Canning season will soon be upon us and with the continued COVID-19 restrictions now, more than ever, is a great time to take advantage of fresh fruits and vegetables in your area, whether from a local farmers markets or u-pick farms.
Fruits and vegetables in the grocery stores may lack up to 50% of their nutrients, depending on long it takes them to go from farm to table. That’s a lot of good stuff going to waste. This is because in order to be frozen or commercially canned, farm to production happens within 24 hours. But to get to grocery stores can take days/weeks if coming by ship and/or truck.
Farmers Markets are local growers who bring fresh harvest to be purchased. And going to a u-pick farm is extremely satisfying when you gather and get to pick and chose which wonderful fruits and vegetables to bring home. So by canning fresh picked produce you are getting maximum nutrition.
If you’re getting ready to can this year, let’s start the most important information you need to know. Do not trust every site on home food preservation you find. Only use those sites that have tested and safe recipes. This removes most all Facebook pages from being a good source. Many of those pages are run by individuals who have no training in home food safety nor preservation.
To ensure you are searching correctly, try searching “site:.edu canning peaches.” Replace “canning peaches” with your own search terms. This will return only those sites such as Extension and other university sites that only use tested and safe recipes.
One of the best sites to reference is the National Center for Home Food Preservation at nchfp.uga.edu.
Now that you know where to find good info you need the right equipment or to have your current equipment checked. A large stock pot works fine for a boiling water canner if there is space for an inch or more of water over the top of the jars. Use a rack of some kind on the bottom to set jars on so they are not bouncing on the bottom of the pan and you’ll need a good lid that fits.
Pressure canner gauges should be checked each year for accuracy, before you start canning. Most Extension offices offer this service by appointment these days. You can find our schedule at www.facebook.com/MFPofDouglasCountyOR
Please remember Pressure Cookers like the Instant Pot are not safe for canning foods. They are cookers only. More information can be found on page 27 in the Journal of the National Extension Association of Family & Consumer Sciences at www.bit.ly/3tYAQ7O or through the University Utah at www.bit.ly/3eCvVml and www.bit.ly/3dWAadB
We understand many are still having difficulty obtaining lids and in some cases jars. Unfortunately, it looks like this will be the same for 2021 as well. Much of the problem in 2020 was due to hoarding. Now it’s many who can foods regularly are running out of their stock as well. Check stores often, call out of state family or friends to see if they can get some for you.
A word of caution on buying lids from Amazon. We are hearing and seeing that while the private sellers on Amazon are stating they are official Ball canning lids, they are not. They come in packaging that looks like Ball but are very cheap knock offs.
Denise Fennell is the Master Food Preserver Coordinator for OSU Extension Service of Douglas County. Denise can be reached by email [email protected] or phone at 541-236-3049.