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Are Your Ready for the Canning Season?

Are Your Ready for the Canning Season?

By, Sara Laite, MPH, RD, LRD

Extension Agent

 

Summer is a great time to enjoy fresh vegetables. But with proper preparation and planning, you can enjoy produce from your garden, grocery store or local farmers market all year long.

Canning properly so your food is safe is a must, so check to make sure you have up-to-date and appropriate equipment for the canning you plan to do.

If you intend to can low-acid foods such as most vegetables, meat, poultry and fish, you will need to use a pressure canner. A properly working pressure canner will reach a temperature of 240 F. Processing low-acid foods for the proper amount of time in a pressure canner kills harmful and potentially deadly bacteria.

Be sure to have your pressure canner’s pressure gauge checked annually for accuracy. We can check your gauge right here in the Ramsey County office with our testing unit. Just call us to set up a time for this free service!

When canning acidic foods such as fruits, pickles, jams, jellies, sauerkraut and most tomato products, you will need to use a boiling water-bath canner. When you can tomatoes, you also need to add lemon juice or citric acid to acidify them because some tomato varieties are lower in acid than others.

You should examine the rest of your equipment to see if you need to buy anything new. For example, check all jars for cracks, dents and chips. Throw away any damaged jars because they may not seal properly, which is a safety hazard.

If your jars are very old and have been reused many times, you may need to purchase new ones because the old ones can break under pressure and the heat. Mason jars are best because they are designed specifically for home canning.

After examining your jars, inspect your lids and screw bands. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that home food preservers use two-piece, self-sealing metal lids. Throw away used metal lids; never reuse them. You can reuse the screw bands as long as they are not damaged or bent.

Next, be sure your canning instructions are up to date and reliable. Recipes from family and friends may be tempting to use, but you don’t know if they were scientifically tested for safety.

Visit the NDSU Extension Service’s website at www.ag.ndsu.edu/food for free canning information and some tasty, research-tested recipes. You also can contact our Ramsey County Extension office or visit the National Center for Home Food Preservation website at http://nchfp.uga.edu/ for more information.

Remember, with proper planning and preparation, canning can be safe and easy, and you can enjoy summer’s bounty any time of the year.

I made these pickled dilled beans last summer, and they were absolutely delicious!

Pickled Dilled Beans

4 pounds fresh tender green or yellow beans (5-6 inches long)

8 to 16 heads fresh dill

8 cloves garlic (optional)

4 cups white vinegar (5%)

4 cups water

1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes (optional)

Wash and trim ends from beans and cut to 4-inch lengths. In each sterile pint jar, place one to two dill heads and one clove garlic. Place whole beans upright in jars, leaving ½ inch of head space. Trim beans to ensure proper fit, if necessary. Combine salt, vinegar, water and pepper flakes. Bring to a boil. Add the hot solution to the beans, leaving ½ inch head space. Adjust the lids and process according to your altitude. See NDSU Extension’s Publication FN189 for altitude and process times.

 

For more information, contact the Ramsey County Extension Office at 701-662-7027. Website: https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/ramseycountyextension. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NDSUExtRamsey/.

 

Source: Julie Garden-Robinson, NDSU Extension food and nutrition specialist

 

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