Electric pressure cookers are a small appliance that can be a great addition to the kitchen. However, I have seen several for sale at garage sales and some have hardly been used. There are many foods that can be cooked quickly and taste great and so for some families it is a good investment. One question that was asked at a recent presentation was, “Can I use my electric pressure cooker to pressure can vegetables or other foods?” The answer is No!
Researchers and public health officials say the risk is too high. Researchers at Utah State University Extension have released preliminary data showing the electric pressure cookers do not always reach high enough temperatures for the proper amount of time to safely can low-acid foods including vegetables, beans, meats, poultry, fish and soups. The scientists focused on the use of these cookers at altitudes across their state and determined that they are not safe to use.
Some manufacturers have been including directions for home canning with their products. The companies have not done process development work to document the temperature throughout the units remain at the given pressure throughout the whole process time. The National Center for Home Food Preservation states that the thermal process canning relates the temperatures in the jars to the temperature inside the canner throughout the processing. It is ultimately the temperature and heat distribution inside the jars that matters for the destruction of microorganism in the food product. In order to ensure the safety of the final product, the temperature in the canner must stay at minimum throughout the process time. And the cooling down process also needs to be taken into account. While a variety of illnesses can result from eating under-processed food, one of the most dangerous is botulism poisoning. Untreated, botulism can result in death. It is not worth taking the risk!
There are many variables that need to be just right in order for home canned foods to be safe. Only recipes from 1995-present, adjusted for altitude and from a trusted source are to be used. Recipes from University Extension Food Preservation publications, USDA, the Ball Blue book or with a commercial canning mix should be used. More information can be found at https://www.rrc.k-state.edu/preservation/index.html
Berny Unruh is the Family and Community Wellness Agent for the Cottonwood Extension District. She can be reached at 785-628-9430 or at email@example.com.