I admire those who have the know-how and patience to preserve one’s own-grown (or hunted) food, but I have never attempted the feat of canning So when asked to review the Ball Freshtech Electric Water Bath Canner + Multi Cooker ($149.99), I called upon my cousin Sandy Zirkle, who has 42 years of experience canning.
When Sandy began canning over four decades ago, her family had a canner that they used on an electric stove. They now can with propane gas with burners, which is more economical.
The electric canner would be a new experience for Sandy, and I hoped it would be an exciting experiment for her. In order to test it out, she decided she would process eight pints of meat.
Right off she realized that even with all of her years of experience, she needed to follow directions and learn how to use this new appliance. Frist, she needed to take off the plug to the spigot, though for soups, steaming and beverages the plug needs to be in the spigot.
She also needed to warm the jars when the meat was put in, it took almost an hour for the water to boil to begin the canning process. The meat was in the canner for three hours after it starting boiling. Then she had to wait about five minutes until the water cooled in order to drain the water and remove the jars.
The electric canner process was a change from Sandy’s usual process with propane gas burners, which did not require the jars to be heated; and with propane it only takes approximately 10 minutes to bring the meat to a boil and then process the meat for three hours and then remove jars.
It took almost one hour longer with the electric canner. This was not ideal for Sandy, who lives on a farm and has a busy schedule working around the homestead and taking care of her extended family. Usually when Sandy cans, she is able to process more than one turn of whatever she is canning, but with the longer processing time with the electric canner there just wasn’t time to do more than then one process.
While the electric canner was not a solution for an experienced canner like Sandy, she did feel it would work well for someone who wanted to use the canner to make soup — that is if they were making the minimum requirement of seven quarts, which is more than most families need to make at one time. The canner could also be used for steaming, again in large quantities, as the canner is too large for small portions.
One other practical consideration regarding the electric canner is the unit’s height, as it may not fit on many kitchen counter tops where there are cabinets above, which most kitchens have, and many users would not want to steam up their cabinets with the canner underneath them. Because the electric canner could not be used outside, according to the directions, Sandy used it in her garage.
Lastly, for those with limited storage space, the large-size canner might pose a challenge, especially because the spigot on the outside of the canner cannot be taken off to make it easier to fit in a cabinet.
Overall, the canner worked well and would be a great product for someone who has never canned before, but for and experience canner like Sandy, the old fashioned way worked better.