Canning 101: Can You Safely Can on a Glass Top Stove?

Andrea's stove

Obviously, this is not a flat top stove. I didn’t have a picture a picture of one, so this is standing in.

In the last two days, I’ve gotten three different questions about canning on glass top stoves. And so, I figured it was high time that I added a blog post to the Canning 101 archive to explain why it’s not recommended and how you can potentially work around those warnings. Read on for more!

If you are the owner or regular user of a glass top stove, you may have heard that you’re not supposed to do any canning on your smooth, easy-to-clean stovetop. For long time canners who find themselves with these stoves, this news can be quite a blow.

There are three primary reasons why manufacturers recommend against canning on a glass top stove. The first is that many older canners have concave bottoms. When you combine a concave bottom with a flat surface, heat, and water, there is a risk that a seal will form between the canner and the stovetop. It’s not a huge deal until you go to move a canner that has suctioned itself to the stove. The seal can be strong enough that attempting to move the canner can result in a cracked or shattered stove top (this can also happen if you put a lid on your flat surface).

The second reason that it’s not recommended is that a full canner load of seven quart jars can be heavier that the stove top can bear. Even if your pot has a flat bottom, if it ends up weighing more that the glass surface can bear, you can still end up with a broken range.

The third reason is that some glass top stoves cycle the heat on and off, and so aren’t able to hold a steady boil. If you can’t hold a canner at a constant boil, you cannot guarantee that you’re getting the full level of heat penetration necessary for your preserves to be sterilized and safely shelf stable.

Happily, not all is lost for potential canners with flat glass top stoves. You can eliminate the risk of breakage through suction by using a pot with a flat bottom. A light-weight stainless steel stock pot (like this one) works well as a canning pot and will never seal itself to your stove. It also has the added benefit of being light enough to prevent the surface from cracking or breaking due to too much weight.

There is the issue of maintaining a rolling boil. Some stoves can do it and others can’t. Test your stove by bringing a pot of water to a boil and tracking the temperature with a candy thermometer while it boils. Does it stay at or near to 212 degrees F? Or does the temperature fluctuate a great deal? If you can maintain a rolling boil, you should be good to go.

And, if all else fails, get yourself an induction burner and an induction capable pot and run that as your processing station. Where there is a canning will, there is always a way.

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37 Responses to Canning 101: Can You Safely Can on a Glass Top Stove?

  1. 1
    Sue says:

    I couldn’t have said it better, Marisa! When I got me new cooktop, I as appalled that the booklet said canning was not recommended.
    I gave away my wonderful 30 year-old canner, but after a year I couldn’t take it. I read webpage after webpage of other’s experiences, and decided to chance it. I bought a smaller Presto canner (they approve theirs for a glass top), and started back up. That was seven years ago, and no problems. I do make sure I LIFT the canner so I don’t scratch the stove, and try not to can more than two loads at a time, so that I don’t cause undo stress on the heating elements.
    Also, I pressure can everything, including fruits and tomatoes, as this takes less water and shorter cooking times.

    • 1.1
      Liza says:

      What is the model of your presto cnner My cooktop is 50 pound weight limit. Argh. Its in a rental. I hate those stove tops.

  2. 2
    Patricia N. says:

    I guess that ignorance is bliss. I only knew about the flat bottomed pan, bought one and went right on canning. Never had a problem. No where did I read about not using it for canning.

  3. 3
    Dayna says:

    Last year I canned 75 lbs of tomatoes on my glass top stove and never even considered it might be an issue! Everything seemed to work out fine- but good to know!

  4. 4

    I also use the presto pressure canner on my glass top, but it can be a bit hard to keep the pressure consistent at the 11lb of pressure recommended for canning meat with a gauge. Since the presto only comes with 5lb and 15lb weights, I got an adjustable weight that can go to 10lb and it now keeps perfect pressure with minimum fussing.

  5. 5
    Ann says:

    I use a stockpot and one of these “mini” canning racks
    http://www.kitchenkrafts.com/product/stainless-steel-mini-canning-rack/pressure-and-waterbath-canners

    It works great. I even have spares so I could potentially have two small batches going at once, but I usually do things in smaller batches anyway. (Which is how I found your first book!)

  6. 6
    Rose says:

    I’ve never had a problem with a rolling boil or auction problems with my canner, and luckily, the stovetop can bear the weight of a canner with a dozen half-pint jars!

    I do want a new canner though, as mine keeps getting a white film on my jars. I can clean the jars after sealing, but I can’t imagine it’s good for sterilizing the jars, etc. I’ve read you can add white vinegar to the boiling water, but is that ok during the sterilization? I’m not sure if it’s the pot or the rack or the reaction between them that is causing this haze.

    • 6.1
      Marisa says:

      Rose, the white film on your jars is probably mineral deposits from your water. Do try putting the vinegar in the water. It’s fine to have it in there for the initial jar warming/sterilization.

  7. 7

    A good and inexpensive answer is to buy a butane burner. They cost less than $30.00, fuel is inexpensive and they can be used indoors (as opposed to propane). They look just like a burner and actually work quite well – and fast. Nice to have an extra burner for holiday cooking time, portability to picnics, backyard, etc. Make sure to get one that is URL approved.

    • 7.1
      Sandy says:

      Or if you prefer electric, the plug-in “buffet burner” types are even cheaper! I used a $10-dollar single-burner one for all my cooking for about 6 months in a bare-bones rental, then later for about 12 years a $17, 2-burner model for all stovetop use, in a house we bought that came with an ANCIENT range – the oven just barely held a level temp., the burners were hopeless. What can I say, it worked. :)

  8. 8
    Patti says:

    I canned on a glass cooktop for 10 years, but I had to adjust how I did it in order to make everything work out right. I bought a tall stockpot from Walmart that had a flat bottom and was the same size as the largest burner on the cooktop. I bought one of the Ball starter kits and used the green basket in it as a rack — it fit perfectly in the stockpot. I was able to do 3 pints or 4 half-pints at a time, so this was definitely a small batch operation. :) I found a small pressure cooker and did pressure canning a couple of times, but it was a pain because the microwave was mounted too low in that house.

    Now that we’ve moved to a new house with a gas stove, one of the first things I did was go out and buy a new hot water bath canner so I can do larger batches. :D

  9. 9
    Amy says:

    I have wanted a new range for a few years and did want a flat top since I have a small kitchen (not Marissa-small, but still) and wanted the area for prep-work also. Getting an induction burner occurred to me and I looked at a few, but I wanted to know if they, too, may have a heat cycling issue. Do I need to be just as careful with THAT factor? If not, then I’m ready to move forward and get BOTH my new range and an induction burner so I can can worry-free. :)

    • 9.1
      Paula says:

      I love my plug in induction burner and do all my prep in an enamel covered cast iron pot. However, my pressure canner is aluminum so I must use my glass top stove – but no issues.

  10. 10
    Anne says:

    As a renter, I don’t have much choice when it comes to appliances, and was dismayed to see a glass-top oven in the house we’re currently renting. The unit’s instruction book says not to use oversize pans, but I didn’t have the manual until after I’d canned a couple of batches with a large pan and wondered why even the edges of the stove top got too hot to touch. Scary, and lucky I didn’t destroy the stove or cause a fire. Now I just use my regular stockpot, which means I can only process five half-pints at a time.

    But you’ve got me wondering about the consistent boil, though. I’ll definitely check that before I do any more canning. That’s scary, too. Thanks for the heads-up.

  11. 11
    Janet says:

    I have been canning like a fiend on my glass topped stove for over a year. At times I have even realized I had too many jars for one batch and fashioned a second canner with stockpot and silicone trivet and had both going at once. After I had been canning for a while I read that it wasn’t a good idea, but there is no turning back. I decided maybe since mine was new, they might be better able to do the job. Ha. I have had no trouble maintaining a hard boil at all. But I sure would be bummed if the stovetop cracked….

  12. 12
    Katy Manck says:

    Another option is using a camp stove outside in a sheltered spot.

    Since I’m canning (and canning and canning) sweet pickles for my husband, he’s the jar-sanitizer & canning-kettle guy, using his favorite propane Coleman camp stove in garage with the doors open & big fan going. That way, we can still use our venerable enameled canning kettles, jar rack, etc.

  13. 13
    Kyle says:

    I said adios to my glass top stove yesterday. I had been canning on it all summer without any problems. Then, I had a pot of boiling water going for the canner and a pot going to blanch tomatoes and the whole thing overheated and I got an error that probably meant I’d killed my thermal circuit breaker or temperature sensor or something else related. I bought an induction stove an a Victorio canning pot that can go on it and I’m back in action. Glass-top electric was never meant for a serious cook and it’s a shame that they seem to be the wave of the future.

  14. 14
    Jeanne says:

    I, unfortunately (hate the thing), have a glass top stove and did can my first batch of jam on it, in a flat bottom pot. All went well, it does cycle on an off but the boil stayed strong. I hadn’t thought about the weight when canning, thank you for mentioning it. However, on my second batch I used a canning pot and the concave bottom (which I failed to notice, being a novice) did keep my water from maintaining a good boil…I am hoping for the best because it is super good blackberry jam! I will stick to small canning projects on the stove from now on!!! Oh, and a great reason to get that new gas stove!!! Thanks for this!

  15. 15
    Julia says:

    I’m surprised no one has mentioned processing jars in the oven like Rachel Saunders from the Blue Chair Jam cookbook. I’ve used that method when processing several small jars and it’s so much easier.

  16. 16
    Anna says:

    We are moving this week and, after 6 years of apartments with gas stoves, our new place has a glass top stove. I am already disappointed to lose my gas stove but I hadn’t thought about this dilemma. Thanks for the information and I hope I can proceed with some canning this fall.

    • 16.1
      Caryl says:

      I’ve been using my glasstop for canning for a few years now, but I use a large presto pressure cooker with a flat bottom. I water process tomatoes and pickles and have had no issues — I usually do six or seven quarts at a time and have not had any issues. Two of my burners are adjustable, and one is the exact size of the canner — way too big for most other pots or pans.

  17. 17
    Barbara says:

    I’ve owned 3 or 4 different glass top stoves since the 70s (we’ve moved several times), and I’ve canned on all of them. The most recent canning I did was with my 4th burner pot, but I’ve also used my stainless stock pot and my pressure canner on my 6 year old glass top! I have used my beloved cast iron skillets and Dutch oven on all my glass tops over these past 30 years, and nothing has ever taught me that any of it can’t be done. I LOVE my easy-cleaning glass top stoves! Sure, I’d prefer a nice gas stove, but it has never been available anywhere we have lived.

  18. 18
    Four dogs and one quilter says:

    Have been canning and pressure canning with my Presto canner on my Sears glass top stove for years and have never had a problem. After fiddling with the settings the first time, I know the exact settings to use to maintain a boil or constant pressure.

  19. 19
    Dragon says:

    I bought a glass-top stove a few years ago and have been happily canning on it since I started canning a few years ago.

    I use a beat-up, tall aluminum stock pot (best thing left from my ex-fiance!) and can fit 7 half-pint or 12 oz jars at a time (they have the same footprint) or 4-5 pint jars, with plenty of room for wiggling and water around them. I don’t can in quart jars, so I can’t speak to them.

    Honestly, I’ve never had a problem. I do vary the burners I use, so that I’m not always putting things on the same burner – that’s to save general wear and tear, though, not just for canning.

  20. 20
    Savonarola says:

    I moved a year ago into a house with a glass-top range (we’re renters) and I HATE them. I already knew that, and was devastated to give up my gas stove, but what are you going to do?

    So I’ve been canning a whole lot less, but I have done it. I didn’t worry much about weight — and I’m able to maintain a rolling boil by turning the heat up enough and covering the pot with a venting lid. I can see and hear that I’m getting a good boil, even if my sauces and things are a disaster at lower heat settings because the heat oscillates wildly. It’s super fun trying to get to a steady 220 for set, also.

    The main worry for me has always been etching the surface. Some things splatter quite a lot, and hot sugar is, well, really hot. You wind up putting little pits in the glass surface that not only weaken it but cause problems with heating.

    So, yeah: these are easy enough to clean, if you want to spend all your time keeping them wiped. But they don’t actually do what I want a stove to do – evenly and reliably heat up food.

  21. 21
    Marsely says:

    I lived with one of these terrible things in a rental for two years – my solution to the cylcing on and off of heat (which would cause jam to burn despite my enamelled cast-iron pan!) was to use a heat diffuser (I used the nordic wear heat diffuser from Williams Sonoma). It’s meant to sit on a electric coil stove-top, and it’s concave at the bottom, but I would put it over my burner to keep the heat more consistent, and I had no need to move it until after the surface cooled, so didn’t have the suction issue. It was a big improvement.

  22. 22
    Andrea says:

    Hey – that’s my stove!! :) I’m so glad to see it’s getting its 15 minutes of fame despite being an “antique!”

  23. 23
    Rebecca R says:

    I guess my operation is an accident waiting to happen. I have canned with an American pressure cooker and a concave water bath canner on a glass top stove for 3 years in a row. I do about 135 jars a year pints quarts half pints. I have a Kenmore glass top range. It was new in 2011. I don’t try to move the pot around a lot while using.

    • 23.1
      Cynthia says:

      Can you tell me which All American canner you use? I am new to canning and I have a whirlpool glass stove, so trying to decide which one to buy. Thanks!

  24. 24
    Judy says:

    I can’t agree with you all more….I hate my flat top. Power burner? Hah! I once tried to make jam without pectin….never did hit 220 even though I begged and begged. Ended up with the most rubbery mess. However, for water bath canning, I use a remote thermometer. I don’t have a sanitizer on my dishwasher. So I put the jars in the canner, turn it on high, set the thermometer for 208 and let the probe float in the water. Once there I set my timer for 10 minutes and voila…my jars are sanitized. Temperature cycling on a flat top? I feel your pain.

  25. 25
    tash says:

    I have a glass top. I was so happy when we bought our house and I could get one, our old apartment had a gas stove and I hated it. I hate the smell the most and with gas I always feel like something is going to blow up. With regular electric stoves they are hard to clean, the glass top is great.

    I have done lots of batches of jam, pickles, and tomato sauce on my glass top with a Presto flat bottom canner. I do leave the lid on all the time to get it to a rolling boil and to keep it there. I have not used the pressure can function of it, just BWB.

    I have also made other temp specific things on my flat top stove such as fudge and no bake cookies. The only thing I ever hard to have a problem with was hard candy and I think I just needed a bigger pot since it kept trying to boil over.

  26. 26
    Emily says:

    I canned for three years on our glasstop without even knowing that you’re not necessarily supposed to use them for canning. All good things come to an end though! My first canning project this year, ketchup, I decided to try using my new pressure canner just as a water bath canner, and I had just filled it half way, turned on the stove and CRACK. Broken stovetop. And it was just as cost-effective to replace the whole stove than just get new glass piece. Also luckily my parents were out of town that weekend so I was able to bring my hot, giant pot of ketchup down the street and finish the project without too much of an inconvenience.

  27. 27
    Sharon Bridges says:

    What’s canning , how do I do this?

  28. 28

    The separate standalone plug-in induction burner is very appealing. And about the same cost as a NEW flat-bottom stockpot to replace the Ball “1884” concave enameled canner that doesn’t work well on my electric stove. If I had a separate burner to boil water, then I could use my ONE big burner to make the jam in a wide skillet.

    – Does anyone know if this unloved canning pot will work on an induction cooktop? The Ball website didn’t seem to address my question, but I think it said it is enamel over steel.

    – Will the concave bottom be incompatible with an induction burner?

    – Will the pot’s fairly large diameter be incompatible with an induction burner? DO they come in “larger” burner sizes?

    – Or I can just suck it up, give this pot to Salvation Army, and buy a tall flat-bottomed stock pot.

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