email Taneisha Armstrong, FCS Agent at