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Enjoy safely canned foods this season

Altering food preservation recipes and tweaking canning procedures is not safe, either.

Christina Rittenbach
Christina Rittenbach, extension agent, Family and Consumer Sciences division of the North Dakota State University Extension Service in Stutsman County.
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Canning can be a fun and safe way to preserve food, but make sure you do it properly.

Food preservation guidelines have changed through the years, so don’t use recipes handed down from family members or friends - you don’t know if those recipes were tested scientifically. Look for food preservation recipes from your local Extension office, the National Center for Home Food Preservation website at http://nchfp.uga.edu/ and the North Dakota State University Extension website at https://bit.ly/3aTUxcq .

Altering food preservation recipes and tweaking canning procedures is not safe, either. Canning is a science, and if you don’t follow the recipe or skip some steps, you could put yourself, your family and your guests at risk for botulism, an especially deadly form of food poisoning.

Even if you use a salsa recipe from your local Extension office but you change it, you could have hazardous consequences. Adding extra onions, bell peppers or other ingredients not in the recipe can dilute the acidity. Adding flour or cornstarch as a thickener can slow the rate of heating during processing.

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Freezing is the best way to preserve your own salsa creations or other foods from recipes that haven’t been research-tested.

If the canning recipe requires a pressure canner, make sure to test the pressure gauge every year. If you don’t test your gauge, it could provide inaccurate readings and you won’t know if your food is being canned properly.

Make sure to use a pressure canner when canning low-acid foods such as meats, fish, poultry and many vegetables, and follow instructions carefully.

High-acid foods also must be canned properly. Be sure to use proper equipment such as a boiling water-bath canner or pressure canner. Do not use the open-kettle and steam canner methods because they are not safe, according to the National Center for Home Food Preservation.

Finally, do not “can” in your oven or dishwasher. Follow research-tested procedures and equipment to ensure the safety and quality of your home-preserved foods.

For more information on food preservation, or to get your pressure gauge tested, contact Christina Rittenbach, Stutsman County Extension agent, at (701) 252-9030 or christina.rittenbach@ndsu.edu

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