The process for canning foods in the home depends on the acidity of the food, which is determined by its pH. Low-acid foods have a pH more than 4.6, and high-acid foods have a pH less than 4.6. In general, vegetables and meats are low-acid foods, and fruits are high-acid foods. High-acid foods can be safely processed in a boiling water bath, but low-acid foods must be processed in a pressure canner.Dial gauges on your pressure canner should be checked for accuracy and overall condition every year prior to the beginning of canning season. If you use your dial gauge canner throughout the year, check it at the same time every year.For the next two weeks, I have access to a pressure canner dial gauge tester, so come have yours tested for free!Bring in the lid with the gauge attached, and I can test it for accuracy. Please call or email me for an appointment, as I cover 2 counties and am out and about quite a bit!
Mason County (usually M,W, F) 325-347-6459
Menard County (usually T, Th) 325-396-4787
Selecting and Preparing Low-Acid Foods for Pressure Canning
Some people choose to pressure-can fruits, although it is not necessary for the safety of the product because fruits are high-acid foods. Pressure canning will actually make the overall processing time longer because of the time needed to build up the required amount of pressure. The type of preparation involved will depend on the specific food product you are canning. Below are some general considerations for preparing low-acid foods for home canning; more specific information can be found within individual recipes. I have a great resource for home food preservation, and you are welcome to look at it and I can copy some of the recipes for you, but again, please make an appointment. Another good resource would be to look at the Home Food Preservation websites of any state’s Extension Service. You can be confident that these will be tested, safe recipes, which you cannot always be confident in when you are using recipes handed down from friends and family, or ones you find on the internet in general.
Meat, Poultry, and Game
Use only good-quality, disease-free meat, poultry, or game. Rinse poultry and keep all meats and game clean and sanitary. Chill to less than 40? F directly after slaughter. If canning will not take place within one to two days, freeze it. Remove all fat and gristle, because during canning it will float to the top, potentially affecting the seal.
In general, select vegetables that are firm and ripe, but not overripe. For the best results, keep the time between harvesting and canning as short as possible. Wash and rinse with water, but do not allow them to soak because nutrients may be lost. Continue to wash until rinse water is clear. Peel vegetables if necessary, remove seeds, etc., and trim away bruised areas. Cut into serving sizes.
Tomatoes and Tomato Products
Tomatoes are near the dividing line for classification as a high-acid food. Most varieties — grown under normal conditions and harvested at optimum ripeness — can be treated as high-acid foods that can be processed in a boiling water bath. However, a number of factors can change the acidity, including weather extremes (moisture and heat), condition of the vines (killed by disease or frost), and ripeness. Tomato variety can also affect the acidity. For example, many popular heirloom tomatoes are lower acidity than newer cultivars.The home food preserver cannot determine the pH of a batch of tomatoes by visual inspection, so it is recommended that either lemon juice or citric acid be added directly to each jar of tomatoes processed in a water bath canner. Tomatoes can be acidified by adding 1 tablespoon of bottled lemon juice or ¼ teaspoon of citric acid per pint. Add sugar to offset the acid taste, if desired. Four tablespoons of vinegar per quart or 2 tablespoons per pint can also be used but may also result in undesirable flavor changes.Come see me to test your pressure canner!!