Electric pressure cookers such as the Instant Pot have become popular home kitchen appliances. They do almost everything, except canning.
Because of research by USU extension five years ago, we knew that electric pressure cookers were affected by altitude. When manufacturers of electric pressure cookers started advertising they were wonderful for small batch home canning, we got worried. So USU gave us a grant to test if these smart cookers were going to be safe at Utah altitudes.
Low acid foods like beans, vegetables, meat, fish, poultry, must be pressure canned at temperatures high enough to kill the spores that form botulism toxins, 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Botulism is a potentially deadly poison, that can form in improperly canned low-acid foods. So the question was, could electric pressure cookers reach that temperature the same way stovetop pressure canners can do.
Well they don’t.
We chose three respected brands of electric pressure cookers, three types of low-acid foods, and three elevations in Utah. We put data loggers inside canning jars to track the temperatures during canning. We tracked 81 observations. The result? None of the canners reached safe canning temperatures over 7,000 feet. Only one of the canners reached 250, in Provo and in Saint George, 4,500 and 2,000 feet, and even that was inconsistent.
Utah, the data is in. Electric pressure cookers are not for canning. For now, keep using your stovetop pressure canner for those beets, beans and meat.