As canning season winds down, now is a good time for Extension offices to get their Presto Pressure Gauge tester serviced.
This service is done at no cost to you by National Presto Industries as the purchase cost of the tester includes maintenance. They will examine the master gauge and the entire unit for updates of other parts. For questions, contact:
Corporate Home Economist
National Presto Industries
So you saved your tomato crop in the freezer. Can those frozen tomatoes be canned?
It is not recommended to can tomatoes that froze on the vine. This is because the acid content changes too much making them unsafe for canning. But tomatoes harvested prior to a fall freeze, then frozen, do not change in acidity. What does change is their texture and how they measure.
The best choice for canning previously frozen tomatoes is to make a well cooked product such as a stewed or crushed tomato product, or made into tomato juice or sauce.
It is not recommended to can them whole or quartered. They will pack into the jars differently, absorb moisture differently, and the heat transfers through the jars differently. This could lead to underprocessing and spoilage. Tomato canning recipes are based on fresh tomatoes.
If you use well water, annual testing for water safety is important. If your report shows high levels of nitrate and/or nitrite, steps must be made to make the water safe.
In home canning or in cooking, boiling the water will not remove nitrate or nitrite. In fact, heat will concentrate and increase the content. The Environmental Protection Agency states the maximum total nitrate and nitrite level is 10 parts per million.
Treat well water with anion exchange, distillation, electrodialysis or reverse osmosis processes. Contact a water treatment professional to select the right treatment for your well water.
The internet abounds with untested, and potentially unsafe canning recipes. With sun pickles, you fill a jar with cucumbers, add salt, and then fill with cold water. Apply the lid and ring. Then the jar is allowed to sit in the sun each day until the water turns from clear (at the start) to cloudy (in the middle of the process) and then clear again (at the end). According to the recipe, when the water becomes clear again, the pickles are ready to use.
This type of recipe is not safe. This recipe presents a risk of illness linked to three major foodborne pathogens: E. coli O157:H7, Clostridium botulinum, and Listeria monocytogenes.
Why is this recipe so unsafe?
The ratio of salt/water/cucumber is not defined. The precise ratio of these ingredients found in tested recipes allows good bacteria on cucumbers to grow and produce acid (and a safe product), and prevents pathogens (the harmful bacteria) from growing.
The temperature inside a jar sitting in the sun could rise above 72°F, too high for proper fermentation. High fermentation temperatures lead to spoilage or allow pathogen growth.
Open kettle canning has not been recommended for 30+ years. Open kettle canning involves heating the food to boiling, pouring it into the jars, applying lids, and allowing the heat of the jar to cause the lid to seal. The food is not heated adequately to destroy the spoilage organisms, molds and yeasts that can enter the jar while you are filling the jar, and it does not produce a strong seal on the jar. This method is not safe! Just because the lid seals, doesn’t meat it’s safe. The time saved with open kettle canning is not worth the risk of food spoilage or illness.
Oven canning may sound simple, but oven heat is not the same as heat from a boiling water bath or from steam in a pressure canner. Placing jars in the dry heat of the oven may cause the glass to crack and shatter causing injury to you. Dry heat is not comparable to the moist heat of a boiling water bath. Processing in an oven will not heat the contents in the coldest part of the jar in the same way as boiling water. Oven heat will not increase the temperature inside the jar above boiling to be adequate to destroy botulism spores in low acid foods. Oven canning is not safe!
Peaches are perfect this time of year! Savor the flavor now, and save it for later by preserving them in a variety of ways. Kick up the flavor of peaches by making a jam with peaches and jalapeno peppers. Try this recipe from Colorado State University.
Peach Jalapeno Jam
3 cups crushed peaches
(about 2 lbs, or 4 large peaches)
1/2 cup jalapeno peppers, finely chopped (about 1/4 pound, or 4-5 peppers)
1 cup water
3/4 cup cider vinegar
3/4 cup lemon juice
1 – 1 3/4 oz. package powdered pectin
4 cups sugar
Wash, pit, and crush peaches. Wash peppers, remove stems and seeds, and chop finely. Combine peaches, peppers, water, vinegar, and lemon juice in a 5-6 quart pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes, stirring often to prevent scorching.
Add pectin to the peach/pepper mixture. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Add sugar, stirring well to dissolve completely. Bring to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil hard for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and skim foam, if needed.
Ladle into sterile, hot, half-pint jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe jar rims with a dampened clean paper towel. Adjust two-piece lids. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes at 1000-6000 feet above sea level. Yield: 4-5 half-pint jars.
There are several reasons. First, the beans may be too mature which makes them too starchy. The starch settles out of the food during canning. Second, minerals in hard water can give a cloudy appearance. Third, using table salt instead of canning salt. Table salt contains anti-caking agents that can cause cloudiness. With any of these three causes, it is a quality issue. Finally, it could be spoilage due to improper heat processing. Do not consume them in this case.
This is an example of creating your own recipe can be a dangerous practice. While bacon and green beans are both low-acid foods, there are no processing recommendations for canning bacon. Therefore, can the beans by themselves. Then when ready to eat the beans, add the bacon just before serving.
Adding any fat or butter to home-canned products, unless specifically stated in the recipe may slow the rate of heat transfer during processing. This will result in an unsafe product. Additionally, the fat could seep in between the lid and jar rim and the lid will not seal properly.
Spices or herbs may be added in small amounts before processing.
In an ongoing effort to make home food preservation easy and to appeal to those who can foods in small quantities, Ball® now has six new mixes for pickles and tomato products.
They are a recipe card with six seasonings attached to the card. On the back are instructions with additional ingredients to add and processing instructions. Each recipe card makes two quarts or four pints.
The recipe cards include three types of pickles, two types of salsa, and a pasta sauce.
When it comes to canning, foods are divided into two categories. Low acid foods have a pH 4.6 or above and high acid foods have a pH of 4.6 or below. In general, fruits fall into the high acid category. But, there are some exceptions.
Melons, including watermelon, honey dew and cantaloupe, are examples of low acid fruits. They have an average pH of 6.2. So, to can them, significant amounts of acid and sugar must be included to safely can them in a boiling water bath canner. In March of 2011, there was an outbreak of botulism linked to watermelon jelly sold in Canada.
So, it is important to choose recipes from trusted resources in all canning, and especially with low acid foods. A good recipe for Watermelon Jelly can be found in the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving or at www.bernardin.ca/recipes/zesty-watermelon-jelly.htm?Lang=EN-US. Bernardin is the Canadian brand of Ball canning products.
Remember, while tomatoes are classified as a vegetable, they are botanically a fruit. Acid, either lemon juice, vinegar, or citric acid, must be added to tomatoes for safe canning. Details can be found at www.bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/pubs/MF1185.PDF.