EXTENSION NOTES: 'Canning Safety'

Edith Lovett

Pulaski County Extension Agent for Family and Consumer Sciences

Many of you are still getting lots of fresh garden products out of your garden and preserving some of that excess produce for winter months. Don't forget that safety is of utmost importance for those of us preserving food because improperly home canned food can lead to foodborne illness.

Bacteria, yeasts and molds can grow quickly on fresh fruits and vegetables. Oxygen and enzymes that can cause food to spoil are found all over and inside produce. Safe home canning methods help prevent the growth of these harmful bacteria, yeast and molds; remove excess oxygen from the food; destroy spoilage enzymes; and allow for year-round enjoyment of the foods from your garden.

Despite what you may find on the Internet or social media, there are only two acceptable methods for home canning safe, quality products--the boiling water canner method and the pressure canner method. The type of food you are preserving will dictate which method to use. Boiling water canners can be used on foods that are naturally high in acid, like most fruits. Pressure canners must be used for all fresh vegetables, meat and poultry. Both methods, when used properly, can prevent botulism, a deadly form of food poisoning associated with canned food.

You can safely process foods that are naturally high in acid or foods that have been acidified with lemon juice or vinegar (like pickles, salsa and relishes) in a boiling water bath canner. The acid prevents the growth of harmful bacteria in these foods. However, vegetables, meats and poultry do not contain enough acid to prevent bacterial growth. For these foods temperatures between 240 and 250 degrees Fahrenheit are necessary to prevent the growth of bacteria. Temperatures this high can only be reached using a pressure canner. Therefore, you must process all vegetables and other low acid foods in a pressure canner.

Be sure to use up-to-date equipment that's in proper working condition. It's never a good idea to purchase a pressure canner at a yard sale or flea market as replacement parts and manufacturer's instructions may not be available. Pressure canners made after 1997 are designed with more safety features and weigh much less than older canners. You should test the gauge on dial-gauge pressure canners each year. Your local extension office can do this for you. It is also important to use only Mason-type canning jars and self-sealing, two-piece lids. Never reuse jars that once contained mayonnaise or other food products as they will crack and break during processing.

Always use research-based recipes to preserve foods. These recipes are available at the Pulaski County Extension Service home canning publications, the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving, or the National Center for Home Food Preservation's website https://nchfp.uga.edu/. Follow each recipe exactly as written. Do not make additions or changes unless options are provided in the recipe. Not following the recipe precisely or using a recipe that is not research-based, may result in sickness.

For more information on safe food canning and research-based recipes, contact your Pulaski Cooperative Extension Service.

Educational programs of the Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of economic or social status and will not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, creed, religion, political belief, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expressions, pregnancy, marital status, genetic information, age, veteran status, or physical or mental disability.

Corn is one vegetable that you will find it saves time to freeze it. When you use the canning method, it takes 85 minutes to pressure can the quarts of corn. This is in addition to the time it takes for your canner to reach the desired pounds of pressure, the cooling off of the canner, so it just takes a lot of time to pressure can corn.

Freezer Corn

Select only tender, freshly-gathered corn in the milk stage. Husk and trim the ears, remove silks and wash. Water blanch 4 minutes. Cool promptly, drain and cut from the cob. Cut kernels from the cob about 2/3 the depth of the kernels. Package in freezer bags or freezer cups, leaving ½ inch headspace. Seal and freeze. (If you have an electric knife, it is great for cutting the corn off the cob)

Frozen Cream Style Corn

18 cups of raw corn, cut off from the cob

1 stick of butter

1 quart of half and half

3/4 cup of sugar

Slice kernels from the corn cutting as closely as possible to the cob Use the back of the knife to scrape the pulp and milk from the cob.

Mix the corn, butter, milk, and sugar in a large kettle. Cook until done, about 20 minutes, stirring as needed. Allow to cool and freeze in freezer containers or zipper bags. It's now ready to eat and all you need to do to serve, is thaw and reheat on stove or microwave.

Events at the Extension Office

Our Farmers Markets are still opened each Wednesday and Saturdays in the county and will be opened through October. Don't forget to visit the market on the old Food Fair Parking lot opened from 7:00 am until items are gone, and on Highway 27, starting at 8:00 until 2:00. The markets at the farmer's home sites still have lots of produce to sell, so take the time to visit our farmers in the county before shopping other places.

The Pulaski County Extension Homemakers will have their County Annual Meeting on Monday Night, August 5, at the East Somerset Baptist Church. The church will be opened by 12:00 noon for clubs to decorate their tables. Registration, silent auction, viewing of Cultural Arts, and visiting with other homemakers will begin at 5:00, with the actual dinner at 6:00. This is a great time to fellowship with all of our homemakers, and enjoy a night out.

Pregnant or moms with babies under 2 months old are invited to attend the Kentucky-Moms Healthy Babies Class. This class will be held on Tuesday, August 6 from 11:00 to 1:00 o'clock at the Pulaski County Health Department. If you attend the full 2 hours of class you will receive a $15 gift card, plus refreshments and snacks.