Pressure canner or dehydrator

We have started our storage plan but would like to know which you think should be purchased first, a dehydrator or a pressure canner? We live in Oklahoma and spring has come early. We have already planted our garden and strawberries are already in the stores and really taste great. By Memorial Day they should be a good price and I would like to dehydrate them and vacuum seal them. I have done a lot of canning in the past but realize that jars are heavy and will break. We live out of town on two acres and are able to hunt deer which my husband plans anyway and will be making jerky. I would also like to know the difference between a Presto and All American presser canner. The difference in price is great. Presto is $65 and the All American is $180! I know one has a 5 year warranty and the other a 10 year. Outside of that, I don’t know why one is better than the other. My husband wants me to ask you to recommend a good book on drying meat and fish.

Claudine (Sukimom)
Wagoner, Oklahoma

I would buy a pressure canner first; you can dehydrate many foods in your oven or in an enclosed sunny area, where you can’t can vegetables and meats in a water bath canner (any deep, large pot). You can buy an effective, cheap dehydrator at many big-box stores or farm/ranch stores in your area. I’ve got two! They were under $40 each. As for the canners, both work well and I know many canners who use each of them successfully. I have an All American because it’s a little heavier built and has no gasket in the lid. Eventually, the gasket will get hard and need to be replaced. It is not expensive, nor is it hard to find, but I preferred the gasketless canner.

You can also use your pressure canner as a water bath canner by simply NOT locking the lid on with the weight/petcock left open/off. Do be sure to use the rack under the jars so the bottoms don’t break.

A very good book that includes dehydrating meat and fish is The Dehydrator Bible, available through the magazine.

I’m so glad you folks are starting to stock up. It’s always been a sensible, good idea that’s saved our bacon on several occasions. None of them were economic collapses, terrorist, or nuclear attacks, but that old pantry sure came in handy! — Jackie


  1. I have both pressure canners, Presto and All American. I would opt for the All American and when you can flip for another one, look on Craigslist for a used one. I bought my All American new and a Presto at a garage sale for $10.

  2. I agree start with a canner BUT look into getting a GOOD dehydrator. I’ve had the cheap ones without thermostats and had to throw away food because I couldn’t control the temperature. The best money I spent was on a 9-tray Excalibur dehydrator. I didn’t buy the one with the timer. My reasoning for not getting the timer was the length of time you will be dehydrating and sometimes things dry in a few hours and other times it can take twice as long. So checking every few hours is no big deal because you need to turn trays and such anyway. And have fun filling your pantry!

  3. We have 2 presto canners and one all American. When canning moose or stock we have had them all up at once. If canning one load at a time we always use the all American as you can use the weight as a rocker (it keeps the pressure at about 11#) while you have to watch the presto a little closer.
    Good luck
    Kenny Lake, Alaska

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