Pressure Canning Workshop

— Written By and last updated by Patricia Burch

“The crisp late afternoon air reminds you that this might be the last barbecue of the season. You gather with friends for great food and fellowship, enjoying the bounty you preserved at the peak of freshness earlier in the season. Compliments to the chef are doubly satisfying because you have canned these gems yourself. A juicy melt-in-your-mouth grilled Flank Steak with Honey Glazed Red Onions takes center stage. On a plate bursting with flavor, crisp vegetables of bright yellows, reds and greens present a visual treat, served as heart side dishes. And what barbeque would be complete without your famous Boston Baked Beans, rich with molasses and brown sugar that play opposite dry mustard, onions and salted pork. Yummm! The volleyball game commences. Frisbees fly high. Children frolic on the swing set. Guests gather in clusters for impromptu and long overdue conversations. But you notice people often meander back to the food table to sample just a little more. On this brisk fall day and through the winter months, how rewarding to know that the secret to bringing new flavors to your table is the wholesome goodness of food you preserved when days were long and warm.”

As I read this excerpt from the Ball Blue Book, I picture a beautiful September day with friends and family, after spending the summer canning produce from my garden. Perhaps this doesn’t sound like an event you would partake in, but you have tons of produce every year. You may have had a great crop this year and have ate more okra than you cared to, shared it to everyone and their friends, and still are up to your eyeballs. So you decide you want to try canning your produce. Whatever the reason may be, many people find during the summer that they would like to know how to can. However, do you know the difference between your pressure canner and a water bath canner? Do you know what foods could possibly make your family sick if they were improperly canned?

Pressure canning is a method of canning which allows you to process low-acid foods. These include foods like tomatoes, okra, asparagus, meats, seafood, soups, beans, and more. For low-acid foods, in order to destroy all bacteria, their spores, and the toxins they produce, they must be heated to a temperature of 240°F and held there for a certain amount of time specified by the research based, tested recipe you are reading. I say research-based, tested recipe because these are the recipes that have been shown to present no more harmful bacteria, spores, or toxins after processing. It is very important for us to can products correctly, especially when dealing with low-acid foods because of the risk of botulism.

If you are interested in learning how to pressure can your produce safely, join our workshop on May 20th on pressure canning vegetables. We will be making two recipes that will teach you how to properly can low-acid foods so that you will be prepared to can this summer! The workshop is $15 which includes two canned items from our class and handouts. You can purchase a Ball Blue Canning Book at the class for $5. This workshop will be held at the Duplin County Cooperative Extension, 165 Agriculture Drive, Kenansville. This is one of a five-class food preservation series that will be held this summer. If you would like to sign-up for a class, please call 910-296-2143. For more information about upcoming classes, please visit our county website, Sampson.ces.ncsu.edu and look under the Family & Consumer Sciences tab. You may also call the Sampson County Cooperative Extension office at 910-592-7161. Happy canning!