Each time I bought a canner I had a hard time deciding which size to buy. Bigger?? Smaller?? What's the most practical? Over time I have learned that there are good reasons for each canner and each size.
I'll start with the 23 Quart Presto. I was able to order it though Home Hardware for around $150.00. It wasn't far from home so I didn't have to pay shipping. I hadn't even laid-eyes on a pressure canner in real-life before I ordered it so it was rather a blind choice based somewhat on internet reviews. No one I knew in real-life pressure canned so I was on my own to figure it out and learn. I remember how scared I was at first - ha ha!! I've heard from many others who had the same experience and left the canner in the closet for a year or two before they screwed up the courage to try it. Hasn't everyone heard a story about a canner exploding all over the ceiling??? I'm sure it might be possible but if you follow the rules and let the canner de-pressurize before you open it - its IMPOSSIBLE!
My 23 quart Presto holds 7 quarts or 14 pints if you stack them in two rows. It depends a little on the size of the pints - some older ones are slightly different sizes. As far as I know this is the biggest size that Presto currently sells. The 16 Quart Presto holds 7 quarts or 9-10 pints. In comparison to the All American it's not too heavy - even when it's full. It's safe to use on my glass top stove - or any other stove for that matter. Mine (exactly as pictured except not as clean - ha ha) has a gauge and a weight and apparently you can get a "jiggler" for it. I'll explain that later. The seal which needs to be replaced every few years has held up for over 6 years with no problems.
The down side of my Presto - I wish it was bigger. If it was just a little taller you could double stack quarts in it - this of course would double your output. I also have trouble with keeping the pressure steady when I use it on my electric stove. Up - down - waaaay up- waaay down...you can't be more than a few steps away from it the whole time. I've gotten used to it. I would guess it would be more steady if it was on a gas stove due to the constant heat as opposed to the cycling nature of the electric stove.
The Presto has served me well and I expect to use it for many years to come.
My All American are absolute brutes. I bought the canners at Lehman's for about $400.00 because I didn't want to pay shipping - they are very heavy! I ones I bought hold 14 quarts and 19 pints - meaning you can process twice as much at a time as the Presto! When I stood in the store second guessing my decision on which sizes because I was dazzled at the choices to buy - I chatted with a few women who were also looking at them. I asked their advice hoping they would steer me in the right direction. One woman mentioned that she didn't have help at home (no daughters or family) so she was happy with the smaller canner. That seemed to make sense for her. I debated for quite awhile but finally decided to GO BIG OR GO HOME. I got two model 930 - 30 quarts. All American's come in many sizes - there are is one size even bigger!!
AA's can NOT be used on glass top stoves - they are too heavy. I have a Chef King double propane stove - it's definitely my favourite "stove" for outdoor use. I also have two kerosene canning stoves for indoor winter use.
So what's MY favourite? By far the All American's. I like to can lots at one time but I usually have help. It depends a lot on what I am canning. Some items require more preparation. Canning 14 jars of most things wouldn't be too much in my home! The quality can't be beat - they are heavy duty and are built so you can hand them down to your kids in your will - if they aren't tired of canning before then!
If cost is a factor - and when ISN"T it - I would buy the Presto first and save up for the All American to be purchased at a later date. I have NEVER seen one for sale second-hand but if that option opened up I would be careful. The gauge can be damaged and then the pressure would not be correct. I have still not been able to find a place in Ontario where you can take the canner to have the pressure checked - if anyone knows please let me know.
Pressure canning is a huge leap forward in being able to preserve your own food. You can process meat, soups, low acid vegetables and everything has ONLY what YOU put in it - no chemicals or preservatives - no impossible to read ingredients. Healthy and delicious and FUN too - and I promise the canner won't blow up! What'cha waiting for????