For a free pressure canner test, come to the N.C. Cooperative Extension Kitchen at 209 East Elm Street, Yadkinville, on Friday, June 22, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Also, canner lids will be checked at the Yadkin Farmers Market in Yadkinville on Tennessee Rd. on Tuesday, June 26 from 4 – 6pm.
Bring the canner lid only with the dial gauge. Weighted pressure canners are considered accurate.
As gardens flourish, we want to preserve all the luscious vegetables and fruits we possibly can. Why not preserve some of this crop to enjoy later or give as a special gift! Remember, the fresher the produce, the better the product. Preserving food can be done with the following methods: canning, freezing and drying. The method you choose depends not only upon the type of food but also upon the equipment you have.
Canning brings foods packed in jars to a temperature that destroys microorganisms as well as forming a vacuum seal. Pressure canning at 11 pounds pressure must be used on low acid foods. Hot water bath canning may be used for high acid foods. Pickling is another form of canning that adds acid to the cucumbers, beets, peppers, etc. which prevents bacteria growth as well as adding taste.
Freezing foods is one of the least time-consuming methods of preserving foods. The extreme cold slows down chemical changes that affect quality and causes food to spoil. For good quality frozen vegetables, blanching is an important step. Blanching is putting vegetables in boiling water or steam for a short time then cooling rapidly in ice water. The best method to prevent browning in fruits is to add ascorbic acid (vitamin C) before freezing. Frozen vegetables and fruits will be softer when the product thaws because the ice crystals that form in the produce will cause the cell walls to burst. To maintain top quality, frozen fruits and vegetables should be stored at 0 degrees F. or lower.
Drying is the oldest method of preserving food as well as the simplest, safest and easiest to learn. Drying foods removes the moisture so that bacteria, yeasts and molds cannot grow and spoil foods. Foods can be dried in the sun, in an oven or in a food dehydrator with the right amount of warm temperature, low humidity and air current.
In today’s economy, preserving food can be a way to save money especially if the food is a gift. Growing your own produce, requires money for supplies as well as a time commitment. Family gardening can be a profitable family hobby with fresh seasonal produce as well as extra food for preserving. If you have to purchase food, the “pick your own” is the best volume purchase price with farmers markets coming in second. Grocery stores are usually the most expensive sources and often not very fresh. Other factors to consider are the costs in preservation equipment. Once you get the equipment needed to can or freeze, it will last almost a lifetime.
For detailed information on food preservation, contact Marilyn Wells at N.C. Cooperative Extension, Yadkin County Center, 679-2061.