When produce is ready, make sure canner is too

When produce is ready, make sure canner is too

When all of the family comes home, the two foods they look forward to the most are Mamaw’s frozen corn and canned green beans. Home food preservation has been passed on from both my grandmothers to my mother, to me, and hopefully in the future to our girls. There’s just something special about being able to replicate flavors from the seed to the table.

With that in mind, it’s a great time to get your equipment in working condition so that when your produce is ready, you are too. Here’s a quick list to get you started:

—Take inventory of how much food you have left from last year so you can plan accordingly for this year. Remember, the guideline is to use the home canned food within 12 months for best quality. How much will you eat through the year? Make sure your family “likes” the efforts of preservation — if they are used to canned applesauce, freezing it will taste differently. Frozen green beans are different than canned ones. Start with small quantities to make sure they meet your expectations. When you find a flavor your family likes, be sure to make a note in your recipe book so you can purchase either seed or product by the same name in the future.

—Check your canning jars to see how many you have and plan for how many you may need. Inspect for nicks or cracks around the top. Remember, only Mason-type canning jars are acceptable for home canning products, as they are constructed with tempered glass that is made to withstand the change in temperature. No single-use glass jars from the grocery are recommended for canning.

—Canning lids can be purchased ahead of time but check the expiration date for best results. The guideline is only purchase the quantity of lids you will use in one year. Older lids may have a soft compound and result in a faulty seal. Be sure and read preparation directions too, as they may have changed and the new ones may not need to be heated to get the best results, only washed and rinsed.

—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. Remember to remove from the jars after processing and before storage.

—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 skills. The National Center for Home Food Preservation is a reliable site to look at videos, get new recipes and verify your knowledge for the coming year. Do not use recipes or instructions published prior to 2006 as they may not have accurate information for processing your food safely. Many recipes were reformulated to reflect recent research.

—Most importantly, have your pressure canner checked to make sure 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.

Upcoming opportunities for canner checks are at Mt. Hope Hardware on Wednesday, Aug. 23 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and at Lehman’s in Kidron on Thursday, Aug. 24 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. These are free of charge. By appointment, call the office at 330-264-8722. There is a $5 fee.

If you have a new canner or need a refresher to practice the canning methods, place at least 4 inches of water in the canner and do a test run to determine the proper temperature setting to use on your range and how quickly the pressure rises in the canner.

If you want additional information or recipes, check out OHIOLINE. It’s Ohio State University’s library of fact sheets. Under the food tab, there are many food-preservation recipes and step-by-step directions for your use.

Making sure you are ready with the produce is a time-saving strategy you will be glad you did.

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