Home canning has been going on for generations. There’s something special about being able to replicate flavors from the seed to the table.
Keeping that in mind, it’s a good time to get your equipment in working order so that when your produce is ready, you are too.
Here’s a quick list to get you started:
Check your canning jars to see how many you have, what you may need and inspect for nicks or cracks around the top. Only Mason-type jars are acceptable for home canning products, because they are constructed with tempered glass, which is made to withstand the change in temperature.
Check the expiration date of canning lids for best results. The guideline is to purchase only the number of lids you will use in one year. Older lids may have a soft compound and result in a faulty seal.
Make sure your ring bands are in good condition, not rusty or bent. These can be used for several years, provided they are in good condition.
Avoid closures such as zinc caps and glass lids that require a jar rubber. These do not provide a proper method to determine if the food is safe.
Look for the latest research/reliable information to update your methods. The National Center for Home Food Preservation is a reliable site to look at videos, get new recipes and verify your knowledge. Do not use recipes or instructions published prior to 2006, because they may not have accurate information for processing your food safely. Many recipes were reformulated to reflect recent research.
Check for any new gadgets that might help to make your job easier. Using a funnel or lid lifter may save you time in the long run and offer additional safety as well.
Have your pressure canner checked to make sure that the gauge is calibrated correctly. Contact your local Extension office for locations near you to have the inspection done. Don’t wait until you have a problem and risk wasting your food to have your canner checked. If you have a weighted gauge, it is not essential to have it calibrated as the weight will never change, but it can be inspected if you are having problems building pressure. For free canner checks call the OSU Extension Office at 330-533-5538 to make an appointment.
And last, take inventory of how much food you have left from last year so that you can plan accordingly for this year. Remember the guideline is to use the home canned food within 12 months for best quality.
Check out your local Extension office for more information or National Center for Home Food Preservation at http://nchfp.uga.edu/.
Beth Stefura is an OSU Extension Family & Consumer Sciences educator and may be reached at 330-533-5538.