I've never used either one. I'd like to start canning some stuff (right now it's mostly tomatoes and stock, but hopefully the garden this fall will change that) and I've seen people here mention using their pressure cookers to can non-acidic stuff (like stock!). Would it be better to get a pressure cooker so I can use it to cook stuff too (I'm interested in trying, but can't justify buying it just for cooking), or just stick to a canner?
Any recommendations for either?
I would highly recommend you check out the National Center for Home food preservation, http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/
I believe I read there that pressure cookers do not work for canning. And if you're canning stock, you don't want to mess with that.
It is ok to can tomatoes without pressure as long as you add acid - they have the recipe there.
I have no problem messing around with high-acid stuff, jams and jellies, but I really wouldn't mess with low acid stuff. So I say get the pressure canner.
Thanks for the link. So to add another question, if you vote for the pressure canner, do you recommend dial-gauge or weighted gauge and why? I truly no NOTHING about these things, yet. I'll be reading up on them online, but would love input from experienced people here too.
Not experienced, just read online - I only do open kettle high acid canning.
Each has plus and minus - the dial gauge lets you choose more options in pressure, but it has to be calibrated yearly? Which iirc, requires it being mailed away.
The weight doesn't give you as many pressure options, but it lasts until your gasket breaks, I think.
Hopefully someone who actually uses them will answer.
You might also want to check out http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/harvest/ - there's probably an old thread on this topic, and they have some really experienced canners.
I choose to use a dial gauge because I can at altitude, which means I need to can at higher pressure than standard, so a weighted gauge would actually be too cool for proper sterilization. If you are less than 3500 feet above sea level it won't matter, but higher than that it does. Some weighted ones co,e with weights that vary so you could, in theory choose a heigher weight and get the right pressure/temp, but the scientist in me likes the gauge. I actually have never calibrated it, but I can above the recommended pressure anyway so I'm not on the boarder of safety.
I LOVE my pressure canner for tomatoes, heirlooms in particular. Their sweet flavor really shines when you don't have to add acid. Good luck and HTH.