How to choose the canning method that is right for you

Being informed on latest canning methods is the key to keeping your produce fresh.

It is important for people to stay up-to-date on latest canning processes because canning methods are adapted over time based on science and research discoveries. It is especially important to refresh your knowledge if you haven’t done so for a few years.  Michigan State University Extension recommends taking a class, such as the Food Preservation Workshop, to learn the science behind food preservation methods. Different types of food require different methods of canning.

Use a water bath method for high acids foods

Acid plays an important role in safely preserving your food and ultimately determines which canning process will be used to keep food safe. High acid foods such as fruit can be processed in a hot water bath with varying lengths of time according to the type of fruit being processed. The water bath method involves putting filled jars in a pan that is deep enough to hold a large amount of water. provides specific length of time each food item should be processed.

Use pressure canning for low acid foods

Pressure canning is for food that is low in acid including many vegetables, meats, soups and stews. Pressure canning causes heat to reach the center of the jar for a certain length of time to kill any bacteria that may be present. This process takes a piece of equipment called a pressure canner.

  • Which pressure canner is right for you

There are two types of pressure canners. One is called a weighted gauge and the other has a gauge that displays the pressure. Both canners can be dangerous if users aren’t familiar with the process, so it’s best to learn from someone with experience. It is important to refer to the USDA food preservation page for the recommended pressure and time to process specific foods.

Be prepared

It is important to follow directions and recipes provided on the USDA website when preparing foods to be canned. These methods and recipes have been tested to help ensure your food is preserved safely and reliably. This typically will mean checking jar rims for chips or cracks, properly preparing the produce and properly keeping hands and items clean during the process.

MSU Extension provides food preservation programs for anyone that may have the desire to learn the process. To locate a class on various types of food preservation look on the MSUE Extension website or locate your local Food Safety Educator in your area.

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