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AgriLife VZC releases proper canning tips

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Texas A&M AgriLife Van Zandt County Extension Agent Melisa Rhodes has released information regarding safe procedures for home canning.

The CDC’s information on home canning includes the following tips:

1. Use proper canning techniques.

The best way to prevent foodborne botulism is by carefully following instructions for safe home canning from the USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning . Only use recipes and cookbooks that follow the steps in the USDA guide. Don’t use other recipes, even if you got them from a trusted friend or family member.

You can learn more about proper home canning from these resources:

The National Center for Home Food Preservation and the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Van Zandt County

2. Use the right equipment for the kind of food you are canning.

Low-acid foods are the most common sources of botulism linked to home canning. These foods have a pH level greater than 4.6. Low-acid foods include most vegetables including asparagus, green beans, beets, corn, tomatoes and potatoes, some fruits, milk, all meats, fish and other seafood.

Pressure canning is the only recommended method for canning low-acid foods.

Do not use a boiling water canner for low-acid foods because it will not protect against botulism.

Do not use an electric, multi-cooker appliance, even if it has a “canning” or “steam canning” button on the front panel.

When pressure canning, keep the following things in mind.

Use a recommended pressure canner that holds at least four one-quart jars sitting upright on the rack.

Be sure the gauge of the pressure canner is accurate. Many county extension offices will check gauges. Contact the pressure canner manufacturer for other options.

Clean lid gaskets and other parts according to the manufacturer’s directions.

Vent the pressure canner before pressurizing and follow recommended cooling steps.

Use up-to-date processing times and pressures for the kind of food, the size of jar, and the method of packing food in the jar. Pay special attention to processing times for low-acid foods.

3. When in doubt, throw it out!

If you have any doubt whether safe canning guidelines have been followed, do not eat the food.

Home-canned and store-bought food might be contaminated with toxin or other harmful germs if:

the container is leaking, bulging, or swollen;

the container looks damaged, cracked, or abnormal;

the container spurts liquid or foam when opened; or

the food is discolored, moldy, or smells bad.

If you would like to learn safe canning practices and attend a class locally, contact Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Van Zandt County Agent Melisa Rhodes at 903-567-4149 or email at melisa.rhodes@ag.tamu. edu.