Canning is an annual task for all homesteaders, ensuring a long-lasting stockpile of meals to eat.
And while most people may think of staples such as relish, pickles, tomatoes and olives, canning actually can include foods such as meatloaf, ground beef and chicken.
But if canning is not done properly, the food can quickly go bad, leading to illness or even death due to Botulism.
Stay safe this year by avoiding these five canning mistakes:
1. Not properly sterilizing
Cleaning the jars, bands and lids is essential to ensuring that no bacteria can grow. The method to follow when sterilizing the jars is to first wash them in the sink with hot soapy water. Then put them in hot, boiling water for 10 minutes. For the bands and lids, it is appropriate to just wash them in hot soapy water.
Ball actually discourages the boiling of lids, due to the fact that it could damage the rubber gasket. Ball’s recommendation is to simmer (180 degrees Fahrenheit) and not boil (212) the lids.
2. Not following the recipe
Everything that is stated in a recipe is there for a reason. From preparing the food to how much headspace is needed – it is all required. Most importantly, make sure to pay attention to the various times in the recipe. Additionally, choose a recipe from a credited source. You may be placing these jars in storage for months or even years, and it’s no time to cut corners.
3. Not properly sealing
This is the whole magic behind canning. To hear that “pop” is music to a homesteader’s ears. When putting the food into the jar, it is a great idea to use a funnel. This will help ensure that any food chunks do not get on the rim of the jar. Then, have a warm and clean towel ready to wipe off the tops. Next, when placing the band and lid on, hold the lid with one finger while twisting the band on. This should allow for proper sealing.
4. Now allowing the pressure canner to cool down by itself
After letting the pressure out of the canner, as directed by a recipe, you can simply leave it alone. Speeding up the process by putting the canner under cool water can lead to problems, such as the cracking of jars or the food being under-processed. These extra few minutes actually are critical to the canning process.
5. Not using the correct method of canning (hot water bath or pressure)
The rule of thumb is to put non-acid foods such as peas or chicken into a pressure canner and acidic foods such a pickles or jam into a hot water bath. The reason is simple: The potentially deadly Clostridium botulinum spores don’t grow in acidic foods.
What would you add to this list? Share your canning tips in the section below: