People are turning to canning their fruits and vegetables a lot more often these days. It is a very popular way to enjoy the taste of the fruits and vegetables they love all year round. It can also save someone like yourself a large amount of money on your yearly food bill too. That alone is enough incentive for most people to take the time required to can their own food. You must be aware though that you cannot just get a few jars full of fruits or vegetables and start boiling them in water. Canning is a sophisticated process and when not done right can be very harmful to your health.
If you choose to can your own fruits and vegetables, you must keep safety at the forefront. There are many harmful bacteria and other elements that are associated with the canning process if it’s not done right. You and your family’s health are too important to risk by skipping some fundamental steps that are essential to canning safety.
So follow the advice closely that is given to you in this article. It will act as an important step in greatly enhancing the safety of your canning process. When it comes to safety, there is never any room for taking chances and the consequences for doing that can result in lasting health problems or even death.
Here are some ways to help make your canning task as safe as possible.
PROPER FRUIT AND VEGETABLE PREPARATION IS IMPORTANT
It is extremely important to thoroughly prep all the fruits and vegetables that you are getting ready to can. This means that you have to wash them thoroughly to make them as safe as possible. Many times when fruits and vegetables come from the field, they are invisibly coated with such things as pesticides, feces, and harmful bacteria. Washing is just one important step that can go a long way toward eliminating some of these huge food safety concerns.
Always make sure your hands and kitchen utensils have been thoroughly washed with soap too before cutting and prepping your foods to be canned.
HARMFUL BACTERIA OFTEN ASSOCIATED WITH THE CANNING PROCESS
Canning can be done using several different methods, but we highly recommend using a pressure canner when you are making jarred fruits and vegetables. Yes, the warm bath method does a nice job of preserving vegetables and fruits during the canning process, but it raises some serious concerns when it comes to safety.
Why is that? The answer is because warm bath canning cannot take the temperature of the bath any higher than waters natural boiling point of around 212 degrees Fahrenheit in most cases. Food safety experts warn that this is not nearly high enough to kill some of the more harmful bacteria that are present in fruits and vegetables. These can build up in canned goods while they sit stored to levels that are extremely unhealthy and even deadly when present in your body.
What is the bacteria most commonly occurring as a result of canning? It is a bacterium called ‘Clostridium botulinum’ that causes the harmful effect known as botulism food poisoning. This bacterium, when built up to sufficient levels, becomes a serious toxin in your body that will attack your nervous system. In its most harmful state, it is known to cause paralysis or even death. It is nothing that you want to mess around with for sure. It is a nasty condition that can create havoc for you or a family member if you come down with it to say the least.
The worst part is that it only takes ingesting a very small amount of these bacteria into your system for it to quickly build up to very harmful levels. This concerns the USDA a lot because it is estimated that some 1 in 5 households in the USA alone can their own food products at this time.
Another scary thing about botulism is it often does not have any visible signs as to its presence. It is not like other forms of rot or decay that can easily be detected on fruits and vegetables.
WHY USE A PRESSURE CANNER?
We have told you about the dangers of not eliminating bacteria from your food during the canning process. The only USDA approved method for doing this is by using a method of canning that uses what is known as a pressure canner (see even more USDA canning safety info here). It is the only method of canning that generates a high enough heat to kill a majority of the harmful bacteria that is sometimes present on food products.
Why do pressure canners kill bacteria that simple boiling water cannot? It’s because of the fact they are sealed and capture the additional heat from the steam (here for the best food steamer) that the boiling process creates. Since the steam cannot escape like when water is normally boiled it allows the temperature inside the pressure canner to exceed the normal boiling point of water (212 degrees Fahrenheit) and rise all the way to the 240-degree temperature that kills the bacteria that cause botulism food poisoning.
If you do not currently own a pressure canner then it is not a cause for big concern. They are readily available both in online and in store marketplaces. They come in all shapes and sizes as there is a very large selection to choose from. You will find they also come in many different price ranges and qualities too. If you are on a limited budget you don’t need a fancy pressure canner because they all work on the same basic physics principle that will allow them to generate the necessary 240 degrees Fahrenheit that will kill the bacteria that causes botulism food poisoning. Some pressure cookers can also do double duty as a pressure canner.
If you do not know much information about pressure canners then we advise you read many pressure canner reviews online in order to help you determine the best pressure canner for your individual needs.
SAFETY AFTER YOU ARE FINISHED CANNING
Another helpful and important canning safety tip is to not put your jars away immediately after the canning process is finished and the jars have cooled down. Before you put your canned food products away you need to wait at least 24 hours. Why you might ask? This is important because that is the appropriate time needed to ensure that your jars of fruit and vegetables have maintained their seal throughout the cooking process.
After 24 hours inspect the seals on all the jars you have canned. Don’t hesitate to throw out any jars where the seal is obviously no longer good or the metal jar cover has become distorted. This can save you and your family from having any health problems due to improperly sealed canned goods.
NOW YOU CAN SAFELY ENJOY YOUR CANNED FOODS
There truly are not many food pleasures that are more enjoyable than being able to eat the fruits and vegetables you have come to love even out of season. The canning process is a great way to do this. Just be sure to constantly keep in mind the canning safety steps mentioned here so you can not only enjoy your canned products but do so in a manner that is safe for you and your family.