Extension Educator

...but home canning is not on everyone's list of most sought-after new pastimes.

Why?

Some people believe that it's some sort of magical technique. Others think the process requires physical effort on the order of an Olympic Decathlon.

Let me dispel the myths. Home canning is considered to be an art, but it is by no means a mysterious practice. Successful home canning requires only that you observe simple guidelines.

While home canning can be an ambitious undertaking, it does not always have to be. After all, home canning can be enjoyed by the whole family. From harvesting fruits and vegetables in the family garden to preparing food for canning, to processing, labeling and storing jars, home canning provides something for everyone. Plus, home canning instills a pride of family accomplishment while serving a vital need: putting food on the family's table.

It also saves money. For every quart of garden-fresh fruits or vegetables preserved, you'll need one less can of expensive, processed food from the grocery store.

Finally, home canning is a lifetime of pursuit. The best way to start is by using up-to-date home canning recipes from your local OSU Extension Office.

Home Canner's Questions:

Q. Why can't I use my great-grandmother's old canning recipes?

A. Through the years, home canning methods and techniques are constantly tested and improved to assure the safest, most effective way of processing food.

Q. How can I determine how much food to preserve for my family for the year?

A. Remember, be realistic. Most of us like to enjoy fruits and vegetables while they're fresh. You'll really only need to preserve enough quantities to last the remaining 8 or 9 months ? not 12 months worth.

Q. I have several peanut butter, pickle and quart-sized mayonnaise jars which I would like to be able to use for canning. Is it safe to use these jars in a boiling water bath canner or a pressure canner?

A. NO! Use only standard canning jars for home canning as these jars have been specially annealed to withstand the heat necessary in the home canning process.

Q. How long is it safe to store canned food?

A. For optimum quality of food, plan to use home-canned food within one year. After 1 year, quality of food goes down, but is still safe as long as the seal is still intact and there is no sign of spoilage. Whatever the age, ALWAYS boil low-acid, pressure canned food a full 10 minutes. Twenty minutes for corn, spinach and meats to destroy any botulism toxins. DO NOT taste prior to boiling.

A recipes booklet of basic canning and freezing guidelines is available at the OSU Extension Office, 601 E Robinson.

Don't hesitate to call your local office of OSU Extension at 321-4774 with questions. I am there to ensure that you provide safe food for your family and friends.

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