Preserving Food Safely Begins With Using The Right Equipment

Posted: September 15, 2014

If you are considering starting to can or freeze produce, make sure you have the right equipment. If you want to can low-acid foods, such as vegetables and meats, you must have a pressure canner...
  • The boiling water bath of processing method may be used to can high acid foods such as fruits, tomatoes and pickles. The temperature of boiling water is high enough to destroy the bacteria, enzymes, molds and yeasts that cause spoilage in acid foods. However, this method does not provide high enough temperatures to destroy botulism spores in low-acid foods like other vegetables and meats.
  • Use Mason jars since they are designed for the high temperatures used in home canning. Mayonnaise jars and other types of glass jars are not recommended because they can break under pressure and heat.
  • Two-piece lids are the only recommended lid for home canning. Purchase new flat lids before the beginning of each season. Screw bands can be reused many times unless they are bent, dented, or rusty.      
  • Make sure you use scientifically tested recipes. If your canning resources are more than 15 years old, you may not be using current practices for safe home canned food.  Some people may think that any recipe can be canned at home, but that is not the case. There are many chances for creativity in cooking, but canning is not one of them. Safe recipes require testing to prevent botulism. So, even though it’s tempting to try home-canning flavored oils or your grandmother’s special sauce, stick with tested recipes from reliable sources. U.S.D.A. Complete Guide to Home Canning and Preserving, 1994 or later edition; Ball’s Complete Book of Home Preserving or Ball’s Blue Book of Preserving, 1994 editions or later; So Easy to Preserve, 5th edition, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension; and other Extension resources are all excellent up-to-date resources.
  • If you’d like to learn more about canning and freezing, plan to attend classes offered by Penn State Extension on Saturday, September 20 at the Clifford Township Community Center, 119 Cemetery Street, Clifford, PA. Home Canning Basics will be offered between 10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Participants will learn how to prepare food and equipment for canning including using boiling water canner and pressure canners. Freezing Fruits and Vegetables will be offered between 1:30 – 3:00 p.m.  Blanching and packaging vegetables for the freezer will be shown and options for sweetening fruits will be shared. The instructor for both classes will be Cathy Guffey, Extension Nutrition, Health, & Food Safety Educator.
  • The cost for each class is $15 per person or two from the same household.  One set of class materials will be given per household.  The fee may be waived based on need. Sign-up is required by September 17. Register online at or call 1-855-394-7534.

Karen Thomas is a family and consumer sciences educator for Penn State Extension in Lackawanna County.