Preparing for the Canning Season

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With gardens coming in and fruits and vegetables ready to harvest, what are you going to do with the multitude?

You may be thinking about preserving your harvest for the first time—or dusting off old canning equipment. If you plan to can garden surplus this year, be sure to get up-to-date information. Brochures and fact sheets are available at the Burke County Cooperative Extension office or you can order your own Ball Blue Book on Preserving. As interest in home canning and other preservation methods continues to grow, Cooperative Extension offers information you can trust to make your food preservation efforts safe and successful.

A national survey conducted by the USDA-NIFA National Center for Home Food Preservation in 2000 found that many people use canning practices that put them at high risk for foodborne illness. Over the years, changes in scientific expertise as well as canning equipment have occurred, so there is new information on the right type of methods, canners, jars, and seals. For instance, there are two types of canners for home canning: the boiling water-bath canner, and the pressure canner. Using the pressure canner for low-acid foods such as vegetables, meats, poultry, and fish is a must to prevent botulism. The water-bath canner is used for high-acid foods such as tomatoes, fruits, jams, and jellies.

The first step is to take an inventory of your canning supplies to determine what you have and what you might need. Be careful to make sure the gasket on your pressure canner is in good condition, and get your dial gauge tested annually. You can bring the lid of the pressure canner in to the Burke County Cooperative Extension office to have your dial gauge tested, to make sure the pressure is working correctly.