It is time to plan for summer gardens. Spinach, lettuce, and other cool weather vegetables can be planted now. Tomatoes, green beans, and other vegetables will be next in line. As you plan for your garden, start thinking about how you would like to process your vegetables. Do you want to freeze or can produce or both?
Next, if you plan to can, think about your canning practices and equipment.
• Do you have a pressure canner with a gauge? When did your local agent last check your gauge? Virginia Cooperative Extension will check your equipment for free!
• How old is your equipment? Does it need to be replaced? Is the gasket in good condition? Do you have new lids for the season? Are your jars in good shape?
• Are you using the proper equipment to can low acid vegetables vs. fruit?
• Do you have the right type of stovetop for canning?
• Are you following the best procedures?
• When did you last update your recipes? It is important to use recipes that have been tested from reliable sources
Remember, food preservation is a science. It must be done correctly in order to have "safe" food products for your family. If you have any doubts about your equipment or canning practices, think about taking a canning class with your local Extension office.
VCE Frederick and Warren County Extension Offices will be offering three canning classes in May and canner testing clinics in June. If you are interested in any of these events, call Frederick County Extension at 540-665-5699 or Warren County Extension at 540-635-4549.