If you are new to home canning, you may not want to invest in a lot of equipment. A new starter kit is now available to help first-time canners be successful.
The new kit is from Newell Brands, makers of Ball® and Kerr® products. It includes four half-pint jars, a silicone rack to fit in stock pot, a packet of Classic pectin, a jar lifter, and headspace/bubble remover tool, and a funnel. It also includes instructions.
The silicone rack is a little smaller than a standard wire rack. It is for water bath canning only.
Smooth cooktops can be a challenge to use for home canning. Some of those cooktops are induction, which means they require cooking equipment that is induction compatible to function properly.
National Presto® Industries, Inc., makers of pressure canners, have just released an induction compatible pressure canner for induction ranges. This is a dial-gauge canner that has a stainless steel-clad base. It also works on gas, electric, and other smooth-top ranges. An exception is it may not work on some portable induction burners. It should not be used on any burner that is more than 12,000 BTUs. Current Presto® canners are safe for smooth cooktops as long as the stove manufacturer allows canning.
Mrs. Wages makes several packaged mixes to help make home canning easy and quick. All of their products for canning use the water bath canning method. But do the mixes have a shelf life?
The company recommends using their mixes within 24 months of the day and year it was produced. On the side of every package is an 8 digit code. On the packets, it is imprinted on the package. On the salsa canisters, it is printed on the bottom. So, in the example at right, the B identifies the production facility. The 5 is the last digit of the year the mix was produced (2015). The next three numbers indicate the day, out of 365 days in the year, the mix was produced. So 138 is May 18. This is known as the Julian date. The last three digits indicate the production batch code, B92. So this particular mix has expired and should not be used.
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. Here are some reminders.
Most Extension offices have the Presto Gauge Testing Unit. This can test pressure gauges on the brands Presto, National, Maid of Honor, and Magic Seal.
This testing unit cannot test All American pressure gauges. 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.
It has happened again. Improperly home-canned vegetables have been linked to a botulism outbreak. This was due to improperly canned peas.
In June 2018, three women were hospitalized in New York for respiratory failure and cranial nerve palsies (paralysis). These symptoms led to a diagnosis of botulism. Typical symptoms include nausea, dizziness, blurred vision, slurred speech, ptosis, thick-feeling tongue, and shortness of breath. This diagnosis was after about 14 hours of eating a homemade potato salad containing the home-canned peas.
The peas were canned 1-2 weeks earlier because of a malfunctioning freezer. A peach preserves recipe that uses the boiling water bath canning method was used by substituting the peaches with the frozen peas. The person who did the canning was a novice and unaware of the risks. After canning, one jar did not seal, and it was refrigerated. But, because of the improper canning method and inadequate heating, none of the jars were safe to consume, including the refrigerated jar.
Plain vegetables and meat require pressure canning to eliminate C. botulinum spores. This incident also emphasizes the fact that just because the jar seals, does not mean it is safe!
It rarely happens. But, when it does, it can be deadly. The pathogen Clostridium botulinum causes botulism. This is because a toxin attacks the body’s nerves and causes difficulty breathing, muscle paralysis, and even death. The spores grow and make toxin under the following conditions:
Low–oxygen or no oxygen (anaerobic) environment
Low acid, sugar, or salt
A certain temperature range that support growth of C. botulinum
Improperly home-canned foods can provide these conditions to allow C. botulinum spores to grow. Learn more about this pathogen at www.cdc.gov/botulism/index.html
“It is with deepest regret that we must inform you the Ball® Fair Awards Program sponsored by Newell Brands has been discontinued effective 2019. Thus we are not accepting registrations for the 2019 fair season and onwards. “
“This has been a difficult business decision for us to make and are very sorry for any inconvenience it may cause you. It was concluded we could no longer support this national program at its current level. Rather than disappoint hundreds of loyal food preservers with a lesser commitment, we have decided to step away at this time. Should you have any concerns or questions, feel free to contact our office.”
“For those fairs who have not yet submitted your 2018 registration form, fair book page, and winner’s and participant’s lists, we will honor our commitment to you for the 2018 program.”
“Please complete and present your outstanding documents by March 31, 2019 so that coupon awards can be mailed directly to the recipients.”
There are no science-based instructions to home can cured, brined or corned meats. Here is some information from Clemson University Extension.
“The texture of some cured, brined and corned meats is firmer than that of fresh meats; thus, heat penetration into the cured, brined or corned products might be more difficult. That would mean the process time would need to be longer and using the process for fresh meats would result in potentially unsafe product. Curing can make meat drier than fresh meat or can leave it with a higher salt level, then covering liquid could be absorbed into the flesh and penetration of heat into the meat would be much more difficult. Again, using the process for fresh meats would result in potentially unsafe product. On the other hand, adding salt, nitrite, nitrate and/or antimicrobial agents like nisin makes Clostridium botulinum more susceptible to heat and the required process time for some cured meats could be shorter. If so, using the fresh meat process would result in an overcooked product. Research on each product would be needed to determine a safe canning process.”