Anyone else getting concerned?

macybabySeptember 1, 2011

By the rash of questionable canning methods that are getting posted on this and other mesage boards?

I worry that we will see an increase in food poisoning cases from imporperty processed foods. There is definetaly an increase in people canning, and it seems many don't understand even the basic theory of canning for food preservation.

Sometimes I wonder if some of the posters are not actually "trolls" posting some canning procedure that shows such a lack of understanding just to get the long term canners tied up in knots.

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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Sometimes I wonder if some of the posters are not actually "trolls" posting some canning procedure that shows such a lack of understanding just to get the long term canners tied up in knots.

I often find myself thinking the same thing! They get their kicks out of jerking someone's chain.

Not so much here but most definitely on the Homesteading Today canning forum. Some of the canning practices that are advocated and encouraged there are frightening and they get down right hostile to alternative suggestions.

Here I tend to give benefit of the doubt and assume it is lack of basic knowledge overwhelmed by enthusiasm. But yes, even that concerns me given the accurate knowledge that is readily available. But the inclination to jump in with both feet without even doing the most basic research can be very dangerous.

But to be fair, many new canners likely think they are doing the basic research when they explore some of the many blogs and such who "claim" to know how to can. When dealing with the internet folks need to learn to evaluate the SOURCE of that info. University extension site info vs. Sally Singsong's blog? No contest. NCHFP or USDA vs. or similar misleading sites? No contest. If a site is too "cutsey", falsely presents itself, includes no credentials, etc. should only be used with great care.


    Bookmark   September 1, 2011 at 1:11PM
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It seems to me, as a newbie on this forum, but not to BWB canning which my family have done for years, there is an automatic rejection of any site other than the NCHFP or USDA one.
I do appreciate a genuine concern, but at the same time this rigid rejection of all other sites can be a bit off putting.
You talk of 'credentials' I am unsure where one could go to get 'credentials' for canning in it's various forms.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2011 at 3:28PM
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There are many safe sources for canning recipes. Numerous books have been cited on this forum, and if you must have websites besides NCHFP or USDA, there are the state extension websites, Ball ( or Bernadin (sorry, don't know that one), and I for one would make anything that Linda Ziedrich put on her website (www. since she is a Master Food Preserver and has vetted all her recipes through food scientists. I don't know if Ellie Topp has a website but she is a food scientist as well and is a trusted source.

You get canning "credentials" by going to school and studying food science, or taking classes at extension sites and becoming a Master Food Preserver. Even then (like Linda Z, and as Annie has done with her salsa) you have your recipes tested or at least vetted by a food scientist if you do make up your own.

Home preservers can take the NCHFP online course and/or a 1-day course at an extension site but that is not giving you "credentials" to make up your own recipes and safely share them.

Personally, there are people with commercial kitchens selling jams (low-risk), relishes (higher-risk) that I don't know if the recipes have been tested/approved, if they've taken any canning courses, or if the food has actually been tested for acidity and shelf-stability. In my state there are people selling canned food at farmer's markets and fairs, church suppers, etc. that I wouldn't touch with a 10-ft pole. There is 1 lady who insists her zucchini relish is safe b/c it's made in the church kitchen. A neighbor bought some caponata at a (big) fair last year that the extension agent told her to dump b/c there was no way to know it was safe.

You can't just assume that if you read a recipe on a blog, or even in a cookbook, or buy canned goods at a Grange fair, that they are safe. Not unless you know the recipe comes from an approved source and that all the steps (e.g., processing time) have been followed.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2011 at 3:43PM
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ediej1209(5 N Central OH)

A good part of the blame can also be put squarely on the manufacturers of the pressure canners. How many people have posted "but the MANUAL says..."?? Presto HAS to know how outdated their booklet is that comes with even the newest canners, but they don't do anything about it and who knows how many people (myself included until I started reading this forum) think they are doing the "right" thing when they follow the manual to the letter.


    Bookmark   September 1, 2011 at 4:20PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

automatic rejection of any site other than the NCHFP or USDA one. I do appreciate a genuine concern, but at the same time this rigid rejection of all other sites can be a bit off putting. You talk of 'credentials' I am unsure where one could go to get 'credentials' for canning in it's various forms.

I am really sorry you have that perception of us. Admittedly this forum is known for being more food safety conscious than many other canning forums and canning websites. Personally, given the nature of some of those sites, I'm proud of that label. I would rather be criticized for providing overly safe information than for advocating canning methods that have proven to be hazardous to others.

But canning credentials and food safety training is available from many different sources and several regulars here either work in the field or have had classes and training. USDA seal of approval is offered for approved canning cookbooks and both multi-level canning classes and a Master Food Preservers course is offered by many university extension offices. And obviously, a Master's or PhD degree in food science as the staff of NCHFP have is a reputable credential.

We don't "restrict" sites other than NCHFP although it is considered the premier authority. Or at least that isn't the intention. It is just that it is convenient to link to it to support or explain different positions on issues. And, since the NCHFP testing is the basis for all approved home food preservation, it is considered the most accurate.

But as mentioned there are numerous other sites and books available that are just as reliable and we discuss them here often as well as link to them. Every state has its own university extension website with canning info as does both Ball and Bernardin.

Perhaps some of your perception of us is due to not fully understanding the crucial differences between BWB canning and pressure canning? BWB canning is relatively simple and straight forward and has only a few safety issues associated with it. That is because it deals only with high acid foods and the safety is built-in to the acidity. One need only be concerned with whether there is enough acid to make and keep the food safe during shelf storage and that the food isn't too dense for the heat to penetrate. If both criteria are met then with the exception of listeria, the worst one has to deal with is maybe yeast or molds.

Pressure canning low-acid foods on the other hand is a whole different world from BWB canning and its threat - botulism - is very real. There really is no comparison between BWB canning and pressure canning when it comes to safety. That is where many of us become sticklers for things like not making up your own recipes, not trying to can cooking recipes that have never has a processing time calculated for them, and taking short-cuts or making potentially unsafe modifications.

But it's true that many home canners prefer to take a more casual approach to canning, perhaps have a much higher risk tolerance level than others, and some even resent, choose to ignore, or even condemn the guidelines simply because they are government-based. That is their choice of course and fortunately they have their own websites and forums.

I hope this is of help to you.


    Bookmark   September 1, 2011 at 4:46PM
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As a relative newbie at pressure canning I appreciate the straightforward and logical advice I received on this forum. Blunt even. I did follow Dave's advice and I'm confident that my tomatoes will be safe to eat this winter. With a little oil on the gasket and more care with the lid positioning, things are working properly now.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2011 at 7:37PM
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I'm glad I'm not the only one concerned. I have gone to other sites and other forums. Sometimes I cringe at what people post. I do think we'll see more cases of botulism in the future. I think it comes from a lack of understand of what botulism is. People think they'll get food poisoning at worst and be sick for a couple days. That's it. They don't fully understand there's more at risk if procedures aren't followed. Rules & procedures are put in place for a reason. It's not to be mean. It's not to be strict. It's to make sure people aren't poisoned.

So people seems to be "nostalgic" and cling to the "old ways" when it comes to canning. I don't quite get the mentallity. Better to be safe.

Rule #1 to canning:

Don't poison anybody

Rule #2 to canning:

Make yummy stuff people will eat

Rule #3...

    Bookmark   September 2, 2011 at 9:14AM
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But don't you get some comfort from the fact they they are out there looking for accurate information, and not just taking the word of Sally Singsong's ( I love that!!) blog? As a relatively new poster, I came in with a bunch of old family recipes, because we had always done it that way and no one died. The wise advice given here allowed me to modify them, or file under Old Family Recipe, no longer safe. Like grandma's oven canned pickles.

I read lots of articles about canning in smaller local publications and not all of their advice is 100% accurate, and there was a thread just recently about "Do I open my virtual mouth" that raised some interesting questions about when you see inaccurate information. I have refered a number of my friends to the NCHFP web site and they have gotten, good usable information, but only because they asked somenone who knew where to refer them to get correct information, because I learned about it here by asking.

So I have never canned before and I see an article about canning in my local paper, it intrigues me enough to try it, and then I want to know more, so I go to the interweb, and see all the info that's out there, not all of it consistent, so I start to ask questions. What better way to learn than to ask questions of someone who knows what they're talking about, and refers you to accurate info. Personally, I'm flattered when someone thinks I know enough about something to ask my advice.

Be glad they're asking, give them the correct information ten times, twenty times, a hundred times if necessary. Would you feel less tied up in knots if no one asked and someone poisoned themselves as a result? If giving advice and teaching is what gets you stressed, you need to spend more time canning and less time kvetching! Cheerfully offered, no offense intended.


    Bookmark   September 2, 2011 at 11:54AM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

I don't really see it as trolls.

There's a sequence of knowledge that goes thus:

Stage 1: You don't know that you don't know.

(How can you even ask questions if you're not aware there's an issue? Many novices fall into this category. They're the ones who will happily can anything posted online that's appealing and within their skillset.)

Stage 2: You know that you don't know.

(You read and you realize the dimensions of the issue are much greater than you imagined. You're horrified that you canned X without asking if it was safe. Now you're asking the questions.)

Stage 3: You know that you know.

(You have a good sense of what the issues are and can read blogs and canning books with a good sense of what falls into the reliable range, what can be made reliable with minor tweaks and what is a potential food poisoning disaster.)

Although the numbers make this process seem linear, it's actually recursive. Depending upon where we are in our learning we keep circling back to earlier stages.

I don't think we're seeing trolls. I think they're the kinds of questions people ask when they have no clue. I'm just glad they're asking.

I think most times the responses are patient and kind. (We all have our bad days.)

Sometimes posters seem like trolls because they really "need" an affirmative answer and they get quite grumpy when they hear otherwise. It's a "blame the messenger" kind of thing.

This often happens with beloved family recipes. You're not really talking about a recipe, you're talking about identity. Posters can become very offended it they construe a prohibition against a recipe or procedure as a rejection or criticism of a beloved grandmother.

It's just human psychology. Our connections with food, especially the ones we grew up with, are primal.


    Bookmark   September 2, 2011 at 12:16PM
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From ajsmama: "...there are people with commercial kitchens selling jams (low-risk), relishes (higher-risk) that I don't know if the recipes have been tested/approved, if they've taken any canning courses, or if the food has actually been tested for acidity and shelf-stability. In my state there are people selling canned food at farmer's markets and fairs, church suppers, etc. that I wouldn't touch with a 10-ft pole."

I'm not a canner, more of a freezer (and a lurker here at this forum). But, as an avid farmers market shopper, I have similar concerns to what she expressed above. Every week I see one vendor who is selling jams, chutneys, pickles, & relishes. Although some of her wares look good, I'm hesitant about buying anything. She also sells her stuff at our local health food store. I suppose I could question her about her recipe source and whether she uses BWB or pressure. Ask about ratio of vinegar/lemon juice to low acid vegetables and addition of oil. But I'm not sure I want to get into that conversation.

I appreciate this forum because I've learned a lot even though I don't can myself. Before reading the many posts, I probably would not have realized that cooking recipes are not the same as safe canning recipes. I wouldn't have known that some old-timey recipes are no longer considered safe. I wouldn't have understood the issues of density, etc. So I'm glad for the helpful people on this forum. And, thanks to this forum, I think I am a more knowledgeable shopper. I'm more careful now when it comes to buying things at Christmas craft fairs, farmers markets, etc. And I'm more discerning when I'm gifted jars of "stuff" too.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2011 at 12:19PM
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girlgroupgirl(8 ATL)

I do not know that much about canning. I visit this forum to learn, and yes, I get frustrated by some of the rigidity on this forum but only because sometimes there ARE other competent sources of canning recipes that are not mentioned in the threads I have read. Thank-you ajsmama for pointing out some great authors who are also food scientists. I do use an Ellie Topp book but would love to know more books written by food scientists that offer a continually broader range of tested recipes. The Ball Blue Book has some goodies, but it also has many recipes in it which I can not make simply because the ingredients are either not grown in my garden or are not all harvested at once here in my gardening zone.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2011 at 1:01PM
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I'm not sure if these questions can/will be answered. Would some of you (who do have the appropriate training) be able to recommend some blogs from people who you feel are competant? Do you think the people who have had books published might be more reliable? It would be nice to be able to try some of the recipes - some of them sound so fun!

    Bookmark   September 2, 2011 at 1:36PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

recommend some blogs from people who you feel are competant?

Personally I could never recommend a blog given its nature - just one person's "here's how I do it" opinion and that opinion can change on a whim. And who would have control over the content? While a blogger might post several great and safe recipes, nothing keeps them from also including some unsafe ones. Canning recipes from a blog have to evaluated individually. Some are great, some are dangerous.

The best blogs I have seen are those that allow for direct email contact with the blogger or allows for posted questions and comments from readers. That way you can at least question the blogger as to why something seems out of kilter. The blogs that don't allow any contact or comments are little more than a personal diary IMO.

Do you think the people who have had books published might be more reliable?

Ahh something we have discussed here often and unfortunately the answer is no. There are many unsafe canning books published each year because there are no rules or regulations that govern them. No requirement for testing, no reviews required, etc. So like blogs, they have to be evaluated individually. We often do reviews of new books here as they come out.

The good responsible authors will include USDA or NCHFP references and/or seal of approval and will often refer the reader to those sources for more info. They also usually include a "these are my credentials" where they outline their education and experience. They make refernces to the testing that has been done on their recipes and by whom. Or they have a website where they willing answer questions. Some of them post here on a regular basis.

The rest are in it for the money/publicity and nothing limits what they can include in the book. There will usually be no credentials listed, no mention or references to USDA/NCHFP or any of the brand names normally associated with canning. They may include such unsafe practices as how to make up your own canning recipes, how to test your own recipes with litmus paper, include recipes that require no processing of any kind, and make other suggestions that even basic knowledge makes one say "Huh?"

Unfortunately in the world of canning publications, be they online or in print, the rule is reader beware. So be an informed reader. Begin with the reputable sources and learn the basics from them then you can safely expand your horizons. :)


    Bookmark   September 2, 2011 at 2:36PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

I consider Linda Ziedrich's blog reliable, as are her books, The Joy of Pickling and The Joy of Jams, Jellies and Other Sweet Preserves.

Her blog has been relocated to A Gardner's Table

I also refer occasionally to KatieC's preserving archive posted online. KatieC has not posted here for a while but she is a certified Master Preserver and Extension employee. A number of her recipes, like Roasted Tomato soup, have been posted in this forum and are very popular.

Katie's Kitchen Preserving

I consider Beverly Alfeld's The Jamlady Cookbook reliable. While her degrees are not in science, she has since pursued training with the FDA and has developed recipes commercially. Her book was vetted by experts at Purdue and Oregon State.

Her book Pickles to Relish offers a tremendous tutorial in fermentation and pickling. However, in addition to conventially safe formulas, this book does move further into experimentation (within specified guidelines). She is very up-front about that and while offering cautions, does leave the choice up to the reader.

Another book that does follow current USDA guidelines is Sherri Brooks Vinton's new book Put 'em Up. You can find discussion of her title by searching this forum under her name. The author herself posted and confirmed the recipes were developed according to safe canning principles.

I do understand the frustration and have sometimes experienced personal exasperation at the unwillingness of some members to accept titles outside their "Canon", even in the face of overwhelming evidence.

I had to argue long and hard for Ellie Topp's book, despite her excellent scientific credentials and the respect she is accorded in Canada within the health and food science community.

By the same token, some members seriously posited that the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving could not be relied upon because it is published in Canada.

So clearly even we old-timers have had our tiffs and differences of opinion. However, I do appreciate the fact that on this forum, as opposed to others, differences of opinion are just that and don't generally deteriorate into personal attacks.

I would add there are many books out there I am not sure of and cannot whole-heartedly recommend, though for a knowledgeable food preserver there are recipes of merit.

1) Eugenia Bone's Well-Preserved. Her recipes are imaginative and do offer many "gourmet" options for using canned goods, but I lost whole-hearted trust when I read that she uses Fruit Fresh in lieu of citric acid in tomatoes. That is an egregious error, as Fruit Fresh is not 100% citric acid and can't be relied upon in the same way.

2) The Williams-Sonoma book The Art of Preserving. I emailed two of the authors regarding some questions about sauces with oil and whether they were tested and never got any sort of satisfactory answer. One respondent didn't know what I was talking about and the other acted as if it wasn't an issue, so I crossed that title off my list.

3) Linda Amendt's Blue-Ribbon Preserves for her pressure-canned curds. I give her credit for responding quickly to my email and acknowledging up-front that the recipes weren't tested. She also said, despite the book, that she no longer cans them herself but freezes.

However, her sweet preserves and the curd techniques are innovative and worth looking at for some great tips. It's a good example of the value that can come sometimes from a book that isn't 100%.

I might also mention that she is either in love with liquid pectin or commissioned by Certo to promote their product.

4) Carol Costenbader's Preserving the Harvest is getting older now and there's one recipe in there for a sandwich spread I'm quite doubtful of but I still keep her book for its wonderful information on freezing and drying as well as some nice recipes using canned product.

5) By the same token, I want to be buried with my KitchenAid K45 and my Farm Journal's Freezing and Canning Cookbook. I don't care how old it is. I'm never giving it up.

Two magazines that generally are reliable in their preserving recipes (I can't attest to 100% but I haven't personally run across anything doubful.) are Better Homes and Gardens and Sunset. The new Better Homes and Gardens canning book I'm not sure of. Someone would have to email their test kitchen.

Penzey's has occasionally published canning recipes, one for an egg-based sandwich filling that was clearly unreliable. I emailed them but never got a response or saw a printed correction. I thought that was a real black mark for a generally great company.


    Bookmark   September 2, 2011 at 3:31PM
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I don't use the "approved" methods. I ask questions about those methods to gain an understanding of what the risks are and how to mitigate them. Most of the time I get the answer without the lecture. :) My main problem with requiring tested recipes is most recipes haven't and never will be tested -- unless you count generations of family and friends surviving.

PS: I am adding boiling water bath to my process. The lectures do eventually cause change. :)

    Bookmark   September 3, 2011 at 11:00AM
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david1948(5b Wa)

I also have found "unapproved" methods for food preservation.
I think there is a "comradere" in having your threads read and getting a response, that some folks think makes them an expert.
You can e-mail them USDA approved methods and show where they are mistaken and hostility will erupt..."This method is fine..I have used it for years". Unfortunatly, some people believe "everythig they read on the web is the truth" and will use these unapproved methods.
I cringe at the thought of someone getting ill or worse by taking advice from a unapproved source..

    Bookmark   September 3, 2011 at 11:20AM
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Readinglady, thanks for the information on the blogs and book sources.

Worth mentioning, I think, is the continuing examples of tens of thousands of people getting sick from industrially processed foods - recalls of meat, turkey, vegetables, etc in the hundreds if not thousands of tons, people dying of lysteria, E Coli, and so on - Two in Colorado now in the news.

On a strictly statistical risk basis, odds are that eating in a restaurant will get you a lot sicker than eating home canned food.

From which I conclude that home canning, using safe methods, is the way to go. :-)

    Bookmark   September 3, 2011 at 11:57AM
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someone in this thread mentioned that Katie's recipes were safe... has anyone tried the salsa recipe?

    Bookmark   September 3, 2011 at 2:26PM
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When I share my canned goods with family or friends, I tell them right up front that I only use methods approved by the NCHFP or an equally qualified source. I want them to know that they don't have to smile and take the gift and then behind my back walk it to the nearest trash can and dispose of it. I am extraordinarily picky about preserved foods I receive as gifts and that's EXACTLY what I do when I get anything questionable.

Considering the number of folks who home can, there are actually few cases of botulism, but it's a crap shoot and it only takes once. I know a person who still drops stuff in olive oil and shelves it. ARGH.

I do genealogical research and you'd be amazed at how many people used to die from 'summer complaint'. That's a euphamism for food poisoning. I would suppose it harked back to lack of good refrigeration and would suggest other than botulism. I did have a great uncle who died from 'creeping paralysis'. Now, that could have been botulism or perhaps tetanus. It didn't take him long to expire after he got sick. In fact diarrhea was the third leading cause of death a hundred years ago. Water was a big cause but improper food handling was right up there with it. You just don't mess around with it.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2011 at 5:02PM
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caavonldy(8/9 N CA)

I have been coming here to learn about canning for several years. This forum has been great at encouraging me to can foods for my family. I have been so grateful to be able to learn the difference between the safe and unsafe methods of canning. As I read through all of my many cookbooks, I am amazed how many are not safe at all. It's a scary world out there and with a large family I am glad I can rely on you guys to have safe canning recipes.

Over the years, I haven't posted much, but I am reading almost every day.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2011 at 10:23PM
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I will admit I'm a relatively novice caner - and have only done BWB canning. BUT, I work in the foodservice industry and am certified to teach and monitor food safety in establishments. What someone does in a foodservice establishment where they don't know or have a direct connection to the person consuming the food must be well regulated.

At the same time I have found that as a society we are much more risk averse than in the past. We are so concerned with everything being sanitized (antibacterial this and that) that in my opinion we are actually making ourselves sicker. Heck, I was actually taken to "chicken pox parties," and though I'm 33, I've NEVER sat in a car seat or booster seat. They just weren't heard of. In my opinion, a little bit bacteria here or there helps build immunities, and much better immunities than getting the flu shot every year.

I'm not suggesting that we should be doing things that are blatantly unsafe (using chipped jars, reusing single use jars with the original lids that are sold in the grocery store), but I do believe that if a recipe has been used for generations with no problems - then I have no real reason not to follow it.

The methods of food production that the vast majority of the world uses would make most readers of this forum queasy. That being said, the methods of food preservation used in other "advanced" societies like Europe would make most North Americans scared. Some times I wonder if we're being too safe for our own goods.

I know I'm only one person and that I may not be following the norm on this blog...

    Bookmark   September 5, 2011 at 1:54PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

....That being said, the methods of food preservation used in other "advanced" societies like Europe would make most North Americans scared. Some times I wonder if we're being too safe for our own goods. ....

I have to say that in the UK we don't even think of processing jams, chutneys and pickles. I have checked the Botulism stats and it is exceedingly rare and I could not find any cases which were put down to home preserving. There have been 33 cases in the last 32 years and 27 of those involved commercial yoghurt. BUT, and it's a BIG BUT, there is barely any tradition here of preserving meat,fish or any items other than classic high sugar or high acid preserves at home. Practically nobody hunts, few anglers eat their catch and there is no tradition of homesteading or having to get through a long hard winter. So, although I do think you are a bit paranoid to process jam/chutney, I totally concur with taking great care over anything else. I wouldn't even attempt some of the things you people can. I don't have the skills or the equipment.

Here is a link that might be useful: Botulism

    Bookmark   September 5, 2011 at 4:49PM
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Another blog that seems to have safe methods is Tigress in a Pickle, Tigress in a Jam. Great recipes and she mentions if a recipe must be stored in the fridge, how long it can be stored, etc.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2011 at 5:43PM
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Any thoughts on the recipes from the blogs "Food in Jars" and "Small Measure"?

    Bookmark   September 5, 2011 at 9:00PM
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I'll be the first to admit that I don't always follow the USDA guidelines to a T. I do my best to understand the guidelines and then I try to understand the risks of not following those guidelines. (For instance, I reuse lids. I used to wax jam. With both of these, I am at risk for additional spoilage; I'm not at risk for botuism.) That being said, I don't write a blog and pretend to be a canning expert.

I do have some issues with Food in Jars. (I'm not familiar with Small Measure) I gave up reading her blog a while ago since I felt she wasn't up to par. For instance, I recall when she made a watermelon jelly, but a couple of commenters questioned her lack of added acid - which she never addressed. (But she was definitely addressing other commenters).

She also advocates making fruit butters in a crock pot - which is against USDA policy. And advocates a lot for fresh lemon juice - which is fine in most jams, but a serious concern when making and canning meyer lemon curd. And has been a bit snarky when questioned that it is against USDA policy, pretty much saying she thinks it is fine. Which is fine for her, and I personally don't think the risk is that great, but being a canning advocate, I'd think she'd be a bit more concerned about teaching proper methodologies.

I gave up reading when I saw a post she wrote for some other canning web site about canning tomatoes. And she had a huge hunk of meat defrosting in her sink - the same sink she is canning tomatoes in. Now I fully admit that I defrost meat on the counter a lot. But I don't can anything with a hunk of defrosting meat in my sink.

JMO. She has lots of readers - so others are obviously not as concerend as I am.

I do second tracydr's recommendation for the 2 Tigress blogs. She does a good job of staying within USDA guidelines, and explaining when she veers off course. Unfortuneately she doesn't make much that I would want to eat.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2011 at 11:20PM
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I start apple butter in the crock pot, but then after I mill the skins out I put the pan on the stove to add sugar and to thicken. And I have the spots on the ceiling to prove it LOL!

Tigress sites, Well Preserved, and Saving the Season are linked from Linda Z's site so I thought they might be worthwhile, but since Carol has some reservations about 1 and pixie lou the other I can't even say I would trust anything Linda linked to. Has anyone checked out Saving the Season? Guess there's a book coming out - as long as he sticks to jam, it may be OK, but blog has a new entry on canning salmon in his "new" PC. Doesn't give a recipe (Whew!) and maybe he has done his research (Linda gives some for fish in Joy of Pickling!) but fish would NOT be the first thing I would chose to can in a new PC!

But guy has a book deal even though he's a newbie. Maybe I should start a blog ;-) Even better, maybe someone like Dave or Carol should start a blog!

Back to church sales, etc. I've been to a couple grange fairs around here, one nearest us had fair 1 day b4 Irene this year so I didn't have time to enter. But they sell all the produce AND the canned goods - last year I entered pickles and Annie's salsa and labeled them NOT FOR SALE just in case (we ate them but I didn't want liability for anyone else). A bigger one near my parents returns all canned goods (incl. jams and jellies). I'm thinking of entering a different one (in our town but farther away) this w/e, will have to check their policies (they do say there will be a "produce auction"). But I don't think churches bother to check for proper processing at all when accepting canned goods for sale at their bazaars. I don't think the health district has the resources to police them either, so it's caveat emptor!

    Bookmark   September 6, 2011 at 7:09AM
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Pixie Lou - Thank you for the reminder about the meat in the sink. I do remember being taken aback when I saw that.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2011 at 12:15PM
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afeisty1(St. Louis)

I am also amazed at the number of folks appearing at Farmer's Markets with their home canned goods. I am not shy at all about striking up a conversation about the recipe they used, where they got it from and how they processed it, etc. The conversation always starts out friendly enough but when I start asking pointed questions, it can deteriorate quickly. Only the real, true canners appreciate those questions! Out of all the booths selling home canned goods, I only buy from one because we've had those conversations and I feel confident she practices what she preaches.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2011 at 4:15PM
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Farmer's markets at least are regulated - doesn't seem like church bazaars and hometown fairs are at all.

Slightly OT, but since we're talking about markets, I will say I was telling customers last week to be careful about where they buy their produce from now, ask questions at market and grocery store. Since we've had so much flooding from Irene, the state sent email to all the farmers about having to destroy crops if any edible portion was touched by flood waters, not irrigating if your well was flooded, not even using your well water to rinse produce from a field that wasn't flooded since flood waters could be contaminated. Hopefully all farmers will be complying. Something for everyone who isn't in a drought right now to be mindful of.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2011 at 6:31PM
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This conversation is so pertinent to me at the moment -- I was at a farmer's market this past weekend where there was a booth selling canned PESTO. I had my 3-year-old with me, otherwise I would have asked about that. I hope they're still there next week because I'm planning on going back.

Which leads me to...ajsmama...thanks for the information about the flood waters. I live literally 5 minutes from VT and my farmer's market is there. This bit of information is really good to have. I'll make sure to ask about that at the booths where I buy my veggies.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2011 at 10:44PM
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You're welcome. I wish I had a link, I can't find it on the state's webpage, but they sent us a PDF file. Anyone who is interested can email me but I gave the gist of it above. BTW, there is also some concern about livestock feeds (which might be of concern to consumers buying eggs/meat?) but I didn't read that very carefully last Friday b4 market b/c I don't raise livestock.

There is a link to the Food Safety Emergency Manual I've included here. Lots is too late now (power loss) but you may want to read the part about flooding. HTH

Here is a link that might be useful: Emergency Food Safety

    Bookmark   September 7, 2011 at 8:02AM
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I saw that a few people mentioned Linda Ziedrich but I saw on one of her posts on her blog she prefers fresh lemon juice when most extension agencies say to use bottled for standardization. I know this sounds nit-picky but I'm just wondering what people here think generally. I don't know her work much but she does seem to talk about pH and is aware of the acidity requirements for canning.

What is the prohibition against fruit butters in crockpots? I haven't heard that before.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2011 at 3:24PM
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beti - granted I have not read any of the Linda Z books, but when it comes to lemon juice - it can be used for 2 reasons. In jams - lemon juice is added to aid in the gelling process. Jams need a combination of pectin, acid and sugar to gel properly. In that case, fresh lemon juice is fine. Keep in mind that there are some low acid fruits - fig, melon, mango come to mind. In those cases, you may want to stick to the bottled lemon juice - though many of us are comfortable with fresh.

In pickles and salsas and tomatoes - lemon juice (or other acid) is added to bring the proper to the appropriate acidity to be safe for water bath canning. In those cases, bottled lemon juice should be used since the bottled lemon juice has a set acidity level.

As for the no-no for crockpots - when making fruit butter, the butter is supposed to be boiling when you take it off the stove and fill the jars. Crock pots do not bring your product to boiling. So technically it is fine to cook down your butter in a crockpot, as long as you put it on the stove to bring it up to boiling before filling your jars. I'm not sure how much risk is involved if you jar directly from a crockpot. I don't make butters, so I've never had the opportunity to cook down my butter and check the temperature of my final product.

My point in bringing this up these issues is that if you are calling yourself a canning expert, and writing a cookbook, I personally think you need to be a bit more forthcoming on when your methods deviate from the USDA/NCHFP guidelines. With this blogger in questions, I would be fine if there was a statement that said that it was not accepted practice to cook fruit butters in a crock pot and then she explained why she personally felt it was safe. But when she was asked about it, she got defensive and just said that it was fine and that her crockpot was old and got hot. Since she isn't forthcoming about these issues, it personally makes me question the safety of all her recipes - do I want to have to scrutinize every single one of her recipes and procedures before I attempt her recipes?

(I know that I often deviate from published guidelines. But I don't claim to be an expert)

    Bookmark   September 20, 2011 at 7:31PM
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beti - Linda Z also wrote a blog post about why she feels that fresh squeezed lemon juice is fine to use in lieu of bottled. I'm linking it so you can read it and make your own decision. (It was this post that I read that made me decide that fresh squeezed is fine for many applications. Though in reality - I find opening a bottle easier than squeezing many lemons).

Here is a link that might be useful: Fresh Squeezed versus Bottled

    Bookmark   September 20, 2011 at 8:59PM
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pixie lou,

Thanks much for the above link! My medical records state "sensitive to sulfonamides", and I don't think I've ever read the ReaLemon label closely before today.


    Bookmark   September 21, 2011 at 9:56AM
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I just want to thank both Carol and Dave here on this thread. They just recently helped me with a canning question. As for more people canning, it's Harvest Time! I started out the same as several home canners here, I visited family in Pa. and collected recipes and bought a BWB canner there as I never saw one in LA. when I was in High School in 1972. Now I use both BWB and a Pressure canner. I still have that old canner. BUT just because I have doing it for so long doesn't mean that I still do it as I always have. Because of this web site and others I don't use some of the old family recipes and stick only to approved recipes. But like others I assumed that the instruction booklet that came with my Presto canner was accurate. Even so, following what I thought was good procedure I had pointed out to me that not all my jars had the proper head space even though I started out correctly. I came to this Forum for help and Dave and Carol were kind enough to help even though they are probably tired by now of answering the same questions over and over again. I am sure the answer was probably here somewhere in these forums but that is the problem as it takes a lot of time to search and even then if not entered just right the search engine can't help. JUST think, all the info since this web site started is still here! Again Kudos to Dave and Carol

    Bookmark   September 21, 2011 at 1:26PM
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cziga(Zone 5 -Toronto)

I've been reading this forum a lot in the last couple of weeks. I just found it and am thinking of canning for the first time this fall (over abundance from the garden). I came here primarily to look for a recipe but started reading the posts and was shocked at how much I didn't know. I was almost too afraid to try it, with all the talk about deadly bacterias etc.

I have seen my mother canning jam. My Italian grandmother cans tomatoes all the time. Both use boiling water bath, although they didn't know what it was called (basically water boiling in a pot with towels around the jars). They told me how to can. Just about everything they do is "wrong" ... or outdated, I guess. But I think alot of people asking questions or promoting poor or unsafe techniques probably learned from their parents, or grandparents and generations of knowledge that is now out of date. My grandmother believes in what she does, and will never change her technique. It has worked for her for years, and for generations before her ... and she's lovely but just not open to new ideas.

She doesn't understand why I would not can tomatoes without that much acid in a boiling water bath ... or why I won't even try peppers.

Back to the question ... Canning, preserving and other things like this are techniques that tend to passed down in a family, you learn from your parents etc. Which is why, I think, you get a lot of out-dated knowledge being spread around as though it were truth ... its difficult to contradict your grandmother :)

I am going to try a couple simple recipes this fall and see how it goes. I'm sure I will be posting again as I try to work out the details and I suspect I will have questions. I am worried about substituting anything now ... and don't feel comfortable making anything without asking here first :)

    Bookmark   September 21, 2011 at 7:18PM
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I stopped at the Senior Center for their annual tag sale today - they had apple and pumpkin breads sealed in cans for sale at the bake table! I told the woman at the table to take them off, throw them away, she did put them to the side but the cashier said "Oh, those are fine, so-and-so made them yesterday, we've even sent those to the boys overseas" so I'm not sure they were removed permanently, or just while I was in the room.

I thought this was a new fad - even if the seniors aren't up on the latest USDA guidelines, I didn't think they'd be canning quick breads!

    Bookmark   October 7, 2011 at 7:05PM
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Sorry, we talk about "canning" and I just realized how strange that sounded, homemade quick breads in "cans". They were glass Ball jars.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2011 at 7:11PM
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I haven't read through all the posts, but just a quick item to take note of: CDC's morbidity and mortality weekly report shows statistics for cases of botulism declining in the US. In 2006 there were 165 reported cases. In 2010 the total is 112. For 2011 as of October 1st, they have 66 reported cases so far (this number will probably go up somewhat as reports are finalized). Also please take note that a good number of these cases do not originate with food.

Since home canning is definitely on the increase, these numbers seem to show there is not an "epidemic" of unsafe canning going on.

My 2 cents--

Here is a link that might be useful: CDC Morbidity and Mortality weekly report

    Bookmark   October 9, 2011 at 1:37PM
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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

I came across a public unsafe canning method this weekend too - I've never met the hostess or heard her name, she lives several miles from me...

Must have been a slow news day, Front Page article in our Daily paper with photos, continued further in with additional pictures - a pickle party where invites are highly coveted, neighborhood affair many look forward to, seemed like barrels of fun while a number of participants stock up on Christmas gifts. "Will last 40-45 years if they stay sealed because they are in vinegar"...and that's a quote.

"3 quarts ice water
1 quart vinegar
Red peppers (optional)
Dill seed
cucumbers (small to medium)
Wash cucumbers. Measure three quarts water and chill with ice. Add 1 quart vinegar (5% acid) to water and salt. Bring to boil.
Place 1 piece stalk dill in jar. Place cucumbers in jar leaving 1-inch head space. Add clove garlic and red peppers. Put dill seed in (about one teaspoon).
Pour boiling brine into jar over top of it all.
Seal in jar and then seal by placing jars in boiling water bath for five minutes to ensure a proper seal."

I'm afraid for every 5 who will have noticed the acidity, another 50 will not and won't know.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2011 at 3:09PM
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Huh? That doesn't even make sense - why chill 3 quarts of water by adding ice (how much?) if you're going to boil it anyway? Was this supposed to make 1 quart? Maybe the cukes were supposed to be put in ice water (then drained), packed into jar, and boiling vinegar poured over (wouldn't have been a quart of vinegar for a quart of cukes anyway)?

Would have been nice to go to the party and find out what they were actually doing. If the brine was just vinegar and salt, that may be safe, though the processing time is way too short. Mention of 5% vinegar makes me think that someone was trying to follow an approved recipe, but got lost in translation?

    Bookmark   October 9, 2011 at 4:19PM
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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

I wasn't quite understanding the way its written either but it does read ADD the vinegar to the water and the salt, amount of salt doesn't seem to be mentioned.

That makes it sound to me like 3 quarts water, 1 qt vinegar, and undertermined amount of salt (according to cut and paste above) for the brine. I don't know why it would be iced in order to boil.

I may send an email with our County Ext page link for ratio of 1:1 water/vinegar safety guideline and let the newspaper reporter under whose byline the story appeared check it out.

I'd link the story here for you to read in total but our newspaper is online for subscribers only these days, you have to be paying for the paper, register with your account billing #, to read it online.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2011 at 4:38PM
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I'll bet the directions got misconstrued as far as the ice water with the pickles. My mother's always soaked sliced cukes packed in salt and ice to make them 'brickle'.....crisp. I doubt it would have much effect on whole cukes regardless of how small they were. I'm not sure people even do this anymore, but it was in most old time cooking books. I always did as well until I got my first jar of pickle crisp. LOL. The vinegar to water ratio is ouch.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2011 at 7:01PM
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