Safe Canning Tips in Flood or Drought

By Shirley Camp, MS, LD, RDN, retired University of Illinois Extension master canner and educator

WATERDRIPGardens too wet or too dry?  It seems as though across the country this year we have a variety of conditions in our home gardens.  When we are growing produce to feed our families, both fresh consumption and preserving for later, how do we know which produce is safe and which we should compost?

When gardens have been flooded whether or not the produce is safe to consume depends on a number of conditions.  Most importantly, the cleanliness of the floodwater is to be considered; has the floodwater been contaminated by sewage, river or creek water, run-off from farms, or industrial pollutants?  If the answer to any of these is yes, for safety the produce should be discarded if it has been touched by floodwater.

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The Difference Between Water Bath and Pressure Canners

1305 23Qt Canner leftI’ve been getting a lot of great questions from new and experienced canners alike. Today’s question comes from Sandy:

I am 60 and just learning to can. Never to late! Dopeople still do it in a pressure cooker like my grandma did or are their new and improved ways?

A great question – and it points out the need to explain the differences and purposes of water bath and pressure canners. Continue reading

Pectins 101

Jam-and-Jelly-Preserving-Pectins-101So you are ready to make jam, jelly, conserve, marmalade or some other type of jellied product and you know what type of fruit you want to use.  You go to the store to get pectin – and you find that there are several brands and types of pectin available.  Can you just buy whichever brand costs the least and use it?

The quick answer is no. Continue reading

Choosing the Right Canning Jar Starts with Knowing What to Avoid.

Early-April-Feature-Inset-ImageSo you thought that all jars are created equal? Not really.

Once you understand the best practices of safe canning, you realize that not every jar should be used for food preservation.  In fact, I tell my canning students that there are three types of canning jars to avoid (for canning purposes, of course).

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Where to Find Safe Canning Recipes

Avoid-Food-Poisoning-Feature-PicWe all know people who have secret family recipes.  Usually those recipes are for foods that we make and serve to our families at mealtime.  Tweaking these recipes – making changes for health or taste reasons – is perfectly acceptable – you make it and you eat it. Of course your tweaking may change the taste enough that it isn’t as flavorful as you would like, but it’s a safe thing to do.

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