Gauge testing: It’s time for a canner check

May. 16, 2013 @ 06:42 PM


If you are going to be pressure-canning summer’s bounty, it’s time to dust off the canner and check it out before you need it. Faulty equipment can result in failed seals and/or unsafe food products. So, it’s best to not wait until the beans are picked to assure you have equipment in good operating order.

The plugs and gaskets of all pressure canners should be checked for good condition — soft and flexible, no cracks or tears. You might need to replace them about every 2 years. Check all openings to be sure they are free of calcium build-up and not blocked. Use white vinegar and pipe cleaners to remove build-up. Other than that, weighted-gauge canners need no other checking. For hot water bath canners, make sure there is no rust on the inside of the canner or the rack.

Dial-gauge canners, on the other hand, need to be checked for accuracy each year before use and mid-season if doing heavy canning. For free testing of Presto brand only gauges while you wait, call the Granville County Extension Center at (919) 603-1350 in advance to schedule an appointment. Then, bring your Presto gauge or lid to the Extension Center (208 Wall St., Oxford) for testing. Or, feel free to drop off the gauge or lid at any time for testing later. If you have concerns about the canner, bring the entire canner with you. Unfortunately, we do not have the correct equipment to test any brands of gauges other than Presto. Call the manufacturer of your gauge to see how the company can assist you in having it tested.

If you are thinking about buying a pressure canner, keep in mind that a weighted gauge will give you less flexibility in choosing p.s.i., however, it does not ever need to be checked for accuracy or replaced. Also, pressure and hot water bath canners are not to be used on flat-, smooth- or ceramic-top ranges, per manufacturer recommendations.

The Extension Center has a wealth of information on canning, freezing and drying. Please call or visit for any food preservation information including canning/freezing instructions, processing times and solving processing problems. Email: Or you can find the answers to your questions any time of the day or night online at:

• National Center for Home Food Preservation:

The Can It & Freeze It Workshops will be held on June 18 and 25, from 6-8:15 p.m., at the Granville County Extension Center. The cost is $5 for both sessions and registration/payment is required by June 13. You will find info at: or call (919) 603-1350.