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Information and discussion about canning and dehydrating tomatoes and other garden vegetables and fruits. DISCLAIMER: SOME RECIPES MAY NOT COMPLY WITH CURRENT FOOD SAFETY GUIDELINES - FOLLOW AT YOUR OWN RISK

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Old May 15, 2012   #1
ArcticCat
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Default what makes a recipe unsafe to can?

I have been reading as much as I can on this forum to ready myself in my new "hobby". I plan on making some spaghetti sauce and some salsa this fall when my crop comes in. I have seen a few posts stating recipes that are not safe to can?

What makes a recipe unsafe to can? I do not want to make something that could harm my family.

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Old May 15, 2012   #2
Doug9345
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Any recipe not know to be safe to can. That means any recipe that the USDA, it's scientists and it's lawyers haven't given the nod to.

What makes a recipe unsafe to can in a water bath is low acid. In a pressure canner, the inability to reliability heat the entire contents of the jar to the required temperature without turning the product to mush.

As time has gone on less things have canning recommendations, which I believe is a refection of improved food science. It also is a reflection of our decreasing tolerance of perceived risk, an increase in our demand for the "quality" of the canned product and a bias toward letting "experts" do everything for us.
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Old May 15, 2012   #3
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what doug said.

Hot water bath processing requires a product to be acidic enough to prevent bacterial/fungal development.

Pressure canning obviates the need for acidity but is limited by the density of the product. For example - pumpkin butter is low acid and far too thick to safely pressure can in the home kitchen (sigh).

Great sources for safe home canning recipes are the Ag Ext service of your state. I especially like the GA & NM ext service recipes for salsas.

Tomorrow I am taking the 3 day Acidifed Foods class offered by NCSU - required for folks who want to make & sell home canned acidified food products. From friends who have already had the course, it seems they are no longer advocating hot water bath processing - instead opting for the European method - boiling product into sterilized jars & hot lids put on - seal forms... this'll be sumpin' different for me!
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Old May 15, 2012   #4
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The key bad guy in home canning is botulism, but IMHO the fear of it is often over done. In spite of some 20+ million home canners in the USA, many of whom break the rules, botulism is very rare, especially for tomato products. In a ten year report on botulism incidents in America published by the Center for Disease Control (http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/EID/vol10no9/03-0745.htm), we average only seven cases per year from home canning, and only one case from a tomato product in the entire ten year period (1990 to 2000). Additional reports show only four cases from tomato products in 18 years with no deaths, In addition, the survival rate for botulism is 96%.

I don't mean to underplay the dangers, just trying to put it into a reasonable perspective. I disagree with the common position that defines anything not proven safe as unsafe. There are degrees of safety, and many common things we do every day are a lot more "unsafe" than home canning. Every year hundreds of people die getting out of bed, slipping in the shower, falling down the stairs, choking on food, and getting into car accidents. Yet what do we do every morning - we get out of bed, take a shower, go down stairs, eat breakfast, and drive to work. How reckless can we get!

Botulism spores are everywhere, but only hatch and produce the toxin when conditions are right, i.e., low oxygen, low acidity, presence of water, and moderate temperatures. For safe canning you either need to kill the spores with high heat, or prevent them from hatching with high acidity, or both. High acids foods such as many fruits and pickled products require little processing, while low acid foods like corn, asparagus, and green beans, require severe processing, such as long cooks in a pressure canner.

Most tomatoes are high enough in acidity to prevent botulism (pH below 4.6), but the pH rises with the addition of too much low acid foods like onions, garlic, and peppers. Exactly how much of these sauce additions is acceptable is hard to say as even the "approved" recipes vary a lot. I use a fair amount in some of my recipes, but I also add citric acid to increase acidity and pressure can. If you keep the low acid additions low and add some acidity such as vinegar, lemon juice, or citric acid, you can safely can tomato sauce and salsa in a boiling water bath. Otherwise a pressure canner is best.

There is a lot of information on proper canning here: http://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can_home.html including approved recipes for tomato sauce and salsa.

Canning is a fun and rewarding hobby and I have been canning tomato products for over 35 years. Yes you should take care to follow recommended practices, but don't let the unrealistic fear of botulism that is often found on the Internet scare you away.

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Old May 15, 2012   #5
Doug9345
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TomNJ View Post
The key bad guy in home canning is botulism, but IMHO the fear of it is often over done. In spite of some 20+ million home canners in the USA, many of whom break the rules, botulism is very rare, especially for tomato products. In a ten year report on botulism incidents in America published by the Center for Disease Control (http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/EID/vol10no9/03-0745.htm), we average only seven cases per year from home canning, and only one case from a tomato product in the entire ten year period (1990 to 2000). Additional reports show only four cases from tomato products in 18 years with no deaths, In addition, the survival rate for botulism is 96%.


TomNJ
I wonder in that same time period how many people have gotten serious infections from cutting themselves while preparing food to can or freeze, and how many have been killed or seriously injured while driving to the store to get canning supplies.
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Old May 15, 2012   #6
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Frankly I go by the Ball Blue Book, and not even necessarily the most current edition, which has removed some recipes and increased the boiling time on other items. The older recipes were just fine and nobody got sick. Just follow a known, good recipe, boil all the jars and use all clean tools, rags, etc. as directed.
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Old May 15, 2012   #7
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http://msue.anr.msu.edu/topic/info/food_preservation

Includes info on canning classes, etc in Michigan
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Old May 15, 2012   #8
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If you buy a pressure canner today, it will come with a booklet that describes how to use and the information includes how much pressure and for how many minutes. The booklet breaks down the differenct categories of foods that can be safely canned, and that list includes meats.

Interestingly enough, the booklet has the exact same recommendations that are given out by the USDA site on canning (which is headquartered at the University of Georgia). Simply google "canning" and "USDA" to get the website. There are several PDF files that can be downloaded and the information is well worth the effort.

http://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/pu...ions_usda.html

Download all the guides and you essentially have the booklet that comes with a pressure canner. The guides also have times for Boiling Water Bath on the foods that can be safely done with BWB.
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Old May 15, 2012   #9
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msu.edu site... I can trust thm I think... after all, I am a Spartan.


plenty of good insight here, thank you.

I was wondering how "new" recipes come about if its against the "rules" to experiment...

I had dreams of becoming actually good at this someday and maybe even creating a product of some kind... but not likely

Ken
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Old May 15, 2012   #10
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The government lowered the temps pork should be cooked a while back from sawdust to something you can actually eat.

I have never cooked pork and poultry to these death valley temps.
I knew better.

Worth
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Old May 15, 2012   #11
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Following "approved" recipes is an individual decision - many if not most do not. I don't care for their recipes and always create my own, just staying within some reasonable guidelines.

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Old May 15, 2012   #12
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The approved recipes and warnings are worth spending some time reading to understand the issues. With water bayh canning it is all about the acidity. I seem to recall one memebr recently talking about using a lab grade pH meter to verify the acidity of his recipes.


Canning, IMHO, is also a very worthwhile endeavor.
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Old May 15, 2012   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RebelRidin View Post
The approved recipes and warnings are worth spending some time reading to understand the issues. With water bayh canning it is all about the acidity. I seem to recall one memebr recently talking about using a lab grade pH meter to verify the acidity of his recipes.


Canning, IMHO, is also a very worthwhile endeavor.
There was a guy on here for a while that washed his cucumbers in the washing machine before he pickled them.
I have 2 problems with this.
1 It is over kill.
2 I dont want to eat something that has been in the same place as the dirty socks and underwear.
Reminds me of the folks I heard about that mixed sausage in the bathtub.
Not gonna happen.

Worth
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Old May 15, 2012   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Worth1 View Post
There was a guy on here for a while that washed his cucumbers in the washing machine before he pickled them.
I have 2 problems with this.
1 It is over kill.
2 I dont want to eat something that has been in the same place as the dirty socks and underwear.
Reminds me of the folks I heard about that mixed sausage in the bathtub.
Not gonna happen.

Worth
Yeah I tend to favor dedicated equipment for the kitchen myself. Except my fingers... I use them for just about everything.

I only mentioned the fellow using the pH meter to point out the importance of adequate acidty. He was making up his own recipes as I recall. Of course all the folks who tested the recipes at/for the USDA were using them.
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Old May 15, 2012   #15
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I have a cooking book called Ratio. I gives all kinds of ratios for common cooking and baking items, which is awesome for a person like me who likes to experiment with every recipe. I wish there was some ratios for canning foods. Every time I make salsa I think about adding or subtracting ingredients but am very cautious about doing so because of the dangers of canning, or perceived dangers.
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