In the early 1990s, the canning methods were still used in many households. We people born before that time will remember the pantries filled will canned foods waiting to be shared at meal time. However, modern practices have made more people avoid these methods by projecting concerns about canning. It is not as popular as it used to be in the past. Our main concern is promoting food safety and health practices. Canning methods worked for so many years, so we wonder why the sudden change in opinion.
The quiz below will reveal how much you understand about canning and how to improve food safety for your family and loved ones.
According to the USDA, canning methods that were used in 1989 and later periods are no longer considered safe for the public. The reasons for these assertions range from changes in acidic pH levels and the processing methods as well as the methods consumers use to store canned foods in the home.
Safety must never be compromised
Canning is a secure way to store and preserve food. It is important to handle canned foods carefully because any damage to the canned containers can ruin the stored foods and cause illnesses when it is consumed. There are different laboratory research studies that have discovered safer canning methods. However, just because it is mentioned in a public advert or media, we cannot assume the method is entirely safe, it is important for consumers to find direct information about the proper canning methods to ensure they do it right in their homes. Food preservation is important; a lot of money can be saved when the right methods are used. This is why we must learn about helpful discoveries made during research studies that can improve the process.
It is more economical and rewarding to can foods at home. However, the process requires proper planning and using the right methods. The following instructions will be helpful;
To get the best results after cooking a meal, it is important to follow the recipe which has been previously tested. After the meal is prepared, it will need to be preserved until you are ready to eat. Choosing the canning method for food preservation is a likely option because it can be done in your home. There are guidelines to can foods in the home as presented in the USDA canning guide website. For the best canning results, you should confirm that the recipe you have used has been tested and the food was properly preserved after canning. There are still on-going studies to determine ways of improving canning methods and studying the impact of factors such as temperature, and processing times. These factors are crucial to achieve the best results after canning and to prevent food poisoning.
There have been many publications by the USDA; they are free and targeted at informing the public. The instructions in these publications are accurate and updated to give you the best guidance. Some of these materials can also be downloaded from the internet. If you need tested recipes for canning, the United States Department of Agriculture’s Complete Guide to Home Canning should be a good source of information.
1. Is it a good idea to use my canning recipes?
It is not advisable to use your canning recipes because you may not know the processing times needed for the foods. This means you cannot accurately determine if the food can be preserved when canned. The best approach is to use canning recipes that have already been scientifically tested.
2. Should additives such as starch, flour or thickeners be used for recipes?
It is not safe to add extra items because they can distort the normal rate of heat penetration and lower the normal processing time. Consequently, the preserved food becomes a potential source of food poisoning when canned.
3. Is it acceptable to use the altitude chart as a guide to determine cooking time?
It is not advisable to use the altitude chart as a guide regarding cooking time because of the differences in boiling temperatures. At lower altitudes, water or other liquids boils at a different temperature. This means the food will not be properly processed, canning under-processed foods will not preserve the food, and they will be spoiled and wasted.
4. Is it safe to enhance recipes by adding onions, bell peppers, or vegetables to recipes for canning?
This is not a safe act because the extra ingredients such as chilli, bell peppers or vegetables can compromise the acidity level and cause botulism poisoning. It is best to follow the tested recipes at all times.
5. Is it necessary to vent?
Yes, venting is very important; it is the process of eliminating pockets of air that may hinder the process from reaching a high temperature for acidic foods. This is why we vent the pressure canner before the processing starts.
6. Is it necessary to test equipment such as the pressure canner gauge before use?
Adhering to the standard procedures requires that the pressure canner gauge must be tested to ensure it gives accurate readings. Testing this equipment will prevent under processing and proper preservation of foods after canning
7. It is better to use old or modern canning directions when processing recipes with tomatoes?
Tomato species we have now have different acidity levels when compared to the tomatoes that were grown years ago. This means it is not safe to process tomatoes without adding the right type of acidifiers. It is necessary to attain the right level of acidity to prevent the growth of Clostridium Botulin that can cause food poisoning.
8. Is it proper to lower the pressure in a canner by placing it under running water?
Trying to lower the pressure in a canner by putting it under running water will cause the pressure to decrease too quickly. From the research studies, cooling the pressure canner by using normal processes will allow the residual heat to ensure the food is fully processed and safe to eat.
9. Should the screw bands be retightened when the temperature in the vessel is still high?
Retightening the screw bands is not a very safe action. You should avoid retightening the screw bands because this action can disrupt the sealing process.
10. Is it possible to can two layers of the jar at the same time?
Yes, it is safe to can two layers, and they can be processed at the same time. This can be done with the pressure canner or a boiling water bath. However, it is necessary to use a wire rack to separate both layers. This will enable the steam pressure to circulate around the jars properly. It is also important to ensure that the water level is an inch above the jars when using the boiling water bath canner, and two inches if the pressure canner is used.
11. Should the food be allowed to cool before the hot pack recipes are processed?
It is not safe; you shouldn’t allow the food to cool because the hot pack recipes require the food to be hot before processing. If the food is cool, there may be a distortion in the processing time and potential food poisoning after canning.
12. Would you advise the use of an open kettle method?
The open kettle method has been discovered to potentially cause health risks; hence I wouldn’t suggest using the method. It is an old method of canning; it involves the use of jars which have been sterilized and packed with hot food. The heat from the food is expected to generate the pressure to preserve the food in the jar. However, there are risks of mould growth and bacteria contamination. The food will also spoil if there is a problem with the seal on the jar lid.
13. Why is it essential for canners to have a flat base?
Many models of canners you will find have a flat base. This feature is important to ensure the liquids put in the canner boil at the right temperature. An uneven base may hinder the time it takes for liquids to reach boiling point, consequently increasing processing time and your food can be overcooked.
Over time, the effectiveness of the heating element’s interface can be reduced; if this happens, you may need to buy a new canner with a flat base.
14. Should paraffin or wax seals be used for the canners?
Using paraffin or wax is not s safe practice. These materials were used many years ago to seal containers for jam, or jelly, and it was quite reliable. Some people still use wax for their home canners, however, experiments have proven that the method is not entirely reliable. This is because the process is quite difficult, and the seals made with paraffin are weak and can be compromised.
15. Is it advisable to use the cold pack processing method?
Many years ago this method was very popular, but now it is regarded as unsafe. It is done by putting foods in a storage jar without first heating the food or the jar. The method was used for vegetables and fruits; preservation liquid is poured over the food before the jar is sealed. The problem with this method is the growth of bacteria and yeast because the process does not involve heating. To avoid contamination and food poisoning many people no longer use this method.
16. Can a steam canner be used?
There are some drawbacks that have discouraged many people from using the steam canner. These devices work differently from the pressure canners or boiling water canner; it relies on the steam to process foods. However, steam is not adequate to generate the needed pressure; this can lead to under processing of food which goes bad and wasted.
17. What are your suggestions when choosing between a pressure canner and pressure cooker?
It is better to use a pressure canner instead of a pressure cooker because of the more accurate results with the canner. The pressure cooker has a smaller volume and uses less amount of water. The pressure canner which has a larger diameter and more metal components works better to ensure you achieve the right processing time.
18. Can a microwave be used to can foods?
It is not safe to use a microwave for canning. The high temperature needed for this process may not be attainable with a microwave. Foods that are low in acid should be processed at 240 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature can only be achieved with a pressure canner which produces a steady heat to process acidic foods properly. The microwave is not capable of producing the needed consistency regarding heat, and the jars may be damaged if you attempt to use the microwave for canning foods.
19. Can the regular ovens be used for canning foods?
It is not safe to use the oven for canning foods because the jars can explode. The ovens rely on air as the heat conductor compared to the pressure and boiling water canners that rely on steam and water which conduct heat better. Besides the risk of jars exploding, it is also possible the food may not be properly processed due to the uneven temperature in the oven.
20. Is it possible to use a dishwasher to can foods?
Dishwashers cannot be used for canning because the temperature of the water used by the machine is very low and may not destroy bacteria or other microorganisms on the food. The food will also be underprocessed and will spoil quickly.
21. What types of unconventional methods can be used for canning?
It is not advisable to experiment with unconventional methods for canning. The outcome can be dangerous due to the explosion of the jars. Some unconventional methods of canning you must avoid the use of slow cookers, or crock pots for canning foods. The hindrances of such methods include uneven cooking due to irregular heat and lower temperatures than required for canning.
22. What type of lids should be used for canning?
The best lids for canning are the two-piece vacuum lids which have secure rubber seals in the lid. These lids can retain the pressure and heat to preserve your food. Lids which have features such as glass caps, wire bails, zinc lids, one piece lids or lids lined with porcelain should be avoided.
23. What kind of canning jars should be used?
Jars for canning are specially made with secure lids to keep the pressure inside the jar. It is usually indicated on the jar if it can be reused for canning. Contrary to common perception, the regular pickle and mayonnaise jars are not designed as reusable canning jars.
24. Can processed jars be left in the canner after the processing is completed?
To avoid issues such as ‘flat sour,’ it is best to remove jars from the canner after processing. This is necessary to prevent thermopiles, which can withstand the heat from producing the acids that caused ‘flat sour.’ Also, jars left in the canner tend to cool slowly, and this can disrupt the processing.
25. How can spoiled foods in canned jars be detected and disposed of?
Spoiled foods can cause a wide range of diseases and hospital emergencies due to food poisoning. You should be wary of canned foods that have a bad odour, or changes in color or texture of the food. These foods should be properly disposed to prevent pets from reaching them.
26. Is it better to assume processing time or use out-dated times?
Regarding timing, while it is necessary to heat the food to the right temperature when canning, you must also ensure the temperature is adequate for the pH value of the food. It is not advisable to assume the time because of these aspects that must be accurate. You can research and find recent time charts for the recipe you want to use.
27. Can foods canned in the home be stored for over a year?
It is not safe to store foods canned at home for that long. The recommended time is less than one year for canned foods to preserve the quality and nutrients.
28. Can jars from groceries be recycled and used for canning?
Jars used to preserve products such as pickles and mayonnaise is not designed for home canning foods. These jars are not made with secure a lid that is essential to preserve canned foods. The features of the jar may also not be suitable, the neck may be too shallow, the glass may not be thick enough, and the shape of the jar may be too irregular to achieve the best results. Also, there is a risk of explosion if you attempt to use these grocery jars for canning because the glass is too thin and cannot withstand the pressure. However, you can look out for indications on the jars to know if they can be reused for canning after removing the products they contained. To avoid any problems, it is best to stick with jars that have been specially designed for canning foods at home. These jars can withstand the high temperatures, and they have secure lids to preserve the foods you put into the jars.