Presto vs. All American pressure canner or how to choose the best canner?

When people look for a quality canner usually the main dilemma is between a Presto and an All American canner/cooker. It’s no surprise that a Presto and an All American model hold the first and second spot in the category on the Amazon bestsellers list. But which one to choose? In this post I’m going to compare the two and hopefully help you choose the right one.

The comparison is made between the Presto 01781 23-Quart Pressure Canner and Cooker and the All American 921 21-1/2-Quart Pressure Cooker/Canner.

all american pressure canner 921The material:
The Presto canner is made from heavy-gauge aluminum, but it’s not as heavy as the All American. The Presto’s shipping weight is 12 pounds. However, the aluminum that Presto uses for their canners is not of the highest quality. It can stain your hands when you hold the handles. The reason for that lies in the fact that Presto has moved their manufacturing to China around 20 years ago and it seems that the quality of the material has suffered from the relocation.
The All American canner is made of durable, hand-cast aluminum. The canners are made in the USA by the Wisconsin Aluminum Foundry. They have manufactured the All American Pressure Canner since 1930. So, the quality is top-notch. Their canners  weight quite a bit and the shipping weight amounts to  24 pounds!

The gauge:
Presto has a dial gauge while the All American has both a dial and a weight gauge. If you decide to buy a Presto you can convert it over to a weighted gauge canner by purchasing the Presto pressure regulator (it costs around $12).
The dial gauge needs to be tested anually. You can go to the County Extension Service. They usually do it with a small charge (or even no charge). If your dial gauge is off a few pounds your food won’t  be processed in the right way. For example, if the gauge is off by three full pounds, you will can low-acid food at only 8 psi while, in fact, you’re supposed to do it at 11 psi. Meaning that your food will be unsafe for consumption and you will risk food poisoning.
The weighted gauges require no testing and they are easier to use. With the dial gauge you have to watch it constantly looking that you have the right amount of pressure (checking it doesn’t go above or below). On the other hand, weighted gauges will either make a frequent jiggling noise or will rock gently indicating that the correct pressure is being maintained. You just have to listen to the jiggle and then begin your timing.

presto pressure cannerThe gasket:
The Presto canner has a sealing ring gasket. The gasket needs to be replaced once in a while (for example when steam starts to come out between the canner and the lid or when the gasket feels hard and is not easily pliable). If you use your Presto quite often you will need to replace the gasket more frequently.

The All American has a “metal-to-metal” sealing system. The All American has no gasket just a series of bolts you clamp down. Some users have encounteed some difficulties with this seal. The trick lies in rubbing a layer of olive oil on the sealing edges before use. If you get used to tightening it down evenly it will be more efficient that the Presto because it comes up to pressure a bit faster.

No doubts here. The All American is much more durable. This is a lifelong investment. You will probably pass this canner to your children and grandchildren. And it will still work. Some people claim that they still use an All American that is 90 years old! With the AA there is virtually no maintenance.
With the Presto the rubber gasket and the emergency plug must be replaced periodically. Replacing them is under $50 (shipping included). If you do it twice in the canner’s lifetime that is the amount you need to buy an AA. So, think about it.

The price:
The Presto is much cheaper. The price for  the Presto 23-Quart is around $ 75 on Amazon. The All American price is around $ 200. Still, you need to add the maintenance costs for the Presto and the cost of the additional pressure regulator (if you want to convert it to a weighted gauge canner).

The verdict: The Presto canner is really nice and it will definitely do the job. Still, the All American is outstanding when it comes to quality and performance.Overall, better material  and construction but quite pricey. But, if you ask me the AA  is a valuble lifelong investment. And the winner between the two.

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