Recently in the Grow Sustainab-LEE program, we went over heart healthy cooking and food preservation in our classes. Andrea Haubner, the Family and Consumer Sciences agent at the Lee County, Virginia Cooperative Extension Office, taught our participants how to use their own homegrown produce to cook in a way that is healthy and delicious. Ms. Andrea also taught the Grow participants how to preserve their produce to eat over the long winters here in Lee County by canning excess.
Since we are already on the topic of canning, lets go over some home canning safety. I know that it is hard to step away from the way our ancestors did things, but sometimes, it is the best way to assure that our food is safe and delicious. You should not just pick any recipe on the internet that sounds good. They are often unsafe. You should make sure the recipe you are using is research based and safe. That being said, where can you go to assure you are preserving food safely to prevent foodborne illness in your family and friends? Here are a few resources:
1. National Center for Home Food Preservation
The National Center for Home Food Preservation provides recipes that have been proven safe and effective; however, it also provides information on many home food storage options. On the website, you can also find a wealth of other food preservation options. There are sections on Freezing, Drying, Curing and Smoking, Fermenting, Pickling, and Storing Food.
2. USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning
The canning book is available for printing or order. There are several sections to this guide and each can be printed separately to form the same book available for sale online:
Guide 01: Principles of Home Canning
Guide 02: Selecting, Preparing, and Canning Fruit and Fruit Products
Guide 03: Selecting, Preparing, and Canning Tomatoes and Tomato Products
Guide 04: Selecting, Preparing, and Canning Vegetables and Vegetable Products
Guide 05: Preparing and Canning Poultry, Red Meats, and Seafood
Guide 06: Preparing and Canning Fermented Food and Pickled Vegetables
Guide 07: Preparing and Canning Jams and Jellies
3. So Easy to Preserve
There are many factsheets to refer to from University of Georgia Extension, in addition to the So Easy To Preserve recipe guide book. If you are interested in your own copy of So Easy to Preserve, check with your Family and Consumer Sciences Agent at your local Cooperative Extension office; they may have copies for sale.
4. Your Local Family and Consumer Sciences Agent
Your local FCS agent can help you find resources you are seeking, and can help answer food safety questions addressing the importance of tested home food preservation recipes. In Lee County, as I am sure in other counties, the FCS agent can also check your pressure canning equipment to make sure it is still functioning properly and safely.
These resources are research based and will have you preserving food on your own in no time at all.