Preservation Food Safety

Canning and preserving safely

Current information from evidence-based sources on how to ensure you are canning and preserving safely.

 


Safe Preserving Tips in the time of COVID-19

Whether you are new to canning, returning to canning because of the pandemic, or have always canned the bounty of your harvest, there are certain tips that will help ensure that your time and efforts lead to safe, healthy food for your family.

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Update: The jar sealed, is the food safe? and other questions

Tested recipes recommend glass Mason-style jars and 2-piece self-sealing lids for home canning. In the past few weeks, one of the most frequently asked questions has been about jar sealing. Handling jars and lids correctly will go a long way towards successfully preserving your garden’s bounty for the winter months ahead.

Follow this link to continue reading: Update: The jar sealed, is the food safe? and other questions

 


An update on safe use of steam canners

The University of Wisconsin-Madison conducted research showing that an atmospheric steam canner may be used to safely can naturally acid foods such as peaches, pears, and apples, or acidified-foods such as salsa or pickles.

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Safe substitutions when canning

The safety of the food that you preserve for your family and friends is important to you. The University of Wisconsin Division of Extension supports using up-to-date, research-tested recipes so that you know that the food that you preserve is both safe and high in quality. Here are a few quick tips on changes and substitutions that are acceptable when using tested/approved recipes for canning fruits, meat, and vegetables  that will keep your home preserved food safe to eat.

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At the end of canning, why wait 5-10 minutes?

Many current home canning recommendations suggest a 5 to 10 minute wait at the end of the canning process prior to removing jars from the canner. Why is this wait time now included in some canning recipes and it is necessary for safety? Some home canning recipes, such as the Ball (Fresh Preserving) recipe for Classic Strawberry Jam, include as a final step these instructions: “Process jars 10 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Turn off heat, remove lid, let jars stand 5 minutes. Remove jars and cool 12-24 hours. Check lids for seal, they should not flex when center is pressed.” Or, in the Ball Pressure Canning Guide, these instructions:  “Maintain the recommended pressure for the time indicated in tested preserving recipe, adjusting for altitude. Turn off heat. Let canner stand undisturbed (do not remove the weighted gauge) until pressure returns to zero. Wait 10 minutes, remove weight and unlock the lid, tilting away from yourself. Allow jars to cool for an additional 10 minutes. Remove jars and sit upright on a towel….”

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A fresh look at steam canning

It’s jam and jelly season! Let’s review the use of an atmospheric steam canner for canning acid foods. The University of Wisconsin-Madison conducted research showing that an atmospheric Steam Canner may be used to safely can naturally acid foods such as peaches, pears, and apples, or acidified-foods such as salsa or pickles. The atmospheric steam canner uses only ~2 quarts of water (compared to 16 quarts, or more, in a boiling water canner) so you heat less water and processing can start more quickly.

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Induction-ready pressure canners: are they safe to use?

Several manufacturers are now selling pressure canners and other appliances that are compatible with induction heating elements. Are these style of canners safe to use for home canning? Yes! Induction compatible canners function the same way as regular pressure canners in preserving food. An induction-ready canner is different because of the type of material that the canner is made of.

 

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Unsafe canning practice: ‘dry canning’ vegetables

A second method of ‘dry canning’ has surfaced, even more unsafe than the first.  One unsafe method of dry canning is oven ‘canning’ of dry goods such as dry beans, nuts or flour. This method of ‘preserving’ dry foods really isn’t canning and it isn’t considered safe.  A second method of ‘dry canning’ involves placing raw vegetables such as corn, green beans, carrots, and beets in canning jars with no added liquid, sealing jars, and pressure canning for the same amount of time as if you had added the required liquid. The USDA Hotline has received questions about this method of preserving food. What does research tell us about dry ‘canning’ of vegetables or other low-acid foods?

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Caution against canning white-fleshed peaches and nectarines

Unlike their yellow-fleshed cousins, white-fleshed peaches (Prunus persica) boast a creamy pinkish-white flesh that is sweeter to taste and low in acidity. Because the peach tree is a self-fertilizing tree, white peaches occur in nature, but they also develop as a result of hybridization. Varieties of white peaches have been documented as early as the 1600s; however, these fruits grew in commercial popularity after the 1980s and retail markets commonly sell white-fleshed peaches or nectarines in the height of summer.

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Elderberries: beautiful to look at, not for canning

Elderberry bushes have become a popular addition to the home landscape. The fruits are a food source for birds and their flowers attract butterflies and other floral-visiting insects. Elderberry is a native plant growing bush-like to heights of 6 to 12 feet, depending on site conditions. Each bush sends up many canes that flower and fruit, primarily in their second and third years. The tiny purple elderberries generally become ripe in late August.  While historically popular in wine-making, recent variety tests have indicated that elderberries are low in acid and can not be safely preserved using standard home-canning recommendations for fruits or berries.

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Dry Canning

Instructions have been circulating for ‘dry canning’ of products such as dry beans, flour, and pasta. Just because this process uses traditional canning jars, it isn’t ‘canning’ and, according to the National Center for Home Food Preservation, this method of food preservation may not be safe.

Follow this link to continue reading: Say no to dry canning