Analog dial versus a weighted gauge - which is the best for pressure canning?
I grew up using a weighted gauge canner. My ears are well-tuned for listening to the pot "speak" through the jiggle of the gauge. I know 30 feet away without looking at the pot whether the pressure is going a little too high. One time the canner "told" me that the gasket had ripped by its insistent sputtering and spewing, and to abort the process until everything cooled and I could safely replace the gasket! On the downside, these older canners are not as precisely made as the newer ones, and oftentimes even the newest gasket can't stop a little steam from escaping the sides of the canner. Thus, it takes longer for the canner to reach pressure, and more energy to do so. Time and energy...
I've got a new canner that I trust and am now selling through our cannery: the Presto 23-quart Pressure Canner. It has an analog gauge - that is, you SEE the pounds of pressure by watching the dial (instead of listening to a jiggle).
I have to stick pretty close to this pot as the pressure is rising to its optimum level because once the pressure begins to rise, it gains momentum quickly. The new canner reaches pressure in about 1/2 the time of my older models (all Mirros) because the lid is very tight and doesn't leak any steam at all. So even though I'm wary about walking too far from its side, I'm saving time and energy every day by using it!
OK, Presto, you owe me for this plug! But seriously, this canner is a good bang for the buck. And I also recommend the 23-quart over the 16-quart because it's only a few dollars more, but you can fit 18 pints compared to 9 pints.
If you still have your older weighted gauge canner and you're comfortable with it, just remember to always have a spare gasket handy! If you're using a newer, analog model, remember to take it to your county extension office once a year to have it recalibrated. These gauges can lose their accuracy after many uses. Happy canning!