Food safety

Take Precautions to Avoid Botulism When Home Canning

One of the biggest risks in home canning is botulism*. Not following directions precisely can be fatal, as was the case in Ohio this past April. The case involved 29 people who ate potato salad made with home-canned potatoes at a church potluck. Of the 29, one died of respiratory failure shortly after arriving at the emergency department.

The person who made the potato salad with the home-canned potatoes made a critical error. The person processed the jars in a boiling water canner instead of a pressure canner. A mistake that cost someone their life.

Low-acid vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, peas, and corn need to be processed in a pressure canner. Pressure canners process food at 240°F or higher. This temperature will eliminate C. botulism spores. A boiling water canner processes at approximately 212°F, not high enough to kill the spores.

Getting the Most from Your Pick-Your-Own Experience

I was out on a farm visit last week and saw strawberries starting to color up! That means the pick-your-own season has begun, and it’s a good time to review strategies for getting the most out of your experience.

Some farms are a little behind schedule this year due to the hard winter and late spring, so the first strategy is to check the website or call the farm ahead of time. You want to make sure they are open and have strawberries available for picking. 

Q. Can you suggest a good source of information on food storage topics ?

Q. Can you suggest a good source of information on food storage topics such as how long fresh eggs keep their quality in the refrigerator or whether I can still eat those jars of home canned green beans I put up three summers ago?

A. The answers to these and many other questions can be found in The Food Keeper, a free publication developed by the Food Marketing Institute in conjunction with Cornell University’s Institute of Food Science. The publication offers information for each food listed about how long it can be stored in a pantry, refrigerator, or freezer for optimal quality and flavor. In addition to extensive lists of refrigerated, frozen, fresh, and shelf-stable foods and condiments, the publication contains information on food safety and proper food storage.

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