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.”
Choose fresh, vine-ripened tomatoes that are at their peak ripeness. Over-ripe tomatoes are less acidic. The acidity level in tomatoes varies throughout the growing season. Tomatoes reach their highest acidity when they are still green and decrease in acidity until they reach their lowest acidity as they mature.
Canning is NOT a way to use damaged tomatoes or those from dead or frost-killed plant vines. These tomatoes may have a pH level greater than 4.6 and may have extra pathogens. The canning process time may not be enough to kill extra organisms. This could lead to a product that spoils and is unsafe to eat.
Do you have food preservation questions? Do you know someone who wants to start a food business? The place to call is K-State Research and Extension (KSRE)!
While the University of Georgia and the National Center for Home Food Preservation (NCHFP) is a great resource, we at KSRE want to help Kansans. Dr. Elizabeth Andress, who runs the NCHFP, does not have the staff, nor does she know the regulations in Kansas required for food businesses.
Summer is still in full force, but fall and winter are on their way! Soup is a great way to warm up a chilly day.
Canning soup can be done with ingredients that already have separate canning recommendations. This includes a variety of vegetables, dried beans or peas, meat, poultry, or seafood based soups. These soups must be pressure canned.
Caution: Do not add noodles or other pasta, rice, flour, cream, milk or other thickening agents to home canned soups. If dried beans or peas are used, they must be fully rehydrated first.
There is evidence that some varieties of white-flesh peaches are higher in pH (i.e., lower in acid) than traditional yellow varieties. The natural pH of some white peaches can exceed 4.6, making them a low-acid food for canning purposes. At this time there is no low-acid pressure process available for white-flesh peaches nor a researched acidification procedure for safe boiling water canning. Freezing is the recommended method of preserving white-flesh peaches.
Source: Dr. Elizabeth Andress, University of Georgia Extension
A food dehydrator is a small electrical appliance for drying foods indoors. It has an electric element for heat and a fan and vents for air circulation. Dehydrators are efficiently dry foods fast at 140ºF.
Costs vary depending on features. Some models are expandable and additional trays can be purchased later. Twelve square feet of drying space dries about a half-bushel of produce. The major disadvantage of is its limited capacity.
Features to Look For
Double wall construction of metal or high grade plastic. Wood is not recommended, because it is a fire hazard and is difficult to clean.
Enclosed heating elements.
Counter top design.
An enclosed thermostat from 85ºF to 160ºF.
Fan or blower.
Four to 10 open mesh trays made of sturdy, lightweight plastic for easy washing.
UL seal of approval.
A one-year guarantee.
A dial for regulating temperature.
A timer. Often the completed drying time may occur during the night and a timer could turn the dehydrator off and prevent scorching.