What You Need to Know About Canning
Canning is a great way to enjoy your garden produce all year long provided you are using safe practice when you can. Failure to do so can result in contamination of your food and the potentially deadly bacteria, Clostridium botulinum, commonly known as Botulism.
Clostridium botulinum is found in soil and can survive, grow, and produce a toxin (poison) in sealed jars of food. This toxin can affect your nerves, paralyze you, and even cause death (USDA, 2012). I’m definitely not trying to sway anyone away from canning as I think it’s fantastic! It is an easy way to prevent wasting produce, saves money and is a nutritious way to preserve summer fruits and veggies. It’s just extremely important to follow these steps to keep your and your family healthy:
•ALWAYS know the acidity of the food you are canning. Low acidic foods (4.6 or higher ph) require pressure canning, whereas High acidic foods (4.6 or lower ph) are safe for boil canning. This is because the naturally high acidity levels kill bacteria and prevent moulds. I recommend checking the national Health Canada website for a list of food ph values. I also recommend to error on the side of caution when a food is borderline acidic (eg. Tomatoes) and treat as low acidic. You can add vinegar or lemon juice to increase acidity of the food you are canning, however ensure you are following a trustworthy recipe source if you choose to do this.
•Clean throughout the canning process. Sterilize all equipment including countertops and cutting boards in between foods to prevent cross contamination and always use proper hygiene practices (eg. hand washing) and wash produce prior to beginning canning.
•Only use proper canning jars meant for canning and NEW self-sealing lids (sealing is extremely important!). I always wash my jars and lids and keep in a warm oven until I’m ready to use them.
•Make sure to label and date all of your finished cans and store in a cool, dark place.
The canning process might come across as daunting but it’s really not (I actually find canning relaxing) and if you love to garden it’s well worth it to learn! There are many awesome canning recipes out there and even canning courses if you want to be extra diligent and gain some confidence before you start.
Happy Canning 🙂