NDSU Extension Service - Sargent County

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The Bottom Line

Jars of Home Preserved FoodsFarmers and others with interest in agriculture may remember when the original “Payment In Kind” (PIK) program was rolled out years ago by what was known then as USDA Agriculture Stabilization and Conservation Service (ASCS) offices.  I happened to be working at an ASCS office in South Dakota at that time.  A big part of my role with the program was to explain the details of the program to individual farmers and land owners before they signed on the dotted line, so to speak.   One of the farmers I visited with was what I have come to refer to as a real “bottom line” kind of guy.  He wasn’t particularly interested in the details, he just wanted to know what the bottom line was.  I had a lot of respect for him.

The “bottom line” in home canning is food safety.  Our NDSU Extension Service Food and Nutrition Specialist, Julie Garden-Robinson, offers the following “bottom line” reminders for home canning enthusiasts.

  • Do not can in your oven. Ever. This is considered a dangerous practice by the National Center on Home Food Preservation. Dry heat does not penetrate jars effectively and results in foods being under-processed. The deadly foodborne illness toxin that causes botulism can form in under-processed foods. The jars may explode in your oven, too.
  • When preparing lids for canning, follow the manufacturer’s directions (usually on the side of the box). Boiling is not recommended by some lid manufacturers because the sealant used on the lids has changed in the last few years. We in the Extension Service have received many calls about seal failures because people have followed the “old rules” with the “new lids.”  It’s very common to hear, “Well I’ve always done it that way,” or “I’ve never done it that way,” but things change.
  • Follow up-to-date canning recommendations. While Grandma’s recipes (and other old family favorites) are nostalgic to use, they may not be considered safe based on the latest research. Compare the proportions of ingredients on the old recipes to current recommendations. Your grandmother would not want you to get sick.
  • Finally, be cautious of the information you find on the Web, especially regarding food preservation. Research-tested canning formulations and information about pickling, freezing, drying and fermenting are available from your local Extension Service office or online (www.ag.ndsu.edu/food). Click on “Food Preservation” and see “Food Preservation Facts or Myths” for a quick primer on the latest rules.

Using research-tested recipes, and following them carefully without making any modifications, will allow you and those you serve to enjoy the delicious, colorful and healthful fruits and vegetables of the season safely, with peace of mind, this winter and beyond. 

Photo Credit:  https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/7e/PreservedFood1.jpg

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