Saturday, October 2, 2010

Canning page updated

This week I had a disheartening conversation with someone who is new to canning.  She had recently made pickles and off-handedly mentioned something about doing them in the oven.  She also said that she hadn't bothered to sanitize her jars. 

Ruh roh.  That's not good.  Oven-canning and not sanitizing are both no-nos.

I asked her why she did it that way and she said something that the CSA people said that's what other people had been doing.  GAH!  I could just scream.

Disseminating such bad information is irresponsible.  What if her family, or another family who followed the same directions, got sick?  Botulism, while rare, is still a very real thing.  It is also avoidable.  If the people manning the booth don't know, they should just say so.  There's plenty of information available online about canning.

So I sent her a link to my page about canning.  While I don't want to discourage her from canning, I do want to make sure that she has access to correct canning information to ensure her family's safety.  I also offered to contact the CSA people who gave her the bad directions to correct them and point them to safe canning procedures.

Before sending her the link I decided to update the canning section of my blog.  I've centralized the links for safe-canning resources and added information on where to get canning equipment.

Get to know the NCHFP guidelines for safe preservation methods so that you can spot problems in recipes posted online.  I recently read a blog post about home canning tomato soup (I won't link to it from here).  It looked great and I'm sure the soup is wonderful.  But when I read through the ingredients and method I realized it's not a safe recipe for any canning method.  The blogger writes:
Some people say this isn’t long enough in a canner, some people say you should only pressure can this recipe. I’m happy with it and am quite comfortable making it and processing it in this way. If you’re uncomfortable with this method use whatever canning method you’re comfortable with.
This disclaimer doesn't acknowledge the right thing: the recipe contains ingredients that are not approved for safe canning.

People who decide to continue with unsafe methods may do so at their own risk.  They should not promote those methods, nor should they share their jars with others.  Suffice it to say, I won't be canning the above tomato soup recipe as written nor would I accept a jar were she to offer me one.

Yes, I'm on a safety soapbox but my blog is my pulpit.



  1. I'm with you on safe canning practice. There's so much bad information out there, being taught by people who call themselves experts and teachers. And charging money to teach people unsafe methods!

    I've been looking for a good canning program and can't find one in my area. Anyone can follow a recipe, it's the safety procedures that are so important with canning.

  2. This is a great post. In recent years I have become a big fan of using my freezer, precisely because of food safety issues. Don't get me wrong, I do love to can, but so many recipes I come across have stuff in them that seem to me to be a bit iffy in the whole acidity question. So unless it comes from my official canning book (or the pectin packages, which give directions for jams and jellies), into the freezer it goes. Thanks for the reminder to be careful!