Monthly Archives: August 2012

  • When canning at home, the most important thing to remember is that products containing vegetables, poultry, meats, fish, or seafood must be canned in a pressure canner. Fruit, pickles, jams, jellies, pickles, sauerkraut, marlamades, and fruit butters can safely be canned by boiling water bath or steam methods[i]. Low-acid foods such as meats and vegetables should be processed in a pressure canner unless they have had the proper amount of acid added. The reason for this is that water bath and steam canners can’t reach a high enough temperature to kill all the naturally-occurring bacteria that grow in enclosed, moist, low-acid environment like a canning jar.  Clostridium botulinum, the bacteria that causes botulism poisoning, is one of the worst. Often, people assume that because water is boiling, it must be hot enough to kill all potential “germs.” However, depending on elevation, water boiled in a regular pot only reaches 208° F to 212° F, temperatures that are too low to do the job properly. Pressure canners, on the other hand, attain a temperature of 240° F, which is high enough to preserve the food safely[ii]. Oven and microwave canning are never recommended.

    In the past, many considered tomatoes acidic enough to can safely using water bath or steam canning, but in recent years the popularity of lower-acid tomato varieties have led many home canners to adopt the pressure canning method just to be safe. Remember, just because a product contains mostly tomatoes does not mean it is safe to process by boiling water bath or steam. Mixing acid and low-acid foods will change the pH level of the product enough to require pressure canning [iii]. Figs are another “borderline” fruit that may be best preserved using pressure canning [iv].

    Canning tips

    Many national and state university extension services do not recommend steam canning because of the difficulty of determining the exact heat attained (though it usually is higher than that of the boiling water bath) and the proper time needed to process foods[v]. Yet, many home canners swear by steam canners because they’re quick and easy to use. It takes quite a while for a large kettle of water to come to a boil, but the steam canner uses much less water and is ready sooner. Full water bath canners are extremely heavy, while steam canners are lightweight and easy to handle. Tomatoes take about 45 minutes to process in a steam canner, and fruits such as pears, peaches, apples’ or grapes about 20 to 30 minutes. If you choose to use a steam canner, follow the instructions very carefully and remember that steam canners are never the right choice for canning vegetables or meats[vi].

    Regular pressure cookers are not recommended for canning because their thinner walls and smaller size do not allow for correct build-up and reducing time of the pressure, thus failing to destroy all harmful organisms.  Use pressure canners that are specifically intended for that purpose.

    Do not allow the pressure to drop during canning. If the pressure drops below the recommended level, increase the heat to bring the canner back to the proper pressure and start the timing process all over again from the beginning. Even if your product is a little overcooked, that’s far better than spoiled.

    If you live at an altitude higher than 1,000 feet above sea level, read your canner’s instructions on increasing time or pressure level.

    Be sure to vent the canner with steam exiting for the specified length of time to prevent air becoming trapped in the closed canner, as trapped air lowers the pressure and results in under-processing.

    Use quart or pint-sized Mason jars, not old mayonnaise or pickle jars for processing.  Mason glass is thicker and tempered to withstand the needed heat and pressure without cracking. Wide-mouth or regular openings are fine. Use new lids and clean rings that are round, not warped or rusted. Half-gallon jars are not recommended for home canning.

    Be as clean and careful as possible in preparing your jars and your food. Wipe the jar rims with a clean cloth or paper towel before putting lids on. Follow all instructions carefully.








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  • Have you started your emergency preparedness efforts and realized that you need some additional skills to be as well-prepared as you want to be?

    Emergency Essentials’ Preparedness Skills series will walk you through some of the basic skills you can develop to maximize your preparedness.

    This month we’re talking about Canning and Preserving your own foods at home. This is a great skill to have if you’re interested in emergency preparedness—preparing your own foods can save you money and ensure that you have exactly the items you want in your storage.

    Throughout the month we’ll talk about the following methods of preserving your foods at home:




    -Jamming and Jellying (okay, I know those aren’t words… we’ll talk about making jams and jellies)

    Do you already use one or more of these methods? What are your tips?

    If you’re new to preserving food at home, what do you want to learn?

    Canning Set Giveaway

    Update Aug 8, 2012: (This Giveaway is now CLOSED and a winner has been chosen.)

    To kick off our month-long series on preserving foods, we’re giving away a 24-Quart Stainless Steel Canner with a 5-Piece Canning Set.

    Check out our photo on Facebook, and tell usin the photo’s comment section on Facebook what you think the most important prepping skill is.

    Don’t forget to check back here tomorrow for the first post in the Canning and Preserving series—we’ll have lots of great information for you about at-home canning basics.

    Don't have Facebook? Enter below!

    Update Aug 8, 2012: (This Giveaway is now CLOSED and a winner has been chosen.)

    All giveaway entries will be verified. We welcome emails and entries from everyone; however, free shipping of the Weekly Wednesday Giveaway is included for the winner to the 48 contiguous United States only. For any locations outside this area, the winner is responsible for arranging and paying their own shipping costs. If you purchase a Weekly Wednesday Giveaway item during the giveaway and win, we will send you an additional item or issue you a refund for the product you purchased - whichever you prefer.

    This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook, Twitter, Blogger or Pinterest. Your entries are going to Emergency Essentials and not to Facebook, Twitter, blogger or Pinterest. Facebook, Twitter, blogger or Pinterest is in no way responsible for any part of this giveaway.

    Employees of Emergency Essentials, Inc. and their immediate family members are not eligible for the giveaway.

    The winner will be contacted via email. If you are the winner and do not respond to our email within 3 business days, you will forfeit your right to the prize and another winner will be chosen.

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