Remember not everything you see on the web is safe.
Do not trust all Canning sites, Recipes, YouTube or Pinterest
Safe Canning Recipe Books
- Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving
- Ball Canning Back to Basics
- Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving
- The All New Ball Book Of Canning And Preserving
- National Center for Home Food Preservation
- So Easy to Preserve
- USDA’s Complete Guide to Home Canning
- SDSU Extension’s Preserve It! Materials
- Pomona Pectin Recipes
Don't feel too overwhelmed...it seems like a lot to take in at first but if you read and ask questions and gradually buy the items you need while you are learning you will be a pro in no time and wonder what you were worried about. If you have questions, please refer to a safe source for information.
Things to remember: There are two USDA-approved ways to can — with a boiling water bath canner, which reaches 212 degrees, or with a pressure canner (not to be confused with a pressure cooker), which reaches 240 degrees. Each one kills different types of bacteria and sterilizes food in jars.
Water bath = WB = high acid foods = pickles, pickled veggies, fruit, jelly, jams, salsa’s, pie fillings and tomatoes.
Pressure Canner = PC = low acid foods = veggies that are not pickled, all meats, sauces, soups, stews, and chili. You can PC some of the WB items but you can NEVER EVER water bath items that are low acid and require a PC.
First tip...buy one of these books, they are wonderful: Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving or Ball Blue Book guide to preserving. There are others but either of these are a great start. Always make sure that the canning book you are using is up to date…things change as more research is done and you want to be as safe as you can. Please check the recipes against today's standards for safe canning.
Safe websites to visit that have lots of good recipes and advice: Remember not everything you see on the web is safe. Do not trust all canning sites, cooking sites, recipes, YouTube, Pinterest or Google unless you check it against these sites or ask in our group. There are many good sites but there are just as many who give unsafe advice.
Using Pressure Canners
ITEMS YOU WILL NEED: Suggestions and links are included but search the web for the best pricing.
Burning Issue: Canning on Smooth Cooktops - If you have a smooth top stove please read this before using it for canning.
Do's and Don’ts for storing your canned goods:
Many canners during the season search for locations in their homes where they are able to store their precious jars. Finding that perfect spot sometimes can be a challenge and the "Do's and Don'ts" of storage are important to keep in mind.
The most important "Don't" before we start is never put any jars that have not been properly processed either by water bath or pressure canning methods or the lids have not sealed into your storage. They will not be shelf stable and could make someone sick if consumed or worse!
1. Don't store your jars in a hot garage or in a basement near the heater or boiler. Do find a cool place between 50 and 70 degrees to keep your jars. Reason: If the contents of the jars are stored in a warm place or in direct sunlight the food may lose some of its eating quality in a few weeks or months, sooner if the temperature is anything like Vegas in the summer!
2. Don't store your jars in wet or damp area. Do find a location that is dry and has some circulation. Reason: Dampness may rust the metal lids and rings and could cause leakage so the food will spoil. Storing the jars in a cool dark pantry, closet, or some have even stored them under their bed, but in the house is optimal.
3. Don't store your jars with the rings still on the lid. Do take the rings off or loosen them! Reason: If there is a problem and bacteria develops in the jar the lid will release from the build-up of gas inside the jar. The lid will be loose and when you open the jar and the lid will just slide right off. If you leave the ring on and the bacteria develops the lid is being held down by the ring and over time the lid may reseal itself and will trap the bacteria inside and you will not know.
4. Don't stack your jars if you don’t have to. Do find space for them to be in a single layer either in boxes or on shelves. Reason: There are two reasons to not stack jars, first there is the danger of jars falling over and breaking, but more important is that you are again putting a heavy object on the lids of the bottom jars and possibly trapping bacteria you may have in your food. If you do not have sufficient space and must stack, use a cardboard layer between and only stack 2 high.
5. Don't lay your jars on their side or upside down. Do keep your lids up! Reason: Natural ingredients in some foods, in particular foods with acid, corrode metal from the lid and make a dark deposit on the underside of jars. This deposit on lids of sealed, properly processed jars is harmless but will detract from giving the jar as a gift and will look visually unappealing.
6. Don't forget to label your jars. Do mark the lid using a permanent marker with the name of the recipe and date canned or create a sticker label with the same information. Reason: Again two reasons to make sure your jars are properly marked; make sure you know what's in the jar since sometimes the color and contents are not obvious as to what's inside and the date will let you know how old the contents are in the jar.
7. Don't put the jars in the pantry without washing them. Do take the time to remove the rings and wash, rinse and dry your jars. Reason: It's important to clean any food residue or if you are pressure canning you may have some residual fat from canning meat on the outside of the jar. Cleaning the outside with warm soapy water helps to avoid ants and other insects in your pantry.
8. Don't leave the jars unchecked. Do take the time to rotate your jars by date as you pull jars out of your pantry. Reason: Since the optimal quality in the food we can is one year for any type of processing you will want to want to fill your shelves just like a grocery store. Pull the older jars to the front and newer projects to the back or create a section of its own. The date on the lid of the jar will help to keep you organized.
Adapted from SBCanning
What is botulism? Botulism can be avoided if you follow the safest canning methods. Botulism is a rare, but serious illness caused by a germ called Clostridium botulinum. The germ is found in soil and can survive, grow, and produce toxin in a sealed jar of food. This toxin can affect your nerves, paralyze you, and even cause death. Even taking a small taste of food containing this toxin can be deadly. Botulism is a medical emergency. If you have symptoms of foodborne botulism, seek medical care immediately.
Symptoms may include the following:
Protect yourself from botulism: When in doubt, throw it out!
Home-canned food might be contaminated if:
1. The container is leaking, bulging, or swollen.
2. The container looks damaged, cracked, or abnormal.
3. The container spurts liquid or foam when opened.
4. The food is discolored, moldy, or smells bad If you suspect home-canned food might be contaminated with the germs that cause botulism, throw the food away. If any of the food spills, wipe up the spill using a dilute bleach solution (1/4 cup bleach for each 2 cups of water).
5. Never taste home-canned food to determine if it is safe. Do not taste or eat foods from containers that are leaking, have bulges or are swollen, or look damaged, cracked, or abnormal.
6. When you open a jar of home-canned food, thoroughly inspect the food. Do not taste or eat foods that are discolored, moldy, or smell bad. Do not eat food from a can that spurted liquid or foamed when it was opened.
7. Do not open or puncture any unopened cans, commercial or home-canned, if you suspect contamination.
Avoiding Common (Major and Minor) Canning Mistakes
Kathleen Riggs, Family and Consumer Sciences Agent, Iron County
Major Canning Mistakes – Potentially Deadly
*Making up your own canning recipe. Without scientific testing, you will not know how long the product needs to be processed to be safe.
*Adding EXTRA starch, flour or other thickener to recipe. This will slow the rate of heat penetration into the product and can result in Undercooking.
*Adding EXTRA onions, chilies, bell peppers, or other vegetables to salsas. The extra vegetables dilute the acidity and can result in botulism poisoning.
*Using an oven instead of water bath for processing. The product will be under-processed since air is not as good a conductor of heat as water or steam. The jars also may break or explode.
*Not making altitude adjustments. Since boiling temperatures are lower at higher altitudes, the products will be under-processed. Pressure canning requires adding more pounds of pressure while waterbath canning requires more processing time.
*Not venting pressure canner. Lack of venting can result in air pockets (cold spots) which will not reach as high a temperature as is needed.
*Not having dial-type pressure canner gauges tested annually. If the gauge is inaccurate, the food may be under-processed and therefore unsafe.
*Failure to acidify canned tomatoes. Not all tomatoes have an adequate acid level (pH), especially if the vine is dead when tomatoes are harvested. This can result in botulism poisoning.
*Cooling pressure canner under running water. Calculations as to processing time include the residual heat during the normal cool-down period as part of the canning process. Hurrying this process will result in under-processed food; siphoning of liquid from the jars and jar breakage may also occur.
*Letting food prepared for “hot pack” processing cool in the jars before placing them in the canner for processing. The heat curves are based on the food being hot at the beginning of the processing. The product could be under-processed.
NOTE: Canned meat, vegetables, or salsa which is under-processed can cause botulism.
Minor Canning Mistakes – Economic Loss,
But Results Not Deadly
*Use of mayonnaise jars. The thinner walls of the glass may break, especially if used in a pressure canner, and it may be more difficult to obtain a good seal. However, if it seals, it is safe to use.
*Use of paraffin on jams & jellies. Small air holes in the paraffin may allow mold to grow. Also, paraffin can catch on fire if overheated during preparation. If preserves do have mold growth, the recommendation is not to eat the product, but discard it.
*Cooling too slowly after removing from canner. (Example: stacked jars close together.) There is a group of harmless organisms called thermophiles that can survive canning. If bottles are held hot for long periods, they can produce acid (fermentation). This results in the defect known as “flatsour.” This is harmless, but produces an undesirable flavor.
*Storing food longer than recommended.
Keeping foods longer than recommended or storing them at temperatures above 70° F for an extended period of time will decrease the quality and the value of some nutrients, but the product will be safe to eat. A darkening of fruits and change in texture is often a result as well. The general guidelines for safe food preservation really are not difficult to follow. Just make certain to always use an up-to-date, scientifically-tested recipe, follow it exactly and make the altitude adjustments for time or pressure. If you have specific questions, contact your local USU Extension office. If you cannot find your local office listed in the phone directory under USU, look under the county government listings.
Cautions Issued for Specific Foods
• Butter — For now, canning butter using any method is not recommended. Some methods are dangerous at best; others are not backed by science.
• Hydrated wheat kernels (berries) — Starch in wheat may interfere with the heat penetration during canning. Insufficient processing can result in botulism food poisoning. Wheat should be stored dry until use or refrigerated up to several days if hydrated for use in the near future.
• Quick Breads (e.g. , banana, zucchini,pumpkin) — Baking quick breads in canning jars and then placing a lid and ring on the jar to create a vacuum seal as it cools does not kill botulism-forming organisms that grow in warm, moist, anaerobic conditions. These items should be either baked fresh and served or frozen.
• Dried Beans (pinto, kidney, etc.) — To safely can dried beans, they must be hydrated first (usually 12 to 18 hours) and then brought to a boil for 30 min. Hot beans are then placed into hot jars for processing.
1. Always use up-to-date, scientifically tested canning recipes.
2. Only use approved, up-to-date canning methods (boiling water-bath or pressure).
3. Follow canning directions exactly.
4. Make altitude adjustments by adding more time to water bath canning or increasing pressure for pressure canned products.
5. Make certain canned products have a proper lid seal.
Note: Unless you are sure that the above general rules were followed, boil low acid foods for 10 minutes before eating them to inactivate botulism-causing organisms (clostridium botulinum).
Exceptions to the General Rules
• Changing salt level in anything except pickles. Salt acts as a preservative and adds flavor and crispness to pickles. In other foods, it is mainly used as a flavoring agent and is added as a personal preference.
• Changing sugar level in syrup used for canned fruit. Sugar helps fruit retain a bright color and firm texture, but is not necessary for safety.
• Add EXTRA vinegar or lemon juice. Bottled acids help obtain required pH (acid levels) in tomatoes and pickles. If a more tart or sour flavor is desired, more vinegar, lemon or lime juice may be added.
• Decrease any vegetable except tomatoes in salsas. Salsa recipes have been tested to ensure that they contain enough acid to be safely processed in a boiling water-bath canner. This acid is provided by the correct amount of tomatoes. The addition of vegetables has also been calibrated to balance the acid level. While it is dangerous to add more vegetables to salsa recipes, fewer may be used for a milder flavor.
• Substitute bell peppers, long green peppers or jalapeño peppers for each other in salsa recipes. So long as the total amount of peppers remains the same (or fewer) as what is listed in the tested recipe, peppers may be interchanged.