Build an Outdoor Canning Cooker

Build your own inexpensive canning cooker from a 55-gallon drum using this building guide and can large amounts of food outdoors during summer while keeping your house cool.

| May/June 1986

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    Be sure that the 55-gallon drum is clean and free of chemicals, and that it has a bung hole with a screw-type cover at each end (most drums have a large opening at one end and a smaller one at the other).
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    Speaking of firing up, all you need is some kindling and — once the blaze is established — a few good-size logs.
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    When the canning season is over, touch up any exterior rusty spots with spray paint, give the inside and the grating a light coating of WD-40 lubricant, and remove the legs and chain and stash them in the barrel.

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If you can't take the heat, get yourself out of the kitchen and . . . build a super canner! 

Summertime and indoor canning go together like-well, on especially hot days, kind of like fire and brimstone. But look: What's that odd-looking device you see in the photos? It's cooled by nature itself . . . and able to process up to 45 quarts at a time while its owners sit sipping iced tea in the shade! It's inexpensive! It's easy to build! It's a Super Canning Cooker!

Building an Outdoor Super Canning Cooker

To make your own outdoor canning cooker, gather together the materials listed here. Be sure that the 55-gallon drum is clean and free of chemicals, and that it has a bung hole with a screw-type cover at each end (most drums have a large opening at one end and a smaller one at the other).

Now cut the drum and other components as specified. You can use a hacksaw to section the lengths of water pipe and angle iron, but if you don't have a torch or arc welder to cut the drum and metal grating yourself (and to weld the leg-support components together), you'd best find a friend or a metal shop to do the job for you. In any case, remember to retain a little more than half of the drum, enough so — when the canner is filled — the water level will cover the tops of quart canning jars by an inch or two. Also, be sure that the large bung hole, which you'll use to drain the canner, will rest at its lowest point when the canner is mounted on its legs.

Next, make the leg supports by welding each of the 5 inch pieces of water pipe at an angle of about 45 degrees to a 3 inch piece of angle iron (see Photo 1 above and in the image gallery). Then drill two holes in each of the supports, and bore a matching pair of mounting holes at each of the canner's four outside corner edges. (The exact location of the holes at each edge isn't particularly critical, as long as all four pairs are positioned consistently.)

With that done, you'll be ready to attach the supports to the drum, using the quarter-inch bolts. Don't forget to put a flat washer under each bolt head on the inside of the drum and a spring-lock washer under each nut on the outside. And before you tighten the nuts and bolts, be sure to caulk the joints on both sides thoroughly with silicone sealant (I use GE Silicone Clear Household Glue and Seal), to prevent leaks. Spread the goo under the flat washers and between the leg supports and the barrel's sides.

7/27/2011 4:23:53 PM

I was excited about this til I realized it is a water bath unit and not a pressure canner :(

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