Friday, October 3, 2014

Canning: Safety First!



Now, that I have teased you by sharing my Pantry and my First Adventure in Pressure Canning posts I want to share some safety information before I start sharing the recipes I have used!

If you take one thing from this post, this is it:
 I want to encourage you to find recipes from trusted, credible sources.
 With that said, have I brought you back to high school english class when your learning to write a research paper? Where you have to find good, credible sources?

This is a hard, but very important step to canning. It's all about safety.
Especially with everyone and anyone being able to post (me included) recipes online. 
Did I lose you yet? While I love to browse pinterest,  and the internet for canning recipes to try,
 I am finding that I am confusing and second guessing myself. Which could be a good or bad thing.
Think about it: one typo could change your canned good from safe to not safe, also known as botulism. 

So, if you plan on canning get yourself some canning books and/or reputable websites. 
They really are good to have on hand in case you find yourself second guessing yourself! Recently I found a recipe online I wanted to try, so I looked in my canning books to see if it was in one of my books. Guess what there it was, and the processing time was three times longer. So, I used the recipe from online, alongside of the book and processed for the longer time. It's all about safety for me, and if taking that extra 20 minutes to have it in the canner (while I clean my kitchen) and it makes sure that my product is shelf stable it is worth taking the time and checking in a book.

The books that I reference the most are:
 Ball Blue Book: The Guide to Home Canning and Freezing
Putting Food By: The No, 1 Book about All the Safe Ways to Preserve Food

 Websites I have referenced:

I've found some recipes that I like on pinterest, and then referenced my books to find they are the exact same which is perfect! No second guessing. Or I've gone and found nothing similar and wanted to pull my hair out. This is where I either keep searching or maybe not try that recipe, because I am unsure if it is safe. It might sound extreme but since I am still fairly new to canning I want to find good recipes that I can pass down for years to come!

If you know me, you know I was a terrible baker. My problem was that when I cook I like to edit/alter recipes. With baking I learned (and now canning) that is a big no no! You have to trust and stick with the recipe, hence me going on and on about trusted recipes and sources.

Safe canning is about the acidity. If you find a recipe you like, but don't want to puree it, don't. That's the only time I shy away from a recipe. The acidity is about what is in the recipe, not the texture of it. For example, I found a really great tomato sauce recipe (that I will share next week) that I love the flavor of. But instead of simmering it and waiting for it to thicken, I roast my tomatoes down (in the quantity the recipe states) then puree it in the blender. I didn't change the acidity, just the process. 



Now, back to some canning basics.

There are two different types of canning. Hot Water Bath Canning and Pressure Canning.

I could go on an on about the pros and cons, similarities and differences, high acid and low acid.
But that would take a while...So I'll give you a quick run down... 
Or cliff's notes so to speak (again with the high school english class reference!)

Hot Water Bath Canning: Cheaper investment in the beginning, introduces you to canning, allows you to can high acid foods.

Pressure Canning: More expensive investment in the beginning, extends your canning abilities, allows you to can low acid foods

With that said: Both types of canning are easy to do. Really. 
Even if you have a mishap the very first time... Trust me I did. 
Canning is easy. Especially if you are using trusted recipes, fresh produce and clean equipment. 
With this out of the way, now it's on to the fun stuff! Actually canning!