I was interviewed the other day by the extremely talented Margaret Roach for her weekly gardening podcast on public radio. During the conversation, we chatted very briefly about the difficulties of using a water bath canner on an electric range. We only touched on the subject and afterwards I felt I probably should have gone into more detail about the problems with using any sort of electric range for any canning. There are some definite dos and don’ts you should follow.
Since I seem to be getting this question a lot lately, I decided to write full post on the subject.
Can You Water Bath on an Electric Range?
Well, the answer to that depends on the brand and design of your stove. Standard coil electric stoves are generally okay for water bath canning.
If using a coil top stove: You just want to use flat bottomed canners so that you have even coverage of the heating element. In other words, avoid the “waffle” bottomed canners. (The bottom is rippled instead of flat) The rippled bottom will not have as good of a contact with the coiled top and you won’t get as good of a heat conduction.
However, most of the modern electric stoves are the flat surface types with either glass or ceramic tops.
If you want to can on one of those, you really need to check with the manufacturer to verify it is okay. Many makers of flat topped electric stoves come right out and say “NO” to any type of canning because of the risk to the surface as well as some safety issues. The maker of your stove can tell you if you can or cannot water bath can on your stove.
The problem is that most flat surface electric stoves have a fluctuating temperature. It heats up and cools off repeatedly in order to maintain a semi-steady temperature. This can cause many problems in canning – epecially in the maintenance of a temperature sufficient enough to kill bacteria and mold. However, despite this fluctuation there are many electric stoves that can and do maintain a boil. You just need to check with your brand’s maker to see if yours qualifies and also test it with a tall pot of water to verify that the boil does not stop throughout an entire processing time.
Even if your stove is approved for water bath canning, you can NOT use the type of canner that has a rippled bottom. The ripples cause heat loss and you can’t reach a steady temperature. Instead, you must use a flat bottomed canner or a tall stock pot with a rack inside to hold jars up off the bottom.
You can NOT use a pot or canner that is more than 1 inch larger than the flat surface burner or you risk overheating the glass or ceramic top. Overheating will cause the cooktop to crack and break. Instead, you must use smaller pots which means you will process smaller batches and smaller jars.
Weight can also be a problem. Most stove top manuals tell you the weight limit it can handle without cracking the cooktop. Remember a large pot of water filled with canning jars is very, very heavy.
Coiled electric stoves (not the flat surface type) can handle pots that are up to 2 inches past the coiled heating element on all sides.
You should use a canner or stockpot with a flat surface (not rippled) so that the element has full contact with the bottom of the pot.
What About Pressure Canning?
It is NOT recommended that you”pressure can” on a flat surface electric stove.
- The fluctuating temperature prevents the ability of keeping a steady pressure inside a pressure canner.
- A pressure canner reaches a much higher temperature than boiling (over 240 degrees F) and that will probably crack the stove top.
- Pressure canners are usually too large to use on an electric stovetop anyway. (Over 1 inch past the burner size)
Final Checklist for Electric Stove Canning:
- Verify that your particular brand of stove is approved for water bath canning.
- Use a flat bottomed canner or stock pot to water bath can with a rack inside to lift jars off the bottom.
- For flat surface: Keep the batches small and weight of the pot low so you don’t break the glass or ceramic top.
- For flat surface: Do NOT use a pot that is more than an inch wider than your burner or you might break the stove top.
- For a coiled stove: Do NOT use a pot that is more than 2 inches wider than the coiled burner.
- DO NOT pressure can on a flat surface electric stove.