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Tag: Food Preservation

Plan Now for Gardens and Food Preservation

Planning now saves you time later!

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

Learn more about food preservation at


After the Hunt

Hunting season is in full swing for a variety of wild game species. Take time to safely handle and preserve wild game to safely provide wholesome and nourishing food for family and friends.

Key factors in keeping field dressed wild game safe are temperature control and preventing cross contamination. Meat is susceptible to foodborne pathogen contamination such as E. coli or Salmonella. This can come from the surroundings, from the gastrointestinal tract, or other handling and transport.

Start with proper equipment when going out hunting. Suggested equipment includes:

  • Sharp knives
  • Small hatchet
  • Several feet of rope or nylon cord
  • Rubber bands
  • Clean towels or paper towels
  • Resealable bags
  • Large cooler with lots of ice
  • Disposable plastic gloves
  • Fresh water

Field dress as soon as possible and chill the carcass quickly with ice or snow. Learn more information at in the Canning Low Acid Foods section.

Food Blogs and Canning Recipes

Look for food preservation resources at

Food bloggers have taken the internet by storm in many creative ways. But when it comes to home canning safety, these resources include methods that could lead to foodborne illness.

The University of Maine conducted a study of 56 blog posts from 43 food blogs on how to can salsa. They examined the adherence to several food safety factors including acidification, thermal processing, contaminants and vacuum sealing. They found a majority of these guidelines were not followed (an average of 70% across all categories). The biggest concern was lack of acidification (91%). Many did not provide guidance on adjusting for altitude.

Food bloggers are influencers. They have an opportunity to educate, while still entertain with good food, and more importantly, reduce the risk of foodborne illness!

Source: Food Protection Trends, Vol. 39, No. 5, p. 377-396

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!