Water bath canners just like pressure canners can end up being quite expensive. However, a water bath canner is far more forgiving than pressure canners. Because of this there are numerous options that you can substitute in their place when canning.
The key characteristics for a water bath canner are that the pot must be durable enough to be heated to the boiling point of water and kept at that temperature for some time, large enough to completely submerge your jars of choice and if dealing with highly acidic foods, constructed of some metal besides aluminum.
Keeping those three things in mind. Let’s look into three water bath canner alternatives that you may already have in your home.
Can I Use a Pressure Canner as a Water Bath Canner?
A pressure canner makes a great water bath canner as long as you keep a few tips in mind. Conveniently many water bath racks fit inside of a pressure canner with no issues. You do still need to cover the jars with water. When doing so do not screw the lid down just set it over the pot and leave any weights off.
Using a pressure canner for water bath canning can be a great option. If you either do not have sufficient space to have both types of canners, only make a few water bath specific recipes and can’t justify a water bath canner or need to save some money for budget reasons then you should consider this option.
When using a pressure canner as a water bath canner it is important that you treat it like a water bath canner and not a pressure canner.
What this means is you should follow the steps for using a water bath canner. Make sure that your water is deep enough to completely cover your jars. Place the lid on the pot but do not tighten it down. Avoid using the weights that close off the vents. Finally follow the recommended times for water bath canning and not pressure canning. This insures proper cook time.
You do want to add the lid as it makes the process more efficient by holding in heat and causes the water to boil more readily
One thing you might want to consider is getting a rack designed for a water bath canner to swap out for the one in your pressure canner. Since these work slightly differently the normal pressure canner will make it difficult to retrieve the jars.
Another option is to get a pair of jar lifting tongs which is the route that I normally choose. This allows me to remove or add a single jar at a time no matter which style canner I am using.
Canning in a Turkey Fryer
Another great option for a water bath canner is a turkey or fish fryer. These extremely large pots are more than capable of holding a large number of jars and are deep enough to fully submerge them.
As an added bonus turkey and fish fryers use large high output gas burners.
These larger burners designed to be used outside will quickly bring your water to the boiling point and can not only minimize the heat in your kitchen, they can speed up the time it takes you to complete your canning process.
Many turkey fryers are stainless steel, as with other types of canners avoid using aluminum if dealing with acidic foods.
There is one main drawback to using a turkey fryer as a water bath canner. This is that the jar lifting racks usually do not fit. Make sure to find some form of rack that lifts your jars up off of the bottom of the pot. This is so that the water can circulate around them.
This is another place where you are going to want to have a pair of jar lifting tongs to retrieve the jars.
Will a Stock Pot Work as a Water Bath Canner?
A stockpot can make a great water bath canner. Simply add a rack to elevate the jars and you are well on your way to canning. Using a stock pot is a great idea even if you already have a water bath canner as it could allow you to process twice as much in the same amount of time.
Water Bath Canner Alternatives Summary
Using either an actual water bath canner or one of these great alternative options you can be well on your way to preserving food through canning. Check out our great article on the needed equipment for canning if you are just getting started with your canning journey.