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Home Canning Makes a Comeback

Aug 07, 2012 08:12PM ● Published by Anonymous

So when the winter months are looming and the end of the state’s growing season is in sight, Parry takes it upon herself to keep the bounty of the summer season going through the dreary, barren months via canning and freezing.

She’s part of a larger trend of women in their 20s, 30s, and beyond returning to preserving foods, a necessity of yesteryear that’s returned as today’s hobby. Parry’s favorite item to can is homemade pickles, while her husband loves her homemade spaghetti sauce year-round. Nearly every fruit or vegetable can be canned for enjoying at a later date, though low-acid foods such as vegetables must be canned with a pressure canner for safety reasons.

To begin canning, Parry took a class at her local agricultural center, a step she believes is important because it taught her how to can foods properly and safely. She also strongly recommends only using recipes from a government-sponsored canning cookbook (Available at The National Center for Home Food Preservation’s website, nchfp.uga.edu), as they have been thoroughly tested to prevent botulism. “If you use a family recipe, you could get very sick from it,” she says.

To play it safe, novice canners should begin with high-sugar, high-acid foods such as jellies, jams, pickles, or chutneys. Follow the recipe exactly, as details such as the amount of sugar and the minutes the jar spends in boiling water or the pressure canner makes a big difference in the quality and safety of the end result.

For one last tip, Parry recommends investing in a stand mixer with a chopping attachment, which she says has saved her hours of time of peeling and chopping produce. This makes it easier to produce enough cans to get her and her husband through the winter months, though there never seems to be enough. “I have always wanted to give them as gifts,” Parry says. “Maybe one day I will.”

To see competitive canners in action, visit the Maryland State Fair, where the home arts competition includes a category for canning of all kinds. The entries, which include fruits, vegetables, butter, pickles, jams, jellies, and more, are judged on quality of the food, the canning process itself, and in some cases, the taste. While it’s too late now to enter your own canning ventures, visit Marylandstatefair.com to learn more about the 2013 fair and competition.

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