When it’s that time of year to preserve your garden bounty, an excellent method of food preservation is ‘canning’. If done properly, it is entirely safe. However care and precaution are in order. Canning low acid food is the only preservation method that can be deadly, so with canning instructions, you must follow the rules closely and not experiment.
These canning instructions are designed to always
provide you such a wide margin of safety that poisoning is simply
impossible. You follow the directions, and then you can be confident.
Learn and follow these canning rules absolutely!
1. Don’t use jars larger than a quart. Home canning technology cannot
guarantee that larger quantities will be sufficiently heated through for
enough time. Rather, the food on the outside will overcook, while that
on the inside won’t get hot enough. Botulism spores can boil awhile and
still be fine.
2. Use water-bath canning only for high acid
foods. High-acid varieties of tomatoes, fruits, rhubarb, sauerkraut,
pickles, and jams/jellies are the only high acid foods. All others
(vegetables, meats, stews) must be canned using a Pressure Canner.
3. Use only modern canning recipes from reliable sources.
4. Never reuse jar lids. Used lids aren’t reliable for sealing
correctly. If a screw band is rusty or bent, it won’t work right and
should be discarded and replaced.
5. Don’t use antique or ‘French’ -type canning jars. They aren’t as safe as the modern, regular ‘Ball, Kerr’ type.
6. Check the jar rims carefully every year by running your finger over
the top of the rim and checking for nicks. Even the tiniest nick makes
the jar unusable for canning. A nicked jar rim won’t seal reliably.
7. Raw pack is not safe for certain foods: beets, all kinds of greens
(spinach, etc.), white potatoes, squash, okra, a tomato/okra
combination, and stewed tomatoes!
8. You must allow the correct
amount of space (head-space) between your food, together with the
liquid that covers it, and the jar lid.
9. Don’t begin counting
the processing time until after the water with the jars in it comes to a
good rolling boil if using the water-bath method, or until after steam
has vented for 10 minutes from your pressure canner.
10. Process the full recommended time.
11. Lift out each jar individually (not inside the rack) using a jar lifter; keep it upright and not tipped.
12. If a jar didn’t seal, discard the lid, put on a new one, and
reprocess. Or put the jar that didn’t seal in the refrigerator and use
the contents within a week or so.
Credit: Data gathered from The Encyclopedia of Country Living