Thursday, September 15, 2022

Guest Post: the Presto Precise

by George Groot

George is a member of our Facebook Group and has written for us before.

The Presto Precise 10-Quart Multi-use Programmable Pressure Cooker Plus is probably not what you consider a “blue collar prepping” device at $130, we are a family of four, live in a modest suburban neighborhood, and have scheduled activities for our two sons nearly every night of the week. For us, at this point in our lives, time is the most precious commodity, and therefore we find value in time-saving devices. After careful consideration we purchased this device; in addition to being a pressure cooker & slow cooker, it is also a water bath canner and pressure canner, but the reason for the purchase was the pressure canning function.

Here are a few of the better reasons why we spent over twice what a quality stovetop pressure cooker would cost:
  1. Small scale. It is easier to work in “small batch canning” here and there when things are on sale, and the device does all the temperature and pressure monitoring. We have experience with stovetop (external heat) water bath and pressure canners, and they should definitely be part of everyone’s prep skills, so this augments that nicely while the power is still on.
  2. Convenience. That “small batch canning” turns cooking dinner into an opportunity to make leftovers soups and stews into preps, as making a big batch when things like pork, chicken or beef are on sale is relatively smart. This means instead of dedicating a large amount of time to “canning” as an activity, it’s now available as a relatively easy chore to work into the daily schedule.
  3. Low acid foods. Dried beans are a staple in our diet, but they aren’t particularly quick to make into edible foodstuffs, so turning a 2 pound bag of dried beans into shelf stable, ready to go cooked beans is super helpful. And due to their low acid content, you need to pressure can beans.
  4. The time/value equation. How much is your time worth? With a stovetop canning setup, you are the only control system to make sure the water doesn’t boil off, that enough pressure is there throughout the canning cycle, and so when you are “canning” you aren’t doing much else away from canning. This is generally not a problem... unless you start having competing requirements such as caring for young children or elderly parents, or even wanting to do something for yourself. With the Presto Precise, you can safely walk away once the pressure canner is set up and, as long as you don’t lose power, come back to a finished product.
  5. Waste heat management. No need to turn on the stove; as a self-contained appliance there is much, much less waste heat in the house until we release the pressure. This means that canning in the summer time isn’t a sweat-filled sauna session just because we had a few extra pints or quarts of stew, or produce was on sale.  Be advised, however, if you use the Presto Precise as a water bath canner (its alternate function by removing the pressure release valve) you will have to deal with more waste heat... but being better able to manage that excess heat is a nice feature.
Is this appliance as good a prep for you as it is for us? The answer is “it depends.” 
  • Yes: If you have the money to spare on one, and you intend to use it regularly to build up your pantry, and you have a good place to store it where it won’t be forgotten, then go for it.
  • No: If you use canning mainly as a seasonal thing (preserving stuff from the garden, or only after a hunt/large animal slaughter) then cheaper external heat water bath and pressure canners are what I would recommend, since those have worked well for over a century now.
For us, it's a 4 out of 5 star purchase. It's electricity dependent, which knocks off a star, but since we already had extensive water bath canning supplies (mostly from thrift stores), it filled a niche. My family has used both water bath canning and the pressure canner this season to preserve food, and the Presto Precise is definitely more convenient to use, even if the throughput isn’t super high. It works for us, in our space, and I’m glad I made the purchase. So far the most difficult thing about having it is convincing our youngest child that the refrigerator is where he needs to go for food, not mom’s canned foods in the garage.

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