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Home food preservation update. Dr. Ben Chapman Food safety extension specialist Dept of 4-H Youth Dev and FCS [email protected] Recent Illnesses. September 2008 Botulism

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Home food preservation update

Dr. Ben Chapman

Food safety extension specialist

Dept of 4-H Youth Dev and FCS

[email protected]

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Recent Illnesses

September 2008


Ohio man and his grandson were hospitalized as a result of botulism toxin poisoning caused by improperly canned green beans.


Virginia couple died after eating improperly canned foods that also contained botulism toxin.


Home Food Preservation -- Module 1


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Proposed law changes

VA – allow for home acidified foods (pickles/fermented products) to be allowed to be sold at farmers’ markets

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New stuff?

  • Summer squash has been removed

  • Low acid tomato foods – reminders

    • Not all that uniform

    • Just have to assume that tomato foods are low acid

    • add 1 tablespoon of bottled lemon juice or 1⁄4 teaspoon citric acid per pint of tomatoes.

    • For quarts, use 2 tablespoons of bottled lemon juice or 1⁄2 teaspoon citric acid.

    • Acid can be added directly to each jar before filling them with the product.

    • Vinegar can also be used

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New tested recipes available (2009)

  • Tomatillos

  • Easy Hot Sauce

  • Cayenne Pepper Sauce Chile Salsa

  • Tomatillo Green Salsa

  • Tomato Salsa Using Paste Tomatoes

  • Tomato Salsa Using Slicing Tomatoes

  • Tomato/Green Chile Salsa,

  • Tomato/Tomato Paste Salsa

  • Tomato Taco Sauce

Cantaloupe Pickles

Cantaloupe Pickles, No Sugar Added

Cranberry Orange Chutney

Mango Chutney

Mango Sauce

Pears, Asian

Spicy Cranberry Salsa

Mango Salsa

Peach Salsa

Peach Apple Salsa

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New recipes cont.

  • Pickled Jalapeño Pepper Rings

  • Pickled Yellow Pepper Rings

  • Chayote and Pear Relish

  • Spicy Jicama Relish

  • Tangy Tomatillo Relish

  • No Sugar Added Pickled Beets

  • No Sugar Added Sweet Pickle Cucumber Slices

Pickled Asparagus

Pickled Carrots

Pickled Baby Carrots

Chayote and Jicama Slaw

Bread-and-Butter Pickled Jicama

Pickled Pearl Onions

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Is there BPA in canning lids?

Yes, there likely is

Risk of BPA from all food containers is currently being studied and the FDA has not yet changed it’s stance on the chemical

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Where is preservation going?

Some pressure canners and other food preservation supplies triple.

Seed sales up again this year

Increased awareness/desire for local foods

= More preservation needs

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Why Two Ways to Can?

  • Yeast, molds, and most bacteria are destroyed at boiling temperatures -- 212ºF at sea level.

  • C. botulinum forms spores that require higher temperatures for destruction in a reasonable period of time -- usually 240ºF or above at sea level.

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Basics of Canning

  • Food is placed in a jar and heated to a temperature that destroys targeted microorganisms.

  • Heat also inactivates enzymes that cause spoilage.

  • Air is driven from the jar during heating. As the jar cools a vacuum seal is formed.

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High Acid Foods (pH <4.6)

  • All fruits, except for:

    • figs

    • tomatoes, and

    • melons

  • Fermented pickles, such as sauerkraut

  • Acidified foods, such as pickles

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Low-acid Food (pH >4.6)

  • All vegetables, except rhubarb

  • Meats

  • Poultry

  • Seafood

  • Soups

  • Mixed canned foods (low-acid + high-acid)

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Two Methods of Canning

Boiling Water Canning -- used for high-acid foods

Pressure Canning -- used for low-acid foods (and some high-acid foods)

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Botulism and Growth

To grow, the spores need:

  • oxygen-free environment

  • low-acid food

  • temperature between 40ºF to 120ºF

  • relatively high moisture

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Unsafe Canning Methods

  • Open Kettle

  • Oven Canning

  • Dishwasher

  • Addition of Aspirin

  • Steam Canners

  • Microwave Oven Canners

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Process Food Properly: Don’t be Rachel Ray

Encourage following a credible recipe exactly

  • The following slows heat penetration:

    • Extra sugar or fat

    • Oversized food pieces

    • Added thickeners

      Process food properly

  • Heat-up and cool-down times in pressure canners are counted toward sterilizing value of the process. Never rush them.

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How Freezing Affects Food

Chemical changes

  • Enzymes in vegetables

  • Enzymes in fruit

  • Rancidity

    Texture Changes

  • Expansion of food

  • Ice crystals

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Blanching Vegetables

  • Blanch to prevent flavor and color changes.

  • Blanch using water or steam.

  • Water blanching

    • Use 1 gallon water per pound of vegetables.

    • Place vegetables in blanching basket.

    • Lower into vigorously boiling water.

    • Cover and begin timing.

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The Resources

  • So Easy to Preserve, University of Georgia

    • (soeasytopreserve.com)

  • USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning

    • (free download on UGA site)

  • How to Dry Foods, Deanna DeLong

  • The Joy of Winemaking, Terry Garey

  • Canning & Preserving without Sugar, Norma MacRae


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  • Ball Blue books

    • Wal-Mart for $8.95

    • Ordered directly from Jarden for $6.95

    • They can be ordered by calling 1-800-240-3340 and pressing option 3.

    • Also, probably the best choice:

    • http://www.theconsumerlink.com -- $6.04 with shipping and handling

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Selling home preserved foods

  • NCDA resources on this

    • http://www.ncagr.gov/fooddrug/food/homebiz.htm

  • It is okay to sell jams and jellies

  • Acidified foods are allowed but vendors must attend specified training

    • http://ncsu.edu/foodscience/workshops_training.htm

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Preservation Websites

  • National Center for Home Food Preservation

    • www.uga.edu/nchp

  • NC State home food preservation

    • Homefoodpreservation.ncsu.edu

  • Alltrista Consumer Products

    • www.homecanning.com/usa OR 1-800-240-3340

  • USDA guide to home canning

    • http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/publications/publications_usda.html


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Judging suggestions

Tested recipes

Provide processing time

Approved jars

Low acid foods – tasting?

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Teaching preservation

  • Workshops can be broken into:

    • pressure canning

    • jams and jellies

    • freezing and drying

    • salsa and fruit

    • pickling

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Tips and tricks

  • The importance of using real canning jars

  • Having a pressure canner's gauge checked each year

  • Blanching foods before freezing them – why

  • Features to look for in a dehydrator

    • (Air flow is most important)

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Questions from consumers

  • “I opened a jar of tomatoes that I canned last summer and they are not THAT spoiled. Can I heat them up, boil them, and still eat them? They’re not THAT spoiled”

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Questions from consumers

  • “My lids won’t seal, why?”

  • Usually an issue with the jars, not wiping or processing following the recipe

  • Reuse?

  • Not seasoned

  • Overtightening

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Questions from consumers

  • “I have just completed a hot water bath on my green beans and noticed several jars did not seal. What can I do? I processed them for 5 hours.”

    • They can be reprocessed if within 24 hours

    • Hot water bath??? Need to be pressure canned.

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Questions from consumers

  • “I am pressure processing green beans and the power has gone off. What do I do?”

    • How long has it been?

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  • “Must the client's pressure be 'right on the money', the exact pressure, or is any discrepancy allowed.”

    • Less than 2psi difference is fine – needs to be adjusted for

    • See the form at homefoodpreservation.ncsu.edu

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  • “Can one-piece candle lids be used for jams and jellies in place of two-piece canning lids?”

    • Not really

    • The two piece construction including the gasket is necessary to allow air to escape.

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  • “Canning/or storing sun dried tomatoes in olive oil, and also garlic in olive oil, is this okay?”

    • No

    • Botulism has been linked to these products and there isn’t a safe tested recipe available

    • Have to be refrigerated or frozen

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  • “Can I can peas in half-pint jars at a reduced processing time, they are too mushy at 40 min”

    • No – inactivation of spores is unlikely. Not tested.

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  • “Canned apple pie filling in the Fall.  She processed in water bath according to directions.  She said jars they had consumed this Fall and Winter had been fine, but just discovered two jars with mold growing on top.  She does store them under the house in an unheated area.”

    • Could have frozen/cracked seal and allowed for air/mold spores

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  • “Can I process yellow tomatoes quicker than red?”

    • Regardless of variety or color the same processing steps should be used. The color doesn't affect the pH of the tomatoes enough to change the recommendations.

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Questions from consumers

  • “I have canned venison from 1982 in my basement. Is it still safe to eat?”

  • “She canned lard sometime between 1983 and 1985 and wants to know if it is still good to use (eat)”

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Dr. Ben Chapman

[email protected]

Follow me on twitter @benjaminchapman

919 809 3205