View Full Version : Safe Canning

Garden Green
12-17-2008, 12:59 AM
There is nothing like cracking open a jar of home canned tomatoes that have speckles of green basil all through them. Mmmm. Just love it! But the finished product has a long way to go before one can be proud of that jar. A large portion of it is canning safely.

It is important to follow the guidelines for canning the different fruits and vegetables because of one little food borne bacteria in particular called botulism (Clostridium botulinum) and during its life cycle, it actually produces a neuro-toxin. This is some pretty serious stuff causing a host of symptoms: double vision, blurred vision, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, dry mouth, muscle weakness and death. It can be treated with anti-toxins and other medical treatments.

Food borne botulism prefers a low acid environment where the pH is 4.5 or less. This means that high acid foods can be canned in a less intensive manner; a water bath. This includes foods such as: apples, apricots, berries, jams, jellies, peaches, pears, pickles, sauerkraut, tomatoes, and others.

But foods that aren't high in acid will require pressure to raise the temperature of contents of the jar high enough to kill off the spores that can cause botulism and other microorganisms. Foods such as asparagus, beans, beets, carrots, corn, mushrooms, peas, potatoes, pumpkin, spinach, squash, and any meat.

Most of the time it is apparent when canning did not go as expected. Look for bulging lids or a seeping seal and when purchasing canned items from the grocery store, make sure the can isn't dented, weak points can allow contaminates in the tin. Discoloration of the food, cloudiness in the liquid in the jar, visible mold growing on the surface of the food. All reasons not to crack that can open and consume the contents. Not even heating the food to a boil and keeping it there will be able to save contaminated food as botulism is only a byproduct of the life cycle of Clostridium botulinum not the actual organism itself.

Another key element is to store your canned food properly. Cool, dark places are best because if any of those little suckers managed to survive, they won't thrive in that type of environment. These same places also help to preserve the nutritional value and flavor of your home made goodies.

Be safe in your canning. Don't just consider the cleanliness of your work area, the washing and boiling of jars and lids, but also the type of food you're preserving and it's acid content.

12-17-2008, 12:05 PM
Well said. Canning does take a good working knowledge of the process and it's worth taking a class to make sure you are doing it right. It's so gratifying when you are successful. Thanks

12-18-2008, 09:18 AM
About the best, simplest book on canning is the Ball Blue Book - available almost anywhere. Follow the directions and be safe

01-03-2009, 01:59 PM
Thanks for the info.

We did some salsa this last year and despite the tomatoes, onions and peppers, we were worried about using a water bath. The Ball site said not to but to get a pressure canner. Interesting. We don't have a canner, so we water bathed them anyway.

Garden Green
01-03-2009, 02:59 PM
I canned a ton of tomatoes last year all using the water bath method with no issues. They are all long gone now and they were delicious. I've never encountered an issue with canning tomatoes using the water bath method.

A couple of my aunts didn't (and I think probably still don't) use the water bath method at all when they can tomatoes, they just make their concoction and then put it in the jar and let it set on its own on the counter. We use to make a game of how many of the *suck* *pop* noises we could hear coming from the kitchen as they set up and after they popped, in the pantry they went and that was the end of that.

I grew up eating their meals made from that and no one ever had a problem. I wouldn't do that now after becoming a little more educated on what could happen and would take that extra step and do the water bath.

I think you're safe just using the water bath method and leaving the pressure canning for things that have little acidity. I couldn't see Ball putting anything out that would be anything less than protection for themselves in the event someone really screwed up and didn't do it right at all and pointed the finger for a big pay out, if you know what I mean.

01-03-2009, 03:51 PM
I agree with you all to a point, But I look at it this way when in doubt, Use the Pressure, Botulism scares me. And really ,A good Pressure Canner Is not that big of an investment . My wife and I recently purchased a brand new 23 quart presto pressure canner online From amazon. The total cost with shipping came in under a hundred bucks . Why take a chance.