It has become fashionable in some “Safe Canning Groups” to slag all manuals that come with all pressure canners. The Presto manual comes in for this disregard.
In the category of “a little knowledge can be misleading”, the experts who actually know feel differently.
When asked what she feels about the Presto manuals, Elizabeth Andress, head of the National Center for Home Food preservation said:
I will say that I do know that Presto has current home economics expertise on staff and really supports their home canning efforts really well and they really want to stay in line with USDA and come up with the right thermal processing before they add anything new to their recommendations so to me that’s a good sign there. It has become increasingly difficult to find on staff expertise that really knows and understands home canning with some of the other even major manufacturers so that might raise a little red flag there with you for some of the others that have now been reorganized and changed a little bit about how they do things.” 1
Note as well where the Presto water bath canning recipes come from: they give the credit of, “Recipes provided by Jarden Home Brands, marketers of Ball® Fresh Preserving Products.” The pressure canning directions come from the USDA 2009 Complete Guide. [Note: Presto does leave out some of the raw pack and 5lb choices for fruit — but that’s a quality judgement call that some others make, too.] If there’s a problem with the Ball and USDA recipes that Presto reprints, then we are all in a lot of trouble. You don’t have to take our word for it: call up the USDA guide on your screen, have the Presto manual in front of you, and see for yourself.
It’s not a huge collection of recipes, just some basic ones, and you will definitely want to expand your repertoire with books from other reputable sources. But given its small size — easy to stash in a nook or cranny right by the stove for easy reach — it’s absolutely fine to use to refresh your memory (as you should each time) on processing times for beans, mushrooms, meats, etc.
Presto is a responsible, private sector partner in the home canning world. They were on the advisory board that oversaw the founding of the National Center for Home Food Preservation.
Bernardin provides this information about Presto:
There is a Home Economist on staff. They offer canners, booklets, manuals, repairs and replacement parts. For consumer questions, write to “Home Economics Dept, National Presto Industries, etc”. Canners have either “Presto” or “National” (older) brand name. Consumer questions should go to P.O. Box address –it’s faster.2
The authors of Putting Food By respect Presto as well: “The Presto people have helped fund much research, including the 15-psig research at the University of Minnesota, and work in home-canning of seafood.” 3
So, if you hear self-appointed amateur Safe Canning Police disparaging Presto’s reliability, they are uninformed, and unfair.
- Presto 16 quart (weighted gauge) manual
- Presto 16 quart (dial gauge) manual
- Presto 23 quart manual
- Guide pour Presto-Autoclave-et-Autocuiseur (français)
Andress, Elizabeth. “History, Science and Current Practice in Home Food Preservation.” Webinar. 27 February 2013. At 1:31:45. Accessed January 2015 at http://nchfp.uga.edu/multimedia/video/nchfp.wmv ↩
Hertzberg, Ruth; Greene, Janet; Vaughan, Beatrice (2010-05-25). Putting Food By: Fifth Edition (p. 438). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. ↩