Home canning demonstration in King William

KING WILLIAM – Whether you have a home garden, visit a U-Pick operation, or buy produce in bulk, now is the time to preserve fruits and vegetables. One of the commonly used methods of food preservation is canning. When done properly, canning is a safe and economical way to preserve food.

Earlier this year, the award winning home canner, Suseitte Jackson, and Laura Maxey-Nay held a canning class at 360 Hardware in King William. Thanks to 360 Hardware, the event was free and open to all. The teachers walked participants through the basics of pressure and boiling water bath canning. They also discussed canning tools and supplies and went step by step through the two methods of canning. While people discussed their canning stories, Jackson shared some of her secrets and famous recipes! Participants also received 10 percent off canning supplies purchased that night. The hardware store still has plenty of canning supplies if you missed this event.

Food is preserved to destroy harmful microorganisms and to inactivate enzymes that rot food. When using the canning preservation methods you are preserving using heat. There are two canning methods; boiling water bath canning and pressure canning. Which of these two methods you should use depends on the food's pH or acidity. More acidic foods (pH 4.6 of or less) are canned using the boiling water method whereas foods with a lower acidity (pH greater than 4.6) are preserved with a pressure canner. Acidic foods include fruits, fruit juices, pickled products and some tomatoes (depending on the acidity). The low acid foods include vegetables, meats, soups and mixtures of low and high acidic foods. To insure your tomatoes contain enough acid to can them using the boiling water method you add bottled lemon juice or citric acid. The amount of acid you add to the jar depends on the size of the jar.

There are several important "musts" when canning:

1. Food must be properly prepared and processed for the correct amount of time

2. The canner must be accurate and operated correctly (The Extension office can test your pressure canner's gauge to ensure it's working properly)

3. Directions from a reputable source must be followed (USDA, Virginia Cooperative Extension, and the Ball Blue Book are a few)

4. Use an up-to-date method and information

The above information only touches on proper canning techniques. To learn more about canning, such as the different methods of "packing" the food in the jar, canning supplies, and the procedures and techniques of canning please contact your local Virginia Cooperative Extension Office.