Why the New Instant Pot Max’s Biggest Feature Is a Huge Deal

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Jeff Roffman)

We recently broke the news about the Instant Pot Max coming out in the spring. (See: Exclusive Scoop: Here’s a First Look at the Brand New Instant Pot, Coming Out in Spring.) And now we want to take a minute to point out why we’re so excited about it.

Sure, there are already a few Instant Pot models — in various sizes — on the market, but none of them offer a pressure canning function like this one does.

What Is Pressure Canning?

“Pressure canning is a method of preserving foods by bringing them up to a temperature of at least 240°F. High-acid items like fruits, pickles, and jams and jellies can be safely canned in a boiling water bath on the stovetop, but low-acid foods like vegetables, stock, soup, and meats must be processed at 240°F to 250°F to eliminate the risk of spoilage from the bacteria Clostridium botulium (you know it as botulism) and the spread of its spores,” explains Kelli Foster, Kitchn’s associate food editor. “While the botulism bacteria can be killed at 212°F, the spores can actually survive and require the higher temperature to be eliminated.”

(Image credit: Lisa Freedman)

Why This New Instant Pot Has Us (Cautiously) Impressed

“The Instant Pot Max claims to be the first electric pressure cooker to maintain a steady 15 pound per square inch (PSI) of pressure, which should keep foods at 240°F or higher and make it a great convenience for home canners,” says Sharon Franke, a writer for Kitchn who spent more than 30 years testing and reporting on gadgets and appliances at the Good Housekeeping Institute.

However, Franke cautions, the USDA and the National Center for Home Food Preservation warn against the use of electric pressure cookers for canning even when the appliance has a canning function. That’s because the temperature in the water and the jars — during the heating-up and cooling-down periods — is really important when it comes to safety.

We’re told that the Instant Pot is waiting for approval from the USDA. If it gets the good word, then this will be the first electric pressure cooker that’s approved for canning. That’s a huge deal! Until then, however, our advice is to not use the Max for home canning.

Lots of Other Things to Love About the Max

  • Higher pressure will lead to faster cooking times.
  • An agitation feature will move the food around as it cooks (think: a wave-like motion) making it unlikely that barbecue sauce will scorch on the bottom of the pot.
  • Instead of buttons, it has an LED touchscreen and a central control dial that makes it easy to set.
  • Programmable venting means no waiting impatiently for pressure to drop naturally or fiddling with the steam valve.
  • Some Max models will do double duty as sous vide machines by heating water to a specific temperature and holding it there.