Grow mushrooms the EZ way.

Best Pressure Cooker for Growing Mushrooms at Home

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15psi Sterilizing mushrooms

A pressure cooker is the most important item needed when you want to grow mushrooms at home. It is very important to provide a sterile or pasteurized substrate for the mycelium to colonize.

Without a pressure sterilizer you will increase the likelihood of contamination growing alongside you're mycelium and ruining your batch; ultimately wasting your time.

When choosing the best pressure cooker for mycology, it is important to consider the size of the cooker, the material it is made from, and the pressure rating.

Pressure cookers are the most expensive investment you will have to make when moving into the world of mushroom cultivation so its important to understand what you are paying for before making an investment.

Often, people will buy a pressure cooker only to outgrow it within 12 months, so in this article I am going to discuss a few different options for people who want to start growing mushrooms.

I recommend reading how to use a pressure cooker for sterilization so you understand the process before making a decision.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall

If you're looking for the perfect pressure cooker for mushroom cultivation, the Presto 23-Quart Pressure Cooker is a top pick. It offers excellent functionality and versatility, allowing you to pasteurize up to four 5-liter buckets of straw or create up to 26 half-pint grain jars in a single sitting.

This makes it a great choice for mycologists who need to handle a large amount of substrate or spawn.

The Presto 23-Quart Pressure Cooker has a solid reputation and is considered a reliable choice by those who are serious about cultivating mushrooms. It's an investment that's unlikely to be outgrown, and it's definitely worth considering if you're in the market for a pressure cooker for your mushroom-growing journey.

23 Quart Presto Pressure cooker mycology
Best For Beginners.

The Instant Pot is perfect for beginners due to two standout features: the ability to set a timer and leave it to operate independently, and precise temperature control for pasteurization.

Once the process is complete, the Instant Pot turns itself off, offering convenience and efficiency.

This detailed breakdown “Instant Pot for Mushroom Cultivation” highlights the many benefits of using an Instant Pot and how it can simplify the cultivation process, making it an invaluable tool for beginners.

Best Budget Option.

The Presto pressure cooker offers a solid reputation and impressive capacity, making it a reliable choice for mycology.

Additionally, its affordable price point and 15 psi pressure gauge make it an excellent value for those looking for an effective and budget-friendly option.

16qt presto pressure cooker capacity test for mushrooms.

Comparing the Best Pressure Sterilizers for Growing Mushrooms.

In this section, we have thoroughly researched and reviewed a variety of pressure cookers and sterilizers that are suitable for growing mushrooms. From our investigation, we have selected the choices listed above as a diverse set of options that cater to a range of needs and preferences..

The following breakdown provides a detailed analysis of the features we evaluated, such as jar capacity, ease of use, availability, weight, and more. We have tried to cover all the necessary aspects that a mushroom cultivator might consider before purchasing a pressure cooker or sterilizer.

We hope that this analysis will help you make an informed decision when choosing the right pressure cooker or sterilizer for your mushroom cultivation needs. 

Any links you click which go to amazon provide me with a small commission, thanks!

Large options (20-23 Quarts)

Best for: The best overall pressure cooker for mushroom cultivation.

Material: Aluminium.

Size: Large. 14.8 inches Height, 15.1 inches Diameter, 22 Litres

Weight: 5.6kg

Racks included: 1 (recommended to buy a second one here).

Hob Type: Electric, Gas, Smooth top, Induction.

Available Location: USA, UK (Find it on eBay).

Full pressure time: 10 minutes.

Warranty: 12-year limited warranty.

Capacity: 9 x 1000ml jars, 26 x 1/2 pint jars

23 Quart Presto Pressure cooker mycology

We checked the capacity using a rack that was provided by the manufacturer and a second rack which can be purchased here

Here is a picture of me stacking 10 x 1 litre jars inside the 23 quart presto.

23 quart pressure cooker with 10 jars stacked inside

My Thoughts.

Most serious mushroom cultivators purchase a 23 Quart Presto as they are reliable, huge and hold a lot of substrate. 

This whopping pressure cooker should hold at least 20 half-pint jars meaning you can create a whole lot of spawn in one go. 

If space isn't an issue I would recommend this cooker. 

The Presto 01781 23-Quart is 23 cm tall and 32cm in diameter. It has been manufactured using extra strong aluminum and weighs 5.6kg. 

It is important to check you are going to be able to store this unit before buying it.

You will need a space with 42cm width and 37 cm of height to comfortably get it in and out of a cupboard.

To do this I turn the lid upside down to avoid damaging the pressure dial and make it fit as shown in the images below.

measuring storage size for pressure cooker
measuring storage for pressure cooker

Once it is filled with gain jars and water it definitely becomes more difficult to handle; make sure you are prepared to lift and move it around the stove (while full) when you use it. 

I usually place the cooker on top of my stove, then fill it with contents to avoid heavy carrying, however, there are still instances where you may need to shift it on the stove. 

The Presto 01781 includes three main parts, these are: 

The Pressure Gauge can help you ensure that you are sterilizing your mushroom substrate over 15 psi. 

15psi Sterilizing mushrooms

The Vent Pipe, this is a pressure release valve that will release pressure in excess of 15 pounds. The pressure regulator sits on top of the vent pipe.

The Pressure Regulator, which is basically a small weight that prevents the pressure cooker from exceeding 15psi.

Sometimes mycologists will place a few coins (quarters) on top of this to allow it to exceed and remain over 15psi for extended periods, however I have found this necessary.

The original pressure regulator does rattle a lot when you get up to the top temperatures and some feel the need to upgrade it to a non rattle regulator.

Air Vent Lock, this is a lock which will pop up when pressure inside the cooker has built beyond a certain point. Once the Air Vent lock pops up the pressure regulator will begin moving upward.

The prices for Presto canners can vary a lot. Even on Amazon, you'll find different sellers selling the same model for very different prices. It's worth shopping around the cooker often goes on sale for a cheaper price so look out for it around the sale periods.

What We Like

It's huge and can produce lots of grain spawn in one sitting.

It is reasonably priced for the size of the unit.

This product reaches the correct pressure fast.

Superb warranty.

The pressure gauge ensures you see that you have reached sterilization levels.

What We Don't Like

This pressure cooker regulator can be very noisy if you don't get the temperatures perfect at 15psi. It will go over and rattle like mad otherwise.

This pressure cooker uses a manual pressure regulator which may be daunting for new users as there are multiple moving parts.

Only one rack, but you can get a second one here.

Requires monitoring while in use, unlike something like an instant pot.

Note: This pressure cooker can not be used on an LP gas burner outside as the temperatures will reach over 12000 which can result in the canner from breaking down risking an explosion.

Best for: Safety conscious mushroom cultivators who want a large unit. 

Material: Aluminium.

Size: Large. 16.26 inches Tall, 15.39 Inches Diameter, 22 Litres

Weight: 8.2kg

Racks included: 2

Hob Type: Electric, Gas, Smooth top, Induction.

Available Location: USA, UK, and EU.

Full pressure time: 10 minutes.

Warranty: 1 year limited warranty.

Capacity: 16 x pint jars, 26 x 1/2 pint jars

My Thoughts.

The T-Fal 22 Quart pressure cooker is another huge unit capable of sterilizing large quantities of grain spawn at one time, and it comes with two racks, which is a great bonus.

What sets this pressure cooker apart is its beginner-friendly design.

Instead of having to place a pressure regulator weight over a valve. Instead, you turn a dial to set your pressure before you apply heat.

Alongside this, features such as the handle which has been placed in the center of the top of the unit, and large handles on the sides make it easier to handle when removing the lid, keeping your hands away from the metal.

The unit also will not open until you release the steam through the vent by turning the pressure valve.

This can prevent you from opening it too soon and getting burned by the hot steam (you should be leaving it to cool anyway after sterilizing mushroom jars but it is still a nice feature).

Overall, the product feels more robust than the presto and the lid is heavier (however, as it contains more components).

Unlike other pressure cookers that can rattle and make a lot of noise, the T-fal operates smoothly and quietly.

Now, I will admit that it can make a hissing noise, but with a little bit of practice, you'll learn where to place it on your hob and what temperature to use to keep the pressure consistent. 

The fact that it comes with 2 racks instead of having to buy a second one is definitely a plus, and the 10-year warranty is great!

What We Like

Excellent safety features for those new to pressure cooking.

It's huge and can produce lots of grain spawn in one sitting.

It is reasonably priced for the size of the unit.

The product reaches the correct pressure fast.

Superb warranty.

What We Don't Like

The older units do not contain a pressure gauge in PSI but instead a setting of 1,2,3.

The unit is heavy and could be difficult for some people to use.

The user manual is not the greatest.

Best for: Aspiring Mushroom Farmers or professional mycologists. 

Material: Aluminium.

Size: Large. 18.5 inches Tall, 16.1417 Inches Diameter, 23.6 Litres

Weight: 6.7kg

Racks included: 2

Hob Type: Gas

Available Location: USA, UK (eBay only).

Full pressure time: 10 minutes.

Warranty: 10-year limited warranty.

Capacity: 19 x pint jars, 38 x 1/2 pint jars

My Thoughts.

This isn't your typical pressure cooker, it's a sterilization autoclave that you'd typically find in a lab setting for sterilization. Since an autoclave is a specialized appliance for sterilization I had to include it in this list.

The All American 925 has been built with excellent craftsmanship. Instead of a rubber seal, it relies on the engineering of the lid to create a metal-on-metal seal.

If you're looking for a purchase that'll stand the test of time, this unit is for you. This is because the usual weak point in a pressure cooker (the rubber components) are few and far between.

It comes with 2 racks which is ideal, so you can double stack your jars and fill the unit with at least 26 jars without needing to purchase additional racks. 

If you are considering creating your own spore syringes, liquid cultures, grain spawn, or agar plates to sell and trade this autoclave is the unit for you. 

Just be sure to read the manual and watch as many videos as possible before using it. Trust me, this unit may look intimidating, but should guarantee sterilization for all your mushroom growing needs for a very long time.

The basic steps for use are:

  • Place 2 – 3 inches of water in the unit (this unit uses less water than others).
  • Lubricate the metal to metal seal with a Q-tip of olive oil.
  • Tighten down the cover using the 6 sealing screws. It's best to tighten opposite screws, one after the other.
  • Put the autoclave on the burner and turn to high heat.
  • Place the regulator weight on the 15psi setting.
  • Look out for any leaking.
  • Wait for the regulator weight to jiggle when you are up to pressure then watch the PSI gauge.

What We Like

Excellent safety features for those new to pressure cooking.

It’s massive.

Impressive pressure gauge.

It is built for sterilizing.

Great customer service.

What We Don't Like

It only has a 1-year warranty.

It takes some more management before use (remembering to oil the seal etc).

It is heavy, which means it isn't guaranteed to work on non-gas stoves safely.

Best for: Mycologists without access to US products.

Material: Aluminium.

Size: Large. 19.01 inches Tall, 15.9 Inches Diameter, 2 Litres

Weight: 9.8kg

Racks included: 1

Hob Type: Gas

Available Location: Global.

Full pressure time: 10 minutes.

Warranty: 5-year limited warranty.

Capacity: 24 x 1/2 pint jars, 16 x pint jars.

Surprisingly, capacity for this pressure cooker is not as great as it sounds, 22L makes it sound huge, however when you put the lid on (or inside in this case) it means that there needs to be a few inches left at the top of the pressure cooker to fit it in.

My Thoughts.

Overall this is a great pressure cooker for those who don't have access to other large models. It runs at 15psi only which is perfect for sterilizing. 

I've noticed the lid is a bit of a faff to get on as you have to place it inside the opening then lift it up and turn it to seal, however, once you’ve mastered that it's pretty simple to use. 

Once turned on and heated the pressure regulator on the top will pop up and whistle loudly like a train, let it whistle 3 times then I'd turn the heat down to maintain pressure.

The Hawkins Big Boy is fairly heavy at 9kg which is probably the heaviest for its size on the list so bear this in mind.

One perk is it is available globally unlike the other units so you don't have to pay crazy import and shipping fees if you live outside of the US, this brings the cost of the unit down greatly in comparison to other competitors.

What We Like

Simple to use.

Available globally.

Guaranteed 15 PSI working.

What We Don't Like

The lid is a bit of a faff to get on and uses some of the jar space.

Gas only means it's not right for everyone.

Medium options (10-18 Quart)

Best for: Beginner Mycologists.

Material: Aluminium.

Size: Large. 17 inches Tall, 11 Inches Diameter, 15 Litres

Weight: 4.5kg

Racks included: 1

Hob Type: Electric, Gas, Smooth top, Induction.

Available Location: US, UK (eBay only).

Full pressure time: 10 minutes.

Warranty: 12 Year limited warranty.

Capacity: 14 x 1/2 pint jars, 10 x pint jars.

You can't double stack in this pressure cooker, however it is possible to create a base layer then place a few jars on top on their sides, as show in the picture we took during our testing below.

16qt presto pressure cooker capacity test for mushrooms.

My Thoughts.

The presto 16 qt pressure cooker is probably the best medium-range unit for a newbie mushroom cultivator. 

The product is not so big that it's hard to store and move around but it is large enough to make a decent amount of grain spawn in one sitting. 

It comes with a pressure gauge and regulator which ensure you can reach 15 PSI. 

Presto has a great reputation among mycologists and this is often the top recommended beginner pressure cooker. 

Most people who buy this model will never outgrow it and are pleased with their purchase. 

What We Like

Accessible price.

This product reaches 15PSI fast.

Superb warranty.

The pressure gauge ensures you see that you have reached sterilization levels.

What We Don't Like

This pressure cooker regulator can be very noisy if you don't get the temperatures perfect at 15psi. It will go over and rattle like mad basically.

Only fits one stack of jars.

Requires monitoring while in use unlike some of the electric models below.

Best for: Safety Concerned Beginner Mycologists.

Material: Stainless Steel.

Size: Large. 12 inches Tall, 11.6 Inches Diameter, 12 Litres

Weight: 4.5kg

Racks included: 1

Hob Type: Electric, Gas, Smooth top, Induction.

Available Location: US.

Full pressure time: 10 minutes.

Warranty: 10 Year limited warranty.

Capacity: 12 x US ½ pint Jars. 4 x US 1 Pint Jars.

You can't double stack in this pressure cooker, however it is possible to create a base layer then place one or two extra jars on top on their sides.

My Thoughts.

In a similar fashion to the T-fal unit discussed earlier the Zavor EZLock pressure cooker has a really great safety profile, especially for anyone new to the sterilization process. 

The lid is placed on and locked using the top handle in an innovative way I haven't seen before on pressure cookers. 

It includes a safety vent that helps release excess pressure when the pressure is building.

The cooker is a bit less intimidating than the presto units as you don't need to place a pressure regulator on top to build pressure.

The EZLock pressure cooker is easy to use, you just set the correct pressure on a pressure dial and heat, the pressure cooker will then reach the correct heat, begin hissing, then you can turn down the heat to maintain pressure.

You can get 4 1 quart jars inside the cooker which can create a good amount of spawn in one sitting.

The pressure cooker is made from stainless steel and is a really solid unit, it comes with a 10-year warranty. 

Finally, (and most importantly) the high setting on this product reaches 15 psi for sterilizing. 

What We Like

Great safety profile.

Innovative lid.

Superb warranty.

What We Don't Like

Price – this model can be quite pricey in comparison to other brands.

The pressure gauge ensures you see that you have reached sterilization levels.

Electric Pressure Cookers.

Electric pressure cookers are getting better with each passing year and having recently bought an Instant Pot I have realized they can be a useful tool for mushroom cultivation.

Currently most electric pressure cookers do not reach true 15 psi and hold that pressure, they normally operate around 12 psi.

However dont let this discourage you, applying a longer sterilization cycle can result in pretty consistent results. Along side this they are generally safer and easier to use than stove top pressure cookers (they dont require the same monitoring).

Best for: Safety Concerned Beginner Mycologists.

Material: Aluminium.

Size: Large. 14.8 inches Tall, 13.3 Inches Diameter, 36 Height

Weight: 7.2kg

Racks included: 1 pot

Hob Type: None (electric plug in).

Available Location: Globally.

Full pressure time: 15 minutes.

Warranty: 1 year warranty.

Capacity: 7 x 330ml jars, 2 x 500ml jars

Instant Pot for mushroom cultivation

My Thoughts.

If I could go back to buying my first pressure cooker for mushroom cultivation, I probably would choose the Instant Pot 8Qt.

Want to sterilize grain spawn? It will take longer than a 15 psi pressure cooker, but its a lot less stress and monitoring.

Want to pasteurize substrate? Set the sous vide temperature within pasteurization range add your substrate and come back 3 hours later, sorted.

Want to keep agar warm? It can do that for you.

Want to sterilize utencils? It can dot that for you too.

It really does feel like an all in one solution for home mushroom cultivation.

It isn't the ideal model for someone looking to setup a farm but if you are just growing mushrooms as a hobby i think this is a great option.

What We Like

Multiple use cases, the instant pot can be used for pasteurization, sterilization and keeping agar warm.

Extremely safe.

Does not require a stove.

Can be used in a set and forget fashion.

What We Don't Like

Small capacity.

The unit is large in comparison to jar capacity.

Does not maintain 15 psi.

Best for: People wanting an electric pressure cooker which hits true 15 psi.

Material: Aluminium.

Size: Large. 14 inches Tall, 15 Inches Diameter, 14 Height

Weight: 7.98kg

Racks included: 1 pot

Hob Type: None (electric plug in).

Available Location: USA.

Full pressure time: 15 minutes.

Warranty: 1 year warranty.

Capacity: 7 x 330ml jars, 3 x 500ml jars

Picture of pressure cooker

My Thoughts.

The CAREY DPC-9ss is a no thrills, 15 psi pressure canner which works via an electric socket.

It doesn't provide as many functions as the instant pot but it can be used as a pressure canner for meats and therefore will likely be usable for full 15 psi sterilization of grain spawn.

What We Like

Works at 15 psi

Simple to use.

Easy to clean with detachable pot.

What We Don't Like

It can only really be used for one function which is sterilizing spawn jars.

Small options (6 – 8 Quart)

Some of these pressure cookers are great for beginners, they are not huge units but they can definitely be used if you are just wanting to try out PF-Tek or make a small batch of grain jars at a time.

My 7L tower pressure cooker and hold 3 x 1L grain jars in it or 8 smaller jars which is probably perfect for someone just wanting to try out the hobby. Alongside this these model are way easier to store than the larger models.
Checkout the photos below.

8 small jars in 7L pressure cooker
3 jars in pressure cooker

Best for: Mycologists looking for a simple setup.

Material: Stainless Steel with aluminium base.

Size: Large. 8 inches Tall, 8.5 Inches Diameter, 15 Litres

Weight: 1.7kg

Racks included: 1

Hob Type: Electric, Gas, Smooth top, Induction.

Available Location: US.

Full pressure time: 10 minutes.

Warranty: Lifetime warranty.

Capacity: 7 x 330ml jars, 2 x 500ml jars

My Thoughts.

The Cuisinart CPC22-8 is an 8-quart pressure cooker that contains the same type of lids as the Zavor EZlock.

This means it has an excellent safety profile for new mycologists who are worried about the safety of pressure cooking. 

This pressure cooker can be picked up very cheap so it’s great for someone who isn’t sure about mycology as a hobby and just wants to get their feet wet without spending too much money.

The product hits 15psi so you should be able to sterilize grain jars. However, it is on the small side so you are only going to be able to get a few small jars created at once. 

This pressure cooker is probably best placed with someone who doesn't have lots of room to store big pieces of equipment and is only going to use the unit a few times a year.

It isn't the ideal model for someone looking to setup a farm but if you are just growing mushrooms as a hobby i think this is a great option.

What We Like

Great safety profile.

Innovative lid.

Superb warranty.

Great Price.

What We Don't Like

Small capacity.

The unit is large in comparison to jar capacity.

Does not maintain 15 psi.

Best for: Mycologists looking for the cheapest possible setup.

Material: Aluminium.

Size: Large. 7 inches Tall, 9.5 Inches Diameter, 15 Litres

Weight: 2.2kg

Racks included: 1

Hob Type: Electric, Gas, Smooth top, Induction.

Available Location: US.

Full pressure time: 10 minutes.

Warranty: 1 year warranty.

Capacity: 6 x 1/2 jars, 2 x 500ml

My Thoughts.

This presto 6 qt is the cheapest reliable pressure cooker you will probably find. It is probably best for someone on a really low budget who is unsure about mycology.

What We Like

Ultra Low price.

Presto great quality.

15 psi.

Easy to use handle and lid system.

What We Don't Like

Small – you won't get a lot of spawn from this model.

Short warranty for a presto model.

Pressure Cookers For UK Mushroom Growers?

Small

Tower T920004S7L Express 7 Litre Pressure Cooker

This is the size pressure cooker I started out with its cheap and can hold about 8 half pint jars. This is a well built system and are designed to ensure safety as a priority, this can be a huge benefit to people new to the sterilization process.

Storing a smaller pressure cooker
8 small jars in 7L pressure cooker

On this type of pressure cooker the design is more simple and “safe” with a pressure locker and a release valve which cannot be blocked.

This system build pressure and slowly releases it from the valve so it is important to fill the unit to the correct water levels.

Presto 23 Quart Pressure Cooker (eBay affiliate link)

You can find the 23 Quart Pressure cookers by presto on eBay for importing from the USA. You have to pay a little bit extra for shipping but the price is definitely still resonable. The are very large pressure cookers which can hold at least 20 half pint jars at once.

Instant Pot 8Qt

You can get yourself an Instant Pot and just run longer sterilization cycles, alongside this, it can pasteurize substrate and warm agar for you so it is actually a pretty useful tool.

Sterilization Units for mushroom farm cultivation.

All-American 25 Quart Non-Electric Sterilizer

If you are creating a business based around mushroom cultivation then you are probably going to need to maximize your sterilization efforts.

This is a proper sterilization unit (known as an autoclave) you would find being used by commercial laboratories.

You could fit many spawn bags in this system and it is specifically made for sterilization. It is also possible to get these units as all in one electric systems which is actually really useful albeit pricey.

Do you need a Pressure Cooker for growing mushrooms?

Technically no, I have a full post on how to grow mushroom without a pressure cooker. 

Here you will learn the various work around if you don't want to buy a pressure cooker.

If you want more consistent results and to grow an array of different strains, using all the methods available it is always recommended to use a pressure cooker.

What size Pressure Cooker Is needed for  Growing mushrooms?

The minimum size pressure cooker needed for mushroom growing is 6 Quart, this will allow you to get 6 half-pint Jars sterilized at one time.

Anything below this will greatly reduce your margin for error and increase the chances that you won't produce any mushrooms from you're sterilization run.

What to look for in a Pressure Cooker for growing mushrooms?

Size – ensure the product you're looking at can fit a decent number of mason jars inside. The more spawn jars you can sterilize the more mushrooms you can grow.

Pressure – Ensure your pressure cooker can reach 15PSI, this is level of pressure required to bring the temperature inside the pot to sterilize the substrate. In Europe it is harder to find a pressure cooker will reach the full 15PSI but it is not hard to find a product which can push pressure to 14+PSI (just leave your jars to sterilize longer if so).

Hob Type – Ensure the pressure cooker will function with the type of hob you have. There are plenty of options which can be used on all hob types however its always best to check as some can not.

Why is a Pressure Cooker important in mushroom cultivation?

Pressure cookers sterilize the substrate destroying harmful contaminants which could compete with your mycelium.

Pressure cookers are important when growing mushrooms as they sterilize the different substrates which the Mycelium is going to eat. Contaminant such as mold spores, bacteria and other fungi spores are everywhere and the substrates we use during mycology are the perfect nutritional meal for them. When the correct moisture and nutritional conditions are met (after we soak the substrates) the spores and bacteria germinate and multiply, taking over your substrate.

By heating our substrates to a high temperature in the pressure cooker we are destroying the spores and bacteria which may have been present on the substrate. This will give the mycelium you introduced into the substrate a head start to establish itself before reintroducing the substrate to the contaminated open air again.

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