Food canning allows us to enjoy summer flavours all year long. The practice, which was neglected for the last few decades, has experienced a comeback thanks to the renewed popularity of home gardening and people’s growing desire to eat locally grown foods.
However, if home-canned foods are not prepared or bottled properly, they can cause botulism – a dangerous or even fatal type of food poisoning.
Here are some safety tips to keep in mind when home canning:<br />
- Take the time to review the latest canning techniques, rather than simply doing what you learned from your relatives (see the link below).
- Make sure you have the necessary equipment for the type of food you’re preparing, and that the equipment is in good shape. For example, don’t use a chipped jar, and don’t reuse lids, even if they look intact.
- Wash your hands thoroughly before handling food or canning equipment.
- Always follow the proper cooking time and temperature guidelines.
- Label each jar with the canning date. Store in a cool, dry place.
Consuming canned foods:
- Eat canned foods within a year of their canning date.
- Discard any jar whose lid has leaked or bulged, or that squirts when you open it (due to a gas buildup).
- Throw out any food that doesn’t smell good or that appears moldy or discoloured when you open the jar.
- Don’t taste a sample of the canned food to determine if it’s “good” or safe. If toxins have formed, even small amounts can be enough to cause food poisoning.
- Refrigerate canned products after opening.
Another option is freezing - a simple alternative for those who would like to preserve their foods for the winter but who don’t have the proper equipment or knowledge for safe canning.