Time to Test Your Pressure Canner Gauge

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As we enter into canning season, I am here to remind you that it’s time to have your pressure canner gauge tested. Check dial gauges for accuracy before use each year. Gauges that read high cause under-processing and may result in unsafe food. Clostridium botulinum bacteria are the main reason why low-acid foods must be pressure canned to be safe. Home-canned foods are responsible for over 90% of all cases of food-borne botulism. Low readings cause over-processing.

Pressure adjustments can be made if the gauge reads up to 2 pounds high or low. Replace gauges that differ by more than 2 pounds. Today’s pressure canner may have a dial gauge or a weighted one to indicate and regulate the pressure.

Weighted gauges will either rock gently or make a frequent jiggling noise to indicate if the correct pressure is being maintained.

3-piece Weighted Pressure Canner Gauge

Three-piece gauge

Both work the same way; they are just designed differently. The three-piece gauge is divided into individual weights, each weighing 5 pounds. So, if you wanted 15-pounds of pressure, you would have all three pieces together. Or, you have the gauge that you can turn to the poundage you need and place onto the canner. Read the manufacturer’s instructions to know how a particular weighted gauge should rock or jiggle. Weighted gauges do not require testing.

Weighted Pressure Canner Gauge

Weighted gauge

A dial gauge has a needle that will move to show the pounds of pressure inside the canner.

Dial Pressure Canner Gauge

Dial Pressure Canner Gauge

Where can you get your pressure canner tested? I will begin testing gauges on Tuesdays and Thursdays, May through July, between the hours of 1–3 p.m. in the office. If you need to have your canner tested, sign up at Sign Up Genius selecting the time and date that works best for you. I am able to test the following pressure canner gauges: National, Magic Seal, Maid of Honor, Kook-Kwick, and Presto.

All American – has been selling their pressure canners with both a dial and weighted gauge for each unit. Weighted gauges do not need to be tested. For testing of All-American dial pressure gauges, contact Wisconsin Aluminum Foundry at 920-682-8627.

Replacement parts

Replacement gauges and other parts (e.g., gasket, safety plugs) for canners are often found at stores that sell food preservation equipment or from canner manufacturers. You can purchase parts at your local hardware store. When ordering parts, be sure to provide your canner model number and describe the parts you need.

For the most current information on our programs, like and follow us on Facebook at Rowan County Cooperative Extension, and you can also visit our website. To sign up to have your canner tested, visit:  https://go.ncsu.edu/pressurecannertesting

Toi N. Degree, Family & Consumer Education Agent with North Carolina Cooperative Extension of Rowan County. Toi may be reached by phone at 704-216-8970 or by email at toi_degree@ncsu.edu.