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Old 10-19-2007, 09:00 PM   #1
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Ease my first time canning fears?

I'd really like to begin canning fruit jellies & other lovely condiments to give as gifts, but I don't want to kill any of the people I love.

How hard is it, really, to do this safely in a boiling-water canner? How hard is it to detect spoilage by life-threatening microorganisms?

Has anyone here overcome a Fear of Canning?

Thanks! :)


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Old 10-19-2007, 09:03 PM   #2
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You need to follow the directions exactly, BUT it is very easy to do. Go for it. There is nothing to be scared of as long as you don't stray from the instructions. You will have a blast.

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Old 10-20-2007, 01:59 AM   #3
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I would encourage you to do so. As GB said, follow the recipe and directions carefully when you are learning. We currently have blackcurrent jam, greengage jam, bottled greengages and I have just made a bach of spiced pears.

Mind you we mostly keep these to ourselves - great idea to share them around or give as gifts.
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Old 10-20-2007, 12:24 PM   #4
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It's not hard - but it does take time, figure on a couple of hours.

I can not stress the importance of what GB said ... You need to follow the directions exactly - don't stray from the instructions!!! And, that includes the recipe, too!
"It ain't what you don't know that gets you in trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so." - Mark Twain
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Old 10-20-2007, 07:54 PM   #5
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It would be nice if you have a friend that cans, you could watch and gaine alot of their
experience, and would be able to lose some fear that you have and you would be alot
more comfortable.
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Old 10-20-2007, 08:12 PM   #6
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Exactly as GB and Michael said. Follow the instructions to the "T" and make sure to set aside plenty of time. Canning is not something that can be rushed, but the rewards are well worth the time and effort.

You might want to get a copy of the "Ball Blue Book," which is a great book on canning. My copy is so stained and tattered it's pathetic, but it's been a great help.

In the words of my maternal grandfather, "Take it easy, make it nice."

You'll be fine.
"As a girl I had zero interest in the stove." - Julia Child
This is real inspiration. Look what Julia became!
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Old 10-22-2007, 11:08 AM   #7
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National Center for Home Food Preservation | USDA Publications has all the info you need to do safe canning.

Generally, with products that have a lot of sugar like jams and jellies, or a lot of acid, like pickles, waterbath canning is just fine.

Waterbath canning means water at least an inch over the top of the jars, and at a rolling boil.
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Old 10-24-2007, 08:41 PM   #8
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The bad things you hear about canning is because people skipped steps, didnt sterilize, didnt water process properly or add vinager/wine/lemon juice to low acid foods.

It is very safe and better then storebought. i can tomatoes, tomatoe sauce, a chilli sauce to die for, garlic in white wine,jams jellies,fruits, carrots, pickles,beans, you name it i can it!

boil your jars before you start. follow your recipe carefully (when you buy jars most have instructions inside...certo jam also has good instructions! for low acid foods like tomatoes add lemon juice or vinager.

meats should always be pressure not water processed.
In the 60's people took acid to make the world weird, now the worlds weird and they take prozac to make the world normal
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Old 11-16-2007, 07:39 PM   #9
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This should ease your fears:

The FDA and USDA agree that harmful bacteria are killed on contact at 180 agrees F. Meat processing plants are required to hose down their facilities with water in excess of 180 degrees.

Below that 180 you have to hold the temperature for a given amount of time. 30 seconds at 170, a few minutes at 160. 154 degrees F is about the lowest you can go, and is the final temperature of most cooked sausages.

When I make jams, the temperature of the jam going in to the jar is over 190 degrees. You boil up some jam and it's over 200 degrees. All that sugar will hold temperature for a good long while.

So, if you have product in a clean glass jar that is holding above 180 for 5-10 minutes you are way in excess of the FDA guidelines.

To be perfectly honest, the whole notion of "sterilizing" jars is a misnomer. Once you put that jar on the counter and its temperature falls below 140 degrees it's no longer sterile, unless you have some kind of clean-room environment.

Any biologist will tell you that the initial "sterilization" step really just needs to be a cleaning. Obviously a clean jar is a good thing for the sake of the product. The hot product alone will kill pathogens, if present. Boiling the jars for 20 minutes after that is like killing them again, in case dead wasn't dead enough.

So, as everyone else said, if you follow the directions you'll be fine. Personally I start with a good cleaning because I don't believe that it is possible or even necessary to "sterilize" a glass jar before filling with hot-as-heck jam.

I didn't even mention that jams are generally osmotically inhospitable to bacteria, anyway. Sugar, just like salt, draws water out so a little microbe would be in a world of hurt if it lands in that high a concentration. Notice how that jar of Smuckers has an expiration date 2 years in the future? It would be fine for plenty more in terms of bacteria, but other factors creep in like oxidation and the packaging. The acidity, too, is bad news of bacteria. A pH of 4.9 or less is generally considered "safe."

Now, for low-acid and low-sugar canning I would certainly do the post-boil. That makes sense since the other prophylactic factors aren't present.

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Old 11-16-2007, 09:01 PM   #10
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I also have a fear of canning.I would love to have someone who does it all the time to teach me.From what I know right now tomatoes are the easiest to can because of their acidity.

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