Safe, high quality home canned foods begin with updated information, and the right equipment used properly. Why risk losing your time and food dollars through food spoilage caused by improper canning practices?
UT Extension is offering a research based, updated Canning Class series on Tuesdays, June 13 and 20 from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at the Sevier County Extension Office. Cost is $20 per participant for the 2 night series. Participants will learn the basics of canning fruits and vegetables as well as learn how to make jam and can pickles. This is an excellent opportunity for beginner canners, as well as updates for those with experience. Space is limited in the canning class, so pre-registration with class fee is needed by contacting Linda Hyder at 865-453-3695.
Before you begin canning this season:
Check and assemble equipment to see what you have and what you need.
Ignore the temptation to use peanut butter, pickle and quart size mayonnaise jars, because such jars are not safe for canning. Use only Ball or Mason type jars, with self sealing lids for home canning, because they are designed to withstand high temperatures. Make an investment by buying canning jars that you can use for more than one season.
Have your pressure gauge checked if you use a dial gauge pressure canner.
Dial gauges should be checked each year for accuracy. Gauges that read high cause under processing and may result in unsafe food. Low readings cause over-processing. Every pound of pressure is very important to the temperature needed inside the canner for producing safe food, so accurate gauges are essential.
UT Extension in Sevier County can test the dial gauges of pressure canners at no cost by appointment made by calling 965-453-3695. Weighted gauges that rock or jiggle during processing, are considered accurate and cannot be tested.
Make sure your food preservation recipes are complete and up-to-date.
Research has changed over the years. Just because our grandparents used that recipe, does not make it safe. The only safe acceptable scanning methods now are Water Bath and Pressure Canning. The processing times have also changed over the years. Make sure your canning books are recent and recipes research based for safety.
Check jars and bands. Discard chipped jars and rusted or distorted bands.
Flat band lids which were left from last year may be used this year. Generally the gasket in new lids is good for 5 years from the date of manufacture. Always inspect new lids before using to be sure they are not dented, deformed, or have gaps in the sealing gasket.
Make plans to use up last summer’s produce (both frozen and canned) to make room for new products and prevent waste. Check the jar seals to ensure no spoilage.
For optimum quality, plan to use home-canned food within one year. After a year, the quality of home-canned foods may decrease, but food generally is still safe as long as the seal is intact and there are no signs of spoilage. Always store canned foods in a cool, dark place, preferably between 50˚ and 70˚F. Higher temperatures will cause food to lose quality.
A great website for information and recipes is the National Food Preservation Center at nchfp.uga.edu. Get that canner out and start saving those fruits and vegetables for year round enjoyment!
Now, are you ready for canning? I wish you a bountiful harvest and great trips to local Farmers’ Markets! For more information or questions, call Linda Hyder with UT Extension at 865-453-3695.