College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences; Public Service and Agriculture

Pressure canning dial gauge check by Clemson Extension staff


Contact the local Clemson Extension office to have pressure canning dial gauges checked before the canning season starts.
Contact the local Clemson Extension office to have pressure canning dial gauges checked before canning season starts.
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Pressure canning is an important, safe method of preserving low-acid foods and Clemson Extension staff are available to help South Carolina residents ensure their equipment is ready for the 2023 canning season.

Low-acid foods include meats and vegetables. The dial gauge is one important piece of pressure canning equipment. Clemson Cooperative Extension Service staff members from around the state recently were trained in how to perform accuracy checks on dial gauges to ensure the dials are properly working. South Carolina residents can contact their local Extension office to check availability and make an appointment to have dial gauges tested. Cost is $6 per dial.

Kimberly Baker, Clemson Extension Food Systems and Safety Program team director, said dial gauges are used to indicate the amount of pressure that has built up in a canner. Extension staff only test for accuracy of the dial. 

Kimberly Baker
Kimberly Baker

“People should bring in either the pressure canner lid with the dial attached or the dial removed from the lid,” Baker said. “The test result will let a person know if a dial is accurate, if slight pressure adjustments need to be made, or if the dial should be replaced.”

It is critical to make sure a pressure dial gauge is working properly because if it is not accurate, it is possible that foods can be under processed causing a risk for a foodborne illness to develop when the food is eaten. The most common foodborne pathogen of concern with improperly canned foods is Clostridium botulinum, which causes botulism. Symptoms of botulism include blurred or double vision, general weakness, poor reflexes and difficulty swallowing. Botulism also can result in death. 

People who have further questions about the dial, the pressure canner lid or body, or general questions about pressure canning can contact their closest Clemson Extension Food Systems and Safety agent for assistance.

Pressure canning tends to be most common during the summer and fall when vegetables are being harvested and people are preparing for the winter months. Canning meat can be done throughout the year, particularly for those harvesting their own meat. This method of food preservation has become more popular since the COVID-19 pandemic and the rise in homesteading.


If we are what we eat, then how safe are we? How has food safety changed over time? Everyone plays a role in keeping the food we eat safe. Join our guests Dr. Kimberly Baker from Clemson University and Angie Culler Mathews food safety director at the South Carolina Department of Agriculture as we learn the history of food safety. They explain the difference between a food recall and an outbreak and tell us that in the U.S, we have the safest food supply.
When it comes to food safety, nothing beats hand washing, reading labels, correct cooking and proper storage when preparing food. Angie Culler Mathews, food safety director at the South Carolina Department of Agriculture and Dr. Kimberly Baker from Clemson University explain that everyday we have a safe meal, that is a success! These experts share that we must educate rather than regulate so that everyone along our food supply chains stays safe.
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