If you are going to can any vegetables that you pulled form the garden or scored a great price on at the farmer’s market, You are going to want to get your hands on a water bath canner. Canning is a tradition in many families and as such, the water bath canning pot is handed down from generation to generation. But, if you are new to canning, or have a newer ceramic or induction top stove, you are going to want to upgrade from your old canning pot.
If you are making that upgrade, I recommend this Ball 21 quart stainless steel water bath canner. It is a good looking, durable canner that I feel will serve me well for years to come and maybe even my children. The size allows me to get my canning done in a reasonable amount of time and the design works well on flat ceramic top, induction top and gas ranges.
What can you say about a water bath canner? It is just a pot for boiling jars, right? Well, yes. But, there are some features that make this canner stand out from the rest of the pack.
Aside from looking great, stainless steel is the perfect choice for use in the kitchen. The properties of stainless steel allow it to maintain its strength at high and low temperatures, resist corrosion from prolonged exposure to water and it is easy to clean. This pot is made from 18/10 grade stainless. That’s great if you know what it means. The grade represents the durability of the stainless and the numbers tell you how much chromium and nickel are used in making the steel. Chromium is what keeps the stainless from rusting and nickel is what gives the product it’s strength and durability. In 18/10 18 means 18% Chromium and the 10 means 10% Nickel. The two most common grades in kitchenware are 18/8 and 18/10. Bottom line, They used the good stuff.
21 Quart Capacity
You can get 7 quart jars in this thing at once. That’s huge. And when canning, the more you can put in, means the sooner you are going to be done. This is especially important when you are putting up 15 jars of tomato sauce for the season. Just because this is a canner, doesn’t mean that that is all it does either. You can use it to mix up big meals like a huge pot of chili or soup. It is a great size to boil down a turkey carcass after Thanksgiving to make turkey broth or turkey noodle soup.
Tempered Glass Lid
When tempered glass breaks, it shatters into small circular pieces rather than large, sharp, jagged shards. Very important from a safety standpoint. The tempered glass lid is also great to be able to see into the pot while canning or cooking without taking the lid off and losing heat. You are able to make sure you are maintaining the rolling boil you need for your jars to seal properly. The steam vents allow pressure to escape through the vents rather than around the base of the lid. This keeps the “chatter” of the lid to a minimum. Again, doing 150 quarts of tomato sauce, that “chatter” would drive you nuts.
Silicone covered handles
This is one of my favorite features of this canner. It seems like such a small thing, but it really isn’t. If you have ever tried to handle a pot with metal handles, you know that they can:
- Get very hot
- Get very slippery
- Dig into your fingers right at the knuckle (ouch!)
The silicone coating on the handles of the Ball water bath canner gives the right amount of grip and protection to your hands. These canners can get very heavy, up to three times their original weight when full. Moving them can be a challenge It looks like Ball recognized that challenge and addressed it in this canner. What would you expect from a company that has been canning for over 125 years.
While the pot is awesome, the rack leaves a little to be desired. Okay, A lot to be desired. I really wish they would have made the rack out of stainless as well. There seems to be some issues with rusting with this rack that can stain the pot. The rack still works fine, but if you are going to be doing any hardcore canning, you probably should invest in a stainless steel rack. Check the prices here on Amazon
The other disappointing thing about this canner is that it is not made in the USA. I try to buy products that are made here when I can. I thought that a company with such an entrenched American History would still produce their products here. But as I looked around, I didn’t find a whole lot of choices for canners that were made in the USA.
Some users complained about how difficult it was to remove the label from the pot. I am going to let you in on a little secret. You will never have an issue with stuck labels again. Just peel as much of the label as you can. Mix up a paste of equal parts vegetable oil and baking soda. Rub the paste into the remaining label/glue and let it sit for about an hour. Wash and the label will be gone like it was never there in the first place. This works for any label on any jar or surface. I haven’t found any store bought product that works better. I had no problem with the label on my pot.
Other Options I Considered
Ball Fresh tech Electric Canner. I would love to get my hands on one of these big beauties, but I just don’t have the room. There are some nice features on this electric water bath canner. The base is removable which makes it easy to clean and the spout allows you to drain the hot water easily without having to carry the entire pot over to the sink. Even the spout comes off for easy cleaning.
Granite Ware 34 quart pot. This is one big pot. I looked at this one because I like the traditional look of the enameled steel. The draw back there is the noise of the lid when the pot is boiling also, enamel cookware isn’t recommended for use on glass top or induction cook tops. That isn’t an issue for me right now as I have a gas range, but my wife prefers a glass top range for ease of cleaning and had expressed interest in getting one when the gas range dies.
ExcelSteel 551 Stainless Steel Stockpot. The thing that caught my eye on this was the price. It is almost 1/3 the price of the Ball pot I ended up buying and is just about the same size and some of the same features like the tempered glass lid with steam vent. The thing that turned me away was the lack of information on the grade of the stainless steel. I can only assume at the price, that this pot uses the lower grade of steel which means it is more prone to rust and damage. If you know this is not the case, please let me know in the comments below. Longevity is one of my triggers here. I would rather spend the extra money now rather than buying three of the lower end products.
What is Water Bath Canning
Water bath canning is a method of preserving high-acid fruits and vegetables such as pickles, tomatoes, and jelly by submersing lidded jars in a pot of boiling water to process. The boiling water bath helps kill off any unwanted bacteria that survived the cooking process of the food in the jars or hitchhiked in on the lid of the jar. It also helps to seal the jars by creating a high-pressure environment inside the jar. Once removed from the canner and the jars cool, the pressure inside the jars decreases to less than the air surrounding it and forms an air-tight seal keeping your food fresh for months. For more detailed information on water bath canning, Check out this article on prolongtheharvest.com.
If you are looking for a large capacity water bath canner that will look good and last long enough to pass down to your kids and your kids kids, The Ball 21 Qt Elite stainless steel canner is my pick. I doubt I will ever have to buy another canning pot in my life. Unless I just want my processing to go faster. In that case, I will definitely buy another one of these. You can check out the pricing over on Amazon.com.