Can You Use an Instant Pot for Canning?

I love eating apple spreads, marmalades, and fruit butter. I always have a stack of these in my fridge. Also salsa – can’t do without it.

Recently I have been thinking of canning at home. Having decided to go the healthy way, I am switching to no chemical preservatives.

I wonder if I can use the instant pot for canning?

Can You Use an Instant Pot for Canning?

Yes, you can use the steam canning method for food in the instant pot. You can use an instant pot to do water or steam canning, however, pressure canning is not recommended in the instant pot.

Allow me to explain in detail. Let us first understand canning.

What is Canning?

Canning is a wonderful cooking method that allows you to preserve food (mostly fruits and vegetables) by keeping them in cans. This method does not require any added preservatives and chemicals.

It also saves you from spending unnecessary cash.

However, canning can be dangerous if not done properly.

There are two common types of canning techniques that are used for home canning. One is water bath or steam canning and the other method is pressure canning.

Food high in acidic pHs like jams and jellies are best canned using water and steam.

Foods low in acidic content are best canned using pressure canning methods.

As I mentioned earlier, you cannot use the instant pot as a pressure canner.

Jar Preparation for Canning using an Instant Pot

You have three methods by which you can safely sterilize and prepare your jar for canning :

  • By Hand
  • Using a Dishwasher 
  • Using your Instant Pot

Hand washing is a simple method. Place your jar in the sink and fill it with hot water to sterilize them.  While pouring the hot water, make sure it pours out from the rims.

Another way of sterilizing your can is by placing it inside the dishwasher and using a hot cycle.

Canning Jars can also be sterilized using your very own instant pot! 

How to Sterilize Canning Jars in the Instant Pot

Step 1 – Make sure your jars do not have any cracks or chips anywhere. If there is any crack, the sealing process will not happen.

Step 2 – Place your jars in the sink and put hot water inside. Rinse after some time. Do this just before sterilizing them so the jars remain hot.

Step 3 – Add a cup of water and a spoonful or two of white vinegar. Vinegar helps to keep the jars clean. 

Step 4 – Place a trivet in your instant pot. Add the jars. A six-quart instant pot can comfortably hold six to seven half-pint jars.

Step 5 – Select the steam option and reduce the cycle until it shows one minute on the digital display. Set the vent to sealing position.

Once done, remove the jars from the pot and add hot water to keep them hot.

Steam Canning with an Instant Pot

Let us proceed towards steam canning food using an instant pot.

  • Take the inner pot. Add a penny at the bottom. The vibration of the penny will let you know when the water has started to boil. It will also let you know when your water has dried up. The penny will no longer make a sound in the absence of water. Adding a penny is completely optional. You can skip this if you wish
  • Place the trivet and add three to three and a half cups of water. Make sure the water level has reached the trivet line. Add two spoons of white vinegar.
  • The food you wish to can should be hot. Your jars also need to be hot. Remove the hot water from the jar. Now you have to assemble quickly before the jar or food cools down.
  • Take a funnel and pour your food contents inside. Leave half an inch gap between the food and the rim of the jar.  Take the funnel out.
  • Shake the jar to remove any air bubbles. You can also use a de-bubbler to remove bubbles.
  • The rims should be free from any food for a good seal. Wipe with a kitchen towel before placing the lid.
  • Screw the lid and place the jar on the trivet. Close the lid of the instant pot. Set the valve to venting. Press the steam button
  • Wait for a steady steaming to come out from the valve. Also, wait for the float valve to come up. Once that happens, your processing time has started. The timing depends on your recipe. For apple butter, the processing time is 20 minutes.
  • After the time is over, stop your instant pot. Unplug. Wait for the lid plug to drop.
  • Open your instant pot, lift the jars and place them on a cooling rack. The jars will be hot so you need to protect your hands with gloves or use a jar lifter.
  • Slowly, the seals will start shutting on the jars. You will hear a ‘pop’ sound. What happens is that the hot air starts to escape leaving a vacuum in its place. This vacuum is responsible for the popping sound.
  • Do not touch the jars for the next 12 hours. Once 12 hours have passed, label the jars with the food name and the date of canning.

For visual clarity regarding the entire procedure, watch the video below.

Let us now look into some helpful tips for steam canning in an instant pot

Tips for Canning Food Safely Using an Instant Pot

  • Read the instruction manual of your particular instant pot
  • Make sure you have all the ingredients and materials to can your food
  • Follow the steps stated above accurately. The processing time should begin only after the steam starts rising steadily and the float valve comes up
  • The food and the jar, both need to be hot before canning. Just before canning, throw out the hot water from the jar and replace it with food
  • The maximum processing time should be under 45 minutes. There are high chances of water drying up in the instant pot.
  • Avoid touching, cleaning, and shifting the canned jars during the twelve hours cooling time. 
  • If any of your jars don’t seal, you need to reprocess the food. Pour the contents out into a new jar and start the reprocessing again. If the food does not seal again, store it in the fridge and consume it soon.

The Relationship Between Elevation and Processing Time

Depending on the elevation level of your city, adjust the processing time as follows :

  • 1000-3000ft: Increase the processing time by adding five more minutes
  • 3000-6000ft: Increase the processing time by adding ten more minutes
  • 6000-8000ft: Increase the processing time by adding fifteen more minutes
  • 8000-10000 ft: Increase the processing time by adding twenty more minutes.

Why Can’t We Use an Instant Pot as a Pressure Canner?

It’s all about science and spores. For pressure canning, you need the food to be processed at a specific pressure. Failing to do so will make the food unsafe for usage.

You see, you need to kill the bacterial spores. And for that, you have to bring the temperature to 240-250° F. This kills the bacteria and makes it shelf-stable.

Inside the instant pot, you have no means to check for the accuracy of pressure.

Even if the pressure is digitally displayed, the accuracy cannot be confirmed.  The bottom line? Don’t use your instant pot for pressure canning.

For pressure canning, it’s best to use the pressure canner in the home setting. It will have a dial gauge or a pressure gauge that will give you accurate readings.

Use the instant pot for steam canning recipes.

Let us now understand the process of how to safely “can food” in the instant pot.

Conclusion

If you don’t want to eat chemical preservatives, home canning is for you.

You can easily do steam canning in an instant pot. Just make sure the recipe you choose has a high pH.

Follow the steps and tips above for a safe canning procedure. Don’t forget to watch all the videos linked above.

Remember, home-canned food is safe, as long as the process of canning is safely followed. All the best!

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