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Best Survival Food Canner [5 Homesteader Options]

In this buyer guide we help you understand what to look for in a canner, the different kinds of canners, and how to pick the best survival food canner for you.

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When it comes to putting up food for long term storage, canning is one of the most trustworthy and safe methods of preserving food.

It’s practical and easy whether you’re harvesting tomatoes out of your survival garden, processing your latest kill, or taking advantage of great harvest prices from local farmers. 

Canning allows you to create and preserve ready-to-eat meals, sauces and salsas, jams and chutneys. You can also put up plain veggies, simple fruits, meat, or broths.  Heck, you can even can fresh milk if you have access to it.

If you are ready to start canning, you'll first need to invest in essential supplies like mason jars, new lids, and canning rings.

And there is one piece of equipment that is the most important of all.  The survival food canner!

When looking for the best survival food canner, it can be hard to know where to start.  There are a lot of options on the market. 

How can you know which is the best canner for you?

If you are looking to get started preserving your survival food and want to know how to find the best canner for you, then look no further than the All American 921 Pressure Canner.

If you want to find out why this is our top choice for the best survival food canner, then keep reading. 

In this comprehensive buyer’s guide, we'll help you understand what to look for in a good food canner, the different types of canners that exist on the market, and how to pick the survival food canner that will work best for you.

In a hurry? If you just want to get to our conclusions, here are our top picks and recommendations!

Last update on 2024-05-22 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Canning Food For SHTF

The first thing you need to know when you get started canning at home is what kind of food you will be canning.

If you plan on canning mostly jams, pickles, and tomato sauces then you will want to look into a water bath canner or a steam canner.

However, if your plans include canning meat, ready-made soups, or regular old veggies like corn then you will absolutely need to invest in a pressure canner.

Types of Survival Food Canners

Pressure Canners

Low acid foods like meats, broths, beans, and veggies absolutely must be canned in a pressure canner.

There is no exception to this rule.

When you are preserving survival food, the last thing you want to deal with is bacterial contamination.  If your life depends on the food you have put up, do you really want to take the chance of making yourself or your family sick? 

The thing is, a little bacterium called Clostridium botulinum, better known as botulism, can survive the heat of boiling water. The spores can grow and thrive in the sealed low acid environments.  When you consume these contaminated foods you can get really sick.  Botulism can be deadly.

So, play it smart, and don’t take chances.  If you want to preserve low acid foods, you need to invest in a pressure canner.

Pressure canners work by heating the food inside of your mason jars to temperatures hotter than boiling water. 

Pressure canners are different from regular pressure cookers because they allow you to adjust the pressure.  Most pressure cookers are set for 15 pounds of pressure, which is entirely too much unless you live over 1000 ft. above sea level.  Pressure canners on the other hand, usually come with 5, 10, or 15 lb pressure weights or a dial gauge that lets you set the appropriate pressure according to your recipe and altitude above sea level.

Different types of canned survival food for the prepper food stockpile.

Water Bath Canners

Water bath canners are the most traditional canners available. Water bath canning is the method most traditionally used for preserving summer jams, pickles, and tomatoes.

This method of canning is a lot less technical and more accessible to beginners. Water bath canners can be used to preserve high-acid foods that naturally do not allow for the growth of Clostridium botulinum.

Commercial water bath canners are basically really big pots with a well-fitting lid.  They're pretty basic.  When you think about what your grandmother used to put up her famous strawberry jam, chances are you remember that enormous pot boiling away on the stove.

Basically, the pot needs to be large enough to place your canning jars on a rack inside the pot and cover them with enough water so that they are fully submerged under boiling water.

Steam Canners

Water bath canners haven’t changed much over the years.

But somewhere along the way in the 1920s, someone got sick of waiting for all that water to boil and the atmospheric steam canning method was developed.

For a long time, there was controversy about whether steam canning was really a 100% safe method of long term food preservation. It wasn't until 2015 that sufficient studies had been done to convince the experts. It is now widely recognized as a completely safe way to preserve your survival food.

Much like water bath canners, atmospheric steam canners are appropriate for canning high acid foods such as fruit, jams, anything pickled, chutney, and tomatoes.

Steam canning differs from water bath canning in that it requires much less water, and therefore, much less energy.  Basically, it's more efficient.

Obviously, each steam canner will have its manufacturer's recommendation on just how much water you will need, but it is generally just a small amount.  The canning jars are placed on a rack over this water and covered with a tightly fitting large lid.

Steam builds up inside of the canner and basically does the same job that a boiling water bath does. 


The Best Canners for Survival Food Preservation

So now that you know about the different kinds of canners that exist, let's talk about the best ones for survival food preservation.

There are a lot of different canners of all kinds available on the market.  Some of them are pretty fancy with electronic gauges and all kinds of bells and whistles.

As a survivalist, however, you know that things might not always be as comfortable as they are nowadays.

It is important that if you are going to invest in the best survival food canner, it should be one that you can use well after SHTF. 

In this next section, we’ll take a look at the best canners that will allow you to do just that.

The Best Survival Food Canner is a Pressure Canner

When we consider the different kinds of canners available and what kind of food they allow us to put up, it becomes obvious that the best canner for putting away survival food is a pressure canner.

When it comes to picking the best pressure canner, it pays to look for a piece of equipment that is multi-purpose.

Why buy an expensive piece of equipment that you can only use exclusively for pressure canning?

And while we're talking about what makes a pressure canner the best - as survivalists we need to think about what might happen in a worst-case scenario.

What does that mean?  That the best pressure canner for preserving survival food should not require technologically complicated maintenance, have parts or components that will wear out and need to be replaced, or be cheaply manufactured. 

You want to invest in a product that will keep working for you long after SHTF.

Here is what we looked for when selecting our recommendations for the best survival food pressure canners:

  • That it has no rubber seal.
  • That it has a traditional weighted pressure gauge.
  • That it can double as a pressure cooker.
  • It is large enough to be used for water bath canning as well.

Here are our pressure canner recommendations:

The Best Overall Pressure Canner

All American 921 Canner Pressure Cooker

Last update on 2024-05-22 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This is the most highly rated pressure canner available on the market right now.  It is literally the gold standard of canners.

This is why we love it:

  • This model comes in a wide variety of sizes for home canning.
  • It has a weighted pressure gauge accompanied by a dial gauge. If the dial loses its calibration and there is no way to fix it, you can safely continue to use this pressure canner.  
  • Boasts a metal on metal sealing lid. You will never have to replace a rubber gasket!
  • It can be used as a large capacity pressure cooker.
  • Larger models can be used for water bath canning.

The All American 921 pressure canner is admittedly a bit expensive.  If there is a ‘con’ that is it.  Otherwise, this is the best survival food canner out there.

The Next Best Pressure Canner

Presto 01781 23-Quart Pressure Canner and Cooker

Last update on 2024-05-22 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This pressure canner is from a very well known and respected brand and is highly recommended among the home canning community.

This is why we recommend it:

  • It is large enough to be practical, holding up to 20 pints or 7 quarts.
  • You can purchase optional 5 and 10 lb weights to not rely exclusively on the dial gauge to moderate the pressure.
  • It doubles as a large capacity pressure cooker.
  • It can be used as a water bath canner.
  • It is economical.

There are a couple of things that we don’t like though:

  • The pot seals with a gasket.
  • You’ll also eventually have to replace the pressure plug seal.

When it comes to canning your survival food post-SHTF, this canner’s main flaw is that replaceable gasket.  In the meantime, it is an excellent economical option for those of you who want to invest in a pressure canner on a budget. 

If you decide to go with the Presto Pressure Canner, or any other pressure canner that seals with a gasket and includes other replaceable parts, be sure to invest in extra replaceable parts

Keep them stockpiled in your survival supplies.  This will allow you to continue canning well into the uncertain future.

The Best Water Bath Canner

If you've decided that you are realistically not going to be canning meats or other low acid foods, you might want to consider purchasing a water bath canner instead.  Remember, water bath canners are appropriate only for high acid foods such as fruit jams or jellies, pickled or fermented foods, and tomato-based sauces.

Water bath canners are essentially really big pots.  When canning, you’ll need to put a rack in the bottom of the pot to keep the jars suspended in the boiling water during the canning process. 

The best thing about water bath canners is that they are, by nature, useful for many other things.  You can use these huge pots for making a massive soup to feed all your neighbors or boil water for emergencies.

Here’s our top pick for the best water bath canner:

Roots & Branches Harvest Stainless Steel Multi-Use Canner

Last update on 2024-05-22 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This is why we recommend it:

  • It is made out of durable stainless steel.
  • Has a practical glass lid with a handy temperature indicator that helps you determine the best time to start timing your canning process.
  • Holds up to 7 quarts or 8 pint jars.
  • Can be safely used as a steam canner as well.
  • Includes the canning rack.

The Roots & Branches water bath canner is not just a huge stock pot (though you can use it as one).  It has been designed to be used specifically for canning while maintaining its multi-use practicality.

The Next Best Water Bath Canner

15 quart Stove Top Water Bath Canner

Last update on 2024-05-22 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This canner has a really unique design.  It's rectangular and made to sit over two burners on a standard stove.  This is a really large capacity water bath canner that will allow you to preserve a lot of food in one batch.

This is what we like most about it:

  • It is large capacity, holding up to 15 quarts or 24 pints.
  • It's made of food-grade stainless steel, meaning that you can use it for preparing massive batches of tomato sauce, salsa, or jams.
  • A second rack can be ordered allowing you to stack your pint jars and doubling its capacity.
  • It's Amish made in the USA.

So why is the 15 quart Stove Top Water Bath Canner the “next best” and not THE best?

Here are the cons:

  • The rectangular shape requires extra attention when cleaning. If not properly maintained, this can lead to irreparable damage.
  • It’s heavy. When this canner is full of water, it is very heavy and cumbersome to move around.
  • Cannot be used as a steam canner.

The Best Steam Canner

If you know that you will never can more than a batch or two of jam or salsa because you plan on preserving your survival food through other methods, you may decide that you do not want to make a large investment in canning equipment. 

That’s understandable. 

You might want to consider purchasing a more economical steam canner.

But here's the thing.  Canners that are marketed and sold as steam bath canners are typically pieces of equipment that do only one thing.  They can only be used for steam canning.

If you decide that a dedicated steam canner is for you, this the one we recommend:

Roots & Branches FruitSaver Aluminum Steam Canner

Last update on 2024-05-22 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This is why we recommend the Roots & Branches FruitSaver Aluminum Steam Canner:

  • It can hold up to 7 quarts for canning.
  • It has a helpful gauge that indicates when to start timing the processing time.
  • Requires only 2 quarts of water for canning.
  • It’s made out of resistant aluminum.
  • It’s economical.

Below you can find an instructional video on how to can your survival food with a pressure canner.

Survival Food Canner FAQs

Can I can survival food in metal or tin cans? 

You might be curious about canning your food in tin or metal cans.  Home canning in metal cans is possible, but we don’t particularly recommend it.  Why not?  Here are the main reasons.

  1. It is more expensive.  You will need to purchase not only a top-notch pressure canner but will also need the cans and a specialized can sealer.  The can sealer can be quite expensive.
  2. The metal cans are single-use.  This means that you open them and they essentially become trash.  Glass canning jars, on the other hand, can be reused year after year.
  3. As a survivalist, you will want to consider the possibility of finding new metal cans if the markets or the economy change.  This could become very difficult.

So, yes, it is possible - but we think you’re best sticking with the traditional mason jars.

How long does canned meat last? 

Canning meat is especially practical when it comes to preserving your survival food.  But how long of a shelf life does home-canned meat have?

According to the USDA, all home-canned foods should be consumed within a year, including meats.  This has to do more with the quality of the food than its real edibility. 

If you know that the meat was properly canned and the jar has a solid seal, you can eat it two, or even three years after processing it.

Remember, canning is not a method of survival food preservation that will keep your food good for 20 years.  The idea is to preserve the meat long enough until you can replenish your stocks in times of plenty. 

If you would like to learn how to grow your own survival food and build your SHTF stockpile, check out our guide on how to start a survival garden.

What’s the Best Survival Food Canner for You?

In the end, knowing which canner is best for you is a very personal matter. 

Only you know what kind and how much survival food you intend to preserve.  You will need to do an honest analysis of both your current canning needs and what you imagine your canning needs to be after SHTF. 

As always, we recommend that you consider the best survival food canner to be an investment in your wellbeing, both now and for the uncertain future.

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Hi, I'm Russ!

I've been prepping for a long time, but 2020 convinced me that I need to take it to the next level.

This website started as a way to keep me going forward on the path to being better prepared.

Now, I’m turning it into a complete blueprint for anyone else looking to do the same!
Russell M. Morgan
Telson Survival

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