Is it safe to can food in the Ninja Foodi? This is a common question. Before you assume the answer is, "NO," keep on reading!
My mom has been canning food for as long as I can remember. There really isn't anything like opening up a jar of pickles or strawberry preserves that have been canned at home.
The taste is wonderful and fresh and there is a certain feeling you get knowing the food you are eating was made with love and fresh ingredients! As long as you do it correctly!
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Mom always used a canner on the stove, so I did research to find out if it is safe to can food in the Ninja Foodi.
Despite popular belief, it IS safe to can in the Ninja Foodi as long as you choose the correct foods and the correct method!
This article is for informational purposes only. Before canning any food, make sure you research the proper technique and use a recipe that is specific for canning. Processing times vary and it is important to follow the recipe exactly.
Is it Safe to Can Food in the Ninja Foodi?
Before we can determine if it is safe to can food in the Ninja Foodi, we need to better understand the different types of canning and when each one is used to safely preserve food.
Canning is a complicated subject and while people have been doing it for a very long time, some guidelines have changed over the years.
Be sure to do your own research before using any canning technique to ensure you are using the proper equipment for the type of food you are canning.
Different Types of Canning Techniques
There are a few different canning techniques that are important to understand when determining if you can can food using the Ninja Foodi.
Pressure canning is used for low acid foods like meat, most vegetables (except tomatoes), and seafood. An important thing to remember is if you are mixing a high acid food, like tomatoes with a low acid food like meat or other veggies, you need to treat this combination as a low acid food and use a pressure canner.
The Ninja Foodi is NOT approved for pressure canning. In fact, at the time of this article, there is not an electric pressure cooker that has been approved for pressure canning.
Until thermo testing is done of the contents inside the jars that are being pressure canned in an electric pressure cooker, it isn't guaranteed that the temperatures are hot enough and regulated enough to SAFELY pressure can low acid foods.
Safety is so important when canning low acid foods because when done incorrectly, the food can contain the bacterial spores that produce botulism toxin. The botulism toxin cannot be seen, smelled, or tasted and just one bite of food contaminated with the botulism toxin can be deadly according to the CDC article on Home-Canned Foods.
The safety of foods when pressure canned doesn't have anything to do with pressure itself, it is the temperature that the food inside the glass canning jars reaches that kills any harmful bacteria.
The bottom line is, you CANNOT safely PRESSURE CAN with the Ninja Foodi or other type of electric pressure cooker even if the manufacture says you can. It has not been tested thoroughly enough.
I love the idea of pressure canning foods for use during the winter months and I look forward to learning all I can about pressure canning by reading and following the guidelines written by the USDA. Here is a link to that article if you want to explore pressure canning: USDA guide to home canning.
After doing some research on pressure canners, this is the one I have purchased and I can't wait to use it!
If you are really serious about pressure canning at home, this pressure canner is supposed to be the best! I understand that this one will last a lifetime and I sure hope so for the price!
Is it safe to can food in the Ninja Foodi using this method? NO
Can you use the steam function to can foods in the Ninja Foodi? There is not a ton of information that I could find on steam canning in an electric pressure cooker.
The MOST IMPORTANT thing to know about steam canning is you can ONLY steam can high acid foods.
There are other safety considerations when deciding if you want to steam can using the steam function on the Ninja Foodi.
You have to have constant steam coming from the vented valve to ensure the contents reach the correct temperature that will kill any bacteria. This is one of the main reasons I would not try to steam can in the Ninja Foodi or any other electric pressure cooker that is not specifically designed for steam canning.
Altitude matters when steam canning. You must adjust your processing time if you live above 1,000 feet.
You need to use hot food in hot jars to properly steam can. The processing time is different if you are using colder food and there is also a risk of the jars breaking from the quick changes in temperature.
There are some people that say it is safe to steam can using an electric pressure cooker. Personally speaking, this isn't a method of canning that I am willing to chance. I use the steam function on the Ninja Foodi a lot and I have never seen a constant level of steam being produced for a prolonged period of time. While I guess it is possible to use the pressure mode to steam can which would build the steam inside of the pot, I don't recommend it until there is more testing done to ensure safety of foods processed this way.
Ball does have an electric canner for low acid foods, but unless you are doing very small batches, the room inside is limited.
Is it safe to can food in the Ninja Foodi using this method? Unknown and not worth the risk.
Water Bath Canning
Is it safe to can food in the Ninja Foodi using this method? YES, as long as you follow a tested recipe for water bath canning and follow the processing time.
While this is similar to steam canning, water bath canning uses boiling water and the jars of food are submerged with 1-2" of boiling water above the jars during the entire processing time.
This type of canning CAN be done SAFELY & EASILY in the Ninja Foodi!
Important things to remember when water bath canning are: the water must be boiling the entire processing time; the jars need to be heated in the boiling water BEFORE filling with food; the food being canned needs to be hot already; and you MUST follow an approved canning recipe for high acid foods only.
There is a lot of information being passed around on the internet that it is NOT safe to can using an electric pressure cooker and this is true if you want to can low acid food that requires pressure canning. It is perfectly safe to water bath can in the Ninja Foodi as long as you follow a tested recipe and process for the specified time.
Do I have to sterilize the jars prior to water bath canning?
You do want to use clean jars and place them in the boiling water for a few minutes to get them warm, but you do not need to sterilize the jars if the processing time is at least 10 minutes.
How do I Water Bath Can in the Ninja Foodi?
First, make a tested recipe from a reputable source. I recently adapted a recipe from America's Test Kitchen for Strawberry Preserves that was incredible. My version (recipe video below) is NOT intended for canning with any method, but you can use the Ninja Foodi to make their recipe by using the sear/sauté function.
You can ONLY water bath can high acid foods, so be sure make sure your recipe is safe for water bath canning. I recommend purchasing the Ball Blue Book: Guide to Preserving if canning is something you want to explore further.
While you can find recipes online and some of them even say they are from the Ball Blue Book, I'm not willing to take any chances. I want to have my information straight from the source!
Once you have the recipe you want to make, check to see the volume it makes. You may have to do several batches because of space constraints in the Ninja Foodi. What I found is that I can can six 8 ounce jars using the basket in the 8 quart.
Since you have to have 1-2" of water over the jars, the height of the 6.5 qt is just not tall enough. I tried with the basket and the rack. You can use 4 ounce jars in the 6.5 qt Ninja Foodi and that will allow the water level to go over the top of the jar.
*The processing time is different based on the size of the jar, so make sure know which size you are going to use and use the timing for that size jar.
You have to use something to raise the jars off of the bottom of the inner pot or the jars could break from the direct heat generated at the bottom. They will also bounce around and could cause them tip over. You want your jars upright when canning. I found that the basket worked just fine
Getting the right level of water is important and here is how I went about it. I put the basket in the inner pot of the Ninja Foodi and the canning jars in the basket. I left the lids off of the jars and began filling the pot and the jars with hot tap water. When the water level was 2" above the top of the jars, I turned the sear/saute function to high and brought the water to a boil.
I then removed the jars with a handy jar lifter. Please do not try to do this with tongs! You can remove the empty jars just fine with tongs, but after you are done canning the tongs slip a lot on the lids and I almost lost a few jars.
Fill the jars to the specified amount depending on the recipe. The one I used for Strawberry Preserves left 1/4" head space in the jar. This means leave 1/4" of room between the food and the lid. This allows room for the food to expand during processing and is different depending on the recipe.
Once you fill the jars, put the sealing lid and the ring on. Don't over tighten the ring, you want it just hand tight so the air can escape which is what seals the lid.
Put the jars back into the basket and add water if needed to bring the water level to 1-2" above the jars. Bring the Ninja Foodi back up to a boil using the sear/sauté function. Once the water begins to boil, process for the time stated in your recipe.
Some recipes will call for you to allow the jars to sit in the hot water for a period of time before removing. You can turn the Ninja Foodi off during this time.
Remove the jars using a jar lifter and listen for that wonderful popping sound that occurs when the jars seal. Do a happy dance because you just finished water bath canning in the Ninja Foodi!
I am definitely going to try a few more water bath canning recipes in the Ninja Foodi and I'll be sure to share them with you!
Are you an experienced canner that follows the guidelines from the National Center for Home Food Preservation? I'd love hear your thoughts on canning in the Ninja Foodi and other options for home canning that you have found successful! Leave a comment below.
Does Water Bath Canning Sound Like Too Much Work?
It really isn't, but because of the limited size of the Ninja Foodi (especially the 6.5 qt) it might not be as efficient as using a large pot on the stove. You can also use a pressure canner for water bath canning, you just don't bring it under pressure.
If you are interested in getting into canning, let me know! I'd love to start a canning for beginners group on Facebook so we can all learn how to safely can at home.
I did can 6 jars of Strawberry Preserves, but I wanted to do another batch with basil. Since I don't know how basil will affect the acid level and I'm so new to canning, I decided not to can this batch and instead made it in the Ninja Foodi using the pressure cook setting and boy is it good!
I decreased the measurements so I would only have two 8 ounces jars at the end. Homemade strawberry preserves will last up to 2 months in the refrigerator.
You can get the full recipe and watch me make this delicious strawberry preserves below. Enjoy!
ABOUT THE RECIPE AUTHOR, LOUISE LONG
Louise is a full-time recipe creator and food blogger @ The Salted Pepper. She has over 30 years of experience with cooking and recipe development. She owned a restaurant for several years and was a full-time RN until retiring to blog full time.
Louise has several very active Facebook groups that help people with the basics of cooking and getting the most out of the Ninja Foodi.
Seeing the need for easy, delicious, and high quality recipes, she is focusing all of her efforts creating recipes specifically for the Ninja Foodi. Her recipes are easy for the home cook to follow and provide step-by-step instructions.
Louise is also a YouTube creator and you can find most of her recipes in video format on The Salted Pepper YouTube channel.
She is very responsive to messages and eager to help in any way she can.