Getting ready for canning season

Many consumers prefer to preserve food from local farmers markets and gardens. Now is a good time to start an inventory of your home canning equipment.

Many consumers enjoy and prefer to preserve food from their local farmers markets and gardens. If you are that person, now is a good time to get started surveying and taking an inventory of your home canning equipment.

Let’s start first with the home canner. According to the Michigan State University Extension and United States Department of Agriculture, if using the hot water bath method, you will want to make sure that the canners are made of aluminum or porcelain-covered steel. Removable perforated racks and fitted lids should be in the canner and it should be deep enough so at least 1 inch of briskly boiling water will be over the tops of jars during processing. Be sure to check the bottom of the canner, it should be flat; especially if used on an electric range.

Pressure canners for home use have been considerably redesigned in recent years. Models before the 1970s were heavy-walled kettles with clamp-on or turn-on lids. They were fitted with a dial gauge, a vent port in the form of a petcock or counterweight and a safety fuse. Modern pressure canners are lightweight, thin-walled kettles and most have turn-on lids. Be sure to check the condition of the jar rack, gasket and pressure gauge.

Remember to check jars for cracks or chips and to use only approved jars. Insignificant scratches in glass may cause cracking and breakage while processing jars in a canner. “Mayonnaise-type jars” are not recommended for food processed in a pressure canner because of excessive jar breakage. A two-piece canning lid is recommended for safe processing and sealing of jars.

The National Center for Home Food Preservation has additional tips and recommendations to get you ready for a bountiful year of canning and other methods of home food preservation.The site also can be a great resource for approved recipes for canning, freezing and other food preservation methods.

Take a little time now to get your supplies in order. Its only a matter of weeks until the first fruits and vegetables will be ready to be made into jam, jellies or other great home preserved delicacies.

If you have questions about canning or food preservation , you may check with your local Michigan State University Extension office to get in touch with a Food Safety educator.

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