Steam canning is a popular food preservation method that allows you to extend the shelf life of your favorite fruits, vegetables, and even homemade jams. And what’s better than streamlining the process by using the versatile Instant Pot? Honestly, we use the Instant Pot for so many things – including making preserves. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the simple steps to achieve successful steam canning using your Instant Pot. I know it feels a bit overwhelming at first, but we promise it’s really not that hard.
Benefits of Steam Canning in an Instant Pot
Instant Pots have gained widespread popularity due to their multi-functionality, and steam canning is yet another task they excel at. By utilizing an Instant Pot for steam canning, you benefit from its precision temperature control, even heat distribution, and built-in safety features, making the process both efficient and safe. We find it easier to use than other methods because of how often we use our Instant Pot. While there’s no right way to can between the various methods, using the Instant Pot is my personal favorite.
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Step-by-Step Guide to Steam Canning in an Instant Pot
- Preparation: Begin by thoroughly cleaning your Instant Pot and canning jars. Inspect jars for cracks or chips, as damaged jars can lead to spoilage. Don’t skip this step! It’s so much more important than it sounds. A chipped jar will not be able to be preserved safely. Make sure that you use new lids every time you can something. It’s okay to re-use jars as long as there are no chips or cracks. But a new lid must be used every time. Here are the lids that I buy in bulk.
- Prepare the Ingredients: Wash and prepare the fruits or vegetables you intend to steam can. Peel, chop, or slice them as needed.
- Set Up the Instant Pot: Place the metal trivet or a steamer basket into the Instant Pot’s inner pot. Add water, usually about 2 to 3 inches deep. Turn on the Instant Pot and select the “Steam” function.
- Load the Jars: Carefully load the prepared ingredients into the sterilized canning jars. Be sure to leave the recommended headspace to allow for expansion during the canning process.
- Seal the Jars: Wipe the jar rims to ensure they are clean and free from any food particles. Place the lids on the jars and screw on the bands until they are fingertip tight.
- Place Jars in Instant Pot: Gently place the filled jars on the trivet or steamer basket inside the Instant Pot. Make sure the jars are not touching the sides of the pot.
- Start Canning: Close the Instant Pot’s lid and lock it. Set the steam time according to the recipe’s requirements. Once the timer goes off, let the pressure naturally release for a few minutes before carefully opening the lid.
- Cooling and Storage: Use jar lifters to remove the jars from the Instant Pot and place them on a clean, dry towel. Allow the jars to cool for 12 to 24 hours. Once cooled, check the lids for proper sealing – they should be concave and not move when pressed. Store the properly sealed jars in a cool, dark place.
How to Know if your Steam Canned Jars are Sealed
I’m so glad you’re reading this guide so that you can properly seal your cans. If you don’t do it correctly, it can lead to food poisoning among other things. Sealed lids prevent the growth of bacteria, molds, and yeasts that can spoil your food. Here’s how you can determine if your canning lids are sealed correctly:
Visual Inspection: After the jars have cooled for the recommended amount of time, gently press down on the center of each lid with your fingertip. A properly sealed lid will be slightly concave, meaning it’s curved downwards. If the lid is flat or bulging upwards, it might not be sealed correctly. A visible indentation in the center of the lid is a strong indicator of a proper seal.
Auditory Check: You might hear a distinctive “ping” or “pop” sound as the jars cool and the lids seal. This happens due to the vacuum created inside the jar as the contents cool down and contract. However, not all jars will make this sound, so it’s not the most reliable indicator. Here is the video that I learned from. It’s a super sweet grandma that teaches skills like this and can describe it better than I can in text.
Press Test: Once the jars have cooled completely, press the center of each lid again. A properly sealed lid will not flex or move when pressed. If the lid moves up and down or makes a clicking sound, the seal is likely compromised and isn’t usable.
Visual Indicators: Inspect the jar and lid for any signs of leakage, seepage, or stains around the lid’s edges.
Storage Check: If you’re unsure about the seal but the jar passes the visual and tactile tests, you can also store the jar without the ring band for a few weeks. If the seal was not strong, the contents will spoil or the lid might come unsealed during storage
Thoughts on Properly Sealing your Lids
It’s important to note that if you find any indication that a lid has not properly sealed, it’s best to err on the side of caution and either reprocess the jar using a new lid or consume the contents within a reasonable timeframe. Additionally, follow the specific guidelines provided in reputable canning resources, as the sealing process might vary depending on the type of canning method you’re using (water bath canning or pressure canning).
Properly sealed jars will help you enjoy safe and delicious homemade preserves without the risk of spoilage or contamination.
Final Thoughts on Steam Canning in an Instant Pot
Steam canning in an Instant Pot provides a convenient and efficient method for preserving your favorite foods. By following these step-by-step instructions, you can confidently master the art of steam canning and enjoy the flavors of freshly preserved produce all year round. Utilize your Instant Pot’s capabilities to their fullest and embrace the world of steam canning for a tastier and more sustainable kitchen experience. Not sure what to make next? Here’s a recipe for some delicious Jam that you can preserve.