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Canning Low Acid Foods


annecros
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I was canning some tomatoes the other day - miles above store bought in every way! It occured to me that living in hurricane land I should be utilizing my jars and pressure canner to can some other goods - but I have always been afraid of canning low acid foods. I don't know why - I was happy to eat my grandmother's canned beans and peas, and she even left a hunk of seasoning meat in each and every quart jar. It would be really nice not to have to depend upon raviolis, tuna and those awful store bought canned veggies when the electricity goes out for a week or two. But it would be really sucky to have to go to the ER with a big fat case of botulism in the middle of a disaster area.

I also have a surplus of squash and zukes that should be preserved. Has anybody tried canning those? My sister suggested making squash pickles, but yikes I've already got enough cukes going that I should be able to keep the family in pickles and give away to the neighbors - I can't imagine another pickle variety in the house. Will be making some corn relish, though.

Has anyone out there ever home canned meat?

Have I allowed the Ball Blue Book and the FDA to instill an unreasonable fear of home canned products in my psyche? My Grandmother and several sisters lived well into thier 90s canning and eating all sorts of stuff on the way.

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Has anyone out there ever home canned meat?

My mom told me her sister, who raised her, canned chicken. Yes, some jars did go bad, but most didn't.

 

“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

 

Tim Oliver

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I looked into this not too long ago. I grew up in Southwest Florida and get careboxes full of citrus from my parents when their trees are especially prolific. I wanted to do something besides freeze the juice, and I looked into canning citrus curd. Here is the information that I found.

http://www.homecanning.com/usa/ALStepbyStep.asp?ST=6

I cannot seem to get that link to work right, but it's www.homecanning.com. They have a link to low acid canning instructions.

Edited by takomabaker (log)
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Have I allowed the Ball Blue Book and the FDA to instill an unreasonable fear of home canned products in my psyche?

Yes. I've got a pantry full of roasted red peppers, poblano strips, wild-collected mushrooms, etc. I use the USDA recommended times and pressures and have never had a problem. I am careful to follow the instructions, though, and if something seems off, looks "slimy" or the lid is bulged, it goes in the trash. If you follow the timing instructions, that happens very rarely if at all. I've canned for more than twenty years, and I only remember losing a few jars.

A few years ago, I got curious, and looked all over the internet trying to find out just how many people actually die from botulism from home-canned goods. It turns out to be about one or two per year, and they ate something that seemed off - usually salsa that wasn't processed long enough.

I'll go looking again for that information. I think it was from the USDA or CDC.

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Has anyone out there ever home canned meat?

My mom told me her sister, who raised her, canned chicken. Yes, some jars did go bad, but most didn't.

Funny you should mention chicken. I was thinking chicken soup (sans the rice or noodles) and chili might be good candidates for this.

I know that my chicken soup and chili are infinitely more nutritious and just plain better tasting than anything Campbell's puts out.

I can live with discarding anything that just isn't right. Soup and chili also both offer the benefit that they have to be brought up to a boil before you consume them. We've got the boiling in a disaster thing down pat, hat tip to Coleman, propane and butane.

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I  looked into this not too long ago. I grew up in Southwest Florida and get careboxes full of citrus from  my parents when their trees are especially prolific. I wanted to do something besides freeze the juice, and I looked into canning citrus curd. Here is the information that I found.

http://www.homecanning.com/usa/ALStepbyStep.asp?ST=6

I cannot seem to get that link to work right, but it's www.homecanning.com. They have a link to low acid canning instructions.

Now that's a good idea. I'll have to look into that next citrus season (limes should be coming in before too long) and having the insides of a Key Lime Pie would be great comfort when sweating and cleaning up debris.

Thanks for the link Dave.

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Have I allowed the Ball Blue Book and the FDA to instill an unreasonable fear of home canned products in my psyche?

Yes. I've got a pantry full of roasted red peppers, poblano strips, wild-collected mushrooms, etc. I use the USDA recommended times and pressures and have never had a problem. I am careful to follow the instructions, though, and if something seems off, looks "slimy" or the lid is bulged, it goes in the trash. If you follow the timing instructions, that happens very rarely if at all. I've canned for more than twenty years, and I only remember losing a few jars.

A few years ago, I got curious, and looked all over the internet trying to find out just how many people actually die from botulism from home-canned goods. It turns out to be about one or two per year, and they ate something that seemed off - usually salsa that wasn't processed long enough.

I'll go looking again for that information. I think it was from the USDA or CDC.

Oh man, peppers! My hubby loves peppers, me not so much. We have more pepper plants than I can count, and hubby actually hand pollenates them! I think he just likes the pretty fruit, and it is sort of a trophy thing for him.

How do you use your poblano strips? I foresee a need to be able to preserve some in the near future... :biggrin:

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Here is the USDA official website for home canning.

There is a whole section on canning meat, poultry, etc.

I have never canned meat or poultry, but I used to dig razor clams when I lived in Washington state, and I canned the clam necks for chowder. Seems like it took an hour or more.

(I was pregnant when I did that, and cleaning the clams bothered me not at all. But the smell of those canned clams when I opened the canner just about did me in. :wacko: )

sparrowgrass
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Except, I never did find anything definitive about homecanning curds, except "don't do it". Most sources suggested freezing it. I have a picture of my nephew doing somersaults in front of my mother's meyer lemon tree, and I was going to make curd to give to everyone with a label using that picture, but I got afraid when I researched it.

Apparently, the butter/dairy in it makes it dangerous to can. But if you find instructions on how to do it safely, PLEASE share. I'm still looking.

I  looked into this not too long ago. I grew up in Southwest Florida and get careboxes full of citrus from  my parents when their trees are especially prolific. I wanted to do something besides freeze the juice, and I looked into canning citrus curd. Here is the information that I found.

http://www.homecanning.com/usa/ALStepbyStep.asp?ST=6

I cannot seem to get that link to work right, but it's www.homecanning.com. They have a link to low acid canning instructions.

Now that's a good idea. I'll have to look into that next citrus season (limes should be coming in before too long) and having the insides of a Key Lime Pie would be great comfort when sweating and cleaning up debris.

Thanks for the link Dave.

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and chili also both offer the benefit that they have to be brought up to a boil before you consume them. We've got the boiling in a disaster thing down pat, hat tip to Coleman, propane and butane.

FWIW, Boiling wont really help with botulism. The bacteria themselves arent the toxic agent, its the toxin they excrete, and that is very heat-stable.

You would have to boil for rather longer than your tastebuds would approve.

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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I have canned just about everything that can be put in a jar, including whole chickens in 1/2 gal wide-mouth jars.

I have a huge pressure canner - too tall to use on the stove - I have a portable propane burner, like the ones made for the turkey fryers, and use it on the deck outside my kitchen. It holds 32 pints, 19 quarts, 6 half-gallons. I think the capacity is 40 quarts.

I have canned all kinds of fruit curds in the pressure canner, no problems.

The main thing is to make sure the top edge of the jar is perfectly clean and dry before the lid is applied as this insures a perfect seal.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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I've never done low acid canning, but if you use a pressure canner and carefully follow the instructions, you should be OK.

A friend once canned all the food she and her boyfriend needed to sail on their boat from San Francisco to Tahiti. I was aghast when she told me, and not about the sailing--about the canning. But she assured me that she pressure-canned everything and was very careful, especially with the meat. She lived to tell the tale and they had a great vacation.

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How do you use your poblano strips? I foresee a need to be able to preserve some in the near future... :biggrin:

I have a recipe for potato/tomato/poblano soup that is great in the winter and can be made in a snap with a jar of poblano strips and a jar of tomatoes. You just throw it in a pot with some stock and some cubed potatoes, simmer until the potatoes are finished, and there you have it. They are also good made into a side dish with black beans and fresh corn. Since they tend to be relatively inconsistent in quality in stores, I buy a bunch of nice ones when I see them.

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I have a portable propane burner, like the ones made for the turkey fryers, and use it on the deck outside my kitchen.

I've thought about this since a full pressure canner heats up the kitchen so much in the summer, but I was worried about regulating the pressure since it's so sensitive (at least mine is). Are the portable burners easy to adjust?

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I put canning low acid foods, picking wild mushrooms and Russian Roulette in the same category. It's just not worth the risk. We can and pickle high acid items and so far, no problems but I am leery of pressure canning.-Dick

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I have a portable propane burner, like the ones made for the turkey fryers, and use it on the deck outside my kitchen.

I've thought about this since a full pressure canner heats up the kitchen so much in the summer, but I was worried about regulating the pressure since it's so sensitive (at least mine is). Are the portable burners easy to adjust?

They are easy to adjust. I put the burner in a corner with a wind screen around it and I try to avoid canning on windy days.

The burner I have has two rings, outer is about 9 inches in diameter, the inner ring 4-5 inches.

I bring the heat up with both rings on then turn the inner one off and lower the flame on the outer ring.

For the big canner (which I checked and found it is a 41 quart) this seems to maintain the most even temp.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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and chili also both offer the benefit that they have to be brought up to a boil before you consume them. We've got the boiling in a disaster thing down pat, hat tip to Coleman, propane and butane.

FWIW, Boiling wont really help with botulism. The bacteria themselves arent the toxic agent, its the toxin they excrete, and that is very heat-stable.

You would have to boil for rather longer than your tastebuds would approve.

Sorry, but this isn't true. It is the spores of botulism bacteria that can tolerate boiling temperatures. If only brought to boiling temperatures, the spores can survive and then proliferate in low acid environments into toxin producing bacteria. This is why it is necessary to use a pressure cooker to process low acid foods; the higher temperatures insure the death of all spores, provided the container is processed long enough for everything to come up to temperature. Botulism toxin is easily destroyed by heat.

As others have said, provided you use a pressure cooker and following processing times carefully, I don't think there is any reason to worry. They have to deal with this in industry too (although they often do use microbe inhibiting agents).

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They are easy to adjust.  I put the burner in a corner with a wind screen around it and I try to avoid canning on windy days. 

The burner I have has two rings, outer is about 9 inches in diameter, the inner ring 4-5 inches. 

I bring the heat up with both rings on then turn the inner one off and lower the flame on the outer ring.

For the big canner (which I checked and found it is a 41 quart) this seems to maintain the most even temp.

Thanks for the advice. I'll start scouting hardware stores.

And Annecros, I hope that we have allayed some of your fears. If you are careful about your timing and follow the usual rule about home-canned food (if it seems iffy, toss it), you can have a pantry full of wonderful food.

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They are easy to adjust.  I put the burner in a corner with a wind screen around it and I try to avoid canning on windy days. 

The burner I have has two rings, outer is about 9 inches in diameter, the inner ring 4-5 inches. 

I bring the heat up with both rings on then turn the inner one off and lower the flame on the outer ring.

For the big canner (which I checked and found it is a 41 quart) this seems to maintain the most even temp.

Thanks for the advice. I'll start scouting hardware stores.

And Annecros, I hope that we have allayed some of your fears. If you are careful about your timing and follow the usual rule about home-canned food (if it seems iffy, toss it), you can have a pantry full of wonderful food.

Actually, you all have, and thank you so much. I have no problem tossing iffy!

It would be really nice, not to mention an incredible comfort, to have something decent out of a jar that looks and tastes like home cooking while dealing with whatever nature brings. In the subtropics, we have different issues with power outages than they do up North when the outages come with cold weather and the porch works as well as the freezer in some unfortunate circumstances.

Canning outside makes so much sense, andiesenji. I am guessing that you prep in the kitchen, and haul the jars out to the pressure cooker. How do you handle them? I always hot pack. Unless it is fridge pickles, then the brine is hot and they go straight to the fridge when cool.

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I sterilize the jars in my dishwasher (one of the reasons I bought a Hobart) transfer them to the canning rack which is placed on a cart, fill with a canning funnel to keep the jar rims clean, cap and roll out to the deck and insert into the canner. I have two racks so while the first batch is processing, I prepare the second one.

Pickles, soft fruits, such as peaches, apricots, whole or sectioned tomatoes, etc., I cold pack and pour the hot syrup over them, cap and process.

Applesauce, apple butter and etc., hot packed,

Anything with meat or poultry is hot packed.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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  • 2 months later...

I guess I'm a little late to this thread but it's right along the lines of what's on my mind.

In the many years I've lived along the coast I keep seeing others canning their own tuna. I tried some a few years ago and it was absolutely wonderful-----night and day better than the store-bought stuff. I have been leery of trying to do this myself because of all the fears---low acid canning, botulism, exploding pressure cookers, etc.

Yesterday, while talking to my neighbor who had just finished canning 100 lbs of Tuna, she explained how easy it is once you know the timing and the general guidelines of canning. She laughed at everyone's fears these days of canning as it used to be something almost everyone did without all this worry.

Anyhow, I'm now on the look-out for a good pressure canner and will soon try to can my own tuna!!

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When I was first married, we canned a lot of low acid foods. Generally, we would freeze vegetables (they taste better) but we canned a lot of salmon and what we called "jug meat"...the trim from butchering deer. One year we put up 54 pints of salmon; we gave salmon as Christmas gifts that year!

We're still alive.

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