Winter is here, but many people are planning now for gardening. While you study garden catalogs or websites, don’t forget to plan how you will preserve the produce this summer. Your edible garden can be preserved in many ways including canning, freezing, dehydrating, and pickling.
What freezer space do you have? Be sure to use up last year’s stash to make room for the new batch. Clean the freezer to remove stray food and spills from broken packages. To freeze food, follow freezing guidelines for each food and use bags or plastic containers designated for freezing to maintain best food quality.
Do you like to can your produce? If so, get up to date on current recipes and guidelines. For best safety and quality, follow tested recipes. Using older recipes and methods can lead to spoiled food, food waste, and foodborne illness.
Have you checked your equipment? Now is the time to get your dial gauge tested. Contact your local Extension office for testing. The canner brands we can test include National, Presto, Maid of Honor and Magic Seal. Inspect the canner for any wear and get parts replaced. Sources for replacement parts can be found at www.rrc.k-state.edu/preservation/canning.html.
The message continues. Do not use electric pressure cookers for canning. Research conducted at Utah State University shows that electric pressure cookers do not always reach or sustain safe temperature levels for safe canning. This is even more critical at higher altitudes.
Electric pressure cookers also have faster heat up and cool down time periods. This can affect heat transfer and pathogen destruction.
Now is the time to get dial gauges tested on pressure canners. Gauges should be tested annually before canning is done to ensure canned goods are preserved safely. Our testing unit cannot test All American pressure gauges but can test Presto, National, Maid of Honor, and Magic Seal canners.
Newer models of the All American canner have both regulator weights (weighted gauge) and the dial gauge. (See top picture.) The weight is more accurate than the gauge and customers should use the weight in order to determine if they are at the needed pressure. If the weight begins to rock at the desired pressure and the gauge is off by more than 2 psi the company recommends replacing the gauge. The gauge is now used as a reference to know when the unit is at 0 psi and can safely be removed.
To have your dial gauge tested for accuracy, please drop off the lid and gauge at your local Post Rock District office.
Join us on August 21st, 2018 at the Lebanon Community Center from 9-4 for a hands on Food Preservation workshop! Participants will learn food preservation basics and will can meat, peaches, and jams and jellies. Ashley Svaty, Post Rock District and Anna Schremmer, Phillips-Rooks District will teach the workshop. Cost is $25, which will include lunch. Each participant will leave with their canned items, materials, and door prizes! Please bring a box to the workshop to carry your jars. Workshop flier can be found here https://bit.ly/2L7WMeh
If you have a large garden or come across a large quantity of fresh fruit or vegetables, you may want to choose freezing as your method of preservation. When freezing foods at home, remember to:
Freeze fresh produce as quickly as possible, preferably within 24 hours of harvest or purchase. Choose fruits and vegetables that are in good condition, ripe and free of mold. Cut out any portions with insect damage or bruises.
Rinse off all dirt under cool running water.
Choose an up-to-date tested recipe, such as from the National Center for Home Food Preservation website: nchfp.uga.edu/how/freeze.html Or contact your local Extension office for how-to details. Follow the recipe directions exactly. For example:
Follow recommended times for blanching and cooling, if needed. Blanching involves putting certain kinds of vegetables in boiling water or steam for a short time, in order to prevent loss of flavor, color, texture and nutrients during frozen storage.
If recommended, add lemon juice or powdered ascorbic acid or citric acid to prevent darkening. Fruits such as apples, apricots, peaches and pears darken when cut and exposed to air.
If using a sugar substitute, choose a recipe designed for use with it rather than with sugar, in order to be assured of success.
Use food storage containers designed for freezing foods.
Label and date foods. Use them within 8 to 12 months.
Recipe: How to Freeze Ripe Strawberries without Added Sugar 1. Read step number 1, above. 2. Rinse berries and remove stems. Slice or leave whole. 3. Place berries in a single layer in a shallow baking pan. Place pan in freezer. 4. When berries are frozen, transfer to freezer containers. Seal, label and date. Place in freezer. Use within one year.
Dust off your canner, it’s almost canning season! K-State Research and Extension is a trusted and reliable resource for all your food preservation needs. It is highly recommended that your dial gauge is tested each year at the extension office to be sure you are canning at the right pressure. Please call or email Ashley at (785) 524-4432 email@example.com to set up a time to bring your dial gauge in to get checked. Before you begin canning make sure you:
Call us with any questions
Use the correct equipment
Adjust for altitude
Only use tested recipes
Use proper processing times based on trusted resources
Home food preservation is a way to preserve the freshness of homegrown food. While more popular in years past, preserving food at home is still done today. Without factoring in the labor costs, home food preservation can save money compared to commercially preserved foods.
When done properly and safely, home preserved foods are a treat. But when improper practices and unsafe food handling techniques are used, the food can cause foodborne illness. Learn more about this at: