How should an All American or other aluminum pressure canner be stored?
I bring this up because I scored my second All American Pressure Canner on craigslist earlier this week. The previous owner, Marv, purchased the All American 921 in 1992 for $69.99. He then stored it in the original box with the warranty card, owner's manual, and racks. It appears that it was used once and then tucked away unused for more than TWENTY YEARS!
Twenty years!? The canning racks have some minor signs of less than optimal storage conditions but fortunately the interior of the canner wasn't affected.
The proper storage of items that need to be tucked away when not in use is important. Why? Because improperly stored items can be damaged while unused.
Getting Ready to Store
- Wash and dry the base.
- Wash and dry the lid without submerging the gauge in water.
- Check that there isn't any food or debris blocking the vent pipe. If the vent is blocked, the debris can be carefully removed with a pipe cleaner. Be careful not to damage the vent pipe by gouging it.
- Wash and dry the canning rack(s).
- Maintain the metal-to-metal seal with olive oil. Apply a light film of olive oil to the top and bottom of the metal-to-metal seal.
- Check if the wing nuts are turning smoothly--add a drop of olive oil on the threads if not.
- Place a dish towel in the bottom of the canner and put the canning rack on top of the towel. If you have two racks then place a dish towel between the racks too.
- Place a dish towel across the top of the base and place the lid inverted on top of the towel.
- Weighted gauge(s). The weight can be stored on the towel in the canner. Honestly I have a special place that I tuck the weights away as it would be a bummer to loose or damage one.
- Storage location. Up and away from any moisture. Damp garages, near cellar walls, on a concrete floor are not great places to store aluminum. Select a dry location and if necessary provide additional security by storing the canner on top of a old towel. It's key to keep moisture at bay!
- The first step is prevention. Add a couple tablespoons of vinegar to the water before each canning session. Then wash and throughly dry the canner after each and every use.
- Vinegar cleaning method: Add water to canner up to the level of the discoloration and add 1/2 cup of vinegar per quart of water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Wash and dry.
- Cream of tartar cleaning method: Add water to canner up to the level of the discoloration and add 1 tablespoon of cream of tartar per quart of water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Wash and dry.
Dial Gauge Reminder
If you have a dial gauge pressure canner, the gauge should be checked every year. If you have a brand new or new to you dial gauge canner, the gauge should be checked before using for the first time.
Keep in mind that lovely number the hand on the dial is pointing to is the only indicator that adequate pressure thus temperature has been attained and maintained in the canner.
If you have an All American Canner the dial gauge is only for reference. But, the dial gauge should show within 2 pounds the pressure set with the weighted gauge when it jiggles. If this is not the case--it's time to replace the dial gauge.
If your canner has a 'rubber' gasket, be sure it's in good working order. It shouldn't have cracks or breaks or appear dried out. Order a new one if required.
Overpressure Plug Reminder
Check the condition of the overpressure plug. If it is hard or cracked then it is time to replace it. Officially, the overpressure plug should be replaced annually. Overpressure plugs are intended for one and only one blow out. If the overpressure plug has an unknown history, for example the 921 I just bought used or if it has blown out due to overpressure--it should be replaced.
With proper care and storage a canner should should years! Check the All American owner's manual for more information.
Be safe and eat well.
Please be aware of acceptable modifications (University of Wisconsin-Madison Extension PDF, May 2015) that can be made to a home canning recipe--keep in mind that not all modifications, even popular ones are safe!
If you are ever in doubt regarding safety, be sure to check a reliable resource. Even recently published books might contain recipes that are not suitable for safe home canning
- USDA, National Center for Home Food Preservation, Complete Guide to Home Canning (2009 version)
- Check out university extensions (these are just a few):
- Order a copy of So Easy to Preserve from the University of Georgia. $18.00 shipping included has everything you need to be a safe home canner.