This multi-cooker infomercial shows an actress pressure canning meat and vegetables- do not do this!
This multi-cooker infomercial shows an actress pressure canning meat and vegetables- do not do this!

The National Center for Home Food Preservation (NCHFP), an offshoot of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), posted an announcement today warning consumers against using digital multi-cookers for pressure canning – even if they are advertised as being able to do so.

Specifically, they said..

Even if there are referrals to the National Center for HFP in the instructions for canning in the manufacturer’s directions, we do not currently support the use of the USDA canning processes in electric, multi-cooker appliances.

hip info: canning-schmanning

There are two types of canning: hot-water bath canning for acid foods (fruits jams and jellies) and pressure canning for low-acid foods (vegetables, meat, grains and/or tomatoes).  Anyone can do hot-water bath canning with a normal pan and steamer basket (or  using pressure cooker) but pressure canning is a tightly controlled process. Low-acid foods can provide a hospitable environment to the growth of deadly bacteria which is odor-free, taste-less and otherwise invisible.  Pressure canning takes advantage of the high temperatures which can be achieved with pressure to fully sterilize the food within the jars and ensure that the contents are safe. Temperature, altitude and “processing times” are carefully calculated based on the type of food being pressure canned.

Four months ago, an American-based manufacturer began to run a TV infomercial, and large web ad campaign for a digital pressure multi-cooker with the ability to can and preserve.  It raised lots of eyebrows because it claimed to meet USDA standards for canning and the internet was a-buzz about this new ability in a multi-cooker.

This multi-cooker infomercial shows an actress putting jars in the cooker with the words "Meets USDA Standards for Canning." The National Center for Home Food Preservation says it DOES NOT!
This multi-cooker infomercial shows an actress putting jars in the cooker with the words “Meets USDA Standards for Canning.” The National Center for Home Food Preservation says it does not.

When we first saw a copy of this cooker’s manual, in September,  hip pressure cooking posted a warning to inform readers.

These multi-cookers cannot be used as canners, according to NCHFP’s guidelines:

Multi-cookers are still safe to use to pressure cook food directly in the inner pot. The NCHFP only takes issue with using these vessels for pressure canning.

Dispose of improperly canned food

If you have one of the above multi-cookers and you preserved jars of vegetables, meat, grains, and/or tomatoes there is no guarantee that these items were preserved properly. Improperly pressure canned foods offer a hospitable environment for botulism – a toxin that can cause nerve damage, paralyze, and even kill. Botulism is tasteless, odorless and invisible to the naked eye. We strongly suggest following the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) recommendation: When in doubt, throw it out!

To dispose of suspect jars, wrap them tightly  in plastic, tape the bag shut and put them in the garbage (out of reach of humans and animals). Do not open or recycle the jars; do not taste or eat the food in the jars; do not feed the contents of the jars to animals; do not put the contents in a compost pile or throw them down the drain.

Opening jars of improperly canned food will contaminate your hands, kitchen and utensils with this deadly bacteria spores. If any jars break or fall open, clean the entire area with a 10% bleach solution.  Dispose of the contents, glass, any sponges and rags used in the clean-up in a bag that is taped and sealed. For more information, read the Home Canning and Botulism Factsheet by the CDC.

If you ate foods pressure canned using the instructions of any of the above-mentioned cookers and have become ill please file a report with the Consumer Product Safety Commission to record your injury.

Read the full article from National Center for Home Food Preservation for more details, here:

Note: The screen captures of the infomercial above are used in accordance with copyright fair use. Reproduction of a small portion of  a copywritten work for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship or research do not constitute copyright infringement. 

To avoid any appearance of impropriety, any advertisements for pressure cookers that originate from this website have been suppressed from this page.

UPDATE 1/19/2015:
When we posted a link to this article on Facebook and Eric Theiss, a representative for Power Pressure Cooker responded the next day (11/27/2014) defending the product but falling short of confirming whether the Power Pressure Cooker XL has been inspected by the National Center for home Food preservation and approved for pressure canning.

Eric Theiss: LAURA -- You have a serious conflict of interest here. You sell pressure cookers for profit on the same website where you "warn" others about the safety of your commpetitor's and claim to be looking out for their safety? Ridiculous. My power pressure cook... See More
Representative for Tristar’s Power Pressure Cooker XL responds to article announcing new National Center for Home Preservation guidelines. Click here to view entire conversation.

We recommended they contact the NCHFP, directly with their concerns.  However, despite a recent update to their website and nearly two months after acknowledging being aware of these new NCHFP regulations via facebook, Tristar still mentions that the Power Pressure Cooker can be used for pressure canning on their website. On the pages “Top 10 Reasons”, “Comparison”, “FAQ”, there are also pressure canning recipes in the “Recipes” section.

We double-checked the NCHFP website before posting this update and their warning has not been amended or updated to exclude any other pressure cookers from this warning- other than the one mentioned previously in this article.

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78 Comments

  1. I’d really like to know how many people actually have their stove top weights/gauges/thermometers properly tested against standardized official weights/gauges/thermometers on a yearly basis. Seems to me there are more variables with the stovetop method vs electric. There’s always human error to be factored in as well for both methods…..more than one side to the argument.

    1. Connie, you’re supposed to have the gauge tested annually – there is no protocol for testing the weight. Do you have some information on how the weight can change over time? All of that is moot if the correct pressure is not properly maintained throughout the entire process whether it be by the cook or the thermostat/microprocessor.

      Ciao,

      L

      1. All thermometers and weight scales in a medical laboratory are tested against official standardized weights/thermometers on a yearly basis for accuracy. Internal gauges, thermometers etc are typically checked as part of maintenance plan via the vendor. All part of government regulation. My point is most home canners are not being inspected/regulated in proper manner regardless of method used. Medical labs are more highly accurate these days due to automation. Human error has been removed.

        1. Connie,
          Yes weight scales need to be calibrated regularly. But a *weight* doesn’t as long as it is made of a non reactive substance. As long as nothing is removed (or stuck on!), they will always remain the same weight. Even if they are dropped, they will only deform, not change weight. All the weights I have seen for jiggler style pressure cookers have been chrome plated and therefore non-reactive so they don’t need regular testing. Maybe once every couple of decades in case the chrome plating wears off.

  2. can just not hot pack lemon chicken and can in a boiling water canner?..it’s got acid right?…and if it’s fully cooked on stove top till very tender for a full hour on simmer ?…

    1. I don’t know, that’s a good question to ask NCHFP. You would have to be able to measure the PH of both the cooking liquid and the deepest part of the chicken to make sure it is acidic enough to prevent bacteria growth.

      Ciao,

      L

  3. If you use your oven to can green beans at a temperature of 250 degree, how long would you have to keep them in there for your food to be safe?

    1. ETTA, it is not safe to “oven can” because the oven provides “dry heat” compared to a pressure canner which provides “wet heat” – the former cannot heat the jars or their contents as thoroughly or to as high of a temperature as pressure canning. Here are more details on why this won’t work:
      https://www.healthycanning.com/oven-canning/

      Ciao,

      L

    2. Further to what Laura said, the temperature of an oven is the temperature of the oven. It is NOT the temperature of the beans. This is dictated by the water they are in. This will not rise above 212°F (100°C) until all the water in the jar boils away. It may well be lower as an oven transfers heat very inefficiently.

      Beans need to be pressure canned.

      1. How does a pressure cooker get the temperature up above 212? Is it because of the pressure?

        1. Precisely. The boiling point of water is 212°F ONLY at sea level. If you go up in elevation, the boiling point is lower. If you go below sea level, the boiling point is higher.

          I live at about 3,000ft elevation, and for me boiling point is about 205°F. It makes food take slightly longer to cook, and black tea tastes terrible. Green tea is fine though.

          A pressure cooker basically simulates cooking below sea level. A 15psi pressure cooker used at sea level, will maintain a temperature of about 250°F before the water boils. This means that food will cook at 250°F. OTOH an oven set to 250°F will still cook the food at 212°F until the water boils away as the extra heat goes into making the water boil, not raising the temperature of the food.

          This is part of why food cooks faster in a pressure cooker, and why pressure canning works as the higher temperature will kill the bugs. Note that you still shouldn’t use a pressure cooker to can things as the correct timings have not been worked out for them as they have for pressure canners. They will still kill the bugs, but it is anybody’s guess how long it will take. Not something I would personally risk my life on.

  4. Hello. thank you for your great website. You have helped me tremendously with my InstantPot cooking. I had a question regarding digital pressure cooking from this article. Ball makes a digital canner and I wondered is that different than using the digital pressure cookers for canning? They seem like the same thing.

    Thanks for any clarity.

    1. Jennifer, as noted in this alert, the Ball canner is the only exception. It is not technically a “pressure canner” it is only for acidic foods so it’s OK to use. You won’t be able to can meat, beans or vegetables (that are not pickled) with Ball’s canner.

      Ciao,

      L

  5. I’m confused by the references to the fact that these cookers “have not been approved” for pressure canning. That suggests that approval has merely not been received yet, not that this usage has been ruled out. Is there any movement toward testing and approval for pressure canning in electric pressure cookers, or has the NCHFP reached a definitive determination that it should *not* be done?

    Thanks.

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