Just as fashions repeat themselves every 20 – 30 years and home décor makes us think “déjà vu” home canning is currently enjoying resurgence. Noticeably, food preservation questions have increased the past couple of years at the Extension Office. Statistics point to more people gardening to help stretch the food dollar. When those gardens produce more than a family can enjoy eating fresh, then canning, freezing or drying food is explored.
I remember helping my mom prepare garden produce for canning or freezing. Since our farmhouse kitchen was not very cool in the summer it was never my favorite chore to help with. But I also remember the wonderful flavor of home canned vegetables added to soups and side dishes during the winter and it made the hours spent preserving the food seem worthwhile.
If you don’t know where to start or have canned garden produce for years, there is an excellent reference book you may want to purchase. “So Easy to Preserve” is a 344 page book produced by the Georgia Cooperative Extension Service that is complete with recipes. It has remedies for canning, freezing and jellied product problems that I turn to often when calls come in. I have several copies of the book available for the purchase price of $16.50.
There are many factors which can affect the quality of your finished product. Acidity of the food helps determine if it can be safely water bathed or if you must use a pressure canner. Altitude affects the time and amount of pressure required to safely preserve your produce. Most reference books are written for altitudes in the 1000 feet above sea level, yet we are around 2000 feet here. This means that time and amount of pressure may need to be adjusted for a safe product.
It is also a great idea to have your pressure canner gauge checked for accuracy. We offer that service at the Barton County Extension Office and it just takes a few minutes. I can check the dial gauges; however, the weighted gauges cannot be checked with my equipment.
Feel free to give me a call with any of your food preservation questions.
Donna Krug is the Family and Consumer Science Agent with K-State Research and Extension – Barton County. You may reach her at (620) 793-1910 or firstname.lastname@example.org