Do you have a smooth cooktop and still want to can at home?

smooth stove top drawing

 

If you have a smooth cook-top and the manufacturer says not to can on it, don’t give up on canning at home quite yet. Consider these alternatives instead: either purchase and install a permanent set of electric coil or gas burners as a range top (without an oven) or purchase a portable electric coil or gas burner.

Cost is one notable difference between the two options. An installed range top can be quite expensive as a second range top, especially as it requires proper utility connections to support it.

As for portable burners, they are not all alike and not all portable burners are appropriate for canning.  Before buying or using a any burner for canning, check the manufacturer’s product information or contact their customer service to find out if that particular burner is appropriate to use for canning.

We cannot endorse a particular brand, but here are a few basic guidelines for you to keep in mind when selecting a portable burner for canning purposes:

– The burner must be level, sturdy, and secure. Look for enough height to allow air to flow under the burner, but not such that it will become unsteady with a full, heavy canner resting on it. One we have tested was about 4 inches high off the counter top, on short legs that allowed air circulation underneath but was plenty stable.

– Look for a burner diameter that is no more than 4 inches smaller than the diameter of your canner. In other words, the canner should not extend more than 2 inches from the burner on any side. This is a common recommendation, but also make sure this is the recommendation for your canner and burner brand.

– For electric burners, you want the wattage to be about equal to that of a typical household range large burner.  We have been successful bringing a boiling water canner to boiling with one that is 1500W/120V, but household range burners are more typically 1750W or higher and this kind of wattage may actually be a better choice if you can find it. We have not yet tried using a pressure canner on a portable electric burner.

– You want the burner to have housing that will hold up to the high heat under the canner for long heating periods, and not damage counter tops with reflected heat. We contacted a food-service supply store to help us identify one like this; it cost us about $155. We used it successfully a few times to bring water to a boil, but have not used one repeatedly for canning.

– At least one pressure canner manufacturer advises not to can on an outdoor low pressure gas burner/gas range burner over 12,000 BTU’s. Your pressure canner can be damaged if the burner puts out too much heat. Higher BTU burners could also produce so much heat that the recommended come-up time for canning could be altered, potentially producing an unsafe final product.

– Again, check manufacturer’s directions and/or contact their customer service for more information about appropriate burners. When you are asking manufacturers about canning, specify whether you are asking about pressure canning (much more heat concentration) or boiling water canning. If the manufacturer’s directions have been followed, and canning problems occur, then you must take it up with the manufacturer.

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6 thoughts on “Do you have a smooth cooktop and still want to can at home?

  1. Kay

    Do you have any recipes for pressure canning salsa? The reason I ask is that the salsa recipes I’ve seen for canning have a lot of vinegar or lemon juice in them to make them acidic enough to boiling water can. I’d prefer a less acidic salsa which I realize would involve pressure canning it.

    1. nchfp Post author

      At this time, we can only recommend tested recipes as safe for boiling water canning, and we ourselves do not offer a pressure-canning process for a low-acid salsa. There is a Mexican Tomato Sauce that is less acid and pressure canned only, but it is not a chunky salsa; it is more sauce-like. It is available in English: http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/how/can_salsa/mexican_tomato_sauce.html or in Spanish: http://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can_salsa/mexican_tomato_sauce_sp.html . The rest of our recipes noted as salsas have enough acid in them to make them safe from botulism when canned at boiling water temperatures only.

    1. nchfp Post author

      Canning outdoors could be possible in certain situations, as long as your equipment meets guidelines and recommendations just as if you were canning indoors and you can manage any additional factors introduced by the outdoor environment. Wind would be a significant environmental condition to consider, as would the possibility of precipitation, since these conditions could influence the burner’s ability to adequately produce consistent heat. Ambient temperature also could make a difference, for example if it was very hot or very cold outside then the time it takes for the canner to come up or cool down could be altered. However, we do not have exact temperatures to recommend, nor any other specific recommendations for outdoor canning. The caution about not exceeding 12,000 BTUs applies to outdoor gas burners as well as indoors. And some pressure canner manufacturers caution against using certain types of outdoor fryers and burners. It is best to check with your canner manufacturer.

  2. Tilly Frueh

    Does this only pertain to pressure canning and not water-bath canning? I have canned successfully for many years on my smooth top stove — water-bath method. I do pressure can and used a separate coil burner for this. I did just purchase a Nuwave Induction Cooktop burner and the metal plate needed to use my pressure canner and have pressure canned beans this week without any problem. Are there risks I’m not aware of? Any guidance would be appreciated. Thanks — Tilly.

    1. nchfp Post author

      These guidelines are applicable to both water-bath canning and pressure canning, but please remember that they are simply suggestions/guidelines to keep in mind – we ask that you consult the manufacturers of your canning equipment for official recommendations regarding their use. Not all smooth-tops are the same and not all burners on all brands will work equally well for canning.

      Many smooth cooktop manufacturers (but, again, please ask them for confirmation) do approve boiling-water canning (also known as water-bath canning). If your cooktop is approved for boiling water canning, make sure that your canner has a flat-bottom. Some canners do not have flat enough bottoms to do a good job of maintaining a full boil over filled jars when placed on a smooth cooktop. You apparently have been making this work. As long as there is plenty of water continuously boiling around and over your jars for the entire process time, then you should be applying the correct boiling water process. You don’t want the boiling to just concentrate in the center of the canner, for example, but to maintain a visible boil throughout the canner.

      At this time we cannot recommend pressure canning on induction burners. We do not know of any proper research having been done to determine process times that would be required in order to properly process foods in a pressure canner. Heat distribution from induction burners is different from gas or electric burners, and may not allow the necessary come up time, adequate venting, or even reach the required temperatures throughout the whole canner needed to destroy harmful bacteria.

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