Canning Basics

Pressure-Canning-3

It is that time of year, where you are finally reaping the benefits of your hard work and labor from your garden.  You have been waiting all summer to pick the fruits and vegetables that you have been patiently waiting to ripen.  The only problem is that there is so much of everything, that there is no way that your family of 4 is going to eat all this produce before it goes bad! This can be frustrating, however, there are different ways that you can preserve your food that will allow you to enjoy your fresh garden fruits and veggies all year round!

Today we are going to talk about the canning methods! There is more than one method of canning, so make sure that you are using the right method for the type of fruit or vegetable you are wishing to can.  Using the wrong method of canning can cause microorganisms to grow and can be a health hazard as well as cause the food to spoil.

The first method to talk about is Boiling water bath method.  This method is safe for fruits, tomatoes, pickles, as well as jams, jellies, and fruit preserves.  To use this method jars are heated and completely covered with boiling water. These are high acid foods (pH value of 4.6 or lower). Because they are high in acid Clostridium botulinum spores will not germinate to form the vegetative cells that produce the deadly toxin.

The next method that you can use is the pressure canning method.  This is the ONLY safe method of canning vegetables, meats, poultry, and seafood since they are low acid (pH value higher than 4.6) To use the pressure canning method you will need either a gauged pressure canner or a weighted pressure canner.  There is a difference between a pressure canner and a pressure cooker, so make sure that you have a pressure canner when using this method.  Also, if you are going to be using an older pressure canner, possible one that has been passed down, to make sure that it is safe to use, contact your local Family and Consumer Science County Extension agent and have them test it for you. They can check the seals as well as the gauges to make sure that it is properly working.

Once you are ready to can using the pressure canning method, you will place the jars of food in 2 to 3 inches of water inside the pressure canner that has been headed to a temperature of at least 240 Degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature can only be reached inside of a pressure canner since the temperature is above the boiling point of water., and it destroys bacteria such as Clostridium botulinium.  This is a common soil microorganism which produces a very deadly toxin or poison. It is commonly known as botulism.

There are many other unsafe canning methods out there. Many of them caused spoilage and bacteria to grow in the food.  The only two researched safe methods of canning are Water Bath and Pressure Canning.

Resources:

So Easy to Preserve, 6th Edition, Cooperative Extension, The University of Georgia

Preserving the Harvest – Canning Vegetables

Preserving the Harvest – Canning Fruit

10 Canning Tips

For more information on Canning or methods of canning contact your local Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service Agent.

Amy Griffin

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service – Ochiltree County

County Extension Agent – Family and Consumer Science

Maroon & Gray TX A&M AGRI

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