4 Tips and Reminders for Harvest Preservation
Author – SuzAnne Jorgensen
The golden leaves and the beginning of cooler weather remind us that it is once again harvest season. Whether you are preserving end-of-the-season garden items or canning deer or other game meats, it is important to follow safe canning principles.
Remember to adjust for altitude. Many recipes are written for sea level with a reminder of altitude adjustment in the beginning of the recipe book. For pressure canning in higher altitudes, the pressure is generally increased. For water bath canning, the time is increased. Contact your local USU Extension county office for an altitude chart specific to your county.
Have your pressure canner gauge tested annually. Canner gauges should be tested once a year before canning. Call your local county Extension office for an appointment. In many offices, you can drop your lid (with gauge attached) by their office for testing. Call first to be sure.
Follow an approved, laboratory-tested recipe and don’t make adjustments to recipes.
USDA, Ball (Kerr is now owned by the same company as Ball), the Center for Home Food Preservation, and Land-grant University Extension Services such as USU Extension are the most approved recipe sources. There are many recipes that are passed around that may not be safe. Information can be found on the National Center for Home Food Preservation website at www.uga.edu/nchfpor on the USU Extension website at http://extension.usu.edu/foodpreservation/
Fruits (high acid foods) can be canned in a boiling water canner, and vegetables and meats (low acid foods) need to be pressure canned. Although we think of tomatoes as being acidic and safe for water-bath canning, their pH level usually falls on the border, so acid should be added. Be sure to follow guidelines from an approved source. Do not can tomatoes from a dead or frost-killed vine. When vegetables are added to tomatoes, as with salsa, the pH level is raised and sufficient acid needs to be added to be safe.
Freezing Foods. Foods preserved by freezing do not have as many safety guidelines, and most of the recommendations for freezing are for quality rather than safety. Blanching is recommended for longer-term freezing to stop the enzyme activity and help preserve the quality of the fruits or vegetables.
SuzAnne Jorgensen works with adult and youth groups and individuals to educate them in the areas of canning, food safety, nutrition, finances, small business and many other topics related to home, family and business through Utah State University Extension in Garfield County.