Can I Use My Instant Pot Pressure Cooker for Canning?

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 Q: Can I use my Instant Pot or other pressure cooker for canning?

A: I see this question so often! The answer is absolutely, positively no. Oh yes, I do know there are pressure cooker manufacturers who claim otherwise, but they are putting your life at risk.

First, let's talk about the Instant Pot, which is a popular electric pressure cooker (I love mine! You can learn more about it here.). The manufacture has this to say about canning in the Instant Pot, emphasis mine:
"Instant Pot can be used for boiling-water canning. However, Instant Pot has not been tested for food safety in pressure canning by USDA. Due to the fact that programs in Instant Pot IP-CSG, IP-LUX and IP-DUO series are regulated by a pressure sensor instead of a thermometer, the elevation of your location may affect the actual cooking temperature. For now, we wouldn’t recommend using Instant Pot for pressure canning purpose. Please note this correction to our early inaccurate information."
They kind of talk around themselves, don't they? But basically they are saying you should not use the Instant Pot for canning because the temperature may not be high enough to kill dangerous bacteria in the food. I would add that with water bath canning the jars must be well under water and cannot touch the bottom of the pan. That means there simply isn't enough space in the Instant Pot for safely canning anything.

What about other types of pressure cookers? Quite simply, they are not designed for canning, and they cannot safely can food and make it shelf stable. The National Center for Home Food Preservation makes it clear that pressure cookers cannot hold enough water to safely bring the contents of canning jars to a temperature that kills harmful and deadly bacteria.

In addition to holding too little water, pressure cookers have less metal, which means the time it takes them to come to pressure is shorter than that of a pressure canner. The time it takes them to cool down is also shorter. That might seem like a good thing, but it actually means the food in the jars is heated for less time - and that means bacteria won't be fully killed during processing. "The food," The NCHFP says, "may end up underprocessed. Underprocessed..foods are unsafe and can result in foodborne illness, including botulism poisoning, if consumed."

My personal recommendations:

I love my Instant Pot (here's the model I have) for making dinner when I need my hands and focus free for other things. I also use it to hard boil eggs, cook dried beans, and so much more.

But I use my Presto pressure canner (here's the model I use and recommend) for pressure canning; I also use it as a water bath canner by simply not locking down the lid. (Learn more about that here.) I have also used it as a pressure cooker, but I don't anymore, for two main reasons: 1. It's really big, and therefore difficult to clean in the sink. This isn't an issue when it comes to canning, because the canner stays clean. But when I cook in it, I usually have to scrub it out. 2. Unlike an electric pressure cooker, like the Instant Pot, I have to monitor the Presto as it cooks food. That means it simply uses up more of my time.

For more information, see:

* What You Need to Know About Home Canning and Botulism
* Pressure Canning vs. Pressure Cookers
* Canning 101: Using a Boiling Water Bath Canner
* Canning 101: Using a Pressure Canner

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