Smooth cook-top stoves: Can they be used for canning?

There can be both stove safety issues and food safety issues when canning on a smooth cook-top stove. Know your stove to determine if you can safely use it to preserve your home canned foods.

Should I can on my smooth cooktop stove? That is a popular question Michigan State University Extension receives when someone is considering buying a new stove or when canning season begins. There is not one correct answer. Our recommendation, taken from the National Center for Food Preservation, is to check with the stove’s manufacturer and find out what they recommend. Styles of smooth cook-top stoves being manufactured today are different, and it’s those differences that influence whether the stove should be used for canning.

There are some issues that need to be taken into consideration when canning on a smooth cook-top stove.

  • The stove’s cook-top can be damaged from the high heat that reflects back onto the surface. This is especially a problem if the canner is larger than what is intended for the burner being used. This damage can cause:
  1. A white top to discolor
  2. The burner itself could be damaged
  3. The glass top could crackle or crack completely
  4. The metal in the pan can actually fuse to the glass top
  • Most smooth cook-top stoves have temperature limits built into the burners and will automatically shut off when the temperature gets too high on that burner. That is a great feature as far as safety goes for the stove, but it’s not good if you are canning something and the burner shuts off. When canning, there must be steady continuous heat for the entire processing time so that the food being canned will be safe.
  • Many canners do not have flat bottoms so will not work well on a smooth cook-top stove. The manufacturer of the stove may be able to give you alternatives or suggestions for equipment that you can use on your stove. Be sure that the person you are talking to about your stove understands:
  1. How large your boiling water bath canner or pressure canner is
  2. How long it must be heated at high heat
  3. How long the hot canner may sit on the burner until it cools after the processing time
  4. Tell them if the canner is made from aluminum

Some pressure canner manufacturers say that their canners can be used on smooth top stoves, so if you find you are able to can on your stove, make sure that the bottom of the canner is completely flat. Uneven pot bottoms cause problems with the cycling of smooth top burners as well as lead to extremely long times for the canner to get hot enough to begin the canning process.

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