NDSU Extension - Morton County


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August 12, 2019 Enjoy Safely Canned Foods This Winter

Vanessa Hoines, NDSU Extension Agent/Family and Community Wellness


Enjoy Safely Canned Foods This Winter

Canning can be a fun and safe way to preserve food, but make sure you do it properly.

Food preservation guidelines have changed through the years, so don’t use recipes handed down from family members or friends because you don’t know if those recipes were tested scientifically. Look for food preservation recipes from the Morton County Extension office, the National Center for Home Food Preservation website at  http://nchfp.uga.edu/ and the North Dakota State University Extension Service website at www.ag.ndsu.edu/food.

Altering food preservation recipes and tweaking canning procedures is not safe, either. Canning is a science, and if you don’t follow the recipe or skip some steps, you could put yourself, your family and your guests at risk for botulism, an especially deadly form of food poisoning.

Even if you use a salsa recipe from your local Extension office but you change it, you could have hazardous consequences. Adding extra onions, bell peppers or other ingredients not in the recipe can dilute the acidity. Adding flour or cornstarch as a thickener can slow the rate of heating during processing. 

Freezing is the best way to preserve your own salsa creations or other foods from recipes that haven’t been research-tested.

If the canning recipe requires a pressure canner, make sure to test the pressure gauge every year. If you don’t test your gauge, it could provide inaccurate readings and you won’t know if your food is being canned properly.

Make sure to use a pressure canner when canning low-acid foods such as meats, fish, poultry and many vegetables, and follow instructions carefully.

High-acid foods also must be canned properly. Be sure to use proper equipment such as a boiling water-bath canner or pressure canner. Do not use the open-kettle and steam canner methods because they are not safe according to the National Center for Home Food Preservation. Finally, do not “can” in your oven. Follow research-tested procedures to ensure the safety and quality of your home-preserved foods.

Try this tasty salsa recipe!

CHILI SALSA Yield: 6 to 8 pints

10 c. peeled, cored, chopped tomatoes

1 c. vinegar (5 percent acidity)**

6 c. seeded, chopped chili peppers*

3 tsp. salt

4 c. chopped onions

½ tsp. black pepper

*A mixture of mild and hot peppers is recommended.

**You can substitute bottled lemon juice for the vinegar.

1. Prepare the peppers. Wear plastic or rubber gloves and do not touch your face while handling or cutting hot peppers. If you do not wear gloves, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before touching your face or eyes.

The peppers do not need to be peeled, but many prefer to peel certain types.  The skin of long green chilies may be tough and can be removed by heating the peppers. Usually when peppers are finely chopped, they do not need to be peeled. If you choose to peel chilies, slit each pepper along the side to allow steam to escape.

Peel using one of these two methods:

• Oven or broiler method to blister skins: Place chilies in a hot oven (400 F) or broiler for six to eight minutes until skins blister.

• Range-top method to blister skins: Cover hot burner (either gas or electric) with heavy wire mesh. Place peppers on burner for several minutes until skins blister.

To peel after blistering skins, place peppers in a pan and cover with a damp cloth. (This will make peeling the peppers easier.) Cool several minutes; slip off skins. Discard seeds and chop.

2. Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan and heat, stirring frequently, until mixture boils.

3. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. Ladle hot mixture into clean, hot pint jars, leaving ½-inch head space.

5. Remove air bubbles and adjust head space if needed.

6. Wipe rims of jars with a dampened, clean paper towel; apply two-piece metal canning lids.

7. Process in a boiling water-bath canner for 20 minutes (or 25 minutes at altitudes above 6,000 feet).

8. Let cool, undisturbed, 12 to 24 hours and check for seals.

9. Remove ring band and store upright. For best quality, consume within one year.

Source: Salsa Recipes for Canning, PHW0392, by Val Hillers and Richard Dougherty, Washington State University, as adapted by the National Center for Home Food Preservation, University of Georgia, Athens.


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