Finding Canning Directions on the Internet
Posted: July 25, 2011
The Internet has opened up a world of information for us right from our home! Cathy Guffey, Penn State Extension educator for nutrition, food safety & preservation says, “The Internet is a great source of food preservation information. Unfortunately, it's also a great source of information that may not be based on fact.” So how do you know if what you find can be used to preserve safe, high quality food?
Guffey says, “It's important to use canning directions and recipes that are based on current research.” The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) takes the lead in recommending canning directions and recipes. These have been scientifically tested, usually in University laboratories. Special equipment is used to determine recommended canning methods and processing times and pressures.
A good website to start a search for information is the Penn State Food Preservation website http://extension.psu.edu/food-safety/food-preservation. Here you will find canning directions, recipes, and links to the latest information on home canning and other ways of preserving food. Some of what you'll find includes:
• Link to USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning
• Link to the National Center for Home Food Preservation (NCHFP)
• Link to University of Georgia's So Easy to Preserve book and DVD on canning, freezing and drying
• Penn State Let's Preserve Fact Sheets
• List of sources of supplies and ingredients
• Food preservation questions and answers from Penn State food scientists
• Link to Food Preservation Basics, a free interactive tutorial on home canning from NCHFP
• Link to current issue of Ball Blue Book
• An elevation finder
• List of county extension food preservation contacts
And much more!
In addition to the above sources, other university extension sites should provide reliable information. Recent editions of Ball publications such as the Blue Book and Complete Book of Home Preserving are research-based.
How do you know if a web source is not providing reliable information?
Here are some red flags. If you find any of these, go to another source.
• Be suspicious of short cuts.
• Directions for canning non-pickled vegetables and meats in other than a pressure canner.
• The recipe was 'made-up' or changed by the person providing the information.
• The recipe is said to be an old family recipe.
• The source says it is okay to process jars in the oven, dishwasher, or appliance other than pressure or boiling water canner.
• Instructions say to pour hot food into jars and put on lids with no processing.
Provide safe, tasty home canned foods by using up-to-date research-based directions and recipes! For more information on home food preservation and upcoming classes, contact Cathy Guffey at the Penn State Extension Office in Bradford County at (570) 265-2896 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit her blog at letspreserve.blogspot.com and the county extension website at extension.psu.edu/bradford.