It’s that time of year again, canning season. And the extension service says more people are canning this year than last, with hard economic times playing a role.
But it’s important to remember that canning and freezing food comes with dangers.
Julie Keown-Bomer a family living educator with UW Extension, says it’s very important to can-- carefully-- to avoid getting sick.
Keown-Bomer says, “There are some very big concerns with home canning concerning food safety, the big issue is making sure you're doing everything to prevent botulism growth.”
Keown-Bomer recommends always using a research-based recipe, she said a lot of the information and recipes found online aren't safe.
She also said altering recipes to add something like more onions or peppers can be very dangerous because it can upset acidic levels.
Canning using a boiling hot water bath is generally safe for high acidic foods like tomatoes, or pickles. But if you're canning meat, fish or many other vegetables you will need to use a pressure canner.
Keown-Bomer also says, “Even if a jar seals it doesn't mean that you've killed those bacteria spores, and sometimes you wont be able to smell spoilage or anything, but literally one teaspoon full of that product could kill you.”
Symptoms of botulism can include droopy eyes or feelings of paralysis. Usually, but not always- a botulism infection can occur within a day of eating the tainted food. It can also take up to as many as 6 days to show up.
Keown-Bomer also said if you have any questions to call the extension office, and also if you have any doubt about whether your food was canned properly to just toss it out, it’s not worth getting sick.
Also if you want to get your pressure canner checked to see if it is in proper working order you can take it to the UW-Extension in Altoona and get it checked for free.
The extension office also offers inexpensive rentals for pressure canners if you either don’t have one, or aren’t sure you want to buy one.
Keown-Bomer’s list of do’s and don’ts follows:
1. Only use research-based recipes from a reliable, up-to-date source (see websites).
2. Low acid foods like meat, fish, and many vegetables can only be canned safely in a pressure canner.
3. Do not take shortcuts or modify recipes.
4. Sealed jars do not equal safe food. Only proper processing methods can guarantee food safety.
5. Use only jars made for home canning.
6. After canned food has cooled, remove rings, label and store.
7. Check with your local extension office if you have concerns or questions.
8. Have your dial gauge pressure canner checked annually.
For more information you can click on the links below.