Home Canning Cardinal Rules for First-Time Food Preservers



Our lives may have been turned topsy-turvy with the global health pandemic, but the can-do spirit of many people is very much alive and well. Many are turning to nature both for comfort and sustenance. That's a very good thing, especially when it comes to growing and preserving our own food.   

As a trained and certified Master Food Preserver, one of my main concerns about food preservation is that of food safety. It doesn't do any good to go through the process of canning or otherwise preserving foods if it is done incorrectly and unsafely. If you're an old hand at canning, you know how important it is to adhere to processing procedures and times, good for you! If, however, you're new to this time-honored skill, keep in mind that established recipes and procedures exist for a reason.

Crops Change: Follow Latest Guidance 

Many newer food preservation books are on the market now, but I will confidently recommend the always-reliable Ball Blue Book publications for sound recipes and instructions. If it's more than five years out of date, I'd strongly recommend replacing it with a current edition.

The chemistry within vegetables changes with hybridization and other genetic factors, which influence the natural acidity, so recipes and processing times may be different from before.

Don’t Skip the Acid

Without exception, it is not okay to skip adding lemon juice or other acidifier to canned tomatoes prior to processing! Maybe Grandma never did it, because decades ago, many tomato cultivars did contain a lot more acid. That's not the case today.

6/29/2021 9:43:58 AM

I did the "just enough" timing in my very first canning experience! My neighbor canned her green beans in a huge pot over a fire. Her were always perfect, always tasted great. I watched her & her family one year & tried my hand at it the next year. But... I couldn't get in touch with her & get the information I was shocked after a week In my garage "setting up" , my green beans were white & milky. Had to dispose of --all 50 jars-! I researched and bought a pressure cooker for the next canning experience. I have now been canning 40 years successfully! You are right! Those recipes are sound and tried by many .... and they work.

6/28/2021 3:26:48 PM

Thanks for this. As a food theory instructor, the loosey goosey attitude when it comes to home canning really worries me. People watch one YouTube hack, and think they know everything. Very risky! Great points!

6/16/2020 2:09:45 PM

Blessed Farms5 - It could mean the difference between life and death, don't skip the acid.

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