Canning: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Katie Smith checking in this week for Scott County.

At this week’s Grow Appalachia monthly class, we got the good, the bad, and the ugly about water bath and pressuring canning.

Here’s some good:

-Canning can preserve your produce, meat, beans, sauces, and pretty much any other thing you make in the kitchen for up to a year.

-Leftovers from a huge pot of pinto beans can be pressure canned and kept in the pantry. And we all know that homemade beans far outweigh commercial canned pinto beans.

-High acid foods such as peaches, pears, pickled goods and apple sauces can be canned in a water bath.

-Low acid food such as meats and most vegetables need to be pressure canned in order to preserve the food safely.

-The joy of canning? Listening to the “pop” as each jar seals correctly.

-After sealed jars have completely cooled, remove rings, store them on a string and hang them in a cool, dry place to prevent rust.

-Opening a jar of home canned peaches or green beans in the middle of a cold, dark February day is opening memories of sun, gardens, colors and flavors.

-We all walked home with a new pressure canner, instruction manual, and lots of great ideas!

-One woman in Scott County entered 86 different items in the Scott County Fair last year, many of which were goods that she canned. Along with ribbons, winners receive $1-$3 per item.

-Keep your canning book and all supplies inside the canner, storing them all together.  If you store them separately, you will probably regret it.

Here’s some bad:

-If you don’t follow the directions for how far to fill to fill the jars, such as ¼ inch from the top, the end product may have discoloration. This does not necessarily mean the product has gone bad, but too much space between the product and the top of the jar allows too much air to enter the jar, thus discoloring the product.

-It’s a lot of work…but it is very much worth every minute!

Here’s the ugly:

-Botulism! Follow all directions very carefully. Do not take shortcuts. Do not quick cool your canner. If you follow all directions carefully, you won’t get sick.

-The “old-timers” methods may have worked fine for them for many decades. However, it is not advisable to can green beans in a big pot over a campfire…or any other way/ method that strays from a trustworthy source. Other reliable references include the Ball Guide to Home Preserving and anything your extension office recommends.

Thanks to Theresa Honeycutt for sharing her introduction to canning!

Three excellent canning resources that have been passed down in my family for four generations, complete with great-grandma's hand written notes

Three excellent canning resources that have been passed down in my family for four generations, complete with great-grandma’s hand written notes