Beginner's Canning: Two things you must know first before you get started canning and that is...

This is a Pressure Canner and...

this is a Water Bath Canner

What's the difference between a PRESSURE CANNER & A WATER BATH CANNER?

I've received lots of questions about pressure canners and water bath canners.

Before you run out and buy a ton of food to can, you must first understand that with canning there are two main methods used to can food: 

Pressure canning & Water Bath canning.

Some foods can be canned using the water bath method and others must be canned using a PRESSURE CANNER - NOT to be confused with a "pressure cooker."  


The Water bath method is just a big pot you use to can food by boiling (processing) jars of food in it.
So, food goes into a jar, the jar is sealed with a lid and then placed in the big pot of boiling water deep enough that the jars are covered with water and is then boiled for a certain period of time. 

Each food has it's own required time to process (cook or boil) in the water bath and the size of the jar you use will also determine the time it will take to process.

Generally HIGH ACIDIC foods, such fruits, jams, jellies, tomatoes, and pickling can be done using the water bath method. This is because BOTULISM cannot survive in an acidic environment, i.e, pickles, pickled vegetables, pickled peppers. 

But it can survive in a non acidic environment. Here's were a pressure canner comes in.

Pressure canning elevates the temperature high enough to kill any scary bacteria, that boiling water alone is not hot enough to do. PRESSURE CANNERS use a little bit of water. Typically 2-3 inches, because STEAM is used to process the food. 

And according to today's standards, many VEGETABLES should be canned using a PRESSURE CANNER (not a pressure cooker, but a PRESSURE CANNER). 

Yes, I know my mom and our great aunties only used the water bath method years ago and some still do. I'm not writing this article to knock or argue about the "Old School" way. I'm writing to show you the difference between the two.


The pressure canner is used for vegetables that are classified as "low-acid" foods, such as meats, poultry, potatoes, vegetables, and NAVY BEANS. Since we eat a lot of them, you need to know, they're on the PRESSURE CANNING list. 

Canning books, recipes will inform you as to which method you should use. 
You can also get this information from the USDA they have a chart. You can also get tons of information from your local county extension office. Call them. Take advantage of your tax dollars. They have TONS of information, brochures, etc. on all kinds of stuff.

Now, with that said. I hope I didn't scare you. I don't want you to feel intimidated. Canning, is not an overly complicated process. You just need to take the time to learn the steps. 
Some people say things, like, "I'm afraid the pressure canner will blow up!" So, they won't use a pressure canner.  But, when they learned to drive, they didn't say, "I'm afraid some body's gonna hit me, or I'll run somebody over."? No. They learned how to operate the car.
Anyways back to pressure canners.

Pressure canners range in price from about $67.00 at Walmart to over $200.00 at specialty shops or hardware stores.

They are great investments, if you take care of it, it will probably out live you and your grandchildren.

Don't say you can't afford it. Take advantage of Walmart's lay-away and get a pressure canner.

You can also, buy a water bath canner (big black enamel pot) at Walmart (they need to pay me for all this free advertising they're getting). They go for about $18.00

So that's the difference between a pressure canner and a water bath canner. 

p.s. You can use a pressure canner to do water bath canning, but you CANNOT use a water bath canner do do pressure canning.