Test Pressure Canner Gauge for Safe Canning

— Written By Eleanor Summers and last updated by

Spring is here and gardens are beginning to produce. It’s time to get canning supplies and equipment checked and ready for use.

If your canner has a pressure gauge, it should be tested for accuracy to ensure safe food processing. Dial gauges on canners should be checked for accuracy and overall condition every year prior to the beginning of canning season.

If you are planning to take advantage of the garden bounty and plan on canning beans, corn, beets and other low acid vegetables, you’ll want to have your pressure canner ready for use. Any low acid foods, like vegetables, meats and some tomato products, need to be canned under pressure in order to reach the temperature required to destroy the disease-causing microorganisms that could be present.

If a pressure gauge is not accurate, it could create an environment inside the canning jar that is not only unsafe but is instead the perfect breeding ground for growing the pathogens. The contamination cannot be seen, smelled or tasted, so the only way to ensure that the food is safe is to preserve it in the correct way.

During the canning season, N. C. Cooperative Extension, Burke Center will test dial gauges against a master gauge, which will determine if your gauge is accurate, if you can compensate for your gauge being off, or if your gauge needs to be replaced. If the gauge reading is off by one or more pounds, you are encouraged to purchase a replacement gauge from a store that sells food preservation equipment or from canner manufacturers.
Weighted gauges (5-10-15) do not require testing, but should be kept clean and rust-free.
Some people refer to these gauges as “rocking” or “jiggle” gauges. Your canner manual gives information on how to monitor the pressure by listening for a certain number of jiggles per minute.

Dial gauge testing is a free service and will begin Wednesday, June 4th. Appointments are requested by calling 828-439-4460 or e-mail eleanor_summers@ncsu.edu.

Canning publications will also be available for you to take home. The National Center for Home Food Preservation at www.uga.edu/nchfp and N.C. Cooperative Extension at http://fcs.ces.ncsu.edu/site-fcs-home-foods/ are reliable resources for up-to-date food preservation information on the Internet.