Spring is here and the full rollout of canning season is right upon us. Time to dust off the equipment that's been in storage and pull your calendar together to decide what foods you want to eat for the winter months.
If you want to can low acid foods, take the time to properly care for your pressure canner. To make sure your it's ready to go check the gasket and safety valve, lubricate the seals, and that the petcock is debris free. Get your pressure canner gauges tested at your local extension office
Jars, Lids, Rings
Jars can be reused year after year as long as they do not have a chips or cracks on the rim or throughout the body of the jar. It's a sad day when you pull a jar out of the canner that didn't seal because you didn't examine the jars before packing. Just run your finger around the rim to make sure it's smooth and visually check the jar quality for any cracks or flaws. Once you have confirmed you have sound jars or you purchased new ones, make sure to wash them with warm soapy water or run them through the dishwasher.
Lids cannot be reused (or recycled, they need to be tossed in the trash unfortunately). There has been an issue getting lids these past few years as the pandemic forced folks home and they took up crafting. Lids were scarce but it's getting easier to find them so pick some up when you are out and check the date on the lids. The National Center for Home Food Preservation (NCHFP) says "gaskets in unused lids work well for at least 5 years from date of manufacture."
Rings can be reused, like jars but they definitely have a shorter life span. Check your rings for rust which can occur during storage, even if you put them away clean and dry. In my experience, the lifespan of a ring is about 3-5 uses before the rust sets in.
Produce/Food For Jars
If you are like me and don't enjoy gardening, Pick Your Own website has a list of local farms separated by state and county to make it easy to find the produce you are looking for. They also have canning and gardening tips as well. It's a wonderful resource! https://www.pickyourown.org/
Or, get your garden ready and start planting your favorites. It is fulfilling to preserve what you grow. Your local extension office is available with Master Gardeners who are ready to answer any gardening questions you have so keep their information close. The USDA also provides a Hardiness Zone Map to help you plan/plant your garden. Their link is: https://garden.org/nga/zipzone/
High and low acid foods are all processed at different times. In an effort to keep you and your loved one's safe and on track, Oregon State University Extension has created a canning timer and check list app to help plan out your day.
If you are temped to use an old canning book or use recipes that have been passed down from family members, make sure to check out these links below to make sure you are using the most up to date, tested recipes and procedures. Food safety is serious and they are here to help.
The National Center for Home Food Preservation is an amazing resource set up to help food preservers of all skill levels (including me!) https://nchfp.uga.edu/how/general/equp_methods_not_recommended.html
As always, contact your local extension office. They really are a great resource and happy are happy to help. Plus, they know your area best and can guide you with up to date, accurate information.
I'm also available to answer questions and I do for lots of folks. Feel free to reach out and I will do my best to assist.
Until next time, Happy Canning!