A pressure canner is a valuable food preservation tool that every serious homesteader should own. I often get asked which make and model is the best to get started with. Over the years I have used two different canners, the All-American and the Presto. Both of these are serviceable units that will get the job done. Both have their pros and cons. Here is my opinions on each unit.
The All-American pressure canner is by far my personal favorite. It is the “Cadillac of canners”. Its made of heavy duty cast aluminum, and has double thickness on major wear points. It is a much sturdier unit than the Presto. The most important advantage that the All-American has is that it doesn’t have a gasket. The first time you run it at the beginning of canning season, you simply run a light coat of petroleum jelly around the lid. Put the lid on and tighten down the clamps and your ready to go. This design gives you a perfect seal every time, not something always archived with units that use a rubber gasket. Gaskets also fail and need to be replaced. If your gasket fails and you don’t have a replacement, you’re out of business. For this reason alone, this canner is wise choice. The center mounted handle is very handy and easier to use than the side mounted handles on the Presto. The only downside to this unit is the price. It is substantially more expensive than Presto. It will last you a lifetime, so if you can afford it; its a pretty good investment.
This is the canner I grew up using. We canned thousands of quarts of food with model. This unit has been around forever and it works. The best thing about the Presto canner is that it is very inexpensive when compared to the All-American. If you are short on cash and your budget won’t allow for the higher end unit mentioned above, I would not hesitate to purchase this one. Yes, it has a gasket. So order a couple spares and put them away (Link to Gasket). The fact is, if cost is preventing you from buying the All-American; this unit will get the job done. Until I got married (my wife came with an All-American) this was the only canner I knew even existed. It is a perfectly good unit and a very cost effective way to get started pressure canning.
The Bottom Line
Both of these units will pressure can thousands of jars of your harvest and last a long time. My personal favorite is the All-American but budget minded homesteaders shouldn’t hesitate to purchase the Presto. It’s not as fancy and requires extra gaskets but will get the job done at a fraction of the cost.