Friday, September 2, 2011

Learning the Canning Process

1 The first step in learning is: Home Canning Safety:Understanding how to prevent food spoilage is the key to canning safety. We all know about the microorganisms in the air such as molds, yeast and bacteria. Many of them are beneficial to us, and others well can be deadly or make us very sick under certain conditions. All fruits and veggies and meats in their natural state, contain these microorganisms to some degree. Enzymes which change the color, texture and flavor of the foods we eat are also naturally occurring, Molds, yeasts, bacteria, and enzymes are the major causes of food spoilage. Controlling the "Spoilers" allows us to keep foods beyond their typical storage period. Washing fruits and veggies does remove some of it. Peeling or blanching fresh fruits and veggies also helps and reduces even greater numbers. The most important factor in controlling spoilers is controlling the environment which encourages their growth. This is achieved by properly heat processing the food following tested home canning guidelines. Canning interrupts the natural decaying process by heating the food contained in a jar. Closed with a two piece vacuumed sealing cap, to a specific temperature and holding it there for the time designated by a home canning recipe. The heat destroys potentially harmful microorganisms and at the same time drives air from the jar preventing other microorganisms to grow. This procedure is called Processing. When followed exactly step by step these methods of canning will destroy any microorganisms that are potentially harmful to us.

Ensuring Quality Foods:Preserving food does not improve its quality. To achieve a top quality finished product. start with top quality fresh produce. Select produce at its peak of freshness and flavor. Choose varieties suitable for canning. Controlling microorganisms, enzymes, oxygen and moisture loss helps ensure a high quality home canned product. It is best to can or freeze fruits and veggies immediately after harvesting or purchasing. Any foods that you are unable to can within a few hours must be properly stored to minimize further deterioration. When you are ready to can, carefully remove all disease areas or bruised spots. Discard diseased, moldy, insect damaged and overly ripe food. Microorganisms multiply rapidly on damaged or diseased areas and be at such high levels that the processing times developed for quality foods will not be able to destroy all the microorganisms present in lesser quality foods.

Classification of foods:

The importance of the ph, or acidity is that it determines the method of heat processing necessary for a safe canned product. For the purpose of canning, all foods are divided into two classifications determined by the amount of natural acid present in the food.

Acid Foods:These Foods have naturally high levels of acid or have a sufficient amount of acid added to them. Bottled lemon juice, citric acid or vinegar labeled 5% acidity are sometimes added to increase their acidity. Food in this category much have a ph of 4.6 or lower. The boiling water method of processing is adequate for acid foods. Generally all fruits and soft spreads are acid foods. Figs and tomatoes require the addition of an acid so they may be safely canned using the boiling water method. Fermented foods, such as sauerkraut and brine pickles, and foods to which a significant amount of vinegar is added are also treated as acid foods. Some recipes may call for both acid and low acid ingredients but still be classified as an acid product; these recipes must have a ph balance of 4.6 or lower

Low acid foods:These foods have very little natural acid. Vegetables, meats, poultry and seafood's are in the low acid group. Soups, stews, meat sauces and other recipes which contain a combination of acid and low acid ingredients, yet remain with a ph level higher than 4.6, must be processed as a low acid product.

You should not be concerned with spoilage while canning because if you follow directions then there is no way that this can happen. Foods can be canned or frozen with little concern as long as you follow directions. I can my foods because I want my family to eat safely without worrying about whether or not I am poisoning them with the foods that are being contaminated and recalled every day. My Family has canned for many years. My Grandparents during the great depression sold their canned goods to make money. Canning has been around for many years and is really an art form that is sadly fading away.

Always read your recipes before canning.

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