Update your canning methods for safety

Many recommendations for canning methods have changed over the past years. Canners need to update their methods to keep food – and people – safe.

If you have not updated your canning recipes or methods in a few years, now is a good time to take a look at them. Several conventions have changed. For instance, the once recommended (before 1940) open-kettle method of canning where food is heated in a kettle, jars were filled, a lid is placed on the jar and no further processing is done is now considered unsafe.

Other “innovative” methods you might read about on the internet like using the microwave, electric oven, steam canner, slow cooker, dishwasher, canning powders as preservatives or even the sun to process canned food can be extremely dangerous. This is especially true of low acid foods which include all vegetables, meats, poultry, seafood, soups, dairy products and mixed canned foods.

Improperly canned low acid foods can contain the toxin that causes botulism without showing any signs of spoilage. Do not consume any low acid food that you suspect has been improperly canned. Low acid foods are considered improperly canned if any of the following are true:

  • The food was not processed in a pressure canner.
  • The gauge of the canner was inaccurate. (Have the gauge tested yearly to be sure it is accurate.)
  • Up-to-date researched processing times and pressures were not used for the size of the jar, style of pack and kind of food being processed.
  • Ingredients were added that were not in an approved recipe.
  • Proportions of ingredients were changed from the original approved recipe.
  • The processing time and pressure were not correct for the altitude at which the food was canned.

Those at most danger of serious health risks from improperly canned foods are the elderly, young children, pregnant women and those with preexisting health conditions.

Now is a good time to update your recipes and instructions and bring them into the 21st century. You can find current recommendations and recipes at the National Center for Home Food Preservation website.

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