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Tag: Food Preservation

Cleaning and Storing Canners

As canning season winds down, it’s time to clean and store the equipment for next year. Here’s some tips for pressure canners.

  • Clean the vent and safety valve with a pipe cleaner or small piece of cloth.
  • Check the gasket for cracks and food debris.
  • If the inside of canner has darkened, fill it above the darkened line with at mixture of 1 tablespoon cream of tartar to each quart of water. Place the canner on the stove, heat water to a boil, and boil covered until the dark deposits disappear. Sometimes stubborn deposits may require the addition of more cream of tartar. Empty the canner and wash it with hot soapy water, rinse and dry.

For more information, see


Preserving Fall Tomatoes

Fall is almost here and gardeners may still have tomatoes to harvest.  But once a frost or freeze occurs, those tomatoes should not be used for canning.

When tomato vines die, the acid level changes resulting in less acidic tomatoes.  Even if recommended canning methods are used, these tomatoes will still be unsafe.  The tomatoes can still be eaten fresh or frozen for later use.

Green tomatoes can be canned as a relish, salsa, or as regular tomatoes. Learn more at


Do Tomatoes Need to be Peeled Before Canning?

Yes, and it takes extra time. But it is important and time well spent for safely canned tomatoes.

According to the National Center for Home Food Preservation, “Most bacteria, yeasts, and molds are difficult to remove from food surfaces. Washing fresh food reduces their numbers only slightly. Peeling root crops, underground stem crops, and tomatoes reduces their numbers greatly. Blanching also helps, but the vital controls are the method of canning and making sure the recommended research-based process times found in the USDA’s Complete Guide to Home Canning are used.”

Easily peel tomatoes by dipping them in boiling water for 30-60 seconds or just until the skins split. Then dip in ice water, slip off the skins and remove cores. See how at


Preserving Venison Safely

For canning, all types of meat must be pressure canned.

Fall hunting season is quickly approaching! Venison offers variety and an unusual flavor to the fall and winter table. When handled properly it can make an excellent meat. It can be refrigerated or frozen as meat cuts or sausage. It can also be preserved by canning, curing, or drying.

The following resources can help you get your supplies ready and help you decide which method is best for your family.


Canning Mixed Vegetables

Canning mixed vegetables is a great way to use end of garden vegetables and have a colorful side dish or easy addition to soup.

A variety of vegetables can be used except for leafy greens, dried beans, cream-style corn, winter squash and sweet potatoes.

Mixed vegetables can be canned in pints or quarts. No matter the combination of vegetables, the processing is 75 minutes for pints or 90 minutes or quarts, adjusting for altitude.

Learn how at

Do not include any vegetable that does NOT already have pressure canning procedures. Examples include celery, eggplant, and cauliflower.


Choose the Right Jar

Photo: USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning

A variety of jar sizes are available to use in canning. Reliable recipes sources will indicate what size of jars are to be used for that recipe. But can you use a jar not listed for that recipe? Yes and no.

Standard jar sizes include half pint (8-oz.), pint (16-oz.), and quart (32-oz.). There are also in-between sizes such as 4-oz., 12-oz., 24-oz., and 28 oz.

When a recipe lists half pint only, you cannot use a larger jar. This is because the larger jar may require a longer processing time which must be tested and verified to ensure safety. Guessing, by the home food preserver, can lead to spoiled food. If a recipe indicates half-pint AND pint, you can use a 12-oz. jar, but you cannot use any jar larger than a pint. For jams and jellies, 4-oz. jars are a good option. Use 4 oz. jars like half-pints; 12-oz. jars like pints; and 24-oz. and 28-oz. jars like quarts.

Just because your family uses a certain food in larger quantities, does not mean you can preserve in larger jars. Be smart, be safe!

A guide to what foods a best preserved in the various sizes of jars, see the Jar Guide at


Preserving Garlic

Garlic is a favorite flavor addition to many recipes. There are several options to preserve garlic, but canning is NOT an option.

Garlic is a low acid vegetable and requires pressure canning. This high heat treatment, however, causes garlic to lose most of its flavor. Therefore, no processing times have been developed for safe canning.

Other safe preservation methods include freezing, drying, refrigerator storage in wine or vinegar, or properly stored in oil. Follow these recommendations from

Try roasting garlic to use in vegetables or on bread. Leave the garlic head whole, cut off the tip to expose the cloves. Place in a dish or on foil, add olive oil and seasoning. Cover and bake at 350°F about 45-60 minutes. Squeeze out the roasted cloves and enjoy!


Citric Acid vs. Ascorbic Acid

In food preservation, citric acid and ascorbic acid are two types of acid used for two different functions. While both are acids, they are not the same. Scientifically, their chemical structures are slightly different, which leads to different functionality.

Citric acid is more acidic than ascorbic acid. Therefore, citric acid is recommended when canning tomatoes to lower the pH or increase acidity. It is a small amount that works effectively. It would take a lot more ascorbic acid to equal the power of citric acid to acidify tomatoes properly. Then flavor would be compromised.

Ascorbic acid is not as acidic as citric acid. Ascorbic acid is better at protecting color changes in certain foods like apples, peaches, and pears.



Liquid vs. Dry Pectin

Orange jellyWhen making jellied fruit products, pectin is a key ingredient so the product will gel.  Some fruits do not need added pectin, but some do.  Recipes are made using dry or liquid pectin.  These types of pectin are not interchangeable.

Pectins are a group of pectic polysaccharides, or long-chain carbohydrate molecules.  They contain chains of esterified galcturonic chains that have different binding sites in a liquid form versus the dry form of pectin.  Therefore, how the gelling process works when using liquid versus dry pectin is very different.  Liquid pectin is not rehydrated dry pectin.  The acid content of liquid and dry pectin is also different which changes gelling properties.

Again, one cannot be substituted for the other.  Use the pectin the recipe requires for best results.

Source: Dr. Elizabeth Andress, Univ. of Georgia Extension


New Canning Starter Kit

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.

Learn more at

For more information on how to can foods safely using the water bath canning method, see and