Taking the Fear out of Home Canning
Lisa Terry, FCS/4-H Glacier County Extension
While it is great to be cautious since stories like this do exist if you are practicing safe home canning procedures and following the recommended research-based guidelines, you should be able to put your fears to rest.
Here are a couple of tips to remember when it comes to safely canning at home. First of all, make sure that you have a scientifically tested recipe. Aunt Barbara’s homemade green bean recipe might have been passed down for generations and luckily no one has gotten sick, but you should never use a recipe that has not gone through rigorous research and testing to ensure proper safety protocols are in place. This means that you must have an up-to-date recipe. Things have changed since Aunt Barbara was home canning, and some varieties of foods don’t have the same acid content or ph value they once had.
A good example here is tomatoes. For many years, tomatoes were considered a high-acid food. However, tomatoes are fruits; as such, the amount of acid in tomatoes varies dramatically over the growing season. The amount of acid in tomatoes is highest in unripe (green) fruit and reaches the lowest point as the fruit reaches maturity. The amount of acid, and other components like sugars, also varies in fruits based on the climate, the soil, the variety, and other factors. A recent study of 55 types of tomatoes showed a dramatic difference in ph value and acid content. Researchers now know that tomatoes are not consistently high in acid and current canning recommendations require that acid be added to all canned tomato products.
You can find out more information regarding preserving food safely by visiting the Glacier County Extension office at 1210 East Main or calling us at 406-873-2239 or emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will once again be at the cut bank farmer’s market today from 3:00 to 6:00 pm testing pressure canner lids and talking to folks about safe home canning. Hope to see you there.