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Nashville, Ark. -The pandemic has convinced many to try their hand at home gardening
this year. There are lots of advantages to growing your own food. Taste, freshness
and knowing where your food comes from are among the top. Maybe you have even considered
preserving the food you grow to help feed your family throughout the year. If you
are planning on canning food at home this growing season, now it the time to prepare
your equipment. Proper equipment in good condition is required for safe, high quality
home canned food.
There are basically two ways to can food – pressure canning and water
bath canning. The type of foods you plan to can will determine which method to use.
A pressure canner is essential for canning low-acid vegetables, meats,
fish, and poultry. There are two basic types of pressure canners, one has a metal
weighted gauge and the other has a dial gauge to indicate the pressure inside the
canner. If you use a pressure canner with a dial gauge, it is important to have the
dial gauge checked every year. The Howard County Extension Office can test dial gauges
at no charge. It takes just a few minutes (usually 5 minutes) to test the gauge for
accuracy. Why test? If your gauge is off by more than two degrees, your food is not
being heated to the proper level to destroy bacteria which may be present. Your food
can ruin, and you will have to throw it away, but more importantly you could be passing
along a food borne illness which could result in severe sickness.
A boiling water canner is needed for canning other foods such as fruits,
pickles, jellies, and jams. It is not used for canning green beans! Only a pressure
canner can be used for low-acid vegetables.
Pressure canners use very little water and rely on steam or pressure to
build up in the canner to process the food. Water bath canners, on the other hand,
are filled with water to a level of 2 inches above the top of the jar. A boiling water
canner should have a flat bottom, so that it fits nicely on the stove top, and a tight-fitting
lid. Both pressure and water bath canners should have a rack in the bottom to raise
jars off the bottom of the canner.
Use only standard tempered glass home canning jars, not used mayonnaise
or pickle jars. It is fine to reuse canning jars if they are not chipped or cracked.
Garage sales can be a great place to locate used canning jars, just make sure they
are designed for canning.
Always use 2-piece lids. There are a lot of craft jars and lids available, make sure
the ones you purchase are for food preservation, not crafts. Purchase lids new each
year (the sealing compound will break down in storage) and sort through screw bands
to make sure they are not rusted.
Other items that come in handy when canning include jar fillers, tongs, air bubble
removers, and lid wands. Tongs should be canning tongs that are used to place and
remove jars from the canner. Kitchen tongs are not designed for lifting jars.
It is highly recommended to use up-to-date canning instructions and recipes. Grandma’s
favorite recipe or a recipe that is all over the internet are not good resources for
reliable safe recipes. If the resource is older than 1994 consider it to be outdated
and not following the most updated recommendations for food safety.
Sources for reliable information, in addition to the Howard County Extension Office,
are the website for the National Center for Home Food Preservation www.uga.edu/nchfp/ and the most recently revised edition of the USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning, also available online for free download at https://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/publications_usda.html. Current editions of books and publications from manufacturers of major canning supplies
such as the Ball Blue Book published after 1994 are also reliable.
The Howard County Extension Service does have available the publication So Easy to Preserve which is a cookbook style resource with hundreds of recipes and complete instructions
for home food preservation at a small cost.
If you want to learn how to preserve the food, consider participating in a Food Preservation
Workshop scheduled for Tuesday, May 18 from 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. at the Howard County
Extension Homemaker Educational Center. A registration fee of $15 will be charged
to cover program materials. Participants will learn to pressure can meats and low-acid
vegetables in this hands-on workshop. If you are interested in participating, you
must call the Extension Office at 870-845-7517 by Friday, May 14. Our office is located
on the second floor of the courthouse in Nashville. You may also email me at email@example.com. If you are interested in having your dial gauge tested, please call the office to
schedule a time. Our office is open from 8:00 – 4:30 Monday through Friday. We do
close for lunch from 12:00-12:30.
Planning ahead can save you time, money, and frustration with home canning. Make it
a happy, safe, and successful canning season by getting prepared before your harvest
is ready. The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture is an equal opportunity/equal
access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to
participate or need materials in another format, please contact the Howard County
Extension Office as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.
Extra Cheesy Lasagna Recipe
This recipe was shared by Emmie T., a member of the Nature Seekers 4-H
Club in Howard County. Emmie received 1st place overall in the recent Dairy Foods Contest sponsored by the Howard County Farm
Bureau Women’s Committee and Extension Homemakers. This recipe is a must for busy
families since it easy to prepare!
By Jean Ince County Extension Agent - Staff ChairThe Cooperative Extension ServiceU of A System Division of Agriculture
Media Contact: Jean Ince County Extension Agent - Staff ChairU of A Division of AgricultureCooperative Extension Service421 N. Main St, Nashville AR 71852 (870) 845-7517 firstname.lastname@example.org
The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative
action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need
materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other
appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay. The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension
and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex,
gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital
or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and
is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.