Dust off the canning equipment

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By Melissa Hight, County Extension

In an effort to cut grocery costs, help the family budget and take advantage of fresh, local foods, more people are turning to food preservation this summer. Many people are digging out long-neglected equipment and recipes to do-it-themselves.
The advantages of home canning are lost when inappropriate or unsafe equipment or procedures are used. Why risk the loss of time and produce and possibly make yourself or a family member sick by using an unsafe gauge or out-of-date or untested recipes or procedures?
Using a pressure canner is recommended when preserving all low acid foods such as vegetables, meat or fish. To ensure that the dial gauges on pressure caners are accurate, it is recommended that they be tested yearly. Many fruits—jellies and jams—can be canned using a boiling water bath method.
Testing of your dial gauge is free at N.C. Cooperative Extension, Brunswick County Center at 25 Referendum Drive, Government Complex in Bolivia. This service will be available from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Friday, May 6, and Friday, June 10.
Simply bring the canner lid only, with the gauge attached. It takes a few minutes for the peace-of-mind that comes from knowing the gauge is accurate. Only canners with dial gauges need to be monitored. It is not necessary to check canners with weighted gauges.
If at all possible, the person who will be actually doing the canning should be present during the testing. This will give them the chance to ask any questions they may have on preserving and get up-to-date processing recipes. If you are unable to be there on these dates, simply bring the lid with the gauge attached to the Extension office prior to that day and then pick it up after that Friday.
Cooperative Extension also provides up-to-date food preservation instructions, recipes and tested procedures for canning, freezing, drying and making jams and jellies. For more information on classes that are being offered, call 253-2610.