Scary Food Preservation Story

Scary StoryStocking up on stories to keep you awake at night? Here’s one just in time for Halloween.

One of the clerks at The Mending Shed in Orem told me of a man who came in to buy some canning supplies. He mentioned he was canning some taco soup—in half gallon jars. Startled, the clerk dug a bit deeper, asking about his pressure canning time for a half-gallon jar. The man responded, “Oh, no! the soup goes in the jars boiling hot, so the lids seal without any processing.”


Taco soup, typically with tomatoes, peppers, ground beef, corn and beans, is low acid—to simply put it in a jar and onto the shelf is an ideal place for botulism to grow. There’s no oxygen, it’s wet, it’s low acid, and it’s a nice, comfortable room temperature. The protein coated spore produced by the Clostridium botulinum bacteria will open up, releasing and multiplying its deadly toxin. It’s not a gas-former, it won’t smell, it will just poison whoever is unfortunate enough to eat it.

Proper pressure canning time at temperatures above 240o F (which takes 13 to 15 pounds of pressure at our altitude) is the only way to destroy the spores of Clostridium botulinum bacteria.

Another FYI: Lids on canning jars will “seal” briefly with simply a change in temperature, but bacteria in the food has not been killed, and the seal will not last.

Don’t “wake up dead” this Halloween! Use research-based canning recipes found on any Cooperative Extension site, the National Center for Home Food Preservation, or Ball Canning.

This article was written by Cathy Merrill, USU Extension Assistant Professor, Utah County


Ask an Expert // What should I do with all these dried beans?

Dried BeansDried beans can be a great addition to your pantry and food storage. Read on to find out how to properly store and preserve dried beans.

This time of year, case lot sales are common. Among bulk items being offered are several foods known to store well for several years, when handled properly. Among those food items are several types of dried beans, sold in paper or plastic packaging.

Unless your family cooks with beans on a regular basis, a 25-pound bag of dried beans may seem a bit intimidating, or even impossible, to use up within the foreseeable future. If this sounds like you, here are some storage options to consider so you will have quality beans available when you need them for months or years ahead.

Utah State University Extension provides the following information to consumers wishing to add dried beans to their long-term food storage.

Storing dried beans

Quality & Purchase. For the most part, dry beans are graded U.S. No.1 (best) through U.S. No. 3, based on defects. Lesser quality beans are generally graded “substandard” or “sample.”

Packaging. Like most stored foods, beans are best stored in the absence of oxygen and light. Oxygen can lead to rancidity of bean oils and light will quickly fade bean color. The best packaging choices are #10 cans or Mylar-type bags. Canning jars are suitable for smaller quantities providing the jars are stored in a dark place. Oxygen absorbers should be used to remove oxygen from the packages to extend shelf life and minimize off-flavors.

Storage Conditions. Beans in normal polyethylene (food-grade) bags have a shelf life of 1 year or more. Like most stored foods, colder storage temperatures will increase shelf life. When packaged in #10 cans or Mylar-type bags, with the oxygen removed, they have a shelf life of 10 years or more. A BYU study indicated that samples that had been stored up to 30 years had greater than 80 percent acceptance by a consumer taste panel for emergency food use.

Use from storage. All dried beans, except lentils and split peas, require soaking in water for rehydration. Typically, 3 cups of water are needed for every 1 cup of dried beans. Allow beans to soak overnight and then rinse them in clean water. To cook beans, cover rehydrated beans with water in a stock pot. Simmer for 2-4 hours until beans are tender. Once tender they can be spiced and used in cooking recipes. As dried beans age, the seeds become harder. This results in longer rehydration and cooking times. At some point, the seeds will no longer rehydrate, and in that case, must be ground as bean flour. 

Preserving Dried Beans

It is common for home food preservers to “bottle” or “can” dried beans so they are hydrated and ready to use in recipes. For safety reasons, it is important to follow current guidelines for preserving dried beans as described by the National Center for Home Food Preservation. If you are new to pressure canning, visit this website and read how to safely use a pressure canner or contact your local county Extension office.

Procedure: Place dried beans or peas in a large pot and cover with water. Soak 12 to 18 hours in a cool place. Drain water. To quickly hydrate beans, you may cover sorted and washed beans with boiling water in a saucepan. Boil 2 minutes, remove from heat, soak 1 hour and drain.

Cover beans soaked by either method with fresh water and boil 30 minutes. Add ½ teaspoon of salt per pint or 1 teaspoon per quart to the jar, if desired. Fill jars with beans or peas and cooking water, leaving 1-inch headspace. Adjust lids and process as a hot pack;  pints for 75 minutes; quarts 90 minutes at 15 pounds pressure (altitudes 3,000-6,000 ft.) or 13 pounds with a dial-type gauge tested for accuracy by the local Extension office. WARNING: Do not place dried beans in a jar and add water as a method to prepare beans for processing. To guarantee safety, beans must be hydrated first!

Whenever you get in the mood for fresh-cooked chili, humus, beans and ham hocks or refried beans, having quality beans on hand that have been prepared and stored properly will be a great asset to your menus.

Kathleen Riggs is the Utah State University Extension family and consumer sciences professor for Iron County. Questions or comments may be sent to Kathleen.riggs@usu.edu or call 435-586-8132.


Ask an Expert // Which preservation method should I use?

preserve foodInterested in food preservation, but not sure where to start? Here’s a great overview of the different methods for preserving food. Which one is right for you?

There are many ways to preserve food beyond the traditional bottling most people consider “canning.” All of the methods help you take advantage of seasonal abundance or food market sales.  Here are the Big Four, soon to become the Big Five, with pros and cons attached to help you make your decision

1. Freezing

Advantages: Freezing yields the freshest taste, and has the highest nutrition retention.

Disadvantages: In most cases, product must be thawed or cooked before use. Fruit can be limp when thawed. This can be overcome by serving fruits when still half-frozen.

Level of Preparation Difficulty: Easy— vegetables typically need to be blanched before freezing for highest quality. In most cases you simply put the product in a bag, label it, and put it in the freezer.

Cost: A freezer is a major expense, but they last a long time. Otherwise, cost is minimal: freezer bags or containers and electricity.

Storage time: For best quality, use frozen foods within three to six months. Frozen food is safe to eat as long as it is frozen.

Important food safety note: Freezing does not kill any bacteria, the cold temperature only keeps the bacteria from growing. When frozen product thaws, bacteria starts growing again.

2. Dehydrating (Drying)

Advantages: Dehydrated foods are lightweight, and don’t take up much storage space, making great packable snacks or meals. Home dehydrated foods are healthier than many packaged snacks because they don’t have commercial additives. Dehydrating yourself is cheaper than buying commercially dried fruits and vegetables.

Disadvantages: Lowest nutrition retention of food preservation methods—but still healthier than a store-bought snack. Product shrinks down, which makes for easy storage, but also appears to have a small yield because of that. Rehydrating a dried product does not mean the produce rehydrates to the level of fresh. It will be chewier than a fresh product.

Level of preparation difficulty: Easy— children love to dehydrate. Produce needs to be sliced around 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick.  Most vegetables (excluding peppers and onions) need to be blanched prior to dehydrating for best results.

Cost: Usually under $100 for a small electric dehydrator—at garage sales, even less.  Make sure to wash and sanitize a used dehydrator.

Storage time: Product is best when used within 6 months to a year, and is safe for longer if it is kept dry. Dehydrated products will mold if not kept dry.

Food Safety Note: Dehydrating is like freezing, it does not kill bacteria. It merely puts the bacteria in a state too dry to reproduce.

3. Boiling Water Bath Canning

Advantages:  Foods preserved in a boiling water bath canner do not need refrigeration, and can be used directly out of the jar. This method yields good nutrition retention, fresh taste, and is easy to use in cooking and food preparation. This is what most people think of when considering “canning.” Useful for fruits, pickled products, salsas, jams and jellies.

Disadvantages: This food preservation method can only be used for high acid fruits, jams and jellies, or pickles. It requires both the preparation time and processing time in the water bath canner.

Level of preparation difficulty: Moderate. Follow a research-based USDA or Extension recipe for safety and best results. See http://nchfp.uga.edu/  for online instructions and recipes.

Cost: You will need a  3- 5 gallon stock pot with a lid that allows for a trivet to keep the jars from direct contact with the bottom of the pan, and is deep enough to cover the jars with 2 inches of water above the jars. Commercial canners are around $30 – $40. Electric water bath canners are available for around $130. Canning jars are between $8 to $10 per dozen, although garage sales often have canning jars for cheaper. Only real canning jars (Ball, Kerr, Golden Harvest, Mason are typical brands) can be used: Salad dressing or mayonnaise jars are not strong enough. Canning lids need to be bought annually, but the bands and jars can be reused for years. One-piece Tattler lids are not USDA recommended at this time.

Storage time: Foods preserved with this method should be used within 1 to 2 years.

Food safety note: The boiling water bath method kills most yeasts and molds in high acid foods. If you open a jar and smell fermentation or see mold, throw the jar away.

4. Pressure canning

Advantages: This is a great way to can low acid foods for home use. Properly done, it is as safe as commercial products, but there is more personal control over the content.

Disadvantages: Pressure canning must be done according to research-based methods in order to be safe! Canned low acid vegetables and meats are prime targets for the growth of the deadly botulism toxin.  See http://nchfp.uga.edu/  for online instructions and recipes.

Level of preparation difficulty: Difficult, mainly because of the time involved. Once the food is prepared for the jars, the pressure canner must be closely watched to make sure the pressure consistently stays at the 13 to 15 pounds of pressure needed to be safe at Utah altitudes for the correct amount of time.

Cost: The cost of a pressure canner ranges from $150 to $300. A pressure cooker is too small to be a pressure canner. Electric pressure cookers that claim to also pressure can are not recommended because they cannot hold 15 pounds of pressure for as long as it needs to be held at our altitude for safe canning. The cost of jars and lids is the same as for water bath canning.

Storage time: Foods preserved with this method should be used within 1 to 2 years.

Food safety note: If properly canned using a USDA or Extension tested recipe, the temperatures reached in a pressure canner should kill botulism spores, which create the botulism toxin. It is recommended to boil any low acid canned product for 15 minutes before eating as an additional safeguard, but anything that seems suspicious of spoilage should be thrown away rather than eaten.

5. Home freeze-dryer

Advantages: This method yields fresh taste, great nutrition retention, and preparation is easy (same as freezing or dehydrating).

Disadvantages: Freeze drying machines are expensive, noisy,  and take up space—they are quite large: the mid-size model is the size of a dishwasher, the small is the size of a student refrigerator. When the vacuum pump goes on, it is noisier than a dishwasher.

Level of preparation difficulty: Easy—the same preparation as for freezing or dehydrating. The time for processing is typically 24 hours or more, but it doesn’t need to be watched to do the processing.

Cost: Freeze drying machines cost $2500 and up, and require special vacuum pump oil.

Storage time: Home freeze-dryers are new, so definitive time studies have not been done. It is estimated the product is safe for around 10 years.

Food safety note: Freeze-drying does not kill bacteria. The same food safety recommendations as for either freezing or drying hold true here: once the product is rehydrated, the bacteria begin to grow again.

Home food preservation is an important skill to have. It saves money, gives control over content, and focuses your mind on healthy eating. Choose a process and enjoy the bounty!

This article was written by Cathy Merrill, USU Extension Assistant Professor, Utah County





Chill Out! Tips for Freezing Fresh Produce

chill outDuring the summer, fruits and vegetables are abundant — so don’t waste the opportunity for fresh produce because you may not have time to bottle it. Chill out: Use your freezer!

Freezing is safe, fast and gives the freshest taste with the highest nutrition of any preservation method. Freezing doesn’t kill bacteria—so make sure you wash and package your produce well–but it does slow or prevent bacterial growth because of the low temperatures.

A few tips:

  • Freezers should be kept at 0º F
  • Package in rigid, freezer-safe containers or freezer bags. Make sure to label them!
  • Vegetables are best blanched and cooled before being frozen. It stops the ripening action.
    • There are a few exceptions: Sweet or hot peppers can be washed and thrown in freezer bags to be used later in salsas or ….whatever! Onions may also be frozen without blanching—but double bag them to prevent odor transfers to other foods.
  • Fruits typically need no pretreatment, but for convenience sake, wash/drain, then freeze the individual pieces of fruit on a tray. Once they are frozen (about an hour), take them off the tray and put them in freezer bags. When you want to eat them, you can take out the amount you plan to use, rather than thawing the entire bag.
  • For small berries, the less handling the better. Wash/drain them and put them in one layer in a freezer bag. Put the freezer bags flat on the tray in the freezer. That way they freeze as individual pieces, but you aren’t repacking and breaking them in pieces.
  • For best quality, do not let frozen fruit totally thaw before eating: the freezing process damages the cell structure and they tend to be mushy. Put them out to eat when they still have ice crystals on them.
  • Tomatoes can be washed and frozen to be used in salsa later with their peelings on. To peel the skins later, pour boiling water over them, and the peelings will slip off. Let the tomatoes thaw a little before trying to chop them for the salsa.
  • Measure any fruit to be used in a recipe while it is still a little frozen to get a realistic picture of how much you are using. Include any liquid from the thawing in the measurement.

For more information, look in the freezing section of the National Center for Home Food Preservation website.

Chill out—and enjoy the fruits of your labors!

This article was written by Cathy Merrill, FCS Extension Assistant Professor, USU Extension, Utah County

Good News for Steam Canner Use!

Steam CanningGrandma used a steam canner all summer long, but you’ve heard they are not safe. Read up on what the latest research has to say about steam canning.

For decades, home food preservers have been told that boiling water-bath canners were the only approved way to process high acid foods (fruits, pickles, jams and jellies). The main reason for the recommendation was because there had not been adequate research performed on steam canners to the satisfaction of food preservation specialists at USDA and the National Center for Home Food Preservation (NCHFP).

In an article published in Food Protection Trends titled, “Atmospheric Steam Canners Can Provide a Safe Alternative to Boiling Water Canning for Acid Foods,” authors including Drs. Barbara Ingham, University of Wisconsin, and Elizabeth Andress, Director of the NCHFP, provide the conditions and guidelines for safely using steam canners at home. These are summarized below.

1- Process only food products that are high in acid in an atmospheric steam canner; the food pH must be less than or equal to pH 4.6. Low acid foods (including meat and vegetables) must still be processed using a steam pressure canner.

2- Use a current, research-tested recipe developed for boiling water canners with steam canners. Approved recipes may be found in the USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning, at the National Center for Home Food Processing and Preservation (nchfp.uga.edu) or in the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving but not in atmospheric steam canner instruction booklets. Factsheets and booklets produced by University Extension offices throughout the country are also approved when they reference one or more of these sources.

3- Monitor temperature in the steam canner to make sure that the process time begins only when the temperature of pure steam is reached. To better facilitate this, some steam canners are equipped with a built-in temperature sensor in the dome lid. Note that 212 F cannot reached at high altitudes without the use of steam under pressure. Therefore, additional processing time is required to effectively kill harmful bacteria/micro-organisms.

4- Heat jars prior to filling. Keep jars hot prior to the start of the processing time. To minimize cooling of jars, preheat both steam canners and boiling water canners before adding hot jars filled with food.

5- Make altitude adjustments. For elevations above 1,000 feet, the increased processing times recommended in research-tested recipes for boiling water canners should be followed.

6- To prevent the canner from boiling dry, limit processing time to 45 minutes or less. This exempts many tomato products —  especially those in quart-sized jars. Consumers must not open the canner to add water during the process; doing so will lower the temperature and may result in under-processed, unsafe food.

7- Cool jars in still, ambient (room) temperature air. Most microbial kill occurs during air cooling; thus the cooling procedure is extremely important. Do not cool jars in water, in the refrigerator, in front of a fan or by hastening the cooling process in any other way.

To access the complete article describing safely using atmospheric steam canners, visit http://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/nchfp/factsheets/steam_canners.html. If you have further questions regarding any of the above guidelines, please contact your local USU Extension Office.

Kathleen Riggs is the Utah State University Extension family and consumer sciences professor for Iron County. Questions or comments may be sent to kathleen.riggs@usu.edu or call 435-586-8132.


Three Ways to Preserve Zucchini

Preserve Zucchini.jpg

Do you have more zucchini than you know what to do with? Don’t throw it out, try preserving it! Watch our latest segment on Studio 5 to learn three ways to preserve zucchini. Read on for the recipes we mentioned in the show.

Ztudio 5 Zucchini

Dried Zucchini

Cut washed zucchini in 1/4 inch slices and dry in food dehydrator.  Use dried zucchini in soup, chili, or casseroles.

Frozen Zucchini

Prepare zucchini for freezing by cutting it the way you like to eat it (cubed, shredded, spiralized, sliced, etc.). Blanch zucchini in boiling water or steam, then cool in an ice bath before freezing.

Ultimate Zucchini Brownies


  • 2 cups zucchini (fresh or frozen)
  • ½ cup oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • ½ cup cocoa
  • 1 cup chocolate chips


In a large bowl, mix together zucchini, oil and vanilla. Add in flour, sugar, salt, soda, and cocoa. Stir to combine. Mix will seem very dry (depending on how wet the zucchini is), but continue stirring until mix comes together and resembles stiff cookie dough. Fold in chocolate chips. Spread into a 9×13 baking dish, lined with aluminum foil and sprayed with cooking spray. Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes. Once cool, use foil ends to lift out of baking dish. Cut brownies into desired size, and dust with powdered sugar before serving.

Canned Zucchini

Because zucchini is a low-acid food, it can only be processed safely if acid is added. You’ll probably find two recipe types for canning zucchini— pickles or relishes, and pineapple zucchini or zucchini marmalades. Be sure to use recipes from reliable sources such as Ball, the National Center for Home Food Preservation, or USU Extension. Recipes from these sources have been tested and scientifically proven to be safe.

Zucchini Relish

Yield: about 4 half-pint jars

This Recipe was taken from the Ball Blue Book. Serve with hotdogs, hamburgers, sloppy joe’s, pulled pork sandwiches, or tuna salad. 


  • 2 cups zucchini, chopped or shredded (about three medium)
  • 1 cup chopped onion (about 1 medium)
  • ½ cup chopped green bell pepper
  • ½ cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 ¾ cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons celery seed
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seed
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric (optional)
  • 1 cup cider vinegar, 5% acidity
  • Ball Pickle Crisp (optional)


Wash zucchini and green and red bell peppers under cold running water; drain. Remove stems and blossom ends from zucchini. Chop or shred zucchini; measure 2 cups chopped or shredded zucchini. Peel onion and chop; measure 1 cup chopped onion. Remove stems and seeds from green and red bell peppers. Chop green bell pepper; measure ½ cup chopped green bell pepper. Chop red bell pepper; measure ½ cup chopped red bell pepper. Combine zucchini, onion, green pepper, and red bell pepper in a large bowl. Sprinkle salt over vegetables. Pour cold water over vegetables just to cover. Let stand 2 hours. Drain vegetables. Rinse vegetables under cold water, drain.

Combine sugar, spices, and vinegar in a large saucepan. Bring mixture to a simmer (180°F). Add vegetables; simmer 10 minutes.

Pack hot relish into a hot jar, leaving ½ inch headspace. Add 1/16 teaspoon Pickle Crisp to half-pint jar, if desired. Remove air bubbles. Clean jar rim. Center lid on jar and adjust band to fingertip-tight. Place jar on the rack elevated over simmering water (180°F) in boiling-water canner. Repeat until all jars are filled.

Lower the rack into simmering water. Water must cover jars by 1 inch. Adjust heat to medium-high, cover canner and bring water to a rolling boil. Process half-pint jars 10 minutes (add 10 minutes to adjust for altitude in Utah). Turn off heat and remove cover. Let jars cool 5 minutes. Remove jars from Canner; do not retighten bands if loose. Cool 12 hours. Check seals. Label and store jars.

Pineapple Zucchini

Yield: about 8 pint jars

Use pineapple zucchini any way you would use canned pineapple. Try it baked into muffins, quick breads, or cakes. Mix it in with your fruit salad, or blended into a smoothie.


  • 4 quarts ½-inch cubed or shredded zucchini (about 32 small, or 2 monstrous)
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 46 ounces bottled unsweetened pineapple juice
  • 1 ½ cups bottled lemon juice


Wash zucchini under cold running water; drain. Remove stem and blossom ends. Peel zucchini and cut in half lengthwise. Remove seeds. Cut zucchini into ½-inch cubes or shred it using a food grater.

Combine zucchini, sugar, pineapple juice, and lemon juice in a large saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to a simmer (180°F). Simmer 20 minutes, stirring to prevent sticking.

Pack hot zucchini and juice into a hot jar, leaving ½ inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Clean jar rim. Center lid on jar and adjust band to fingertip-tight. Place jar on the rack elevated over simmering water (180°F) in boiling water canner. Repeat until all jars are filled.

Lower the rack into simmering water; water must cover jars by 1 inch. Adjust heat to medium-high, cover canner and bring water to a rolling boil. Process pint jars 15 minutes. Turn off heat and remove cover. Let jars cool 5 minutes. Remove jars from canner; do not retighten bands if loose. Cool 12 hours. Test seals. Label and store jars.

Note: Use only commercial bottled pineapple juice and bottled lemon juice in this recipe to achieve the correct pH level (acidity) for safe processing in a boiling-water canner.

Hummingbird Muffins


  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup whole wheat flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup mashed banana (2 ripe bananas)
  • ½ cup pineapple zucchini, with juice
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 300°F. Spread pecans onto a lined baking pan. Toast for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven, let cool, and then chop. Turn oven up to 350°F (177°C), then prepare muffin tin by coating with cooking spray.

Whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, and salt together in a large bowl.

Whisk the rest of the cake ingredients in a medium bowl. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and whisk until just. Fold in 1/2 cup toasted pecans.

Fill each muffin space ¾ full, and top with remaining pecans (if icing, reserve pecan garnish for after baking). Bake for 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove muffins from tin and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

Pineapple Yogurt Icing (optional)
Whisk together 2 tablespoons Greek yogurt, 1 cup powdered sugar, and 1 tablespoon juice from pineapple zucchini. Add more juice as needed until icing is pourable consistency. Drizzle muffins with icing, and top with remaining pecans.


Learn More

Preserve the Harvest: Zucchini

Save Your Summer Harvest: Freezing Vegetables

4 Tips for Food Dehydrating


Pumpkin Zucchini Bread

Fresh Zucchini Salad

Cooking in Season: Summer Squash

This article was written by Marta Nielsen, Editor of Live Well Utah, Wasatch Front Marketing Assistant for USU Extension

Home Preserving Resource Roundup

Home Preserving RoundupAre you interested in canning and preserving your own food? Check out these upcoming classes, or learn about the dos and don’ts of home preserving from this roundup of videos and blogs from USU Extension.

Canning Resources

Shelf-life of Home Preserved Foods

7 Foods You Shouldn’t Can at Home

5 Tips for Failproof Home Preserving

Steam Canning Uncovered

Freezing Vegetables

Making Homemade Jams and Jellies

Plan Today to Preserve Tomorrow

5 Fruit Freezing Tips

How to Preserve Wild Game

Home Canning No-no’s

4 Tips and Reminders for Harvest Preservation

How to Can Apricots

Where to Go for Safe Canning Recipes

Master Preserver Program

Do you enjoy the art and science of food preservation and canning? Become a Master Food Preserver. Register here for the Salt Lake County Master Preserver Program, July 25, 26 and 27, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Contact your county USU Extension office to find out about the Master Preserver Program in your county.

Weber County Master Food Preserver Classes (can be taken individually or as a series)

Canning Pickles and Relish, July 11 — 11:30 – 2:30 p.m.
Canning Fruits, July 13 — 8 – 11 a.m.
Jams, Jellies and Spreads, July 13 — 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Freeze Drying and Dehydrating Veggies and Meats, July 18 — 8 – 11 a.m.
Dehydrating Fruit and Fruit Leathers, July 18 — 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Pressure Canning Low Acid Foods, July 20 — 8 – 11 a.m.
Freezing, July 20 — 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Canning Tomatoes and Tomato Mixtures, July 25 — 8 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Wrap Up and Final Exam, July 27 — 8 a.m. – 1 p.m.

All classes will be held at Roy High  School, FACS kitchens, North West side of school. Find out more and register here

Individual Canning Classes

Weber County


Canning Tomatoes and Tomato Mixtures (salsa included)
August 15 — 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.
Pressure Canning September 19 — 6 p.m.

All classes will be held at USU Extension Weber County office — 181 North Fairgrounds Dr., Ogden.

Davis County

Freezing/Dehydrating July 26 — 9 a.m.-noon
Jams/Jellies August 2 — 9 a.m.- noon
Fruit Canning August 9 — 3 – 6 p.m.
Tomato Canning August 16 — 9 a.m.-noon

All classes will be held at the USU Botanical Center, Utah House — 920 South 50 West, Kaysville

Utah County

Canning: Safe, Easy Basics June 20 — 7-9 p.m.
Canning: Tomatoes and Salsas June 27 — 7-9 p.m.
Canning: Pressure Method for Meats and Vegetables June 27 — 7-9 p.m.
No Can “Canning”—Freezing and Dehydrating June 29 — 7-9 p.m.

All classes will be held at Utah Valley University To register, call 801-863-8012 or visit uvu.edu/ce

Visit canning.usu.edu for more online canning resources from USU Extension. Find more classes near you at http://extension.usu.edu/calendar.

Pumpkins // More Than Just Jack-o-lanterns


It’s pumpkin season! We’ve got all you need to know about preserving your favorite orange squash, from drying to canning. 

Pumpkins are just about everywhere this time of year. As you harvest or purchase pumpkins for carving, be sure to save the seeds for later. Also, if you have an extra pumpkin or have orange squash from your garden, keep in mind that it can be preserved and used in future recipes. Here are some great tips and guidelines from the National Center for Home Food Preservation to make the most of this year’s pumpkin season.

Dried Pumpkin Seeds

Carefully wash pumpkin seeds to remove the clinging fibrous pumpkin tissue. Pumpkin seeds can be dried in the sun, in an electric dehydrator at 115-120 F for 1 to 2 hours or in an oven on a very low, warm temperature only, for 3 to 4 hours. Stir frequently to avoid scorching. Dried seeds should not be stored with any moisture left in them.

Dried Pumpkin and Pumpkin Leather

Wash, peel and remove fibers and seeds from pumpkin (or Hubbard squash) flesh. Cut into small, thin strips no more than 1-inch wide by 1/8-inch thick. Blanch strips over steam for 3 minutes and dip briefly in cold water to stop the blanching action.  There is no need to cool to room temperature prior to drying. Drain excess moisture. Dry the strips in an electric dehydrator until brittle.

Pumpkin also makes excellent dried vegetable leather. Purée cooked pumpkin and strain. Add honey and spices, then dry on a home food dehydrator tray. Read more here.

Freezing Pumpkin

Freezing is the easiest way to preserve pumpkin, and it yields the best quality product. Select full-colored mature pumpkin with fine texture (not stringy or dry). Wash, cut into cooking-size sections and remove seeds. Cook until soft in boiling water, in steam, in a pressure cooker or in an oven. Remove pulp from rind and mash. To cool, place pan containing pumpkin in cold water and stir occasionally. Pack into rigid containers leaving headspace and freeze.

Canning Pumpkin

Only pressure canning methods are recommended for canning cubed pumpkin. We have no properly researched directions to recommend for canning mashed or pureed pumpkin or winter squash, pumpkin butter or any other pumpkin preserves (jams, jellies, etc.). To be safe, all low-acid foods, including pumpkin, must be canned using tested pressure canning processes. Older methods, such as boiling water canning for vegetables, oven canning and open-kettle canning, have been discredited and can be hazardous. Small-size pumpkins (sugar or pie varieties) make better products. Specific instructions for canning may be found here.

The USDA and Cooperative Extension currently do not have any tested recipes to recommend for safely canning pumpkin preserves (jams, jellies, conserves or pumpkin butter) and storing them at room temperature.  These pumpkin products must be stored in the refrigerator or freezer and treated the same as fresh pumpkin.         

Think Safety

Think safety when preserving pumpkins. Pumpkin is a low-acid vegetable and requires special attention during preparation and processing. Use careful sanitation when handling fresh or preserved pumpkin. Do not let cut pumpkin sit out at room temperature for more than 2 hours during preparation prior to preserving.

This article was written by Kathleen Riggs, Utah State University Extension family and consumer sciences professor for Iron County. Comments or questions may be sent to kathleen.riggs@usu.edu or call 435-586-8132.

Source: http://nchfp.uga.edu/tips/fall/pumpkins.html

Ask an Expert // 7 Foods You Shouldn’t Can at Home

Canning Canning is a great way to preserve the bounty of summer, but beware! Not all foods are safe to can at home.

Did you know that the USDA has tested and approved many recipes to preserve foods at home? There are many foods you can bottle safely at home, as long as you follow USDA-endorsed recipes and procedures. Some unique foods include grapefruit and orange sections; cantaloupe pickles; pie fillings such as apple, mincemeat and green tomato; chicken, venison and fish; hot sauce and ketchup; a variety of soups and many more. See the USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning for recipes and procedures.

Have fun trying out a new safe, USDA-endorsed safe recipe in your kitchen this season. But remember, the possibilities are not quite endless.

Be aware that there are many foods that cannot be bottle safely at home. Why is that? One reason is that home kitchens are limited. A boiling water canner or a steam pressure canner can only get so hot. Heat is one element that is needed to kill micro-organisms that could spoil your food. A higher temperature needed for low-acid foods (like vegetables, beans and meat) is only achieved at home through a steam pressure canner.

Some foods or recipes have not been tested, or have been tested and have not been found to be safe. In some instances, the lack of approved canning recipe is due to poor quality.  Here is a list of some common foods that are not safe to can and not safe to consume.

Canning: Mixed Race Young Adult Woman Preserving Homegrown Fruit

What Not to Can at Home


That’s right, butter. In some emergency preparedness sections of stores, you might see canned butter in a tuna-fish size can. But don’t get too excited to go home and melt butter into a jar just to stick it on your food storage shelves. For now, canning butter using any method is not recommended. Some methods are dangerous, at best; others are not backed up by science. Why can butter when it freezes so easily?

Hydrated Wheat Kernels (aka wheat berries)

Wheat is a low-acid food that is susceptible to botulism if trapped in a low-acid, low-oxygen, room-temperature environment. In addition, the starch in wheat may interfere with the heat penetration during canning. Insufficient processing can result in botulism food poisoning. Instead of canning, store wheat dry until used, or if hydrated, refrigerate up to several days. You may also hydrate a batch and freeze in usable portions.

Quick Breads (e.g. banana, zucchini, pumpkin)

This idea likely started when people started baking quick breads in canning jars to create a nice round loaf. However, placing a lid and ring on the jar to create a vacuum seal as it cools does not kill botulism-forming organisms that grow in warm, moist, anaerobic conditions. These items should be either baked fresh and served or frozen.  Read more here.

Dried Beans (pinto, kidney, etc.)

To safely can dried beans, they must be hydrated first (usually 12 to 18 hours) and then brought to a boil for 30 min. Hot beans are then placed into hot jars for processing. It is not safe to put dry beans covered with water into a steam pressure canner for processing.

Fresh Homemade Salsa

There are many delicious salsa recipes to enjoy with your fresh garden produce, but these are not formulated for canning. Remember that canning recipes are scientifically studied to account for enough acid and/or processing time to keep the food safe. Fresh salsas are not formulated for canning. According to the National Center for Home Food Preservation’s Salsa bulletin, “Improperly canned salsas or other tomato-pepper combinations have been implicated in more than one outbreak of botulism poisoning.” Keep you and those consuming your salsas safe. Keep fresh salsas fresh, or freeze. Don’t experiment with canning your favorite fresh salsa. Find tips on canning salsas safely here.

Garlic, Vegetable or Herb-Flavored Oils

While these make beautiful gifts, infused oils have the potential to support the growth of C. botulinum bacteria, which grows into botulism food poisoning. These are best made fresh for use and not left at room temperature.

Pickled Eggs

There are NO home canning directions for pickled eggs. There are some recipes for storage in the refrigerator, but in order to avoid botulism, do not leave at room temperature, except for serving time, and do not attempt to bottle for food storage.

This article was written by Melanie Jewkes, Utah State University Extension associate professor, Salt Lake County

Source: https://extension.usu.edu/files/publications/publication/FN_Food_Preservation_2009-01.pdf

Ask an Expert: 5 Tips for Failproof Home Preserving

Canning Tips Graphic

How can you be sure the food you have preserved at home and placed on food storage shelves is safe for your family to eat? USU Extension Professor Kathleen Riggs shares five tips to keep in mind when preserving food.

1- Proper temperature

  • Boiling water method – kills most molds and air-borne bacteria in high acid foods (E.g., fruits, fruit juices and pickles). Steam canners may be used in place of a boiling water bath under specified conditions.*
  • Steam under pressure method – kills anaerobic organisms like those that cause botulism in low acid foods (E.g., vegetables and meats).
  • Note that tomatoes may be processed in a water-bath canner with the addition of an acid such as vinegar or lemon/lime juice.


2- Correct amount of processing time

This is scientifically determined, and as altitude increases:

  • Boiling water – time must be increased.
  • Steam under pressure – pressure must be increased.


3- New jar lids with screw bands that seal properly

  • New two-piece metal lids with sealing compound are recommended.
  • Screw bands may be reused multiple times if free of corrosion and dents.
  • A good seal means lids have indented and cannot be removed easily.


4- Up-to-date, approved recipes

“Approved” doesn’t mean it is endorsed by a favorite friend or relative! Canning is a science; not an art. Therefore, only use recipes from the following sources:

  • USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning
  • National Center for Home Food Preservation (http://nchfp.uga.edu )
  • So Easy to Preserve (Published by University of Georgia Extension)
  • Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving


5- Current, approved food preservation methods

  • For canning, only two methods are approved:
    • Boiling water bath
    • Steam pressure canning
    • Steam canner- For high acid foods only and for 45 minutes or less processing time.*
  • Other approved methods of food preservation include dehydration, freezing and smoking/curing.


*For guidelines on using steam canners, contact your local USU Extension office or review the following article endorsed by USDA and the National Center for Home Food Preservation: https://www.clemson.edu/extension/food/canning/canning-tips/56atmospheric-steam-canners.html

This article was written by Kathleen Riggs, USU Extension Professor, kathleen.riggs@usu.edu.