How to Safely Preserve Food With Home Canning

How to Safely Preserve Food With Home CanningHome canning is a great way to enjoy locally grown food throughout the year. When the garden is bursting with an abundance of fruits and vegetables, it is time to consider canning some to preserve it. Canning provides a great way to explore new flavors and avoid too much food waste.

The most important aspect of preserving food with home canning is the safety. When canning is not done properly, mold and bacteria can present itself, causing an unnecessary health risk. In order to properly can food at home, know what methods are best for specific fruits and vegetables, how to properly perform each method and how to avoid mistakes that could allow bacteria through.

Boiling Water Bath
The boiling water bath method is one of the safest methods for the home canning process. The boiling water bath works well for fruits and vegetables that have a high level of acidity, such as fruits and pickled vegetables. The boiling water method is an excellent was to preserve tomatoes, jams, jellies and pickles. The process involves covering the jar of food in boiling water for a specific amount of time, depending on the type of food being preserved.

Pressure Canning
With the pressure canning method, you can preserve almost any type of low acid foods including meat, poultry, dairy products and all types of vegetables. These types of food have the tendency to continue growing bacteria spores, even after reaching a boiling temperature. This can cause botulism toxins that are unsafe for human consumption. Instead of using the boiling water method, low acid foods should be preserved with the pressure canning method.

The pressure canning method uses a special type of pressure cooker. Inside the cooker the jar will set in two or three inches of water, not completely covered like the previous method. The pressure cooker gets the food up to 240 degrees Fahrenheit, past the point where botulism spores can survive.

Jars and Utensils
When preserving food safely with the home canning method, knowing the best type of jars and utensils to use is also important. Most canning jars are made from thick glass with a self-sealing lid. The lid has two parts to it: the metal band and the flat metal disc. The flat disc should never be reused in canning, but the metal band to screw it on top can be reused.

When working with special utensils such as knives, spatulas and cutting boards for canning, make sure to follow a common sense cleaning process to avoid contamination when home canning foods. Never use the same utensils for different food products without thoroughly washing it first.

Knowing how to safely preserve food with home canning is essential to serving delicious and safe food to the family throughout the year.