Presto pressure cookers and canners are manufactured and marketed by the National Presto Industries, Inc. The National Presto Industries, Inc. is a leading manufacturer of housewares/small appliances, defense and absorbent products in North America. It is publicly traded in the New York Stock Exchange.
Founded in Eau Claire, Wisconsin in 1905 as “Northwestern Steel and Iron Works”, it manufactured industrial-sized pressure canners (e.g. 50 gallons) called “canner retorts”. It was until 1915 that the company started manufacturing large-sized pressure canners for home use. The first saucepan style pressure cooker was introduced in 1935 under the trade name of “Presto”. The company name was changed to “National Presto Industries, Inc. in 1953.
For over 100 years, Presto’s business philosophy has been to anticipate the American consumer’s needs and fulfill those needs through product innovation, high quality manufacturing process.
Types of Pressure Cookers
Presto designs and manufactures two types of pressure cookers, regular pressure cookers and pressure canners. Most of their products are manufactured in Asia, mainly in China.
Capacity Sizes and Materials
The pressure cookers range from 4 to 8 quart in liquid capacity to serve the needs from singles, small to large family needs. The canners are in 16 and 23 quart liquid capacity with varying canning capacities from 12 half-pints, 10 pints, 7 quarts to 24 half-pints, 20 pints and 7 quarts for the two respective sizes.
The pressure canners are all made of warp-resistant heavy-gauge aluminum. The pressure cookers are made of two types of materials. The first type is of 100% heavy-duty aluminum and the second made of stainless steel with a tri-clad base (stainless steel + aluminum) for superior heat conductivity and durability and easy cleaning.
The cooking pot and the lid are sealed with a silicone gasket for all the pressure canners and cookers.
Two types of pressure regulators are deployed in different types of canners/cookers. The first kind is the weighted-top pressure regulator with a vent pipe, an air vent/cover lock, a pressure relief valve and an overpressure plug. This is an enhanced “Grandma’s” version of the pressure regulating mechanism.
The improvement is the air vent/cover lock where you can visually see if the pressure starts to build in the cooker. When so, the little pin in the air vent will pop up to lock the lid securely so it won’t be opened during the cooking process and until the pressure is fully released. In some models, a pressure relief valve is designed as a secondary safety measure in the event when the primary valve is blocked by food particles.
The second type is a fully-enclosed pressure regulating system where the vent pipe, the primary pressure regulator, the steam release valve are built in the primary cover handle. The air vent/cover lock and the overpressure plug are designed into the secondary handle.
The advantages of the second design over the first kind are numerous:
- It’s quieter as it won’t have the constant rocking and hissing sound from the weighted top.
- It’s safer. The vent pipe is not exposed in the open to have hot steam escape into the air.
- It retains more moisture and flavors from the food as it is in a fully enclosed environment.
All Presto pressure cookers and canners are only suitable for 15 psi (pounds per square inch) which is a standard for all pressure cooking. If you cook more delicate foods such as fish and vegetables, you may have to reduce the cooking time a little bit to offset the high pressure level.
I guess you may consider the air vent as a pressure indicator as explained above. In the case of the pressure canners, there is a pressure dial gauge on top of the lid to indicate the pressure level in the cooker.
Pressure Release Methods
Two traditional methods (cold water and natural release) work for all pressure canners and cookers. The more recent design also has an automatic pressure release dial in addition to the two methods.
The canners have two short handles. The pressure cookers have two short handles and one short + one long handles design. The handles are made of stay-cool material.
All the pressure cookers made of stainless steel are suitable for all cooking surfaces: Gas, electric, ceramic and induction while those made of aluminum are good on all cooking ranges except for induction.
All the products come with Instructions and a recipe book. Some also include a rack or a steamer.
One pressure cooker can be fully immersed in the water for cleaning. All the stainless steel pressure cookers are dishwasher safe after removing the pressure regulator, the gasket, and the overpressure plug. All those made of aluminum are for hand wash only.
Presto is the best in terms of offering a 12-year limited manufacturer warranty while the industry average is only 10-year.
The few models with hundreds of customer reviews are rated as 4.5 or better. Presto is a very popular brand among consumers in the U.S..
Presto’s number one product strength is the affordable pricing. The pressure cookers range from $30 to under $200 with a majority of them under $100.
Presto’s pressure cookers and canners are synonymous with pressure cooking for the American consumers. People love the affordable price, functional design, multiple safety features, both canners and cookers, the variety of capacity sizes and the 12-year warranty.
There are several weaknesses in the brand such as the lack of multiple pressure levels in the design and the gasket as a seal between the cooking pot and the lid. Granted gasket is very prevalent in most of the pressure cookers around the world.
Presto would be an excellent choice for folks who are interested in trying pressure cooking or canning. If you don’t like it, it wouldn’t be a huge financial loss. On the other hand, I’ve read many seasoned veterans who just loved using Presto pressure cookers and canners.