When people hear about or see an all American pressure canner for the first time, they sometimes easily mistake it for the pressure cooker. They do look quite a bit alike which makes people wonder what the difference is if they are not familiar with kitchen appliances. Basically, they both operate on the same principle of using pressure to do their job. However, the canner simply heats the food to kill bacteria and prepare it for storage, where the cooker is used to completely cook food in a quick manner.
Visually, one of the biggest differences is the size of the all American pressure canner and the cooker. Each appliance has various sizes to suit the need of the consumer, but the cooker runs much smaller than the canner. Cookers are only meant to prepare food for a single meal and canners are meant to prepare much larger batches of food in jars.
Another difference is the materials that each appliance is made out of. Both are made from durable materials in order to withstand the pressure and heat that are used. Canners are made out of materials such as aluminum due to its ability to conduct heat better than other materials such as stainless steel. Cookers on the other hand are made out of materials such as stainless steel, aluminum or a combination of the two because they are under much more pressure than a canner.
A big advantage of buying the all American pressure canner over the cooker is the fact that the canner can actually operate as a cooker also, but not vice versa. However, due to its large size, it is not always convenient to use such a big appliance for such a small job. Typically you would prepare a small amount of food for a single meal and because of that, you may want to own both appliances for efficiency and convenience.
Both appliances operate with a pressure system, however each is slightly different. Cookers operate with a standard steady pressure of 15 psi. The low-pressure settings allow you to cook food, such as fish, which is normally not something that is cooked in a pressure cooker. A canner like the all American pressure canner though, has various pressure settings. Different sized jars will need a different pressure setting and different types of food with various acidity levels are canned with different pressures as well.
So although there are similarities between the all American pressure canner and the pressure cooker, they are two completely different appliances with two different purposes. They are made out of different materials, come in different sizes and use varying amounts of pressure. If you want to prepare large amounts of food and save it for a long period of time, canning is the best option for you. However, if your time is limited and want to be able to prepare meals very quickly, a pressure cooker is the better option.