Yes, you can use a pressure canner on a smooth-top electric range! Just be sure it has a raised “foot” on the bottom the size of your largest burner. My Presto (bought in around 2009) has this; the one i got from a friend (mid-1970s vintage) does not. The bottom of the older canner is completely flat, so it keeps tripping the overheat sensor on the stove and will never heat up properly.
Next, be sure you clean your stovetop and your canner bottom really well. Anything on your burner will weld on like enamel after the heat if canning, and anything on the bottom of your canner will scratch of you scootch the canner around. As a disclaimer, the stovetop in this house was a burned-on mess when we bought the house, so I’ve not been super worried about defacing it.
So, you have the right canner and a clean work surface – now how do you regulate the heat? Here’s what I do:
- Once my jars are filled and loaded into the canner (always follow good directions for this), I turn the burner up to high and close the lid.
- It will come to a boil; once there’s a steady stream if steam, leg it vent for 10 minutes as per manufacturer’s instructions.
- Put the pressure regulator on. The pressure will begin to rise rapidly.
- When the pressure reaches 5lb, turn the heat down to medium.
- As the pressure reaches 10lb, turn the heat down as low as it will go and still be on.
- the pressure will continue to climb a but and should settle in between 11 and 12 lb. since the directions say to cook almost everything at 11lb in this particular canner (dial gauge type), that’s just right.
- Usually, this lowest setting is just right, but I do keep an eye on it; if the pressure goes above 12, I might turn the burner off completely or even slide the canner halfway off the burner.