Preserve the Taste of Summer by Canning—But Do It Safely

CanningAs summer, 2010 all too quickly slips into the past, you (and everyone else except the skiers)  are wishing you could savor summer  all through winter.  In a way, you can.  All that delicious produce in your supermarket (or, better yet, in your garden) is just waiting to jump into jars and remain in suspended animation until some snowy day when you long for fresh-like fruit.  Yes, truly fresh fruit appears in the supermarkets in winter, too but at exorbitant prices and with diminished taste.  The long journey from who-knows-where to your supermarket jacks up the price and diminishes the flavor; the produce grows too old and tired to retain its just-grown taste.  Canning is one inexpensive way to feed the year-round urge for produce that tastes great. Furthermore, you know your own canned goods won’t have preservatives, color additives, or other chemicals you may not want to consume. 


You say you have neither the time nor the know-how to can? Those aren’t good excuses. There’s always time for what you want to do, and  there are  seemingly endless internet sites (not to mention experienced neighbors) that can tell you exactly how to can successfully.  The Web also provides warnings galore about how to fruits, vegetables, and even meat without creating an edible that happens to be fatal.  Yes, pathogens can lurk in these lovely-looking, colorful jars of canned goods—especially in low-acid foods such as vegetables.


Here are some sites with all the information you’ll need to can safely:


National Center for Home Food Preservation “An important word about home canning of vegetables” (See the long list of links within this site at the left margin.)


USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning, 2009 revision


If you need more help, by googling “Cooperative Extension Service, canning tips,” you can reach canning advice from many colleges and universities that have agricultural schools.


Further assistance is available from; just click here:


So what about safety?  Below is an excerpt from’s  warnings and tips: 


Home-Canned Vegetables: Delicious and Safe
Posted August 09, 2010
By Diane Van, USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service


At the USDA’s Meat and Poultry Hotline, we receive  about 70,000 calls a year from people who want to know how to prepare and store food safely. We can tell from our calls that it’s late summer, because we’re starting to get lots of questions about canning vegetables at home.


Canning is an excellent method of preserving your garden produce — if it’s done correctly and safely. If not, the vegetables you worked so hard to grow, harvest, and preserve could be deadly. If the bacterium that causes botulism survive and grow inside a sealed jar of food, they can produce a poisonous toxin. Even a taste of food containing this toxin can be fatal.


Here are some tips to ensure that your canned vegetables don’t spoil and make you or your family sick.


Make sure you use the latest canning methods and recommendations. Scientific research is continually being conducted on food preservation. Make sure your food preservation information is always current with up-to-date, scientifically tested guidelines. For this reason, don’t use outdated publications or cookbooks, even if they were handed down to you from trusted family cooks.


Use the right equipment for the kind of foods that you are canning. Pressure canning is the only recommended method for canning vegetables, as well as meat, poultry, and seafood. The bacterium that causes botulism is destroyed in these foods when they are processed at the correct time and pressure in pressure canners. Using boiling water canners for these foods poses a real risk of botulism poisoning.


Follow these recommendations to ensure that home-canned vegetables are safe:


1.  Use a pressure canner.


2.  Be sure the gauge of the pressure canner is accurate.


3.  Use up-to-date process times and pressures for the kind of food, the size of jar, and the method of packing food in the jar.
Also, before eating home-canned vegetables, check to make sure that:


  • The jar lid is firmly sealed and concave.
  • No liquid is leaking from the jar.
  • No liquid spurts out when you open the jar.
  • No unnatural or “off” odors can be detected.


The National Center for Home Food Preservation provides a more  detailed explanation of why Clostridium botulinum bacteria thrive in underprocessed, low-acid home-canned goods:


Spores of Clostridium botulinum bacteria, as found naturally in soils, are very, very heat resistant.  Even hours in the boiling water canner will not kill them if they are inside your jars of beans.  Left alive after canning, they will eventually germinate into actively growing bacterial cells that will produce a deadly human toxin when consumed.  The bacteria like the conditions inside closed jars of low-acid foods (such as vegetables and meats) sitting at room temperature, so they must be killed during the canning process for safe storage.


If you’re confused by the language of canning, there is even a website that defines the terms.  To reach one, click here: is another source with a lot of advice and recipes.


Are you totally new to home canning?   There’s also a link just for you: Consult these do’s, don’ts and tips before you start.  The main point here seems to be “Don’t add anything to the recipe.”  Some ingredients you might want to add could cause you to wind up with an underprocessed product and a serious illness. Read this list of warnings, heed the advice, and everything should turn out fine.    See? You can can after all (and we’re not referring to dancing). 


Source(s):  “Glossary of Terms”  “How to Can, Freeze, Dry and Preserve any Fruit or Vegetables at Home”


National Center for Home Food Preservation  “An  important word about home canning of vegetables” (See the long list of links within this site at the left margin.)


USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning, 2009 revision   “Home-Canned Vegetables: Delicious and Safe”




National Center for Home Food Preservation  “An  important word about home canning of vegetables”


USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning, 2009 revision



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