Put A Lid On It

Food Safety Paramount Concern For Canners

Posted: July 24, 2013

Canning must haves include jars, lids, bands, vegetables or fruits and qualified resources to help ensure food is prepared safely. (Photo by Nikki Fox / DN-R, Photo Illustration)
It’s almost time to start thinking about fall crops, but delicious summer fruits and vegetables can be enjoyed year-round by canning.

Though it may seem like an intimidating and complicated process, with the help from Steve Cooke, general manager at Friendly City Food Co-op, anyone can get started with canning basics.

It is important to note, however, that if done incorrectly, canned foods can cause serious illnesses. Consult appropriate resources before getting started.

“You have to be really careful that everything you’re doing is in a sanitary environment,” Cooke said. “Be careful ... [and] make sure you have a good resource or a good person who has done canning before.”

Step By Step

Tomatoes are a great place to start canning. The acidity level of the fruit makes it one of the safest and easiest to can, which is why it was chosen for the step-by-step guide below. The basic materials needed for canning are available at local stores, including the Friendly City Food Co-op.

The first step is making sure everything is clean and sterile. Sterilize jars and lids either in boiling water or a the dishwasher with a sterilize setting.

The tomatoes must be prepared before canning. Peel the tomato, then remove seeds. Then, cook tomatoes for approximately 10 minutes, or until cooked down.

Using a funnel, put the tomatoes into jars.

Make sure to wipe the jars and lids; the cans will not seal if they are not clean.

Put lids and bands on the cans, then carefully place in boiling water for 20 minutes.

Remove from boiling and allow cans to cool. Every can should pop, which indicates that it is sealed. If any can does not pop — or if there isn’t a clear dip in the top of the can — it will likely need to be reprocessed. Do not store a can that is not properly sealed.

Under Pressure
The water bath canning process described above works for tomatoes, pickling or making jams. Adding any sort of additional ingredients to the tomatoes, such as onions or peppers for a salsa, requires pressure canning — which can only be done with additional equipment.

But the process pays off. Canning affords kitchens with a wider range of flavors.

“There are all kinds of great fruits and vegetables coming in right now,” Cooke said. “You can preserve the harvest until the winter time and there’s nothing better than having a peach pie in the middle of January with peaches picked at the height of their perfection.”

Cooke suggested that products be kept, at maximum, a year after canning.

The Co-op is currently offering free demos on canning. Becky Calvert of Charlottesville recently led Canning: Part I.

She will return at 6 p.m. Aug. 8 for Canning: Part II.

Contact Sarah Stacy at 574-6292 or sstacy@dnronline.com.

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