Helpful Tips

Can You Use a Pressure Cooker for Canning?

pickles

Pressure cookers will cook food using a combination of heat and steam. The majority of the pressure cooker’s power involves the use of higher heat, which develops into steam inside the airtight pot. This appliance contains a valve that’s designed to seal the steam inside, creating a higher level of pressure. This increased pressure raises the liquid’s boiling point. So can you use a pressure cooker for canning, since it utilizes higher temperatures? Yes and no. Pressure canners basically work the same, however, they’re much more efficient when it comes to maintaining higher levels of pressure and temperatures. To process certain types of foods you need to use a dedicated pressure canner, not a pressure cooker. However, there are some exceptions to the rule, which I’ll go over below.

Pressure Cookers and Canners

If you’re new to canning then you may not know the difference between the different canning methods to choose from, how to safely can to prevent food poisoning, and what safe methods you should use, based on the type of food you’re canning. A pressure canner and cooker are not the same thing. Below, I’ll explain the differences between these two appliances, when to use them, how to use them, and what they can do.

Pressure Cookers

All meat, veggies, and fruits contain water. A pressure cooker will simply transfer heat from an external source to the food as it cooks. Once the foot heats up, molecular changes will occur, which will result in perfectly cooked food. Most models are very beginner-friendly, so you don’t have to even be a good cook to enjoy food that’s perfectly cooked, in a fraction of the time it takes to cook the same dish in the oven. But how do these devices work and will the faster cooking time impact the taste of the meat? Are Modern pressure cookers safe to use?

Pressure cookers come loaded with a variety of features that make them safe and easy to use. These appliances work by increasing the temperature of water while reducing the cooking time. Because there’s no way for steam to escape the pressurized pot, there’s no loss of water, so the food is cooked efficiently, without losing heat. Obviously, this is a huge advantage since you can cook food faster while also saving on your energy bill, not to mention the amount of time you’re stuck in the kitchen. Pressure cookers can also be used for canning certain types of foods, but they cannot be used to pressure can meats or other types of foods that are low in acidity.

What’s the Point of Canning?

Jars with marinated

You can cook pretty much anything in a pressure cooker including veggies, meat, stews, and poultry. They can definitely make your life easier by allowing you to cook your favorite meals for the entire family, six times faster compared to using the oven. Even restaurants rely on pressure cookers to prepare food faster.

However, even though these appliances are powerful and efficient, they still can’t be used for processing low acid foods. Foods that are high in acids such as fruit, can be canned in a pressure cooker, using the water bath method, but low acid foods such as meat, require the use of a dedicated pressure canner.

Some low acid foods including beans, veggies, and meat are preserved with the use of a canner. The water bath method is the traditional technique used to can a variety of foods, however, it’s not recommended for preserving low acid foods. The temperature is increased to a very high level in order to kill off bacteria. Did you know a pressure cooker kills bacteria such as botulism? This is only possible with a pressure canner. The water bath canning method will not kill botulism, but since this isn’t even an issue with high acid foods, water bathing certain fruits is totally fine. Since low acid foods such as meat can grow botulism, a pressure canner is needed since it can reach the type of higher temperature needed to eliminate botulism and other types of harmful bacteria.

The Art of Canning

Canning is used to preserve food. It’s a great option if you have a large garden at home and you don’t want to waste any of your harvest. Canning allows you to preserve food and retain flavors and texture. There are several reasons why canning is a great option and one that can help you save time and money. Canning seasonal foods such as berries, asparagus, and more can also save you plenty of money. Have you ever noticed how out of season fruits and veggies are almost twice the price that they are when they’re in season? If you’re tired of throwing money away at the grocery store, then canning is an affordable solution and one that can help you save hundreds of dollars a year, if you buy seasonal produce and process them in order to enjoy them all year long.

It is an art to preserve food, but this art has been fading with the passing time. However, there are still many people who have been indulged in preserving food with canning. Canning preserves both the flavor and texture of the food, while saving you money by allowing you to take advantage of buying in-season produce in bulk.

Food Acidity

Food rich

Before you buy the best pressure cooker and canner, you should learn more about food acidity in order to avoid low and high heat setting issues. Low acid foods include tomatoes, meats, and certain veggies. These foods do not have the level of acidity that’s needed in order to prevent the growth of bacteria. These bacteria can generate toxins from the spores, which will result in a serious case of food poisoning.

High acid foods such as fruit can be processed using the water bath method. Tomatoes need citric acid, vinegar, or lemon juice to increase their acidity level for preserving and processing. Fermented foods and pickled veggies are considered high acid foods, which can easily be processed via the water bath method.

There are only two ways to preserve food while restoring natural flavors and killing bacteria.

A water bath is the simplest and most common method and it involves preserving acidic foods by placing them in jars and boiling them in an open pot until a vacuum seal is achieved under the lid. This type of preserving process will force out the air in the food and creates a type of vacuum that prevents bacteria from surviving. This method can be used for pickles, jellies, and jams. It’s a safe method when the right food is used and it’s processed for a determined length of time.

Pressure canning is a type of advanced method that will require knowledge about these appliances, how they work, and how long each type of food should be processed. It’s the go-to appliance if you want to process foods such as poultry, beef, and other types of low acid foods. With this method, the jars will heat up to two hundred and forty degrees, which will kill off any type of bacteria, including botulism.

Safety First

The Ball Fresh Tech Electric water bath canner and multi-cooker is one of the leading models on the market and it’s widely used for its ability to cook food and it doubles as a water bath canner. But despite the fact that water bath canning is the more popular option, as I’ve mentioned, it’s not the safest option for all types of foods. It can also be dangerous if you try to use this type of canner for pressure canning. Remember, a pressure canner is much different than a pressure cooker. A pressure cooker is not able to maintain the type of higher temperature and pressure that’s needed to safely process certain foods. So, if you’re considering giving pressure canning a try, you’ll need to shop around for a top of the line dedicated pressure canner. To learn more, stop by and read my in-depth guide on everything you need to know about pressure canning.

Final Thoughts

By now, you know the answer to can you use a pressure cooker for canning? Yes and no. It will ultimately depend on the type of food you’re processing. If you want to process high acidity foods, then yes you can use a pressure cooker, as long as you follow the proper steps and precautions for the water bath canning method. Can you use a pressure canner for low acid foods? No, not unless you want to deal with a serious case of food poisoning.

A dedicated pressure cooker must be used to process low acid foods such as meat and poultry since it’s able to maintain a higher temperature, consistently. Now that you know the difference and what’s safe and what isn’t, you can try your hand at preserving this year’s garden, shop around for deals on fruits, veggies, and even meats that are on sale, and enjoy having a large stockpile of your favorite fruits, veggies, and meats, on hand, all year long.