Canning is an inexpensive way of preserving farm fresh tastes we enjoy seasonally, throughout the year. Utilizing fruits and vegetables from your backyard garden or local green grocer decreases costs while ensuring freshness. According to USDA website, before beginning the process of preserving harvested foods jars, lids, seals, and utensils should be boiled or sanitized to kill germs. Once sterilized, these items are hot and require a special handling during the canning process. Fruits and vegetables require thorough washing. Peeling or cutting off questionable areas is helpful. In order to hot pack them into jars, first they will need to be blanched for five minutes. The food will then be packed into jars with water used during blanching. Salt or citric acid, used as a preservative, is then added and air bubbles are removed before sealing. Jars are then placed carefully into a canner with water which covers the lids to the jars. Temperatures used during canning on the pressure cooker are different for each fruit or vegetable being preserved. The USDA offers a clear easy to follow chart on temperatures to be used at the National Center for Home Food Preservation, a division of the US Department of Agriculture. nchfp.uga.edu/publications/publications_usda.html.
Canning is a time honored tradition. Some families gather during their favorite harvest time to can together, as well as pass down guarded recipes from one generation to the next. The time spent canning creates memories and bonds with friends, family, or neighbors.
Reed Hoffman, inventory specialist at Hallís Hardware, in Milton stated, ďCanning is essential. Every order submitted for Hallís Hardware contains some type of canning supply. If we donít have it we will order it for you.Ē As you preserve, throughout time seals, lids, and jars need replacing. Some of these items can be purchased at department stores, but specialty items can usually be acquired at local hardware. There are many books, internet sites, blogs and experts with an abundance of information about canning but, safety is important during food preparation. If not done properly deadly food poisoning is possible. Following temperature charts is critical.
Santa Rosa County Extension office suggests hosting canning parties. This eases costs even more because everyone brings their favorite produce and jars. Those with pressure canners share the use of them, because this can be the largest cost involved in food preserving. Contact the University of Florida/IFAS and SRC Extension office at 623-3868 for more information.