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The ONLY canner you need, is a pressure canner. It does it all.
Most people buy a waterbath canner, learn to can in that, and then buy a pressure canner. But you really don't NEED a waterbath canner if you have a pressure canner.
You can waterbath jars in a pressure canner, the same as you can in a waterbath canner, if you like. If you want to save time, you can use the pressure canner as a steam canner, and your life just got a whole lot simpler!
Ok, so a pressure canner costs a bit more, but it is worth paying the extra, to save money long term (if you are able).
When you choose a pressure canner, get one that allows you to stack jars, if you can afford it. Something as large as an All American 30 or 41 quart canner is HEAVY, and BIG, and presents problems of its own, so make sure you research well before you get something that big, make sure you can lift it, and the stove can handle it, etc.
I recommend a Presto 23 qt. It is a roomy canner, very easy to use (easier to use than an All American), and has a good manual (save you the price of the Ball canning book since it has reprints from it). There are many other canners of this size also, and it is a nice size to work with. You can stack pints and smaller, but not quarts.
You DON'T have to have the canner filled to run a cycle. You can run partial loads, and it is faster to do, because it takes less time to heat up and cool down, so it won't waste energy to do so. Ends up about the same running a partial load in a large canner, as it does to run a full load in a small canner.
You can STACK jars if you are using the canner as a steam canner, or pressure canner. You really CAN'T stack jars in most waterbath canners, the water just has to be too deep.
Skip the waterbath canner, just get a good Pressure Canner, and learn to can according to your comfort level. It is a great skill to learn!
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