The green beans are coming in by bucketfuls! Beautiful red tomatoes are ready to fall off the vine. You just bought a bushel of sweet local peaches. What now? You can "can"! Imagine serving to your family delicious locally grown vegetables and fruit during the winter, plus saving money.
Canning is a process that preserves food by destroying microorganisms with heat. These microorganisms can cause food spoilage and foodborne illness such as botulism.
A vacuum seal is created in the canning process which prevents recontamination of the food product.
Canning is not as difficult as people think, but it is important to become familiar with safe practices. Here are some important canning tips!
1. If you want to can vegetables (including tomatoes) and other low acid foods such as meats, use a pressure canner. A water bath canner should only be used with high acid foods such as peaches, apricots, pickles etc.
2. If you have a pressure canner, have it inspected annually by your local Extension office to be sure the gauge and gasket are in good shape.
3. Use only mason-type jars that are designed for home canning. Lids can only be used once. The screw band may be reused if it is in good shape. If you reuse jars, inspect for chips or cracks.
4. READ the directions for your canner on safe canning practices.
5. FOLLOW DIRECTIONS for the proper processing time and pressure required for the food being canned.
6. Store canned products that have properly sealed in a cool storage place and use within a year.
Your local Virginia Cooperative Extension office offers canning recipes and tips. Please contact your local Family Consumer Sciences agent for information. Remember SAFE CANNING will keep your family safe and well fed!