Canning Police

mellyofthesouth(9a FL)August 7, 2014

How do you feel about the sliding scale of canning transgressions? I have gotten myself kicked out of a group on facebook about canning by the book for suggesting that we tone down the hysteria about someone reusing commercial pickle jars for new pickles. Her picture was about 3/4 ball jars and 1/4 reused jars. While the usda doesn't recommend reusing the jars and lids my thought was the downside might be the seal would fail and she would lose the contents of that jar. Now I had that happen recently with a regulation ball lid on some tomato sauce so that is always a possibility. Anyway, I didn't think it warranted the same level of concern as say, water bath canning the green beans, oven canning or some of the other crazy things people do. Am I off base? Otherwise I think I'm better off not seeing those posts anyway.

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theforgottenone1013(MI zone 5b/6a)

People on Facebook can get belligerent, regardless of what the topic is about. And for some reason that I can't understand, instead of discussing things like civilized adults everything always turns to personal attacks. Best to not even deal with those sorts of people. (I was, "was" being the key word, a member of a few different gardening groups and canning groups on Facebook so I have seen the way people get.)

As for reusing commercial pickle jars and lids, as long as they know that it isn't recommended they can choose to do what they want.


    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 10:21AM
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Actually, USDA/NCHFP says you can use them as long as you use new 2-piece lids, and are prepared to accept possible breakage and seal failures. Wouldn't you know I think just as they updated that, Classico changed their lids/necks and they aren't the same as the Ball RM any more. I have plenty of jars, but the Classico lids were good for storing things in fridge once opened, or for the not-quite-full-enough-to-process jars. They don't leak like the white plastic Ball lids do.

"Most commercial pint- and quart-size mayonnaise or salad dressing jars may be used with new two-piece lids for canning acid foods. However, you should expect more seal failures and jar breakage. These jars have a narrower sealing surface and are tempered less than Mason jars, and may be weakened by repeated contact with metal spoons or knives used in dispensing mayonnaise or salad dressing"

I'm not in any Facebook groups (I just started a page for the farm a few weeks ago), but in other forums I feel like the canning police.

Here is a link that might be useful: Recommended jars

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 10:29AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

How do you feel about the sliding scale of canning transgressions?

Which way do you think it is sliding in general? More toward the "ignore any guidelines" or more toward the "the guidelines are gospel" end of the scale?

In my experience on other forums the "it hasn't killed me yet" bunch and the "what do some government-linked lackeys (NCHFP) know" bunch still vastly outnumber those who advise even minimal caution.

Making any reference to "guidelines" is enough to get you kicked off many forums and heaven forbid you should mention you are an MFP!! That gets you stoned.


    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 1:51PM
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I think it was Dave who used the phrase "acceptable level of risk", which really brought the whole issue home for me. Is using my grandmother's oven-canned pickle recipe ok, just because it hasn't killed any one, yet? Probably not. Or do I follow the NCHFP guidelines like gospel? I tend to be more careful, but I admit that I don't sterilize jars that will be in BWB for more than 15 minutes, even though I feel just a little guilty every time. And I have been known to keep refrigerator pickles in the fridge for up to a year because I feel the vinegar levels in the brine make it ok, even to serve to my family. Acceptable level of risk.


    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 2:04PM
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mellyofthesouth(9a FL)

I tend to stick pretty close to the rules. I'm going to out myself on my transgressions. I will on occasion reuse a lid if I've run out. I try not to. I have on occasion used unapproved recipes if I've compared them to approved recipes and the ratios are the same. Haven't done it recently. This would be for something like a pepper jelly. I'm not going crazy here. I lived in Europe and reused commercial jelly jars with my friends. I make KatieC's roasted tomato soup which I assume is safe since I got the recipe here but as far as I can tell is not "approved". Please don't yell at me if I'm wrong about that.

On the other hand, I always acidify my tomatoes and use 5% vinegar in my pickles. I use the Ball, UGA or other extension website recipes, ones published by surejell (kraft) and I like the Small Batch Preserving Book.

The post in question they were FREAKING OUT over the reused pickle jars. (She reused the same lids that the jars came with too) the same way they do over oven canning and stuff like that. I thought it wasn't on the same level. I like the FREAK OUT when death is a possibility.

Thank you for making me feel better. I really think I didn't need them in my life anyway. Much better to stick with my normal dog group on facebook. (Boykin Spaniels, in case you are wondering.) They are much more polite. And I will continue to get my canning fix here :)

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 2:27PM
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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

Steve, you can let go of the guilt. You aren't breaking any rules not sterilizing for anything you process BWB 15 minutes or pressure canned, the current guideline suggests 10 minutes or more BWB and clean, not pre-sterilized jars are just fine. NCHFP agrees. You are exceeding their safety suggestion with 15 minutes.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 3:20PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Melly - sounds like the canning group was a "dog" group. No insult to dogs intended. :)

I might "freak out" if she was reusing pickle jars and lids to can meatloaf or beanie-wiennies like some claim is fine to do but I've reused them for fridge pickles. And the short Fritoes brand dip jars with the button tops work great for high acid fruit jams too although the wife does give me the evil eye when I use them.

And Sheila and others can attest that we know of one forum where they claim you can supposedly can quarts of stewed tomatoes with all the onions and peppers you want in them just using a BWB for 10 mins.

I'd love to can oyster stew with the flour, milk, butter and all since Campbells quit making it after their recall. But if they can't do it and make it safe then I'll let all those that insist it is safe to do at home be the lab rats instead.


    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 4:41PM
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I too have reused lids when I haven't had any new ones (I know, I should plan better) - but only on stuff for our personal use. And ummm, guess what I have stuck in the back of my fridge I haven't found the heart to throw out - yep, last year's Bread and Butters - but I did throw out the cornichons (failed experiment, didn't like the taste).

I used to use those short wide mouth (Tostitos) jars to make yogurt in, but I couldn't get a good thick culture in my slow cooker, or maybe those jars are too big. I just bought a brand-new yogurt maker at church yard sale in June, it uses tiny plastic jars but I can fit 4 of my 8 oz Ball refrigerator jam jars (narrow base) without the lids in with 4 of the plastic jars so I can make 1.5 quarts of yogurt at a time, and the next day can make another 1.5 qts if I want (I have been making it more like 2x/week but once school starts will probably be 3-4x).

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 9:15PM
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ahbee01(z5 OH)

I was reading yesterday about a lady who canned green beans with bacon bits and onions in a water bath for 2 and 1/2 hrs. When I said I was taught to pressure can green beans and other low acid veggies, the response was. "Honey a 100 years ago they didn't have pressure canners, and this recipe has been handed down from generation to generation, and I have always made my beans like this. Any way I think they just say that to sell you a canner!" I was totally lost for words. So I just stepped away from the site!` Yikes! I so want to go back and warn people!

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 11:26PM
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50 years ago we didn't have child car seats. 100 years ago we didn't have seat belts. 200 years ago we didn't have penicillin or vaccines. Does that mean that we shouldn't use them now that they are available?

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 9:21AM
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annew21 (zone 7b NC)(7b NC)

What amazes me is people who are totally unwilling to consider scientific evidence when it comes to canning. They treat it like it's just another opinion that they can toss aside without consequence.

Actually, I kind of don't care what they do, but it really bothers me when they post their "quart of tomatoes with fresh celery and onion, in BWB for 10 minutes" recipes on the internet. Canning novices come across them and don't know any better.

This is why I love this forum so much.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 10:14AM
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AmyinOwasso/zone 6b

This article brought it home ro me.

"Sadly, today, there are many more NEW bacteria that just did not exist in our grandmother's day (or even in my MOTHER'S day). This is due to mutation and discovery of new species. The mutated bacteria are those that have changed due to the use of antibiotics, antibacterial soaps, spraying of veggies, groundwater contamination, and other unfavorable things to them....they don't DIE; they just alter themselves instead. Some bacteria also are encapsulated. (think: medication capsules...bacteria are encased in a protective shell). These bacteria can live for centuries and millennia. In fact, they believe an encapsulated bacteria or virus is what caused King Tut's Curse."

Here is a link that might be useful: Misunderstandings in canning

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 11:27AM
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yolos - z 7b/8a Ga.

Someone in an earlier post mentioned the SMALL BATCH PROCESSING book. Is that a good reference for someone who wants to start out with a small amount of vegetables to be canned. I already have one of the ball books but I tried a pickle recipe but it was way more than I wanted and I tried to reduce the size. Uck. I must have reduced the ingredients incorrectly.

And if it is a safe and good book to have, what is the exact title and author. I looked on Amazon but there were so many books that pulled up when I tried to find that title.

This post was edited by yolos on Sat, Aug 9, 14 at 12:13

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 12:09PM
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The Complete Book of Small Batch Preserving by Ellie Topp and Margaret Howard

Here is a link that might be useful: Amazon link

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 12:56PM
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Better safe than sorry. Especially if your loved ones are on the eating end of all these canned foods.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 1:18PM
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CanadianLori(6a Oakville)

I also go on the cautious side. Maybe those people are not only rude but also bullies. Now that said, maybe they do deserve a jar of botulism...

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 1:28PM
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theforgottenone1013(MI zone 5b/6a)

"Which way do you think it is sliding in general? More toward the "ignore any guidelines" or more toward the "the guidelines are gospel" end of the scale?"

I'm not the OP (obviously) but it depends on the group because I've seen the scale slide both ways.

There are some groups where the majority of the people are going to can whatever they want and it doesn't matter what the science says. And if someone were to bring it up that it's unsafe, they get told that they don't know what they're talking about (even if links are provided) and they get the "I've been doing it this way and no one's gotten sick." argument as well as personal attacks.

Then there are other groups where safe canning is the focus and they take it to an extreme. If someone does something that bends the rules, no matter how small the bend is, the people go nuts. Like what the OP is talking about.

I was actually kicked out of one of the safe canning groups because a couple recipes that were posted here on the Harvest Forum made their way into that group. The admin deemed the recipes unsafe without any research, I stood up to the admin and defended the recipes, and poof, I was booted. And one of the recipes that was deemed unsafe is in the BBB so I've got no idea what that admin was thinking.

ahbee01- if you really want to cause a ruckus, give the lady the link below. In the link the USDA recommends using only a steam pressure canner for vegetables as far back as 1924 (it's under the heading of "Bureau of Home Economics is Formed"), with foods having pressure canner processing times going back to 1917 (Farmers' Bulletins 839 and 853). So a hundred years ago there were pressure canners and processing times for them (even if nobody had one).


Here is a link that might be useful: Early History of USDA Home Canning Recommendations

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 1:39PM
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I bumped into a neighbor in the HW store the other day, we started talking as I was helping her load things into her car. I told her I'd pickled some beans that were a little too big for fresh eating. She asked if they were BWB, I said yes. She proceeded to tell me how her mother used to can tomatoes, beans, cabbage, etc. in the BWB - I said "oh, like a rummage relish?" She said "No, it wasn't pickled, we used to use it in soup." I told her it was a good thing they boiled the heck out of it, b/c it wasn't safe - you have to PC veggies (except for tomatoes and pickled stuff). She said they didn't have a PC (she's probably about 70), I told her it's been at least since the 1920's that USDA has been telling people to PC veggies. She just said "It's a good thing we're not dead then!" (laughing). But she said maybe next year she'll ask me to teach her how to can.

Thanks for the links.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 4:06PM
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" I stood up to the admin"
If they are being stringent because of safety, perhaps 'standing up to them' at that moment might have been perceived as standing up for something they are trying to avoid, unsafe recipes.
Maybe waiting a couple days and trying a different way might have been more successful.
Their heart is in the right place. As is yours. Sorry you got kicked out.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 4:11PM
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Aha! In the link Rodney gave it says 1926 for PCing:

"It was not until Farmers' Bulletin No. 1471, "Home Canning of Fruits and Vegetables," (Stanley, 1926) was issued in 1926 that pressure canning was the only method recommended for low-acid vegetables. "

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 4:34PM
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Melly, I've been known to take a small risk or so, but by and large I follow the rules, I figure someone just saved me from doing all the research myself. I don't do Facebook and don't follow any blogs and don't participate in any boards or forums other than Cooking. I check in here seldom, but occasionally I do, when I think about it.

My Dad didn't like waterbathed dill pickles, he wanted them "open kettle" canned. I don't even like dill pickles, but I explained that it wasn't a safe method. He informed me that he did not care, so every year I made a batch for him and open kettle canned them. He's been gone 6 years now, but it wasn't the pickles that killed him, thank goodness. I figured it was his risk to take, so I didn't argue.

So, you can tell people what you know or what you think or what is approved, but they are going to do as they please. I figure that I want to know all the risks and then decide which ones to take and everyone else gets to do the same.

And, incidentally, I've been using the mayo jars, the spaghetti sauce jars, whatever a lid and ring will fit on, long before the USDA said it was OK, that's a newer opinion from them, they used to say "no". I did it anyway, but I didn't use them for pressure canning, only for a BWB, because the breakage was too great under pressure.

Heck, I've been known to dust off a tomato and eat it right there in the garden, although I use composted cow manure for a fertilizer. It's a miracle I haven't died of e coli, I guess, but I still do it. Of course, I've been known to kiss a horse, too, LOL.


    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 11:54PM
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I've bent the rules a bit but, for the most part, I go with the recommendations. Most make sense from a food science standpoint.

My bads:

I don't blanch green beans, peas, okra or corn before freezing.

I use many European, Canadian and Australian canning recipes for high acid foods (jams, chutneys, pickles, etc.) I figure those folks aren't dying off in huge numbers because they don't water bath their jam.

I'd rather freeze than pressure can a lot of foods (except for tomatoes and beets). The pints of greens we pressure canned were composted after tasting the first jar.

Um, I open kettle can my recipe for dill pickles. Have for years. I do use a higher ratio of vinegar to water, mostly because we like them vinegary.

I don't use pectin (unless I can't figure out how to avoid it) or Pickle Crisp (except for pressure canned tomatoes and pickled pepperoncini).

My old glass Hellman's mayonnaise jars (the ones that lids and rings used to fit on) have newly canned fruit in them.

Annie, I've kissed a lot of horses, too, and the dogs kiss me every morning :-)

Melly, good to see you here again. I still use a lot of your tips and hints. It was fun hearing about the differences in ingredients between the US and the Netherlands after you had first moved there.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 10:40AM
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mellyofthesouth(9a FL)

I love you guys!

    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 4:29PM
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hey Sheila, 50 years ago we did have child seats, I can remember my sister having one and she's 54 this year. Seats were in 64 Impalas, but not in the 60 falcon. the child seat wasn't a safety seat, but really worked well on my dolls after my bratty sister got out of it. (Love ya karen).

Just had to jump on, don't do this often any more. You're only off by about 5-10 years. still the same ideas.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2014 at 11:30AM
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ahbee01(z5 OH)

I went and posted this statement to the post I was talking about! I hope someone at least reads and and listens to the dangers! LOL!!!! Maybe now I can sleep tonight!
" I have sat on this for a few days,but feel the need to go ahead and at least warn people new to canning of the risks, and of course then you can make an educated decision if the risk is ok for you and your family. Please don't get angry at me,I'm just trying to help people stay safe. You can not just put food in a jar and cook it for hours and expect it to be safe, it just isn't worth the risk. Also home canned food is to be brought to a boil for 10 min. before consuming them, just in case something did decide to grow in there. Food eaten raw like salsas need to be extra safe because you do open it and eat it uncooked. So that is very important to follow approved recipes to the letter to insure safety. So here is a link to explain it a lot better than I can. Pressure canning has been recommended for green beans since about 1924. New and unknown microbes and bacterias have formed since are grandparents,and great grandparents have canned,so has the understanding of how food spoils.Here is the link, I have never known anyone to dye of botulism, but I have had food poisoning,not from canned foods,but still at the very least, it is a real consequence. It was not a pleasant experience. I sure would not want that to happen to my family at my hand!!! There are a ton of tested and approved recipes out there,do your homework and then decide what is best for you! Now you can be angry at me if you want,I'm ok with that. I feel better just putting it out there!" I posted this link,AmyinOwasso,
A MicrobiologistâÂÂs Advice on Misunderstandings in Canning

    Bookmark   August 12, 2014 at 11:37AM
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Wow, I didn't know - maybe my parents were poor though I know yours were too. The first kid to get a car seat in our family was my brother born in 1972. I'm almost 51 and other brother will be 50 next month, we didn't have child safety seats - our first cars didn't even have seat belts (maybe that's why we didn't have car seats - they might have been available but there was no way to buckle us in?).

    Bookmark   August 12, 2014 at 3:48PM
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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

I can remember a car seat my little brother had, and for cars that did not have seatbelts ;)

It hung over the seat between the driver (always my dad) and my mother in the front passengers seat. Hung with two curved slip-over 'arms' about like you would place a planter on a deck railing. It had a hard steering wheel, a big red horn, some other type buttons to push so a tot could pretend they were driving or helping to drive. When I think about it now, it's a good thing we were never in any type accident because it likely would have caused more injury to a baby than provided any protection.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   August 12, 2014 at 8:23PM
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CanadianLori(6a Oakville)

Yup, I remember those! This is my little sister in one of the ones that slipped over the seat back.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 6:50AM
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Wow, we got really OT! But I think I had that same coat and bonnet - in baby blue. Such cute clothes back then, I wish my mom had saved some of them.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 7:04AM
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msmarieh(Z5/N IL)

On a scale of 1 to 100 with 100 being militant and 1 being water bathing green beans and meat, I fall somewhere around 85ish...

I make distinctions between recommendations that are for safety versus quality.

I try to use common sense. I try to distinguish between risk on a macro level and risk on a micro level (if you screw up one batch for some reason, what are the odds that specific bottle will be the death watch batch, versus in general feeling that your odds over a lifetime might be much higher). Which is why I'm usually more of a "use that one up first" person rather than a "throw the entire batch out" type person, depending on the transgression.

I have educated myself on a wide range of canning related subjects to understand the science behind the decisions.

So I might bend the rules a bit, but it's only when I fully understand the consequences (and those consequences don't include death/paralysis).

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 8:54AM
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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

Lori, that's very cute. My brother was born in '56, so his seat would have been in use in about 1957-58, I see your family's about 4-5 years later.

Now this morning I'm recalling the car window fitted, ice cooled 'AC' that would be put to use on long road trips, but that would really be OT from a canning/harvesting forum and I can't think of a way to tie it in ;)

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 10:37AM
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ahbee01(z5 OH)

I love this site! Cute pic! I got some feed back on the link I shared,and it was" that link is trying to sell a cook book by using scare tactics"!!!
So we still have a lady trying to teach new canners to boil the beans in a bwb for 2 and 1/2 hrs and if the water stops boiling the time stops, if the water falls below level then add water and continue the time when it starts to fully boil!! Oh and she will be doing non "pickled" beets soon. I just hope the argument is seen by the newbies and they at least check into the safe methods of canning! One woman did point out that most canneres on there used the Ball bible,and follow those recipes, but if that were true,then wouldn't you think they read the part that says bwb is no longer recommended for low acid veggies and chime in? ! guess I will keep my mouth shut from now on, and only post about cooking recipes unless some asks me my opinion! I don't like to beat dead horses!!! Not that I'm a militant canner but I'm with msmarieh, and say about an 80ish on the scale!!!! Thanks for letting me vent,and morz8 if you happen to have a pic, of the AC, I think you should go ahead and post it,cause it would make us smile!!!!

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 11:59PM
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Unfortunately it was a commercial site. It was a god article though. I always refer people to the NCHFP for the safety aspects though there are still people who insist b/c "no one's died yet" their great-great-grandmother's method handed on down (must be that old by now since their grandmothers and great-grandmothers' generation knew to PC veggies) must be safe.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 5:30AM
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CanadianLori(6a Oakville)

I use your US government's recommended pressures, methods and times in all of the canning that I do.

As I mentioned, handing a jar of botulism to a friend or relative would be criminal.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 6:27AM
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I just read a supposedly responsible canning blog where a reader suggested she thickened a (totally safe) commercial canning mix with 'a little bit of corn starch' so it's more like the one's one buy off the shelf. The blogger said nothing about adulterating it with corn starch. Here's the thing about can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant. It can either educate you and keep you up to date with the wonderful resources of legitimate scientific studies or it can take the place of old wive's tales, but all dressed up so an unsuspecting reader cannot tell it from fact. I am an experienced canner who feeds her family with my products. That translates to I will swallow my pride or stubbornness about old directions long before I make someone I love sick. It's up to the consumer to weed out the legitimate resources from snake oil, and the information highway doesn't always make it easy to distinguish which is which.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 1:40PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

I always refer people to the NCHFP for the safety aspects though there are still people who insist b/c "no one's died yet"


actually that is a valid reasoning and practical too. There is a history behind that logic.
There are risk at every step that we take, from crossing the street, driving on the highway , even taking some medicine.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 4:01PM
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As y'all may know by now that I sell my canned goods at the local Farmers Market. Mostly jam, jelly, dried and pickled fruits and veggies (and I also have a gluten free bakery).

The FDA does not allow anyone in the US to sell pressure canned food made in a home canning kitchen. I could sell PC'd stuff because mine is a commercial kitchen and have the creds, but I don't want to because most veggie stuff, I think, is better from the freezer or dehydrator.

Because I sell to the public, and am a grandmother, I follow the rules even if I think sometimes they are excessive. I do have insurance in case someone thinks they got sick from my stuff and I would be horrified if that happened even if it were not true, and, importantly to sicken my DH, children, in-laws, and grandchildren would give me apoplexy.

I have had a few customers tell me about their passed down recipes and methods for canning that were awful and totally unsafe, so I cringe and truly become the canning police. I really don't care if they don't like what I say because I don't want to "sin by omission". They need to know, whether they want to follow the safe methods is up to them, but I feel better by not holding my tongue. I even have a little card printed up with the URL for the NCHFP and a simple outline of don'ts, and recommend the BBB. They can drop it in the trash if they want to but most of those people ask me if I will teach them the proper methods. It is all there, finding all the info if they want to, but most people nowadays don't want to read, and prefer synopses and quick visuals. Even though I have been canning since 1975, so many things have changed (that I do keep up with), that I don't consider myself an expert and would not want a student to sicken someone and say that they got the info from me. So, I remain the canning police in my little piece of the world and tell them not to believe that everything on the internet is safe or true simply because there are no internet police.


    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 4:37PM
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