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Dear Editor,

I want to can the harvests I get from my home garden, but I have a ceramic-top stove. I’ve heard you can’t can on them. Is that true?

N.H.

Dear N.H.,

Canning on a ceramic-top stove is problematic for three reasons. First, the stove may not be able to hold the weight of a pressure canner or boiling bath canner without cracking. Second, there is concern that the large size of the canner could cause the glass to overheat, causing it to crack or even fuse the canner to the stove. And finally, some ceramic-top stoves have a safety feature (to keep the glass from overheating) that causes the burners to cycle on and off, which can make maintaining a constant temperature for canning difficult.

Because of these issues, there are a few stove companies that actually threaten to void your warranty if you can on a ceramic or glass top. All that being said though, there are plenty of people who use their ceramic-top stoves to can every year and never have a single bit of trouble. I’m one of them.

I would suggest you call your stove manufacturer and see if they say no to canning on their stoves. If they say it’s okay (or if you don’t care), there are a few steps you can take to help protect your stove.

1.       Use the smallest canner possible. A few extra batches might be worth the trouble if it keeps your stove from cracking. Definitely avoid weights over fifty pounds.

2.       Pick your canner up to move it—don’t slide it. (Another reason to keep the canner as light as possible.) Sliding the canner can scratch the surface of your stove.

3.       Use a smooth-bottomed canner. Textured bottoms can trap heat and cause overheating. Presto (the brand I own) makes several canners that are marketed as being safe for ceramic stoves.

4.       Clean up spills IMMEDIATELY, particularly if the spills have sugar in them. Allowing sugary spills to remain on the cook surface can pit your glass, making it more likely to crack.

5.       Try a test batch before you get too immersed in canning, just to make sure that your stove can maintain the pressure and temperature needed to can safely.

If you aren’t prepared to risk your stove but aren’t planning to replace it any time soon, you have other options as well. Some people use a small propane burner to can on—either the burner for a turkey fryer or a side burner on a grill. Just make sure it’s up to holding the weight of your canner and that you only use it outdoors. You can also purchase a heavy-duty hotplate for less than $50 (sometimes as low as $25) that you can use indoors on your countertop instead.

Good luck with your canning endeavors!

The Editor

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Dear Editor,

I want to start baking my own bread, but I’m new to the whole thing. Can you recommend any resources to help me learn how to make bread on my own (without a breadmaker)?

K.M.

Dear K.M.,

There are lots and lots of resources available to you, from online how-to’s to printed recipe books. My personal favorite is a book recommended to me by a cousin. It’s called Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. Available online for less than $20 (or a little more in a bookstore), this book gives you simple, no-knead recipes for all sorts of breads, from free-form loaves to sandwich bread to pretzels and bagels.

Although the recipes in this book call for store-bought yeast and flour, once you get the hang of the process, I’m sure you can adapt the recipes to use your own dried and liquid starters and home-ground flours. I use the recipes in this book almost every week and love the results I get.

Enjoy baking! There is nothing like the smell of your own bread cooking in the oven!

The Editor

If you’d like to contact the editor, please send an email to [email protected]

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