Make sure your food preservation techniques are up-to-date
Following outdated and untested recipes can be dangerous.
Still following Grandma’s recipe for making pickles, jams, canning green beans or other foods? Check to see if you are following the most up-to-date canning practices. Using old, untested recipes can result in an unsafe food product that could make you and anyone else who eats the food sick.
When you make pickles, either fermented or quick pack, are you processing them in a hot water bath canner? If not, check your recipe to see how old it is. Up-to-date pickling recipes will call for processing pickle products in a water bath canner.
Jam and jelly recipes should also instruct the preparer to process in a hot water bath canner to prevent mold growth. One method of sealing jars was to seal the jar by pouring hot paraffin wax over the prepared jam or jelly in the jars. This is no longer recommended. Over time, paraffin wax shrinks and expands with temperature changes leaving the jam and jelly susceptible to growth of molds and yeasts.
Another outdated and unsafe method for canning low acid foods, such as green beans, was to process the jars in the oven or in a hot water bath canner for long periods of time. This method is unsafe because the contents in the jars do not rise to a high enough temperature to prevent production of the deadly toxin from Clostridium botulin spores.
The bottom line is to make sure your home preserved foods are safe by following the most up-to-date and tested recipes. Safe and reliable recipes and directions for canning, pickling and making jams and jellies can be found on the National Center for Home Food Preservation website. You can also find helpful information on safe canning and food preservation by visiting the Food Preservation page of this website and by checking out the following articles:
- “Keep it clean” for foodborne illness prevention
- Update your canning methods for safety
- Canning tomatoes: Essential safety tips
- Common food preservation mistakes: An eight question quiz on canning safely
- Canning jars: Choose and use wisely