Explain the difference between hot water bathing & pressure cooker canning?

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Senior Cook
Jun 3, 2009
Bronx, NY

I was wondering what's the difference between canning with a hot water bath and using a pressure cooker?


Chef Extraordinaire
Apr 12, 2011
Oh my. A world of difference. Waterbath canner works well for anything acidic, like apple stuff,tomato stuff, jams and jellies, stuff in vinegar like pickled green beans, peppers, and beets. Use the pressure canner for everything. I'm afraid of mine. Check out the Ball Blue Book for recipes. Sparrowgrass works for her state extension agency and has plenty of good advice. Check out the canning section here.
Last edited:


Head Chef
Oct 27, 2011
Near Austin, Texas
I won't try to fill in for the many canning resources available. But the functional difference is in how hot the water can get. At sea level, water boils at 212-degrees. (At high altitudes with less pressure than at sea level, water boils at a lower temperature. That's why recipes and mixes have different high altitude directions.)

This is important because at sea level, you can't get water above 212, no matter how long you leave the pot on. No matter what the altitude or pressure, water can never get any hotter than its boiling temperature. When the pressure is greater than normal sea level, the boiling temperature is higher, which means you can get the water that much hotter. In a pressure cooker, you can get water to about 240-degrees. That matters, because the spores of the botulism can survive 212 degrees. But anything 240 and above kills them. High-acid foods don't provide an environment for botulism. But other foods do and need the high temperature treatment.

And note that pressure canning means canning in a pressure CANNER, not a pressure cooker.

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