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The latest in home canning

Grandma was wrong — you shouldn’t be boiling your lids, and beware of pressure cookers

Home canning has and continues to undergo constant changes. While it’s nice to romanticize about putting up food just like Grandma did, keeping up with the times and following canning processes based on scientific research will lead to much better and safer results.

The most reliable and trusted source for current home canning standards in North America is the National Centre for Home Food Preservation. It is primarily funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and relies on research-based evidence to make recommendations and publish recipes and guidelines for home canning. The NCHFP sets the bar for home canning. Other reliable sources that follow research-based evidence are Bernardin/Ball, U.S. State Extension Sites and Canadian Living. When considering other websites or books for home canning recipes, learn more about the authors and their methods to determine if they subscribe to safe canning practices as recommended by the NCHFP.

Just like any industry, there are changes and improved practices in home canning. To keep you up to date, here’s a quick look at some of the most recent changes in the world of home canning.

One big family

The most common brands we see in home canning supplies today are Bernardin, Golden Harvest, Ball and Kerr. Today, these brands are sister companies owned by the same parent company. In 1998, they were all owned by Jarden which in turn became part of the Newell Corporation in 2016. Newell is a conglomerate that owns a long list of companies including Coleman, Sunbeam, Rubbermaid, Crockpot, Oster, Mr. Coffee, etc. Today, all jars are made in the U.S. Jars with the Bernardin name are made in metric sizes (one-half litre instead of one U.S. pint) which means they hold an extra one to three tablespoons.

Preparing self-sealing lids

Metal, two-piece, self-sealing rings continue to be the recommended choice for home canning. What’s new is that in 2014, Ball, the maker of all self-sealing lids, started recommending that lids no longer be heated or pre-warmed. They should just be washed prior to use. The gasket ring will work just as well and you avoid the risk of premature softening and spreading which may lead to seal failure.

If you’re still boiling your lids, you’ve really fallen behind; boiling lids hasn’t been recommended since 1969! Stop doing so immediately; you’re risking seal failure.

Steam canning approved — with conditions

Up until 2015, the NCHFP did not endorse steam canning due to lack of research on the exact time, temperature and jar size required to safely can food using steam canning. Thanks to research by the University of Wisconsin those details are now available and the NCHFP now endorses steam canning as long as the proper guidelines (found on its websites) are followed.

Steam canning is very similar to water bath canning; there is no pressure involved and is only used for high-acid foods. Instead of using boiling hot water, steam canning uses pure hot steam to flow around the jars and preserve food. Steam canning is faster, more energy efficient and wastes less water.

Instant pot and pressure cookers

Electric pressure cookers like the Instant Pot are different than pressure canners. There is insufficient research on the various models of electric pressure cookers to make them a safe pressure-canning tool.

Due to the recent surge in popularity, the NCHFP issued an express warning against using electric pressure canners to do pressure canning in 2016. Even manufacturers of electric pressure cookers don’t recommend them for pressure canning.

Electric pressure cookers like the Instant Pot can be used for hot water bath canning with high-acid foods.

photo: www.gettystewart.com

Sterilizing jars not always necessary

As of 1988, you no longer need to sterilize your jars before filling them IF the processing time for a hot water bath is 10 minutes or longer or if you are pressure canning.

For more research-based recommendations, recipes and information visit the National Centre for Home Food Preservation.


Canned hot pepper rings

Make your own hot pepper slices to top pizza, burgers or sandwiches.

  • 6 c. sliced hot peppers (any variety) 3-1/2 c. vinegar
  • 2 c. water
  • 2 tbsp. pickling or sea salt
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic, quartered

Using gloves, wash and remove stems, seeds and inner mem- branes of peppers. For extra heat, leave some or all of the seeds and membranes intact. Slice peppers into even 1/4-inch- thick slices. Set aside.

Mix vinegar, water, salt and sugar in a non-reactive sauce- pan. Boil for 1 minute.

Check jars for cracks, wash with warm soapy water, rinse well and place in canner. Fill canner with water so jars are covered by 2.5 cm (1 inch) water.

Heat jars in canner (no need to sterilize).

Place 1/4 clove of garlic in each jar and pack with pepper rings.

Pour hot vinegar brine over peppers.

Remove air bubbles and push peppers underneath pickling liq- uid as much as possible, leaving a 1.2-cm (1/2-inch) headspace. Wipe rim with clean cloth, seal with sealing lid, tighten screw band finger tight and process in hot water bath for 10 minutes.

Remove from canner and let rest for 24 hours. Remove outer rings and store in pantry for a year.

Makes: 8 jam jars (250 ml).

Canned applesauce

  • 12 lbs. apples (any variety)
  • 2 c. water

Wash apples and remove any leaves. (You do not have to remove the core, peel or stems.) Cut apples into quarters.

Add apples and water into large stockpot. Cover and bring to boil. Turn heat to low and simmer until soft and mushy (20-30 minutes) stirring every 10 minutes.

Remove from heat. Separate cores, peels, and stems from the sauce with a food mill or by squishing the mix through a strainer. Discard stems and peels.

Check jars for cracks, wash with warm soapy water, rinse well and place in canner. Fill canner with water so jars are covered by 2.5 cm (1 inch) water.

Heat jars in canner (no need to sterilize).

Pour hot applesauce into hot jars leaving 1.2-cm (1/2-inch) headspace. Use a plastic utensil to remove air bubbles and adjust headspace as needed. Wipe rim with clean cloth, seal with sealing lid, tighten screw band finger tight and process in hot water bath. Boil 500-ml (pint) jars for 15 minutes and litre (quart) jars for 20 minutes.

Remove from canner and let rest for 24 hours. Remove outer rings and store in pantry for a year.

Makes: 4 litres of applesauce [4 x 1-litre jars (quarts) or 8 x 500-ml jars (pints)]

About the author

Contributor

Getty Stewart is a professional home economist, speaker and writer from Winnipeg. For more recipes, preserves and kitchen tips, visit www.gettystewart.com.

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