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In this article, I delve into whether or not the Nesco Smart Canner is safe to use.
Pro Tip: Just as a side note let me say that whatever I say about the Nesco 9.5-qt. Digital Smart Canner also refers to the Carey smart canner. Some other terms you may be looking for include Carey dpc-9ss, Carey dpc-9ss smart electric pressure cooker and canner, stainless steel, Nesco npc-9, Nesco npc-9 smart pressure canner. Since there are a lot of words used, it can be confusing. Rest assured that the information in this article applies to all of those terms, because they are essentially the same canner.
You may have seen some of my videos demonstrating the use of the Nesco electric canner. For the most part, people have found these videos helpful, but I’ve gotten a few. . . .
How should I put it? Hmmm “interesting” comments. Here’s an example of one of the more dramatic ones.
Obviously, I’m not interested in killing anyone, and while this message was over the top, I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt when it comes to her intentions. Perhaps she thinks that people are actually dying as a result of eating food canned in the Nesco Smart canner. If so, I applaud her for yelling at me.
Here’s another comment I got:
Now obviously, her comment is far more reasoned, and she gave a specific reason for her concerns. The report she mentioned was familiar to me, as I had already read it and came to my own conclusions regarding it.
I’m going to go over the Utah study she mentioned, and share my thoughts on it. I’ll also go over a few other considerations regarding the safety of the Nesco and Carey smart canners, and whether or not you should consider using one yourself.
NO TIES TO THE NESCO COMPANY
Before I go further, let me say that I have no ties to the Nesco company, am not compensated in any way by the company, and have no personal interest in whether or not you use this type of canner.
Now that I have that out of the way, let’s review the Utah state extension study mentioned in the one comment. Just a reminder that while it covers the Carey dpc 9ss Smart Pressure Canner, the Carey and Nesco are the same canners.
Flaws in the Study
Let’s look at what I consider to be major flaws in the way the study was conducted. The biggest issue with the study is that they did not follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the different devices they tested.
Instant Pot Duo
The first device they looked at in the study is the Instant Pot Duo 80. What you see here is the control panel for the device.
You can see that it has several features, and NONE of them are for canning. There are several Instant Pots out there, and only one of them claims to be safe for canning. This doesn’t happen to be the one, and so the manufacturer of it never intended it to be used for canning. So, when the Utah State Extension conducted their studies on this, they failed to use the device in the way that it’s intended to be used.
You can’t expect to use a device that was not created for canning and expect to have positive results in the test.
Power Pressure Cooker XL
Now let’s look at the next device they tested, the Power Pressure Cooker XL.
As you can see, this device does have a canning feature. HOWEVER, on their website, they have this warning:
So you can see that this device does can, but it should only be used in elevations lower than 2000 feet.
Let’s look at the information in the study on altitude.
You can see that the devices were tested at 3 elevations, 7,070, 4,500, and 2,917. Even the lowest elevation in St. George was way higher than the stated limited of the Power Pressure Cooker XL. So again, they failed to follow the manufacturer instructions.
Good News and Bad News Regarding the Nesco Smart Canner and the Carey Smart Canner
So you can see that there is both good and bad news for the Nesco/Carey. Altitude is the key consideration, and unfortunately at least in this material, they did not indicate whether or not they used the proper valve on the Carey when testing.
Let me explain. When you purchase the Nesco or Carey, it comes with these two valves:
The one on the right, the black one, is for lower elevations, 1000 feet or less. It is 10 lbs of pressure. The one on the left, the green one, is for elevations over 1000 feet and is 15 pounds of pressure.
When you purchase the Nesco or Carey canner, the black one, for lower elevations is what’s on the canner. The box includes the green one, for higher elevations, but you have to remove the black valve and replace it with the green one if you are going to can in a higher elevation.
Did the Testers Follow the Manufacturer’s Instructions?
Now it is possible that when the Utah study was done, the testers followed the manufacturer’s instructions, removed the black valve and replaced it with the green valve. Unfortunately, at least in the documentation that I have regarding the study, they do not specify which valve they used, so we can’t know for certain. The only thing we know for certain is that they did not follow the manufacturer’s instructions with the first two devices, and they didn’t indicate in the study which valve they used on the Carey.
Note: If you canning find the Carey Pressure Canner instruction manual, you can follow the instructions in the Nesco canner manual.
You Have to Use the Right Valve in the Nesco Canner When Canning in High Altitudes
If they used the valve that came on the canner, the wrong valve for the elevation, the results that they presented would make sense. Again, I can’t state that they used the wrong valve. I can only state what is included in their report, but I do believe that their overall approach in this study was flawed, since out of the gate, they failed to follow the manufacturer’s for at least two out of three of the devices they tested.
THE RELIABILITY OF THE NESCO BRAND
Now I want to talk about the claims that Nesco makes about the canner and whether or not they can be trusted.
The sentence that I want to focus on here is that people need to know that the Nesco canner “could not safely can like it claims.” I’ve heard this same thing or variations of it from others. The implication seems to be that the company can’t be trusted. A lack of trust in a company could be because they feel the company is at worst evil, or at best, incompetent. This is my speculation by the way, but there aren’t a whole lot of reasons for a reputable company to make claims about a product that aren’t true, particularly when it comes to safety.
Nesco is a brand that has been around for a long time. Here’s a screenshot from their website:
I want to zoom in on a little part of it, and the date, 1931. Nesco has been around for 90 years. You do not stay in business for 90 years if you’re incompetent. You also do not stay in business for 90 years if you put out products that kill people.
We live in an incredibly litigious society, and companies bend over backwards to avoid liabilities. Reputable companies like Nesco are MUCH more likely to not say that something is safe, even if it is, than they are to say that something is safe when it isn’t.
Nesco has far more to lose by putting out a product that isn’t safe, than they could ever gain financially from selling an unsafe product.
Now let’s talk about testing.
Nesco has done their own testing, but I want to share about some independent testing that has been done to ensure the safety of the Nesco smart canner. The Nesco canner is ETL approved. ETL stands for Electrical Testing Lab. ETL approval is an internationally recognized seal of quality, safety and professional manufacturing. To get the seal of approval, products have to go through rigorous inspections and testing.
The ETL lab takes the product from the company, tests it to make sure it performs as stated. Then, they completely disassemble it. Every component of the product, all the way down to the wires is inspected, and the products are evaluated based on both U.S. and Canadian regulations and safety standards.
If the product passes the tests, then the factory is inspected to make sure that quality controls are in place, so that every single unit that is produced meets the safety standards. To maintain the ETL approved status, there are intense surprise factory inspections 4 times a year. If they fail to pass a surprise inspection, the ETL approval is revoked.
NATIONAL CENTER FOR HOME FOOD PRESERVATION
Now let’s talk about what the National Center for Home Food Preservation has to say about electric canners. Before I discuss what they say, I want to make it clear that their thoughts are based on the fact that they have NOT tested these devices, so it is sheer speculation on their part. Even so, as you’ll see, all of their “what ifs” are more than adequately covered by the Nesco Smart Canner safety standards.
The gist of what they report says is that they don’t recommend using electric canners even if the manufacturer’s directions say that the device can be used for canning.
The important thing to know is that they base their lack of recommendation on what they do NOT know, rather than what they do know. So in other words, they are saying, “We don’t know, and because we don’t know, we don’t recommend it.”
Why the National Center for Home Food Preservation Doesn’t Recommend Electric Canners
The first concern has to do with the temperatures inside the jars throughout the canning process. Again, they base their concerns on what they don’t know, rather than what they do know.
Position of Jars and Flow of Steam in the Nesco Smart Canner
They go on to say that that the position of the jars and the flow of steam around the jars impacts the temperature in the jars. This is indeed true, and this is why when you put the jars into the canner, you leave some space in between the jars. This is standard practice when using the Nesco canner.
The next sentence, is really odd. It says, “For example, there would be expected differences in jars piled together on their sides from those standing upright on the canner base.” Now maybe it’s just me, but I’ve never thought of filling my jars, and then piling them together on their sides when I put them in the canner. Something tells me that this would be a bad idea for ANY canner, including stove top canners. So again, a really odd statement to make since it really has nothing to do with electric canners.
The Importance of Temperature in Pressure Canning
So it starts off by saying that the thing that matters is temperature, not pressure. It then says that this is why a proper venting process is so important in pressure canning.
Venting in the Nesco Smart Canner
Now here’s the interesting thing. I cannot speak to whether or not this occurs in other smart canners, but the venting process does happen in the Nesco and Carey smart canners. The instructions clearly state that you have to wait until there is a steady stream of steam, and then letting the steam vent for 10 minutes before moving on to the next step. What’s even more interesting is that there are safety features in place that make it impossible to skip this step.
Contrast this with a stove top canner where you should also allow the steam to vent for 10 minutes before putting the weight on, but there are no safety features in place prohibit you from skipping this step.
The Impact of Power Surges and Drops in the Nesco Smart Canner Safety
Now let’s look at the third one:
Now notice again they are basing their concern on what they don’t know. Instead of making a statement, they ask a question. “Do power surges or drops with an electric canner cause the temperature to drop too low?” In other words, they don’t know that that occurs, they’re just throwing that out there as a possibility.
Next they ask, “How will you, the user know if that happens with your cooker?”
I’m glad they asked! Again, I cannot speak to other electric canners, but with the Nesco and Carey canners, if there is a power surge or drop, the canner will turn off, and there will be an error message. According to the canner manual, if you get such a message, you need to discard the food. Bottom line is there are safety features in case this type of problem occurs.
This got me to thinking about what happens if you’re using a stove top canner on an electric stove and there’s a power surge or drop. Does that cause the temperature to drop too low? Also, how will you know if that happens while using your stove top canner? Again, there are safety features built in to the Nesco canner that are missing from the stovetop canners.
Now let’s look at the final concern.
As you can see, there are three important stages in pressure canning safety:
#1: Heat from the time the canner is coming to pressure
#2: at during the actual process time
#3: heat during the early stages of cooling the canner and jars.
It states that when the processing time finishes and you “turn off the heat,” the food needs to remain at high temperatures for another period of time. They do not state how long of a period of time, but they do state that you shouldn’t speed up the process.
The interesting thing is that the same process is what is recommended in the Nesco canner manual. It takes up to around a half an hour before the canner starts to vent. You let it vent for 10 minutes, and You then process the food. Once the food is finished processing, the canner automatically turns off. The manual specifically states not to do anything to speed up the cooling process, and to wait for the pressure to drop naturally. The manual also states to wait at least an hour.
In my experience I’ve found that it takes between 60 and 90 minutes for the pressure to drop naturally, which is also similar to how long it takes on my Presto 16 quart stovetop canner.
You can also see that the guidelines recommend only using canners that hold 4 or more quart sized jars. As you can see, the Nesco canner holds 4 quart jars.
There is No Evidence of Lack of Safety of the Nesco or Carey Smart Canner
I’m continuing to do research on this, but at this time I’ve found no reports of anyone getting ill or dying from food canned in the Nesco canner. I also haven’t been able to uncover any lawsuits against the Nesco company, or complaints with the Better Business Bureau.
I hope that you’ve found the information in this video helpful. My goal with this video is not to convince you to purchase a Nesco smart canner, though I enjoy mine so much, I kind of hope you do! But As I mentioned at the beginning of ths video, I don’t have a vested interest in the Nesco company and am not being compensated by them in any way.
My goal is to give you some food for thought in processing the information that is out there regarding the Nesco Smart Canner, so that you can make your own decision regarding it, based on logic, rather than fear.
As for me, I’ll continue using this canner and continue making videos showing the use of this canner, because based on my research, in my opinion, it is safe.
The bottom line is, Regardless of what you decide to do, whether you use the Nesco Smart Canner, a stove top canner such as a a Presto or All American, or if you choose to build your prepper pantry by buying food at your local grocery store, I wish you the best. Perhaps like me, you’ll do all three.
Check out my other canning videos here.
Here are some of my favorite canning tools
Thank you for reading this article. I hope you found it helpful as you strive to stock your pantry with delicious home-canned food! Here are some tools that I use as a canner that I’m hoping you’ll also find helpful. These are affiliate links, so if you do decide to use any of them, I’ll earn a commission. Please know that these are the tools that I actually use and recommend and believe in 100%!
Nesco Smart Canner: You can see that many of the posts on my site show me using the Nesco canner. This is by far my favorite canner to use, and because of that, it’s the one that I recommend. Note that the Nesco and Carey Smart Canners are the exact same thing. So, if you go to Amazon and see that Nesco canners are out of stock, but the Carey is available (or cheaper!), then by all means buy a Carey. As long as you have either a Nesco or Carey, you can follow along with what I demonstrate on this blog.
Tattler Reusable Lids: I use both Tattler and Harvest Guard reusable canning lids. They are both American made, made by the same family. I prefer to buy my Tattler lids from Lehman’s, since they are a small, family-owned company. You can get Tattler lids from Lehman’s here, but if you prefer to buy from Amazon, you can get them here.
Metal Canning Lids: I have always been a fan of Ball canning lids. However, due to cheap knock offs on Amazon that claim to be Ball lids, I no longer purchase them from Amazon. You can get them from Lehman’s here. Another solid brand that Lehman’s sells is Superb. They are thicker and seem to have better quality gaskets. Here are the regular mouth lids and here are the wide mouth lids.
Norpo Canning Tools Boxed Set: I love this set of canning tools because it truly includes all the basics that you need, whether you’re water bath or pressure canning. Occasionally I’ve lost one of the items in the set and to replace it, had to buy it separately. It’s definitely more cost effective to buy the entire set.
The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving: This is the first canning book that I purchased, and it’s still the one that I refer to most often. Especially when you’re first learning to can, it’s important to use trusted recipes and instructions that you know are safe. This book provides some great canning recipes to get you started, and also gives a lot of great “how to” canning information. When in doubt, look it up in the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving!
If you enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy my article, Is it Safe to Steam Can in the Nesco Canner?