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I was recently speaking with a friend on mine about beginning canning and some of the equipment she may need. I mentioned purchasing a pressure canner if she desired doing anything outside pickling or fruits. Not everyone has several hundred dollars to go out and buy the top of the line home canner, nor the good luck to find one second hand at a garage sale, so I suggested the canner I use, the Presto 23 Quart Pressure Canner.
The Presto 23 Quart Pressure Canner is made of polished aluminum, and includes 1 canning rack, a 76 page instruction manual/recipe guide, and can process either 24 half pints, 20 pints or 7 quarts per batch using Regular mouth jars or 16 half pints, 16 pints or 7 quarts using Widemouth jars. (In order to double stack half pints and pints, you will need to purchase a second canning rack).
The instruction manual is very detailed, with several diagrams and specific steps a beginner would find extremely informative and useful. There is a distinct emphasis on food safety, which anyone who will later eat your home canned food will appreciate! While it's always helpful to have a friend or family member instruct you the first time, someone new to canning shouldn't have any problems on their own after carefully reviewing the material.
There are many tasty recipes included in the back of the instruction manual. Not only basic canning recipes like dill pickles and canned peaches, or even a little more advanced meat canning, but one pot entree recipes like "Beef Stew" and "Chicken and Dumplings" as well. YES! You can quickly cook delicious meals in this canner, as it doubles as a pressure cooker, too! Last year we used the "Zesty Salsa" recipe contained in the recipes section. It was a huge hit with family at holiday parties and picnics!
We have had absolutely no problems with this canner. It has worked wonderfully every time. We use ours on a 5 burner propane fueled stove and have processed several batches in one day in the past with it. The seal has remained in great shape, as well as the pressure dial.
***While Presto does make a 16 Quart model, I highly recommend spending a little more for the 23 Quart model. It processes half the amount of half pints and pints as the 23 Quart per batch. Canning can be a fairly long process depending on what foods you're using. It is well worth the ability to double stack smaller jars, which are often used for jams, jellies, relishes and other common recipes.