Pressure Canning with an Instant Pot. Can you?? Or can’t you?? Why?
I totally understand that pressure canners can be intimidating. And I also understand why people would want to use an instant pot for canning. But for pressure canning, it is not a good option. As popular as the instant pot is, it is simply not ok for pressure canning. No, not even the one that has that canning setting.
- For some people an Instant Pot seem less intimidating than a standard pressure canner.
- It’s also a set and forget type tool. No monitoring any gauges as it works.
- Many people have them in their kitchens already.
- And finally they can be (but not always)a bit cheaper than buying a brand new pressure canner.
What you need to keep in mind is the food safety aspect. There are risks with canning with an Instant Pot. It is not best way to be preserving the foods you love.
And finally I’ll share a canning option that might work in a pinch where you CAN use an instant pot. (hmmm this is interesting!) This option is not for pressure canning, that is never a good option. But for a small batch water bath, your pot might just work.
Temperatures needed for Pressure canning.
For the complete new person to home canning. There are 3 ways of processing foods.
Each item in my list above links to a more complete explanation if you want to learn more. But in short….
Water Bath and Steam Canning are both for high acid foods, like fruit, jam or pickles. These foods do not need to be under pressure to be properly preserved.
Pressure Canning – It is the low acid foods which need pressure canning where people want to use the instant pot as a substitute for a standard pressure canner. These are foods like vegetables, all meats and any food that includes meats and vegetables. (think soup or stew)
People want to use the Instant Pot for pressure canning low acid foods. But there are issues that make that difficult.
Canning in an Instant Pot
Sometimes I answer questions with the answer that ‘it has not been tested’. So therefore the safety aspects are unknown. It not recommended simply because it has not been tested.
However…. In this instance there has been testing. And it does show that these types of electric cookers (Including the instant pot) do not hit the high temperatures needed for canning safely.
Testing the Instant Pot for Home Canning.
According to the Utah State University, there has been testing done that does indeed show that the Instant pot does NOT hit the actual cooking temperature needed for safe canning.
“The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has recommended against electric pressure cookers being used for canning, and now we have our own data showing that they just don’t hit the high temperature needed for canning safely at our altitudes.”Utah State University
When you are canning low acid foods, you really must pay attention to the temperatures. The temperature needed to stop botulism is 240 to 250. And this temperature must be maintained for the complete processing time to ensure that the center of each canning jar and its contents also reaches the safety level.
Instant Pot website information
The instant pot website itself has a graph showing how the heat performs during it’s pressure cooking cycle. And the actual cooking temperatures during the cycle. (https://instantpot.com/technology/how-electric-pressure-cookers-work/)
The heat reaches a high temperature of 253F to begin with, then slightly reduces and fluctuates up and down between 242F and 239F.
The temperature needed to stop botulism is 240 to 250. They key is; that temperature must be maintained for a certain amount of time depending on the food you are canning.
So that means, the lower temperature of 239 is not enough to stop botulism.
Yes the 242 and up is… but when your temperatures drop during processing you need to start your timing over.
You have to keep the temperatures above 240 for the entire processing time. As of right now that is not possible with the instant pot.
There is simply no way to ensure correct processing with the way the instant pot works now. It is for pressure cooking not canning.
Can you do water bath canning in an Instant Pot?
This is where canning with an Instant Pot IS possible.
There may be times when you can use an Instant Pot for canning. Remember no pressure is needed for a water bath. There are a few requirements for water bath canning and if you can meet this you can use any pot.
- You must have a rack on the bottom of your canner. Your trivet might work.
- The jars must be covered with 1-2 inches of water when it is boiling. Measure yours and see if it is tall enough.
- You must be able to maintain a boil for the entire processing time. Will your instant pot maintain a boil? Or does it cycle up and down which affects the boil? Test it first to see if it will boil for the full processing time.
I checked my instant pot and it meets all requirements. Thus, it is ok for me to can with the water bath method because all of this is possible. You have to check YOUR model to see if it all applies.
Can You Use an Instant Pot to Seal Jam Jars?
Just like any water bath canning project, to safely can jam or jelly you need to have a couple inches of water over your jars, you need to be able to maintain a boil for the full processing time, and you need a rack below your jars. The instant pot seems to work fine for this.
I tested my instant pot with these two jars of water. I have the Instant Pot Duo Crisp Air Fryer model.
One of these jars is an 8 oz jelly jar and the other a 2 oz jelly jar. For my instant pot, pint jars would be too tall. But the smaller jars fit with enough space for a couple inches of water above the jar.
I used the saute feature which heated the water to a nice rolling boil. The boil was maintained without cycling up and down for about 10 minutes.
So, Yes I would say I can safely process jam or jelly jars in this instant pot. However each instant pot model is different so please be sure and test your pot. A downfall would be that the quantity of jars is limited.
Although it might seem it would work to use the instant pot as a water bath canner….. In reality, my opinion is that it would be much easier though to just use a nice large stockpot if you don’t have a traditional water bath canner.
If you use the instant pot to can jam, leave the lid off the pot, or just set it on slightly ajar. You do not want any pressure build up.
Two reasons people really want to use their Instant Pot for home canning.
Users may be intimidated by pressure canners.
So back to the pressure canning possibilities. I know many people are intimidated by pressure canners. They are big old pots, with dials and gaskets in the lid and…..gasp PRESSURE!
I want to convince you that they are NOT to be feared. I want you to have a healthy respect for botulism and how serious that sickness can be.
Modern pressure canners have all kinds of safety features. Home food preservation has come through quite some growth since the old days. The gauges are different, dial gauge and weighted gauge are both available.
They all have a pressure safety valve. (I call it the mighty plug in my pressure canning confidence course).
If you are afraid, check out this article which explains how pressure canners work and goes over all the various parts and what they do. –> Knowledge conquers fear.
Get to know your equipment and get to filling your pantry.
Convenience – You already have an Instant Pot, why not use it?
I know Pressure Canners can be expensive and it may be tempting you to try the instant pot. After all you already have it, you’ve read online that you can use it. But I’m here to say…. don’t try it. Instead, get yourself a canner and do things correctly.
Ask friends and family to keep an eye out for a canner at second hand stores. Let it be known that you are looking. There is a chance that someone you know has a canner gathering dust on a shelf and would be glad to either give or sell it to you at a discount.
The Instant Pot is great for cooking dinner, but pressure canning? Not so much.
It is a great tool for for cooking fantastic dinners! But the instant pot is a no for home canning.
To my knowledge the USDA does NOT test specific brands of pressure canners. They offer advice for safely processing. The testing done that is mentioned in this article was on electric pressure cookers. The Instant Pot is simply a brand of electric pressure cooker.
Again not to my knowledge. In my opinion there may be a day soon when there will be an electric pressure canner that will reach USDA recommendations. The Presto Electric Pressure Canner is a likely candidate and I’ve got my opinions on that too.
But that is just my opinion… it has not happened yet. I hope it is soon!
Pin this to find later!
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Presto Electric Pressure Canner – What about Presto electric pressure canner? Is it safe? Is it approved? What is fact vs fiction? It might be good news to hear that.