Can You Can Without a Pressure Cooker or a Pressure Canner? [Best Alternatives]

If you’re worried about your food getting spoiled, then one option you can consider opting for is canning your food. Doing so can keep it preserved for longer in your pantry. To do so, you need to know how to can your jars properly so that you don’t end up spoiling the whole batch of food. This makes you wonder whether you can can your food without a pressure cooker or a pressure canner.

You must know how to carry out the process. After all, you don’t want to end up wasting the food that was supposed to be preserved in the first place. That is why we’re here to make it easier for you by disclosing all the secrets in this article. Keep on reading!

Why can’t you use a pressure cooker for canning?

A pressure cooker is not built to serve the purpose of a canner. It will not be able to monitor the pressure and temperature that are absolutely crucial for the canning process.

It might sound tempting given how the two words sound awfully similar but don’t get yourself in trouble. Though a pressure cooker will be able to fit many small jars within, you will not know for sure what the pressure is inside. This can end up ruining your canning process.

What’s the difference between a pressure cooker and a pressure canner?

A pressure cooker is used for cooking foods such as roast, meat, and what not at high pressure in a relatively shorter amount of time. On the other hand, a pressure canner is used for processing low acid foods such as vegetables, meat, fruits, and fish to be stored and preserved in jars for longer periods of time.

Can you can without a pressure canner?

You must use a pressure canner for low acid foods to kill all the bacteria (botulism included – which can survive even in high temperatures), which it is designed to do so. However, for foods with a high acid content, such as jams, jellies, and fruits, you can simply follow the process of water-bath canning.

How to can food at home without a pressure canner?

Canning your foods can be a great way to enjoy seasonal foods all year long. Canning can increase the life of your foods from a few days to up to 1-1.5 years! You can carry out the process of canning even if you don’t have the proper equipment for it. Here are two methods that you can follow:

  1. Boiling water bath
  2. Oven canning

Please note that regardless of the canning method you wish to opt for, you need to have strong, durable jars with tight lids. Make sure your jars are sterilized too.

Boiling water bath canning

STEP 1: Heat the jars

Heat the jars through a hot water bath. This will help to thoroughly clean the jars by killing any bacteria with the heat and allowing them to expand so that they don’t crack or shatter due to the high temperatures during sterilization.

STEP 1.1: Fill a large pot with water

Fill up a large pot only halfway through with hot but not boiling water.

STEP 1.2: Place the jars in the pot

Use a jar lifter to place the jars in the pot carefully and let them stay in hot water.

STEP 2: Prepare a boiling water bath

Grab a second pot large enough to completely submerge your jars 1-2 inches above the lids, and fill it with boiling hot water.

STEP 3: Cover the sides and bottom of the second pot with a buffer

Cover the sides and bottom of your second pot with a buffer (like a rug) to prevent your jars from cracking due to direct contact with heat from the sides and bottom.

STEP 4: Fill the jars with food

Meanwhile, fill the jars with the food that has to be canned while leaving 1-1.5 inches of headspace. Pop any bubbles with a spatula if mentioned in the recipe.

STEP 5: Clean the lids with a wet cloth

Clean the lids of the jars with a wet cloth so that they are tight. The lids need to be only fingertip tight.

STEP 6: Place the jars in the boiling water

Carefully place the jars in the boiling water using jar lifters. Let them stay in the boiling water for as long as the recipe requires.

[Read: Can you boil water in a pressure cooker}

STEP 7: Remove and inspect the seals

After removing the jars from the water bath, wrap them up in a towel and let them stay untouched for the next 24 hours. Once that time period is over, inspect the airtightness of each jar by putting a little pressure in the middle of the lid of the jar to see if the lid moves up or down.

Try opening the lid with the pressure of a fingertip. If it doesn’t open, then that indicates that the lid is tight and secure. If it does open, you need to repeat the canning process or refrigerate the jar.

Canning in the oven

STEP 1: Heat the jars

Heat the jars in simmering hot water to let them expand so that they do not crack in the canning process. Next, preheat the oven at 250°C.

STEP 2: Fill the jars with food

Let the jars stay in the water bath for a while before filling them up with food. Remember to leave some headspace while filling them.

STEP 3: Seal the jars and put them in the oven

After filling the jars with food, clean the lids with a damp cloth so that they are tight. Then, place the jars in the preheated oven.

STEP 4: Remove them from the oven

Once the oven temperature sensors read a temperature of 250°C, turn off the oven and remove the jars. Next, place the jars in a towel and keep them untouched for the next 24 hours. Or simply leave them in the oven to cool overnight on their own.

STEP 5: Inspect the seals

Repeat the inspection process in the method above to check for the seals.

Do jars have to be fully submerged when canning?

Jars need to be fully submerged 1-2 inches when canning in a water bath. You need to ensure that they do not get exposed to air and receive uniform heat throughout the process. However, the jars do not need to be fully submerged while pressure canning because the high steam pressure here ensures a uniform spread of heat.

What can I use if I don’t have a water bath canner?

You can use your stock pan if you don’t have a water bath canner. A big stock pan with a few modifications will can double the number of jars in the same amount of time.

Which is better pressure canning vs. water bath?

Pressure canning is similar to water bath canning except for the use of high steam pressure instead of boiling water. You need more equipment for pressure canning while you can do water bath canning at home. Moreover, pressure canning is better for canning low acid foods, while water bath canning can be used to can high acid foods.

Concluding our thoughts on canning without a pressure cooker or canner!

Canning is fairly easy to do if you know what equipment you need and what’s available at the moment. Plus, canning can be done in various ways too! We’ve explained all the processes thoroughly.

We hope you’ll make use of our tips and enjoy canning and preserving your food! By now, you can probably easily manage canning without a pressure cooker or a pressure canner. Happy canning!

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Immad Amir
Hey there, I'm Immad! I'm an SEO and appliance fanatic. Amna, my fiance, and I combined our interests and came up with RavvyReviews to help you all with our well-researched kitchen appliance reviews and foodie informative articles. We aim to learn more along the way and keep bringing you authentic trustworthy articles so all of us can have fun in the kitchen! We love interacting with you guys, do share yours thoughts in the comments. Get in touch with me through

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