Plan Ahead for Home Canning this Summer
February 07, 2012
Rachel Lockwood, Haskell County Extension Educator, FCS/4-H
You have your garden planted and now you are ready to plan for canning the harvest. If you are thinking of canning this year, start by checking your equipment and supplies. Proper equipment in good condition is required for safe, high quality home canned food.
A pressure canner is essential for canning low-acid vegetables, meats, fish, and poultry. Two basic types are available. One has a dial gauge to indicate the pressure inside the canner; Dial gauges must be tested for accuracy before each canning season; the other has a metal weighted gauge.
Pressure gauges can be checked at the Haskell County OSU Extension office, 105 SE 3rd- Suite A. Drop off your canner lids with gauges attached by Tuesday of each week during the months of May, June and July and extension educator, Rachel Lockwood, will test the gauges and have them ready for pick up Friday of that same week.
Check the rubber gasket if your canner has one; it should be flexible and soft, not brittle, sticky or cracked. Also make sure any small pipes or vent ports with openings are clean and open all the way through.
A boiling water canner is needed for canning other foods such as fruits, pickles, jellies and jams. The canner should be deep enough to allow at least one to two inches of water to boil over the tops of the jars.
Both types of canners should have a rack in the bottom to keep jars off the bottom of the canner.
Inventory your jars and decide if you need to buy new jars this year. Inspect those you have for nicks, cracks or chips, especially around the top sealing edge. Nicks can prevent lids from sealing. Very old jars can weaken with age and repeated use; they break under pressure and heat. Consider investing in new jars if you need to, and watch for specials at the stores. New jars are a better investment over time than buying used jars at yard sales or flea markets.
Mason-type jars specifically designed for home canning are best. Jars that use two-piece self-sealing metal lids are the recommended container in USDA guidelines. A "must" every canning season is new flat lids. Used lids should be thrown away. The screw bands are re-usable if they are not bent, dented or rusted.
A final must is reliable, up-to-date canning instructions. Haskell County OSU Extension office is offering the So Easy to Preserve book. The comprehensive book provides information on all types of home food preservation. The So Easy to Preserve Book is available for $15. Contact the extension office at 918-967-4330 to reserve your copy.
Be sure to look at the instructions for what you want to can well before you are ready to prepare the food. You may need time to purchase some ingredients and small equipment that are necessary to prepare food exactly as the directions indicate.
Planning ahead can save you time, money, and frustration with home canning. Make it a happy, successful canning season by getting prepared before your harvest is ready.
Oklahoma State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, State and Local Governments Cooperating: The Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age, disability, or status as a veteran, and is an equal opportunity employer.