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COOKTOP OPTIONS FOR CANNING

The type of cooktop you have will determine the type of water bath canner, the water bath canner size and the batch size (number/size of jars). Ceramic/electric, induction and gas cooktops may be suitable for water bath canning (may include portable/outdoor models). Choose a water bath canner that has a base diameter preferably the same diameter as the burner - no more than 5cm / 2 inches bigger on either side of the burner (canner diameter maximum 10cm / 4 inches more than element diameter). ALWAYS check the manufacturer specifications before using a water bath canner on a cooktop, to confirm it can be used (noting the maximum pot size for the burner selection by the manufacturer). Larger canners can become very heavy when full of water and jars of preserves so also check the weight limit for the cooktop before use. Portable electric or gas canners could also be used if the bench or table is suitable (check benchtop is suitable before use). It is recommended to use suitable portable gas cookers outdoors only.
 
CERAMIC/ELECTRIC COOKTOP
Water bath canners are heated on a ceramic/electric cooktop via coiled metal elements which are heated electronically under the tempered ceramic glass. The temperature slowly changes (compared to gas cooktops) and this type of cooktop is low cost to operate and easy to clean.
Safety features: no open flames (or risk of gas leaks) and lights up on the cooktop to indicate which burner/s are operating (or have residual heat from use). Ensure elements are turned off after use. Take care not to touch elements after turning off, as they will still be hot.
Suitability for water bath canning: yes, if following all directions as per manufacturer (i.e. element diameter, canner diameter, weight limit) and the canner fits under the rangehood with access to add/remove jars whilst the canner is on the element.
Use a flat bottom water bath canner (or large stock pot a flat exterior base, and use a jar rack inside) for this style of cooktop. Take care not to scrape/pull the canner across the cooktop to prevent scratching or damaging the cooktop.

PORTABLE ELECTRIC COOKTOP
Research portable electric coil cooktop options if a fixed cooktop is not available (or suitable). Firstly, look at the power requirements and power access. Consider a portable cooktop that can be used on a suitable heatproof surface (to prevent reflective heat damage) and reduce risk of spillage. The cooktop must be secure (level and not move), a suitable size to fit the diameter of the canner base and fit within the weight limit set out by the manufacturer – canner, water and jars of preserves can become very heavy very quickly! Not all portable electric cooktops can be used for water bath canning – check the manufacturing directions before purchase (and use). We recommend enquiring with commercial / catering equipment suppliers for a suitable portable electric cooktop.
 
INDUCTION COOKTOP
Magnetic water bath canners (may have a cast iron, black metal/iron, or stainless-steel with a magnetic grade base) are heated on induction cooktops via high-frequency electromagnets under the tempered glass. The temperature changes very quickly (faster than ceramic/electric cooktops and gas cooktops) which makes induction cooktops the most energy efficient, easy to clean, low cost to operate but often the most expensive type of cooktop to purchase.
Safety features: no open flames (or risk of gas leaks) and light indicator on the cooktop to show which burner/s are operating (or have residual heat from prior use). Induction elements do not continue heating if the pots/pans are removed, but check to ensure elements are turned off after use. Take care not to touch elements after use, as they will remain hot for some time.
Suitability for water bath canning: yes, if following all directions as per manufacturer (i.e. element diameter, canner diameter, weight limit) and the canner fits under the rangehood with access to add/remove jars whilst the canner is on the element.
Use a magnetic flat bottom water bath canner (or large magnetic stock pot with jar rack inside) for this style of cooktop. Check your canner will fit under the rangehood. Take care not to scrape/pull the canner across the cooktop to prevent scratching the cooktop.

PORTABLE INDUCTION COOKTOP
Research portable induction cooktop options if a fixed cooktop is not available (or suitable). First, look at the power requirements and power access. Consider a portable cooktop that can be used on a suitable heatproof surface (to prevent reflective heat damage) and to reduce risk of spillage. The cooktop must be secure (level, not move / wobble), a suitable size to fit the diameter of the magnetic canner base and fit within the weight limit set out by the manufacturer – canner, water and jars of preserves can become very heavy very quickly! Not all portable induction cooktops can be used for water bath canning – check the manufacturing directions before purchase (and use). We recommend enquiring with commercial / catering equipment suppliers for a suitable portable induction cooktop.
 
GAS COOKTOP
Gas cooktops heat water bath canners on the base and sides, which means they heat FAST. Mains gas cooktops are usually turned to low or medium for this reason, so your jars are not heated too quickly (and to the correct temperature). Turn the gas down to keep water at a full boil to process jars correctly. If the BTU (British Thermal Unit / heat measurement) is too high – gas is too hot - it can damage the base of lightweight canners and affect the canning process (recipes and food safety are calculated including the time to come to heat/boil, processing time and cool-down time in the canner, so if it heats too quickly, that is not processing at the correct time length as per the recipe).
Safety feature: gas cooktops should have in-built flame failure safety device – this stops gas supply if the flame is extinguished i.e. the water in the canner boils over.
Suitability for water bath canning: yes, if following all directions as per manufacturer (i.e. element diameter, canner diameter, weight limit) and the canner fits under the rangehood with access to add/remove jars whilst the canner is on the element.
Use a flat base or ridge base water bath canner (or large stock pot with jar rack inside) for this style of cooktop. Check your canner will fit under the rangehood. Check cooktop BTU.
 
PORTABLE BUTANE COOKER - DO NOT USE IN AN ENCLOSED AREA
When using portable gas cooktops, consider using a cooker windscreen for protection from wind gusts, whilst still operating cookers in a ventilated area (not enclosed) on a suitable heatproof surface (to prevent reflective heat damage).  If you already use this type of cooker for pressure canning (which uses around 3/4 cartridge per pressure canning batch), use the leftover cartridge to process jams and other quick processing preserves. For longer processing we recommend a new, full cartridge to ensure processing is accurate and canned food is kept at the correct temperature during processing (not cooling down partway through processing when cartridges are replaced, for example). Ensure temperature is high enough for water to boil, but also keep gas output under 12,000 BTUs for safety (temperature) and also to prevent damaging the canner. Dispose of 100% EMPTY butane cartridges after use following instruction from your local waste authority.
 
GAS COOKER (CYLINDER) - OUTDOORS ONLY, DO NOT USE IN AN ENCLOSED AREA
When there is no suitable cooker in the kitchen to use for canning, or the cooktop would heat up your kitchen too much perhaps, portable gas cooktops could be suitable outdoors instead. Consider using a cooker windscreen for protection from wind gusts, whilst still operating cookers in an open area (not enclosed). LPG/gas bottles produce the highest amount of heat - output must be kept under 12,000 BTUs for safety and to prevent damaging the canner i.e. reduce heat on this cooker as required. Note: attachments for USA butane bottles are different to AU gas bottles, so we recommend sourcing your cooker from a local supplier and checking specifications (BTU/temperature, pot/canner size, weight limit, time limit) with them before purchasing, to confirm it is suitable for water bath canning and/or pressure canning.
 
SAFETY WARNING
For all cooktops, we recommend following the manufacturer’s advice because canners hold heat for a long time, so it is important that the correct canner (material and diameter) and weight limit is used, to prevent damaging any cooktop. Do not scrape or pull canners across glass or ceramic cooktops, to prevent damage / scratches. Always supervise canners and do not leave unattended. Always turn off heat after use. We cannot offer advice on specific brands of cooktops to use for canning and recommend individuals research to see which cooktop may be suitable. If the manufacturer's directions have been followed - and problems occur - contact the manufacturer.  
  
Author: Megan Radaich           
Image Credit: Megan Radaich (and Google Images for reference)      
Publication: www.foodpreserving.org

Acknowledgement 
Kaya Wanjoo. Food Preserving kaditj kalyakoorl moondang-ak kaaradj midi boodjar-ak nyininy, yakka wer waabiny, Noongar moort. Ngala kaditj baalap kalyakoorl nidja boodjar wer kep kaaradjiny, baalap moorditj nidja yaakiny-ak wer moorditj moort wer kaditj Birdiya wer yeyi.
Hello and Welcome. Food Preserving acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we live, work and play, the Nyoongar people. We recognise their connection to the land and local waterways, their resilience and commitment to community and pay our respect to Elders past and present.
 
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