Electric Multi Cooker. Photo Credit: by Tucvbif, from Wikipedia Commons
Electric multi-cookers were a popular holiday gift. Recipes, successes, and horror stories were shared all over social media. One of the features of these electric pressure cookers, such as the Instant Pot®, is a pressure canning feature. These appliances are touted as having the ability to quickly and easily process low-acid foods. While this may sound good, there has been no research by the USDA or a university to show that these electric multi-cookers can safely process low-acid food.
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. 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.
The bottom line is that the only safe method for canning low-acid foods is in a pressure canner following a tested recipe from an approved source such as the USDA, National Center for Home Food Preservation, or a university publication. Penn State Extension has a series of safe recipes and procedures called ‘Let’s Preserve’ which are available online or by contacting your local Extension office.
It is important to note that the Ball® FreshTECH Automatic Home Canning System is not an electric multi-cooker. It is specifically designed and has been tested for canning high-acid foods that are included in that appliance’s manual.