NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County


| Share

Preserve it Safely

Preserve It Safely


With fresh garden produce ripening and local farmers markets in full swing, this is the peak time to preserve food.  Food preservation is the science of preserving food by canning, fermentation, drying, salting and drying. Canning high-acid foods such as jams, jellies, fruits and pickles is easy and can be processed in a water bath canner.  Canning low-acid foods such as meat, poultry, fish and vegetables requires more knowledge and must be performed in a pressure canner.

The type of methods you choose to preserve your harvest will not only affect the eating quality of the food preserved but, most importantly the safety of the product preserved.

The series of food preservation publications from the NDSU Extension Service is a great place to start for anyone with an interest in food preservation who want to make sure they are following the latest practices to produce safe food.  The publications are available free of charge at any county extension office in North Dakota or can be found at: http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/food/food-preservation

These publications cover topics from canning fruits and vegetables to pickling, freezing and drying. Each publication addresses a specific type of food preservation, and includes recipes and time/temperature recommendations to

 As a reminder, the Ramsey County Extension office also offers free testing of pressure canner dial gauges. Only the lids, with gauge attached, need to be brought in for the testing, and testing can be done at any time, although if you would like to have your dial tested while you wait, please call us at #662-7026 to double-check I am available to assist you.

A common “first-time” recipe for home canners is salsa. Salsa has replaced ketchup as the most commonly used condiment.  When canning salsa and other tomato products, measure accurately and follow recipes carefully. Proportions of tomatoes – the acidic food – must not be decreased.  Peppers and celery are low-acid foods and their proportions cannot be increased for safety’s sake.  Also use only disease-free, preferably vine ripened.

Follow These Tips to Can Salsa Safely

• Follow the formulation exactly and measure/weigh ingredients carefully. Use bottled lemon or lime juice or vinegar as indicated.

• In canning recipes calling for spices, you safely may decrease the amount of spice (cumin, oregano, pepper, etc.), but do not increase the spice amounts.

• To alter the “heat” in salsa, you safely can substitute one type of pepper for another, but keep the total amount of pepper the same.

• Do not thicken salsas with cornstarch before canning. If the salsa appears thin, it can be heated and thickened with

cornstarch or some of the excess juice may be strained away after opening the jars.

• Before beginning to prepare salsa for canning, fill the water bath canner about half full of clean water. For hot-packed food,

preheat the water in the canner to about 180 F. Use a rack in the canner.

• Start with clean jars, and heat them in a pan of hot water. Heat the lids as recommended by the manufacturer.

• Fill jars, leaving ½ inch of head space. After filling the jars with food, remove trapped air bubbles with a nonmetallic spatula,

adjusting the head space if needed.

• Wipe the rim of each jar carefully with a cloth or paper towel and apply the lid and screw ring. Do not over tighten the screw ring. It should be only “finger tight” or the lids may not seal properly.

• Place jars in the canner using a jar lifter positioned below the screw band of the lid. Keep the jars upright at all times.

• Add additional boiling water, as needed, to bring the water level to at least 1 inch over the jar tops.

• Begin timing when the water boils. Keep the canner covered during processing. The water should remain boiling at all times.

• When the processing time is complete, carefully remove the jars from the canner, using a jar lifter. Place the jars at least 1 inch apart on cooling racks or towels to cool at least 12 hours. Do not retighten the screw rings. Do not expose the jars to a cold surface or cold drafts, which could lead to cracking or breaking.

• Test the seals the next day. A good seal is evidenced by a concave lid that does not move when pressed. Remove the

screw rings. Label sealed jars with contents and canning date.

• Unsealed jars may be reprocessed safely within 24 hours or the jars of salsa may be refrigerated for fresh consumption. To reprocess, empty the salsa into a pan, heat to boiling and ladle the mixture into clean, hot jars. Use new lids and process for the full recommended time.


Tomato Taco Sauce

8 quarts peeled, cored, finely chopped paste tomatoes

2 cloves garlic, crushed

5 cups chopped onions

4 jalapeno peppers, seeded, chopped

4 long green chilies, seeded, chopped

2½ cups vinegar

2 tablespoons salt

1½ tablespoons black pepper

1 tablespoon sugar

2 tablespoons oregano leaves

1 teaspoon ground cumin

Yield: About 16 pints

Combine ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, stirring frequently until thick (about one hour). Ladle hot mixture into pint jars, leaving ½ inch of head space. Adjust the lids and process in a boiling-water canner 15 minutes for pints. This recipe works best with paste tomatoes as using slicing tomatoes will result in a thin salsa.

Creative Commons License
Feel free to use and share this content, but please do so under the conditions of our Creative Commons license and our Rules for Use. Thanks.