Author of Be Ready for Anything and Bloom Where You’re Planted online course
Instant Pots and other countertop pressure cookers are great for getting a meal on the table fast. But for all the people asking if you can use them for pressure canning low acid foods, the answer is a decisive NO.
First, let’s backtrack to some pressure canning 101. If you plan to preserve meat or vegetables, they must be pressure canned because of their low acid content. Low-acid foods have to be preserved at a higher temperature than high-acid foods. The low-acid environment welcomes the growth of bacteria like botulism, a form of food poisoning that can cause permanent nerve damage or even death.
Pressure canning exceeds the temperature of water bath canning, getting your product into the safety zone. The temperature must reach 240 degrees Fahrenheit, which can only be achieved through steam under pressure. All vegetables (except for tomatoes which are botanically a fruit), meats, seafood, and poultry, must be preserved in a pressure canner.
Pressure canners and pressure cookers aren’t the same things.
A lot of folks think that using a pressure cooker for canning foods will work and part of this is because of the incorrect information included in the package of the cookers. According to Food Safety News:
Some manufacturers of electric multi-cooker appliances have been including directions for home canning with their products since they began marketing them, according to the National Center for Home Food Preservation. The companies have not done process development work to document temperatures throughout the units remain at a given pressure and throughout the whole process time, according to the Center. (source)
But pressure cookers haven’t been proven by the National Center for Food Preservation to reach and maintain the correct temperatures to keep your food safe.
“A common misconception about home canning is that the goal is to get the jar to seal. While having a strong seal is important, the most critical factor is whether the food inside the jar is safe to consume,” according to information from Penn State. “When food is heated inside the jar during the canning process, factors such as the density of the food, size of the food pieces, and size of the jar are figured into the process calculation.
“The entire thermal process including the heat-up to cool-down steps contribute to the destruction of harmful microorganisms. Electric multi-cookers tend to heat up and cool down quickly. Since heat transfer has not been specifically studied in this environment with this type of appliance, it is not recommended to use the canning feature of electric multi-cookers.”
…“We do not know if proper thermal process development work has been done in order to justify the canning advice that is distributed with these pressure multi-cooker appliances. What we do know is that our canning processes are not recommended for use in electric pressure multi-cookers at this time,” according to the center.
The center does have instructions for the public on proper canning techniques using stove-top pressure cookers, but those instructions to not apply to electric multi-cooker appliances. Even if such cookers have buttons or settings for “canning” or “steam canning” the devices should not be used for such purposes.
“Bacteria are not killed in the food only during the process time; the time it takes the canner to come up to pressure, the process time, and the cool-down time all matter,” according to the center. (source)
It’s just not worth the risk when you can get a pressure canner for less than $100.
Get The Prepper’s Canning Guide
How to Pressure Can When You Have a Glass Top Stove
There are no shortcuts in canning.
There aren’t any shortcuts in canning. Just ask the Washington man who ended up paralyzed by botulism after consuming some improperly canned game.
Let me be as clear as possible. THERE ARE NO SHORTCUTS IN CANNING. You have to do things properly, adhering to tested methods that result in the safest possible product. Would you risk the above scenario happening to your child, all because you don’t want to use a pressure canner? It’s really not difficult at all. The Prepper’s Canning Guide provides simple, step-by-step instructions that will walk you through the methods of making your home-preserved food as safe as possible.
We have the equipment available to make things far safer than Grandma did. The refusal to use it would be like refusing to put your infant in a car seat or refusing to ask your toddler to buckle up in the car. We know these things are safe, so we do them, despite the fact that most of us survived many a car ride standing on the center armrest of the front seat, gleefully watching the road ahead while keeping one hand on the parent beside us for balance.
I strongly encourage the home preservation of food. It’s simple, inexpensive, and fun. Just do it safely, follow instructions, and remember, THERE ARE NO ACCEPTABLE SHORTCUTS IN CANNING. Just because your great grandmother didn’t die from botulism, it doesn’t mean you or your loved ones won’t. It’s simply not worth the risk.
This is too funny. I was just looking up this information yesterday.
I calculated the total force inside of my “smaller” sized 16Qt. Pressure canner, based on measured and approximated internal surface area and the pressure required at my altitude. My unit will generate about 8,000 lbs of force during the normal canning process. The safety blows at something like 12,000 lbs. Larger ones will be higher pressures due to increased size. Do you really want to trust a little countertop model with your safety?