Yes You Can
Summer is ending; Autumn is upon us and with it, cooler temperatures that will yield to even colder months of snow, ice, and sleet.
For those interested in keeping the supply of tomatoes, corn, cucumber and zuchinis going, canning is a cheap way to preserve produce.
For resources on how to can your own stuff, visit the USDA Home Canning Guide.
Or, Ohioline, Ohio State University Extension.
When canning, always follow directions. Unlike other food processing methods, canning is definitely a science, not an art. Recipes are created to achieve a specific level of acidity through the use of vinegar or lemon juice, so that bacteria, especially the toxin-producing spores of botulinum, cannot grow. If you tamper with the ingredients or the timing, you may change the acidity level, so you need to overcome the temptation to experiment.
Also, use a timer. This suggestion helps you enforce the rule above. If you underprocess your produce, the food may not heat to a high enough temperature to kill bacteria; if you over-process, you compromise the quality of the food. So, again, it's more a science than an art. Don't depend on estimates when it comes to canning.
As an added measure of safety, use only recipes tested after 1990 and approved by the USDA, state extension agencies or the Ball Blue Book of Canning, an industry standard. Do not use heirloom or homespun recipes. As food scientists have pointed out, some canning methods used by our grandparents and parents have been found to be unsafe. For example, although tomatoes are generally considered to be high-acid, some modern tomato strains are bred to be low-acid. Since you cannot tell just by looking at your tomatoes, whether they are high or low in acid, the USDA now recommends canning tomatoes with the addition of two tablespoons of vinegar or lemon juice per quart.
I suppose if you buy heirloom tomatoes that you're certain haven't been bred by growers to be low in acid, then it's safe to use an heirloom recipe, but why take the risk?Continued on the next page