Family and Consumer Sciences
Test your pressure canner
Spring is in the air and canning season is just around the corner. If you are planning to pressure can this summer, now is the time to make sure your pressure canner is in good condition and the dial gauge is working properly. First, check the rubber gasket that fits around the lid. It should be soft and flexible, not dry, cracked, or brittle. Also make sure any small vent pipes or other openings are clean and open all the way through. You should be able to see light through the vent pipe. Second, get the dial gauge on your canner tested for accuracy before you use it. Every pound of pressure on the gauge is important to ensure that the temperature inside the canner is high enough (240 degrees Fahrenheit) to kill the spores that can cause botulism. If your gauge is reading high, the temperature inside your canner will be lower than expected. Food will be under-processed and botulism could result. If your gauge is reading low, the temperature inside the canner will be higher than expected. Foods will be over-processed. Over-processing is not a food safety issue, but can lead to poor quality canned foods. If testing shows that your gauge is off by just one or two pounds, pressure adjustments can be made during processing to ensure safe, high quality canned foods. Your extension office can guide you in making those adjustments. If your gauge is off by more than two pounds, send it to the manufacturer for recalibrating or replace it if necessary. The safety of your pressure canning process is only as good as the accuracy of your dial gauge. For more information or to schedule a time to have your dial gauge tested, contact us at (859) 873-4601 or firstname.lastname@example.org.